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HERITAGE TOURISM TOURISM IN PAKISTAN
| The Best Tourist Attractions of Pakistan |
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| Chukundi Tombs | Makli (Thatta) | Shah Jehan’s Mosque |
| Rawat Fort | Rohtas Fort | Indus Valley Civilization | Mehrgarh |
| Gandhara Civilization | Mughal Heritage | Uch Sharif |
| UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Pakistan | Buddhist Holy Sites In Pakistan |
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Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley Civilization:
The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia and China. Most of its ruins, even its major cities, remain to be excavated.
The ancient Indus Script has not been deciphered. Many questions about the Indus People who created this highly complex culture remain unanswered, but other aspects of their society can be answered through various types of archaeological studies.

The Indus Valley Civilization was at its peak from the 3rd till the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. Discovered in 1922, Moenjodaro (in Sindh province) was once a metropolis of great importance, forming part of the Indus Valley Civilization with Harappa (discovered in 1923 in the southern Punjab), Kot Diji (Sindh) and recently discovered Mehrgarh (Balochistan).

Moenjodaro is considered as one of the most spectacular ancient cities of the World. It had mud and baked bricks’ buildings, an elaborate covered drainage system, a large state granary, a spacious pillared hall, a College of Priests, a palace and a citadel. Harappa, another major city of the Indus Valley Civilization, was surrounded by a massive brick wall fortification. Other features and plan of the city were similar to that of Moenjodaro.

The Kot Diji culture is marked by well-made pottery and houses built of mud-bricks and stone foundations.
Mehrgarh, the oldest Civilization (7,000 B.C), remains of which were found in the district Kachhi of Balochistan recently, was the pioneer of the Indus Valley Civilization. The evidence of crop cultivation, animal husbandry and human settlement have been found here. The inhabitants of Mehrgarh were living in mud-brick houses and learned to make pottery around 6,000 B.C.

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Mehrgarh

Mehrgarh:
Neolithic Mehrgarh is a 9,000 years old site of settlement of Kachi district at the foot of Bolan Pass near Sibi. It is one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats) in south Asia. The site is located on the principal route between Afghanistan and the Indus Valley

Supported by Pakistan's Department of Archaeology, Mehrgarh was discovered and excavations begun by a French team led by Jean-François Jarrige; the site was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986. The earliest settled portion of Mehrgarh was in an area called MR.3, in the northeast corner of the 495-acre occupation. It is a small farming and pastoral village dated between 7000-5500 BC, with mud brick houses and granaries. The early Mehrgarh residents used local copper ore, basket containers lined with bitumen and an array of bone tools. They grew six-row barley, einkorn and emmer wheat, jujubes and dates. Sheep, goats and cattle were herded at Mehrgarh beginning during this early period.

Mehrgarh People lived in houses and were involved in hunting, domestication of animals and farming cereals like barley and wheat and later cotton too. This hunting-farming society developed gradually and their pursuits were creative. During the early period these people used stone and bone tools i.e. polished stone-axes, flint blades and bone-pointers. By the 6,000 B.C. the hand-made pottery appeared and in 5th millennium B.C. Metallurgy and potter-wheel were introduced and they produced some fine terra-cotta figurine and pottery with geometric designs. Subsequently they produced and wore ornaments of beads, seashells and semi-precious stones like Lapis Lazuli. A museum has been set up at Sibi where a wide range of rare finds from the site of Mehrgarh is on display.

Later periods included craft activities such as flint knapping, tanning, and bead production; also, a significant level of metal working. The site was occupied continuously until about 2600 BC, when it was abandoned.
The excavations, studied and research have led to pushing back the chronology of civilizations in Pakistan established through the study of Meonjodaro and Harappa by over 4,000 years. »» See More. . .

MEHRGRH - ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE has been included in World Heritage Tentative Site List By UNESCO Since 2004.


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Gandhara Civilization

Gandhara Civilization:
Gandharais the region that now comprise of Peshawar valley, Mardan, Swat, Dir, Malakand, and Bajuaur agencies in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Taxila in the Punjab, and up to Jalalabad in Afghanistan. It is in this region that the Gandhara civilization emerged and became the cradle of Buddhism. It was from here that Buddhism spread towards east as far away as Japan and Korea.
The intriguing record of Gandhara Civilization, discovered in the 20th century, are found in the archeological sites spread over Taxila, Swat and other parts of NWFP. The rock carving and the petroglyphs along the ancient Silk Road (Karakoram Highway) also provide fascinating record of the history of Gandhara.

Taxila is the abode of many splendid Buddhist establishments. Taxila, the main centre of Gandhara, is over 3,000 years old. Taxila had attracted Alexander the great from Macedonia in 326 BC, with whom the influence of Greek culture came to this part of the world. Taxila later came under the Mauryan dynasty and reached a remarkable matured level of development under the great Ashoka. During the year 2 BC, Buddhism was adopted as the state religion, which flourished and prevailed for over 1,000 years, until the year 10 AD. During this time Taxila, Swat and Charsadda (old Pushkalavati) became three important centers for culture, trade and learning. Hundreds of monasteries and stupas were built together with Greek and Kushan towns such as Sirkap and Sirsukh, both in The Gandhara civilization was not only the centre of spiritual influence but also the cradle of the world famous Gandhara culture, art and learning. It was from these centers that a unique art of sculpture originated which is known as Gandhara Art all over the world. Today the Gandhara sculptures occupy a prominent place in the museums of England, France, Germany, USA, Japan, Korea, China, India and Afghanistan, together with many private collections world over, as well as a vast collection in the museums of Pakistan. Buddhism left a monumental and rich legacy of art and architecture in Pakistan. Despite the vagaries of centuries, the Gandhara region preserved a lot of the heritage in craft and art. Much of this legacy is visible even today in Pakistan.

The very earliest examples of Buddhist Art are not iconic but aniconic images and were popular in the Sub-continent even after the death of the Buddha. This is because the Buddha himself did not sanction personal worship or the making of images. As Siddhatha Guatama was a Buddha, a self-perfected, self-enlightened human being, he was a human role model to be followed but not idolized. Of himself he said, 'Buddha's only point the way'. This is why the earliest artistic tributes to the Buddha were abstract symbols indicative of major events and achievements in his last life, and in some cases his previous lives. Some of these early representations of the Buddha include the footprints of the Buddha, which were often created at a place where he was known to have walked. Among the aniconic images, the footprints of the Buddha were found in the Swat valley and, now can be seen in the Swat Museum.

When Buddha passed away, His relics (or ashes) were distributed to seven kings who built stupas over them for veneration. The emperor Ashoka was later said to have dug them out, and distributed the ashes over a wider area, and built 84,000 stupas. With the stupas in place, to dedicate veneration, disciples then initiated 'stupa pujas'. With the proliferation of Buddhist stupas, stupa pujas evolved into a ritual act. Harmarajika stupa (Taxila) and Butkarha (Swat) stupa at Jamal Garha were among the earliest stupas of Gandhara. These had been erected on the orders of king Ashoka and contained the real relics of the Buddha.

At first, the object of veneration was the stupa itself. In time, this symbol was replaced by a more sensitive human image. The Gandhara schools is probably credited with the first representation of the Buddha in human form, the portrayal of Buddha in his human shape, rather than shown as a symbol.

As Buddhist Art developed and spread outside India, the styles developed here were imitated. For example, in China the Gandhara style was imitated in images made of bronze, with a gradual change in the features of these images.

Swat, the land of romance and beauty, is celebrated throughout the world as the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety. Swat acquired fame as a place of Buddhist pilgrimage. Buddhist tradition holds that the Buddha himself came to Swat during his last reincarnation as the Guatama Buddha and preached to the people here. It is said that the Swat was filled with fourteen hundred imposing and beautiful stupas and monasteries, which housed as many as 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education. There are now more than 400 Buddhist sites covering and area of 160 Km in Swat valley only. Among the important Buddhist excavation in swat an important one is Butkarha-I, containing the original relics of the Buddha.
Among the numerous Buddhist monuments present in Pakistan a few important ones, from historical and religious point of view, are:
Dharamarajika Stupa
Dhararaja, a title of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, in the middle of the 3rd century, erected the Dharamarajika Stupa, the oldest Buddhist monument in Taxila. The Dharamarajika Stupa contained the sacred relics of the Buddha and the silver scroll commemorating the relics. A wealth of gold and silver coins, gems, jewellery and other antiques were discovered here and are housed in the Taxila museum.
Takht-i-Bhai:
Takht-i-Bhai is another well-known and preserved monument, a Buddhist monastery located on a rocky ridge about 10 miles northeast of Mardan. This structure dates back to two to five century AD and stands 600 feet above the plane. The feature, which distinguishes this site from others, is its architectural diversity and its romantic mountain setting. The uphill approach has helped in the preservation of the monument.
The exposed buildings here include the main stupa and two courtyards in different terraces surrounded by votive stupa and shrines, the monastic quadrangles surrounded by cells for the monks, and a large hall of assembly. In one of the stupa courtyard is a line of colossal Buddhas, which were originally 16 to 20 feet high.

The site's fragmentary sculptures in stone and stucco are a considerable wealth but its most remarkable feature is the peculiar design and arrangement of the small shrines, which surround the main stupa. These shrines stood upon a continuous sculptured podium and were crowned alternately with stupa-like finials forming an ensemble. The beauty and grandeur provided by the entire composition is unparallel in the Buddhist world.
Takht-i-Bhai had a wealth of ancient Buddhist remains. A long range of different sized Buddha and Buddhistavvas from Takht-i-Bhai fill many museums. Some of the best pieces of Gandhara sculpture, now to be found in the museums of Europe, were originally recovered from Takht-i-Bhai.

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Mughal Heritage

Mughal Heritage:
Pakistan is a treasure house of Muslim architecture. Lahore, the cultural hub of Pakistan, is situated along the bank of Ravi River. The city has witnessed the rise and fall of many dynasties like Ghaznavis (1021-1186 AD), Ghoris (1186-1202 AD) and Slaves (1206-1524 AD) before the arrival of the Mughals. The city was conquered by Babur of Ferghana (situated in Uzbekistan), the founder of the Mughal dynasty (1524-1764 AD).

All the important monuments like the Royal Fort and the Mosque, Wazir Khan’s Mosque, Tombs of Jehangir, Asif Jah, Noor Jehan and the Shalimar Gardens, Hiran Minar etc., were constructed during this period. On the other hand, the shrines, mosques and forts located in and around Multan and Bahawalpur are masterpieces of the early Muslim architecture.
Some important buildings are; Forts at Multan and Derawar (Bahawalpur), shrines of Shaikh Bahauddin Zakaria, Shah Rukan-e-Alam, Hazrat Shams Tabrez at Multan and Tomb of Bibi Jiwandi at Uch Sharif near Bahawalpur. The tombs at Chaukundi, 27 km out of Karachi, the remains at Banbhore (64 km from Karachi) and the necropolis of a million graves scattered over an area of 10 sq.km at Makli Hills, near Thatta, together with the Shahjehan Mosque of Thatta, are exquisite specimens of Muslim architecture, stone carving and glazed tile decorations.

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Uch Sharif

Uch Sharif:
Uch or Uch Sharif is located in Punjab, Pakistan. Uch is also known as "Alexandria at the Head of the Punjab", is a historical city in Pakistan. Once it was an important city of ancient India. It is believed that in 325 BCE Alexander the Great founded a city called Alexandria at the site of the last confluence of Punjab rivers with the Indus river.
The website of the Embassy of Pakistan, Washington, D.C, however, describes Uch as follows: " Uch Sharif, 75 km from Bahawalpur, is a very old town. It is believed that it was founded in 500 BCE. Some historians believe that Uch was there even before the advent of Bikramjit when Jains and Buddhists ruled over the area. At the time of invasion by Alexander the Great, Uch was under Hindu rule." Some historians believe that Mithankot or Chacharan Sharif was the settlement of Alexandria founded by Alexander the Great.

Muhammad bin Qasim conquered the city and during the Muslim period Uch was one of the centers of Islamic studies of South Asia. There are several tombs of famous mystics (Sufis) in Uch, notably the tombs of Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari and his family. »» See More. . .

UCH SHARIF has been included in World Heritage Tentative Site List By UNESCO Since 2004.

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Tourist Destinations

»Karachi Elev. 22 m
»Multan Elev. 122 m
»Lahore Elev. 217 m
»Islamabad Elev. 508 m
»Murree Hills Elev. 2126 m
»Kaghan Valley Elev. 2134 m
»Swat Valley Elev. 975 m
»Hunza Valley Elev. 2500 m
»Kalash Valley Elev. 1670 m
»Skardu Valley Elev. 2500 m
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