Major Attractions Around Rawalpindi/Islamabad
Murree is known as Malika-e-Kohsar, which means the Queen of Hills. Murree is only an hour's drive northeast of Islamabad. From Rawalpindi it is only 64 km and at an altitude of 2,286 meters. Murree where lofty peaks tower above green pine-covered slopes, is one of the most popular summer resorts in Pakistan.
Murree spreads along the top of a ridge for about five kilometers (three miles). At the northeast end is Kashmir Point, with views across the valley of the Jhelum River into Azad Kashmir. At the southwest end is Pindi Point, looking back towards Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Between the two runs The Mall, at the center of, which is the main shopping area, where most people congregate. Chair Lifts in Murree give a ride from Bansara Gali (below Murree) to Pindi Point, the other to the top of Patriata hill (on the road to Karor).
Driving through pine country on the smoothly carpeted road to Murree, the Salgran roadside facility is situated 29 km from Rawalpindi. Salgran has a well-developed parking area, snack bar and washroom for travelers. The well laid out lawns with shaded seating areas blend with the tranquil environment.
At Charra Pani, 40 km from Rawalpindi, the landscape becomes more spectacular. The TDCP roadside facility is very tastefully set on the densely wooded slopes of the Murree Hills, the architecture blending unobtrusively with the natural surroundings. Charra Pani has a snack bar as well as washroom facilities for travelers.
Bhurban is a minor resort eight kilometers (five miles) from Murree on the road leading northeast to Kohala and the Jhelum Valley. The golf course here is open only to members. From near the Pearl Continental Hotel you can take one of the many delightful paved walks through the woods.
Patriata is 25 km from Murree. It has become a new tourist resort. There is a chairlift and cable car system, which takes visitors upto Patriata Ridge in two stages from Gulehra Gali. The first stage is by chair lift up to Patriata Bazaar. From here visitors transfer to cable car gondolas for the ride up to Patriata Ride. A restaurant has also been established. Further plans include development of a wildlife park at the mid-station.
Khairagali, Changlagali, Khanspur and Ghora Dhaka, these four mini resorts spread over an area of 26 km have been developed into a resort complex called Ayubia. In addition to riding trails, hiking places and picnic spots, Ayubia has a chair lift, which like a ski-lift, takes you up to the summit of the nearby range for a panoramic view of the forested hills. Ayubia is 26 km from Murree.
Perhaps the most sought after is the beautiful Nathiagali perched 2501 meters high about 32 km away from Murree. The bracing air of the surrounding mountains is as pure as fresh spring water.
Dungagali is a picturesque small resort situated on the slopes of the Mukshpuri hill (2376 m.). It commands a charming view of a series of wooded spurs projecting towards the River Jhelum on the western side. From Dungagali one can climb the 2813-m peak of Mukhshpuri, which is the highest point in the range. Natural springs abound on the slopes. It is 30 km from Murree.
Khairagali is 16 km from Murree at an elevation of 2346 m and commands a panoramic view on either side of the ridge.
Changlagali is 16 km from Murree at an altitude of 2559 m. There is a rest house located in the most picturesque surroundings.
The Old City of Rawalpindi
The Rawalpindi city has two main roads: the Grand Trunk Road which runs from east to west and is known as The Mall as it passes through the cantonment, whereas the Murree Road breaks north from The Mall, crosses the railway and brushes the east end of the old city on its way to Islamabad.
The Cantonment gives a hint of British Raj with its Christian Churches and Cemetery, spacious bungalows, club, cricket ground, Mall and the colonial-style Flashman's Hotel. Close to Flashman's is Saddar Bazaar, the center not only for shopping but also for hotels, banks, airlines and travel agents. The heart of the bazaar is along Kashmir Road and Massey Gate.
The Army Museum
The Army Museum, near the Pearl Continental Hotel, houses a fine collection of weapons, uniforms and paintings depicting Pakistan's military history. Hours are 9 am to 3 pm in winter, 8 am to noon and 5.30 pm to 7 pm in summer.
Recreation Spots In Rawalpindi
Ayub National Park
Ayub National Park is located a little beyond the old Presidency on Jhelum Road. It covers an area of about 2, 300 acres and has a play-land, lake with boating facility, an aquarium and a garden-restaurant.
Rawalpindi Public Park
Rawalpindi Public Park is located on Murree Road near Shamsabad. The Park was opened for public in 1991. It has a play land for children, grassy lawns, fountains and flowerbeds.
Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium
A cricket stadium was built in 1992 just opposite the Rawalpindi Public Park. The stadium is equipped with all modern facilities.
Rawalpindi Golf Course
Rawalpindi Golf Course is situated near Ayub National Park. It was completed in 1926 by Rawalpindi Golf Club, one of the oldest golf clubs of Pakistan, founded on 2nd November 1885. The facility was initially developed as a nine-hole course but after several phases of development, it is now been converted into a 27-hole course.
Places of Recreation in Islamabad
Rose and Jasmine Garden
This garden is famous for its roses and is spread over an area of 20,360 sq. meters. It has 250 different varieties of roses as well as a dozen types of Jasmines. Flower shows are occasionally held here, particularly during spring.
Shakarparian Hills are situated near Zero Point at a height of about 609 meters. Its terraced garden offer pleasant and sweeping vistas of Margalla and Murree hills, Rawal Lake, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Snack Bar facility is also available.
A low hill overlooking Islamabad is known as Daman-e-Koh. It offers panoramic view of Islamabad. The place is ideal for afternoon and evening outing.
Murghzar Mini Zoo and Children's Park
Murghzar Mini Zoo is located at the foot of Daman-e-Koh viewpoint. A display corner of Pakistan Museum of Natural History and a Japanese style children's park have also been established near the Zoo. The Park is a gift to Pakistani children from the children of Japan.
Islamabad Sports Complex
A Sports Complex comprising of Liaquat Gymnasium for indoor games and Jinnah Stadium for outdoor games has been built with the Chinese assistance. It is located on Shahra-e-Kashmir near Aabpara. Regular national and international sports events are held in the Complex.
Fatima Jinnah Park
The entire sector of F-9 is being developed as an attractive urban park, which will have a profusion of lakes, rock gardens, aquariums, fountains etc. It has been named after Miss Fatima Jinnah, sister of the founder of Pakistan.
Idara Saqafat-e-Pakistan also known as the Pakistan National Council of the Arts runs two art galleries. First the National Gallery which is located at House # 77, Street # 48, F-7/4, Islamabad. Here contemporary Pakistani art is on permanent display besides revolving exhibitions and paintings available for sale.
Children Art Plaza
It is situated at # 77, School Road, F-7/4, Islamabad, where Children's art is on display and regular art classes are held for children.
The Lok Virsa also known as the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage works towards preserving the living folk and traditional culture of Pakistan. This Folk Heritage Museum, located near Shakarparian Hills, has a large display of embroidered costumes, jewelry, woodwork, metalwork, block printing, ivory and bone work. Traditional architecture facades exhibiting such skills as fresco, mirror work, marble inlay, tile's mosaic and stucco tracery are also displayed. Lok Virsa Heritage Reference Library is equipped with resource data on ethnography, anthropology, folk music, art, history and crafts.
Pakistan Museum of Natural History
This Museum of Natural History is located opposite the Women's College on College Road in F-7/2, Commercial Area. The Museum depicts early human history, geology, and wildlife of Pakistan. The exhibits are of particular interest to students and children.
Islamabad museum presents a long historic sequence of the land where Pakistan is situated today. Pakistan has been a seat of the world's leading civilizations from the time immemorial. There is plenty of evidence to support this argument now on display in Islamabad Museum. For example, 20 million years old fossil remains, 2 million years old man-made stone tools, 7000 years old early human settlements, which lead to the world famous Indus Civilization, Gandhara Grave Culture and Gandhara art, early Islamic settlement and Mughal period, their art and craft.
Dams And Lakes In And Around Rawalpindi/Islamabad
About 30 km from Islamabad lies Simli Dam. It can be reached via Lehtrar road or via Bhara Kahu. It is fed by the melting snow and natural spring of Murree Hills. The water stored in the lake is supplied to Islamabad for drinking purposes. Angling and boating is also allowed in the lake. The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has a Rest House at the Dam, which can be booked through its Head Office in Islamabad.
This glistening man-made lake covers an area of 8.8 sq. km. The terraced garden and the lake are ideal for picnic, fishing and boating. The highest point in the garden commands a panoramic view of the lake, Margalla and Murree hills, Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
Misriot dam is located 12 km southwest of Rawalpindi. This small dam has an artificial lake with boating and fishing facilities. Fishing permit may be obtained from fishing guard at Misriot. It has a pleasant landscape and walkways beyond the lake among eruptions of black rocks.
This beautiful lake/dam is 48 km from Islamabad on Taxila-Haripur Road. It is an ideal place for day trip/picnic, boating, angling and watching migratory birds during winter.
This is the world's largest earth-filled dam on one of the world's most important rivers - the Indus and is 103 km from Rawalpindi. The dam was completed in 1976 at a cost of Rs. 18.5 billion. Over 15,000 Pakistani and 800 foreign workers and engineers worked during its construction. It is the biggest hydel power station in Pakistan having a capacity of generating 3,478 MW of electricity. Its reservoir is 97 km long with a depth of 137 meter while total area of the lake is 260 sq. km. Permits are required for visiting the Dam. For this we need to contact the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Tarbela (Tel: 051-568941-2). A No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Interior (Shaheed-e-Millat Sectt.), Islamabad is also required for foreign visitors.
World's third largest earth-filled dam is only 115 km southeast of Rawalpindi. One has to turn left from Dina Town and there the dam on river Jhelum is about 16 km to the east. The dam is 3,353 meters long and 116 meters high above the riverbed. It is designed to store 5.88 MAF water and also used for power generation. In the center of the dam there is a Gakkhar Fort from where one can have a panoramic view of the lake. For permits to visit the dam, please contact PRO, WAPDA, Mangla. A NOC from the Ministry of Interior is required for foreigners.
Mosques and Shrines
Shah Faisal Mosque
This beautiful mosque was designed by a renowned Turkish Architect, Vedat Dalokay and named after King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. It is spread over an area of 1,89,705 sq. meters with 88 meters high minarets and 40 meters high main prayer hall. The main prayer hall has the capacity to accommodate 10,000 persons while the covered porticos and verandahs can take over 24,000 people. The main courtyard has space for 40,000 people.
Shrine of Shah Abdul Latif (Barri Imam)
Nurpur Shahan, a village situated at the foot of Margalla Hills, near Quaid-e-Azam University, is famous for the mirror-studded shrine of Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, popularly known as Bari Imam. The shrine was originally built on the order of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The death anniversary (Urs) of Bari Imam is observed in the first week of May beginning Monday through Thursday with lots of festivities representing the culture of Potohar and attracts people from all over the country.
Shrine of Syed Meher Ali Shah (Golra Sharif)
The shrine of Syed Meher Ali Shah of Golra Sharif is located 18 km from Rawalpindi, in sector E-11 of Islamabad. He was descendant of a Syed family and had links with Syed Abdul Qadir Gilani of Baghdad. He was born in 1859, preached and spread the message of Islam during the turbulent times in South Asia. He also wrote beautiful prose and poetry in Persian, Arabic and Punjabi languages, mostly in praise of God and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He died on May 11, 1937. His mausoleum was recently reconstructed. Devotees assemble here on the occasion of annual Urs.
Four universities in Islamabad have taken onto themselves, four different kinds of responsibilities.
Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU)
This University (AIOU) was established in 1974 as People's Open University and was renamed as Allama Iqbal Open University in 1977. It is in sector H-8. President of Pakistan is the Chancellor of the University. This University is a Semi-Governmental/State-owned enterprise. The University offers doctorate, master, degree, diploma and certificate programs.
Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU)
Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) was established in 1965 in Islamabad. President of Pakistan is the Chancellor. The University offers postgraduate degrees.
International Islamic University (IIU)
International Islamic University (IIU) was founded in November 1980 and is located in the vicinity of Shah Faisal Mosque. President of Pakistan is the Chancellor. This University aims at re-constructing human thought in all its forms on the foundations of Islam.
The National University of Science and Technology (NUST)
NUST was founded in 1991.
University of Arid Agriculture, Rawalpindi
Fatima Jinnah University for Women, Rawalpindi
Some Interesting Places Around Rawalpindi/Islamabad
This resort nestles at the base of Murree hills at a distance of 15 km on Islamabad-Murree road. This place offers scenic walks, gently flowing stream, waterfall and the surrounding hillside are a perfect attraction. The resort has a restaurant, barbecue and two air-conditioned tourist cottages. The Children's Park and playground are spread over an area of 12.5 acres.
This small pass is located 26 km west of Islamabad on G.T. Road. Margalla is mentioned in the writings of historians and emperors like Alberuni, Ferishta and Jehangir. Today, it is a pass between the ancient capital of Gandhara i.e. Taxila, and the modern capital of Pakistan, i.e. Islamabad. There is an obelisk right on the top of the Pass, built in 1890 in memory of Brig. Gen. John Nicholson (died on 23 September 1857) of British army, by his colleagues. A small part of the ancient Shahi (Royal) Road can be seen just across the pass, left of G.T. Road. This road was first built by the Persians in 516 BC and later developed by the Afghan King Sher Shah Suri in 1540s. An inscription on the western side of this stone pavement shows that it was again repaired in 1672 AD.
Once a major campsite of Mughal rulers on way to their journeys to Kashmir, Wah Gardens are located 12 km west of Taxila on G.T. Road. The gardens were developed with magnificent trees by Mughal emperors. Tapering cypress trees, loved by the Mughals, line the canals through which cool waters once flowed between elegant romantic and cascading into large reflecting basins. The gardens are being restored to their original beauty, by the Department of Archaeology, Government of Pakistan.
Taxila is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. At one time it was the center of Buddhism, world's famous Gandhara sculpture and the center of learning and culture. This is the land, which attracted Alexander the Great from Macedonia in 326 B.C., with whom the influence of Greek culture came to this part of the world.
Exploring Taxila is a multi-dimensional experience. The richness and variety of the famed Gandhara sculpture will attract you. There are many images of Buddha, in stone and stucco and numerous panels depicting all the important stages of the great sage's life, times of one of the world's most impressive men of peace Gautama Buddha.