Pakistan, officially Islamic Republic of Pakistan, republic in South Asia, marking the area where South Asia converges with Southwest Asia and Central Asia. The capital of Pakistan is Islamabad; Karachi is the country’s largest city.
Geography of Pakistan
Area 796,095 sq km 307,374 sq mi
Coastline 1,046 km 650 mi
Highest point K2 8,611 m/28,251 ft
Pakistan is bordered on the west by Iran, on the north and northwest by Afghanistan, on the northeast by China, on the east and southeast by India, and on the south by the Arabian Sea. A panhandle of Afghanistan territory in the northwest, the Wakhan Corridor, separates Pakistan and Tajikistan. The area of Pakistan is 796,095 sq km (307,374 sq mi), not including the section of Jammu and Kashmir under its control. Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory located between Pakistan and India. Pakistan controls a portion of the territory as Azad (Free) Kashmir and the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA), while India controls a portion as the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Population: 512,933. Area: 906 sq. km Elevation: 494 to 610 m. above sea level
Seasons Max. Avg. Min. Avg.
Winter (Oct-March): 16.7 C 3.4 C
Summer (Apr-Sept.): 34.2 C 24.4 C
Annual Average: 28.9 C 14.4 C
Average Rainfall: 1143 millimeters
On the west bank of the Indus, 580 km Karachi, lies Moenjodaro (Mound of the Dead), an archaeological site which has been rated amongst the most spectacular of the world’s ancient cities. Considered one of the earliest and most developed of urban civilizations, Moenjodaro flourished from the third to the middle of the second millennium B.C.
When it vanished leaving only traces of its culture. Moenjodaro alongwith Harappa (in the Punjab), some 1280 km away – formed part of the Indus valley civilization and its is now generally believed that these were the cities, referred to in the Rigveda that were destroyed by the Aryan invaders.
The urban planning at Moenjodaro was pragmatic and at a high level. Its main thoroughfares were some 91 m wide and were crossed by straight streets that formed blocks 364 m in length and 182/273 m in width. The city’s mud-brick walls and baked brick houses were designed to ensure the safety of its occupants so that in times of earthquakes the structures collapse outwards. It had an elaborate covered drainage system, soak pits for disposal bins, a state granary, a large and imposing building that could have been a palace and a citadel mound with solid burnt-brick towers on its margin. Judging from the remains, the Great Hall was probably the most striking of its structures, comprising an open quadrangle with verandahs of four sides’ galleries and rooms at the back, a number of halls, and a large bathing pool perhaps used for religious or ceremonial bathing. Close to the archaeological site is the Moenjodaro Museum that houses finds from the excavations. These include, amongst other things, engraved seals, ornaments, utensils, pottery weapons, figurines and toys.
Visitors wishing to stay overnight can put up at the archaeological department’s rest house or the newly built PTDC Motel, which also has a restaurant. Room charges are very reasonable. Nearby Sukkur and Moenjodaro, can be reached by air, rail and road from Karachi.
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.
The lush-green valley of Swat, with its rushing torrents, icy-cold lakes, fruit-laden orchards and flower-decked slopes is ideal for holidaymakers. It has a rich historical past, too. This is "Udayana" (The Garden) of the ancient epics; the land of enthralling beauty, where Alexander of Macedonia fought and won some of his major battles before crossing over to the delta of Indus River. This is the "valley of hanging chairs", as described by the famous Chinese pilgrim-chroniclers, Huaen Tsang and Fa-Hian in the fifth and sixth centuries. Swat was once the cradle of Buddhism of all of its schools – Mahayana, Hinayana and Tantrayana, where once 1,400 monasteries flourished. It was the home of the famous Gandhara School of Sculpture that was an expression of Greco-Roman form in the local Buddhist tradition. Swat was also the historical land where the Muslim conquerors, Mahmud of Ghazni, Babur of Ferghana and Akbar fought their battles preparatory to the conquest of South Asia. The valley of Swat sprawls over 10,360 sq. km at an average elevation of 875 metres. The maximum temperature in July is 38 C and minimum (during January) is 1 C. The normal temperature is maximum 21 C and minimum 7 C. The tourist season is year-round.
WHAT TO SEE IN SWAT?
Saidu Sharif, Mingora & Murghzar: Headquarters of Swat Valley, Saidu Sharif houses the Swat Museum that contains one of the finest collections of Gandhara art in the world. Mingora, the twin city of Saidu Sharif, has yielded magnificent pieces of Buddhist sculpture and the ruins of great stupas. Marghazar, 16 km from Saidu Sharif, is famous for its “Sufed Mahal” the white marble palace of the former Wali (Ruler) of Swat. Kabal is 6 km from Saidu Sharif with its excellent golf course.
At 2,636 m above sea level, Malam Jabba Ski Resort stands on top of a mountain of the Hindukush range, north east of Saidu Sharif. It is 314 km from Islamabad and 51 km from Saidu Sharif. After driving for 10 kms on Saidu Sharif-Kalam road, turn right from Manglor for Malam Jabba. Amidst its natural beauty and imprints of Gandhara civilization, lie the modern tourist facilities of a 52 rooms motel, 2 skiing platforms, chairlifts, roller/ice skating rinks, restaurant, telephone and snow clearing equipment etc. The food, lodging and skiing facilities are all managed by foreign trained staff and offered at competitive prices. The summer temperatures of 10oC to 25oC give way to lush green meadows and thick green forests of Pine & Deodar trees. In the winter when the temperature falls to –5oC to –10oC, the angel white snow makes it an ideal place for skiing.
Miandam: At 1,830 m above sea level, Miandam Valley is 50 km from Saidu Sharif and recommended for those looking for a peaceful place full of fragrance and scenic beauty.
Madyan & Bahrain: Both the towns are a good stop-over while travelling from Saidu Sharif to Kalam. Madyan is famous for its trout hatcheries and Bahrain for its meeting of two rivers and its handicrafts.
The most popular tourist spot in Swat Valley (2,073 m) is 100 km away from Saidu Sharif. In addition to PTDC’s seasonal coach service, there is a regular private bus and van service between Mingora and Kalam.
Matiltan and Mahodand Lake: This is the most spectacular area of upper Swat Valley. While staying overnight at Kalam, you can enjoy a day trip by jeep to these beautiful tourist spots. Distance is just 13-16 km from Kalam.
Another scenic valley of upper Swat, located 21-29 km from Kalam. The road is jeepable and jeeps can be hired from Kalam. A day trip with picnic lunch is recommended.
HOW TO GET THERE?
Swat is linked by road and by air with Islamabad/Rawalpindi and Peshawar. There is regular bus and van service between Rawalpindi and Mingora. A seasonal tourist coach service for Saidu Sharif and Kalam is run by PTDC from 1st June to 30th August every year. For bookings and further information, please contact PTDC offices at Rawalpindi or Saidu Sharif.
WHERE TO STAY? in SWAT
There are moderately priced hotels, motels and rest houses in Swat at Saidu Sharif, Mingora, Marghzar, Madyan, Bahrain, Kalam and Ushu. PTDC also has its Motels at Saidu Sharif, Miandam, Malam Jabba and Kalam. For local assistance, please contact: Tourist Information Centre, PTDC Motel, Saidu Sharif. Tel: (0946) 9240159 Fax: (0936) 9249156
WHAT TO BUY? in SWAT
Local handicrafts include embroidered linen, hand-woven rugs and shawals, silverware, tribal jewellery and carved wood work.
It is a charming town spread out over several low, refreshingly cool and green hills. Abbottabad is 116 km (2 hours) from Rawalpindi and 208 km (3 hours) from Peshawar. Places worth visiting in Abbottabad are: Simla Hill, Ilyasi Masjid etc.
Abbottabad, is 1,222 m. above sea level, is a neat and clean town in a spacious valley surrounded by green hills. It is a popular summer resort. It serves as a base for trips to Kaghan valley and the Gallies. PTDC maintains a Tourist Information Centre here to facilitate the visitors. Places worth visiting in and around Abbottabad are; Ilyasi Mosque with a water spring, Shimla hill view point. Thandiani is another attractive hill resort 30 km east of Abbottabad at an altitude of 8,800 feet.
A Visit to Kaghan Valley will leave you enchanted by the spectacular beauty of its mountains, glaciers and lush greenery. Kaghan Valley includes Naran, Kaghan, Shogran and its surrounding areas. The way to Kaghan valley starts with two hour drive to Abbottabad. At Abbottabad you can refresh yourself with a cup of tea before driving to Mansehra, Balakot and onwards to Kawai. Kawai onwards is a steep climb to the Shogran plateau which offers a splended view of a fabulous array of mountains, amid pine trees and lush green meadows
Kaghan & Naran: Kaghan Village has given its name to the whole Valley. It is 64 km from Balakot at an altitude of 2,039 m. Naran is the main tourist attraction of the valley. It is linked with Balakot by 88 km long metalled road. It takes 4 hours by car to reach Naran. Naran serves as a base for the whole valley. From here, you can ride a jeep or horse or hike to several picturesque lakes, valleys and peaks. The journey through the valley by the side of Kunhar river is indeed a unique experience.
A holiday in Kaghan Valley, the Himalayan hide-away situated northeast of Hazara district of North West Frontier Province, is an unforgettable experience. Its mountains, dales, lakes, waterfalls, streams and glaciers are still in an unbelievable pristine state, an unspoiled paradise. The Valley extends for 155 km rising from an elevation of 2,134 metres to its highest point, the Babusar Pass (4,173 m). Kaghan is at its best in the summer months (May to September). In May the temperature is: maximum 11 C and the minimum 3 C. From the middle of July up to the end of September, the road beyond Naran, snowbound throughout the winter, is open right up to Babusar Pass.
Most of the tourists especially come to visit lake Saiful Maluk lying 10,600 feet above sea level with its natural tranquillity in the foot hills of Himalayas. Saiful Maluk is one of the most beautiful lakes of the world. To sit beside the lake is to be in the fairy world. Camping at Saiful Maluk is an experience of life time.
You can find nice and comfortable hotel accomodation at Shogran and after a day's rest consider moving on to Sri Paya. But be prepared for the extra bumpy ride. You can also plan a hiking trip to Sri Paya from Shogran. It will take around two and half hour to reach at peaks of Sri Paya.
Once you reach Sri Paya the discomfort of the journey is forgotten as you find yourself surrounded by a spectacular view of the Makra hills and the Malka Parbat peak. Malka Parbat in english means "Queen of Mountains".
The next stop Khanian offers the best trout one can taste in the north. The dazzling greens of Dana Meadows and the slippery glaciers at tarmac, on the way to Naran, are quite an experience.
Malka Parbat, can be best approached by hiking or driving 10 KM from Naran to the legendary Saiful Maluk nesting in the shadows of The Malka Parbat. On a clear day, you can behold the majesty of the Malka Parbat'speaks reflected in the lake's deep blue icy waters.
TOO SHORT ABOUT PAKISTAN