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Pakistan

Main attractions

Wazir Khan Mosque, Pakistan
Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore / Guilhem Vellut, / CC BY 2.0

Pakistan has huge natural diversity and plenty of impressive natural landscapes from the desolate, eerie sights in southern Makran to some of world's tallest mountains in the north.

Nevertheless the most impressive and most interesting landmarks here are made by man and most interesting ones are:

Ranikot Fort, Pakistan
Ranikot Fort / Shah Murad Aliani, / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Prehistoric and ancient cities. One of the greatest prehistoric civilizations - Indus Valley Civilization developed here in 3300 - 1300 BC. Some of the most impressive cities from these times were Harappa, and Mohenjo-daro but there existed even older cities, such as Mehrgarh (7000 - 5500 BC). Also later civilizations developed cities, such as the ancient metropolis of Taxila.
  • Medieval forts. There are hundreds of diverse historical forts in Pakistan and some are among the world's finest ones, such as Ranikot Fort with 26 km long walls, Derawar Fort with 30 m tall walls or the majestic Baltit Fort.
  • Islamic architecture. Badshahi Mosque belongs to most beautiful structures in Southern Asia but not less amazing are several tombs of Sufi saints such as Tomb of Bibi Jawindi or Tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam or the magnificent Shalimar Gardens.

Natural landmarks

Zalzala Koh - island which appeared after the earthquake, Pakistan
Zalzala Koh - island which appeared after the earthquake in 2013 / Diariocritico de Venezuela, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Mud volcanoes

  • Hingol mud volcanoes (Chandar Gup, Chandragup) - Balochistan. Group of impressive, up to 100 m tall mud volcanoes with three larger ones and several smaller ones. This site is sacred for Hinduists.
  • Malan Island - Balochistan. Small island in the Arabian Sea which was created by a mud volcano in 1999. For a while it disappeared under the sea but rised again in 2010. Similar is Zalzala Koh - another small island which appeared in 2013 after earthquake.

Other natural landmarks

  • Mingora emerald mines - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Swat Valley. Mines of small, high quality emeralds.
  • Shishi-Kuh Valley - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Area where many researchers and local people have spotted footprints and sounds made by unknown animals. Many local people often have seen an ape-like creature which is similar to Neanderthal man. This animal is called Barmanu and it has been spotted in other areas too.
  • Trango Towers - Gilgit Baltistan. World's tallest cliff towers. Largest is Great Trango Tower (6,286 m) which is world's tallest near vertical cliff - 1,340 m.

Man made landmarks

Shatial inscriptions, Pakistan
Shatial inscriptions / Ziegler175, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Petroglyphs, ancient inscriptions

  • Mansehra Rock Edicts - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Outcrop with ancient inscriptions - fourteen Edicts of Ashoka, created in the 3rd century BC. Writings are in Kharosthi script and describe early Buddhist philosophical views in order to propagate Buddhist morality in Mauryan state.
  • Shahbazgarhi Rock Edicts - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Large boulders covered with ancient inscriptions. This is one of the so called Edicts of Ashoka, created in the 3rd century BC. Writings are in Kharosthi script and describe early Buddhist philosophical views.
  • Shatial inscriptions - Gilgit Baltistan. Numerous inscriptions at crossroads of ancient mountain roads - more than 1000 inscriptions and 700 petroglyphs. Some inscriptions are made in rare, extinct languages, e.g. Bactrian language.

Megaliths

  • Asota Stone Circle - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Megalithic stone circle, with stones up to 3.5 m tall. Age is not known. There are more stone circles in this area.

Prehistoric settlements

  • Kot Diji ancient city - Sindh. Site of prehistoric city which existed in 3300 - 2600 BC, in the late Neolithic - early Bronze Age. City has existed here since this time up to nowadays. Area - 2.6 ha.
  • Mehrgarh - Balochistan. One of the most important Neolithic monuments in the world - a precursor of Indus Valley Civilization. A settlement existed here in 7000 - 5500 BC.
Buddhist stupa in Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan
Mohenjo-daro / Usman.pg, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Cities of Indus Valley Civilization

  • Ganeriwala - Punjab. Remnants of enormous Indus Valley Civilization city, area 80 ha.
  • Harappa - Punjab. Remnants of very old city, which started to develop before the Indus Valley Civilization, since 3300 BC. Flourished in 2600 - 1900 BC, when the area of city reached more than 100 ha and here lived approximately 23,500 people. During the excavations in Harappa was discovered Indus Valley Civilization. Here have been found some of the earliest writings in the world, from 3300 - 3200 BC.
  • Mohenjo-daro - Sindh. Remnants of one of the largest settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization and one of the earliest known cities in the world with up to 35,000 inhabitants. Developed since 2600 BC and abandoned sometimes around 1800 BC. City exhibits great skills of ancient urban planners.
Ancient fort in Banbhore, Pakistan
Ancient fort in Banbhore / Saeed133, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Ancient cities and towns

  • Banbhore - Sindh. Ruins of ancient port city which was founded in the 1st century BC. Abandoned in the 13th century. Ruins contains well preserved installations of ancient and medieval port, remnants of one of the oldest mosques in South Asia (727 AD). Fortification walls have been partly preserved.
  • Sahr-i-Bahlol - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Remnants of small Kushan town. Town was built on a small hill and in the 2nd - 3rd century AD it was surrounded by city walls. Now remain remnants of these walls.
  • Taxila - Pundjab. Important urban centre of ancient India, established around the 6th century BC. City has survived three periods of development under different cultures. Early centre of higher education. Today in the area of city are located ruins of different structures.
Derawar Fort, Pakistan
Derawar Fort / Jazib Saeed Khan, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Fortifications

  • Altit Fort - Gilgit-Baltistan. Ancient structure, headquarters of Hunza rulers. Fort was built in the 11th century, although fortifications were built here earlier.
  • Bala Hissar in Peshawar - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Massive medieval fort with its walls rising 27 m tall.
  • Baltit Fort - Gilgit-Baltistan. Large fortification in Hunza valley. First fortifications here were built in the 1st century AD. Current structures are built since the 15th century AD and have some similarity to Tibetan palaces. Former residence of Hunza rulers - Mirs.
  • Derawar Fort - Pundjab. Very impressive fort with up to 30 m tall walls. Walls (the 18th century) are 1.5 km long and have numerous fortification towers.
  • Lahore Fort and Lahore Walled City - Pundjab, Lahore. Enormous fortification with area of 20 ha. History of fort started millenia ago but most of the current structures were built in the 16th - 17th century. Inside the fort are located several buildings of high architectural and art value, such as the ornate Sheesh Mahal with its fine mirrors, Naulakha Pavilion with unusual, curved roof and others.
  • Ranikot Fort - Sindh. Largest fort in the world, fortified with 26 km (other sources - 35 km) long walls. It is not known who and when built it initially, but current walls were constructed in the 17th century and also in 1812. In the central part of enclosure is smaller fort.
  • Rohtas Fort - Pundjab. Enormous, well preserved fort, built in 1541-1549 to suppress local tribes. Length of walls is 5.2 km, outer height - 10-18 m. Inside the fort is a village, but earlier here could be quartered up to 30,000 soldiers.
Badshahi Mosque, Pakistan
Badshahi Mosque / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Mosques

  • Badshahi Mosque - Pundjab, Lahore. Largest mosque in the world in the time period from 1673 to 1986. Building has gorgeous architecture, it is one of the highest achievements of Mughal architects.
  • Faisal Mosque - Islamabad. Giant structure, world's largest mosque in 1986 - 1993. Architecture imitates a Bedouin's tent, iconic shape of the building now has become a symbol of Islamabad.
  • Shah Jahan Mosque, Thatta - Sindh. Mughal mosque, built in 1647-1649. Mosque has 93-101 domes, wonderful acoustics and is adorned with blue glazed tiles.
  • Wazir Khan Mosque - Pundjab, Lahore. Beautiful mosque in Old Lahore, built in the 1630s.
Ranigat - room made from single stone, Pakistan
Ranigat - room made from single stone / Waqas Ahmed, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Buddhist monasteries

  • Butkara - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Remnants of ancient Buddhist monastery which was active in the 3rd century BC - 10th century AD.
  • Takht-i-Bahi (Takht Bhai) - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Well preserved complex of ancient Zoroastrian and Buddhist temples and monastery. Shrine developed around springs at the summit of hill in the 1st century BC. Monument consists of several sites which are up to 4 km far from each other - enormous stupa, dwelling of monastery, temple, Tantric monastery. This is one of the best preserved ancient Buddhist monastic complexes anywhere.
  • Mankiala stupa - Punjab. Ancient, impressive Buddhist stupa, built in the time of Kanishka (128 - 151 AD).
  • Ranigat - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Remnants of enormous Buddhist monastery, which was built sometimes around 500 BC by representatives of Gandhara civilization. Monastery - huge complex of temples, dormitories, stupas and other buildings - is built on the top of hill.

Other shrines

  • Gurdwara Janam Asthan - Punjab, Nankana Sahib. One of most sacred sites for Sikhs, place where was born Sikh founder Guru Nanak.
Chaukhandi tombs, Pakistan
Chaukhandi tombs / Adnan Arain, / CC BY-SA 3.0

Tombs and cemeteries

  • Chaukhandi tombs - Sindh. Large cemetery with numerous beautiful tombs from the 15th - 18th centuries. These tombs are shaped from sandstone and are covered with intricate, beautiful carvings.
  • Makli hill necropolis - Sindh. Thatta might be an ancient city in the delta of Indus. It is possible that it existed already at the times of Alexander the Great. Necropolis next to the city is one of the largest in the world and contains tombs of at least 125,000 notable people.Most tombs are from the 14th - 16th centuries. Many tombs are ornate and form unique landscape, which extends for many kilometres.
  • Tomb of Bibi Jawindi - Pundjab. Beautiful, octagonal structure, built in 1493. Building is covered with ornate mosaics. Only half of the structure remains. There are found several more tombs and shrines in similar style, for most part in ruins.
  • Tomb of Jahangir - Pundjab, Lahore. Large and ornate mausoleum with fine surrounding gardens. Mausoleum was built in 1605 for the ruler of Mughal Empire.
  • Tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam - Pundjab, Multan. Beautiful memorial to the Sufi saint Rukn-e-Alam (1251 - 1335), built in 1320 - 1324, initially intended for governor Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq. First octagonal structure in South Asia.
Shalimar Gardens, Pakistan
Shalimar Gardens / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Hiran Minar - Punjab, Sheikhupura. Beautiful structure, mirrored in the pond - a monument to Mansraj, pet deer of Mughal emperor Jahangir. Built in 1606.
  • Kashmir Smast - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Group of natural caves in Mardan Valley, which were artificially extended in the times of Gandhar Kingdom (the 4th - 9th century AD). Caves form an underground city, some of these caves have wooden interiors, numerous interesting artefacts have been found in caves.
  • Shalimar Gardens - Pundjab, Lahore. Beautiful, harmonious complex of gardens with ponds and garden architecture. Gardens were built in 1641 - 1642 and mimic the Islamic paradise.

List of described attractions by provinces

Pakistan is divided into provinces and capital city - Islamabad and Federally Administred Tribal Areas. Here below they are listed in alphabetical order:

Azad Kashmir
Balochistan
Federally Administred Tribal Areas
Gilgit-Baltistan
Islamabad Capital Teritory
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
ArrowMingora emerald minesGemstone finds
Pundjab
Sindh

Map of Pakistan

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