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4.75 

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Islamabad - The Capital
May 01, 2005 01:09 PM 6190 Views
(Updated May 01, 2005 11:29 PM)

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Islamabad – you can also call it so called twin – cities (Rawalpindi Islamabad), however, these twins have totally distinct profiles and are far from identical.


Islamabad is a late 20th century capital laid out in straight lines and right angles and is subdued and suburban with wide avenues, park lands and barely a hint of the crowds, noise and pollution.


HIGHLIGHTS:




  • Exploring the Margalla Hills – an area of natural beauty.




  • Visiting amazing and beautiful ISB’s inspiring Shah Faisal Mosque, a modern geometrical interpretation of a desert tent with rocket like minarets.




  • Check out the glorious legacy of Gandharan civilisation at Taxila Museum and also archaeological sites.




  • Enjoy hiking around Murree and the Galis.






HISTORY:


The first capital of Pakistan was Karachi as it was too far from everything the decision was made in 1950’s to build a new capital near Rawalpindi.


To avoid the decay, architect – planner “Konstantinos Doxiades” idea was to let it grow sector by sector.


Each sector has its own residences, shops and parks. The construction begun in 1961 and during this period RWP temporarily enjoyed the status of Capital of Pakistan.


Thus, today ISB is the most modernize, well planned and ideal for tourists to enjoy all the facilities and quick ways.


SIGHTS:


1 - SHAKARPARIAN & LOK VIRSA MUSEUM:


It’s known as Shakarparian – south of Pakistan has arboretum with trees planted by many different foreign heads of state, beautiful gardens and panorama of ISB & RWP from the east outlook.


There is also a Rose & Jasmine Garden, site of several annual flower exhibitions downhill to the East.




  • LOK VIRSA MUSEUM: (National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage)




It’s the first ethnographic museum whose display includes traditional handicrafts, beautiful embroidered costumes, jewellery and woodcarvings.


The bookshop has classical music, books and many other diverse things for sale.


2 - SHAH FAISAL MOSQUE:


The marvellous and heart touching Mosque, nestled at the foot of the Margalla Hills, is said to be the one of the largest Mosque of Asia.


The main prayer hall has room for 10,000 worshippers and the courtyards and verandas can accommodate app. 64,000.


It costs USD 50 Million and was a gift from King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. It was designed by a Turkish architect and built between 1976 and 1986.


Its geometric design and clean lines leave you speechless. The 88m minarets (a popular urban myth is that the ever- paranoid CIA demanded to inspect them fearing they were missiles in disguise!) tower over the prayer hall.


You must leave your shoes at a counter before entering the courtyard.


The late president Zia –ul –Haq is buried on the grounds near the mosque. To reach there you can take taxi from Blue Area (RS 50)


3 - DAMAN – E –KOH & SAIDPUR


A picnic spot and beautiful view to Margalla Hills. It has view over ISB and also south to the Salt Range on a rare clear day.


Near by Daman-e-Koh you can also visit Marghzar Zoo, Margalla Hills National park and just east to the zoo, a road leads to the north east to Saidpur a (formerly Hindu) village still famous for pottery.


4 - NURPUR SHAHAN & BARI IMAM SHRINE


Nurpur Shahan village to the north of Diplomatic Enclave there is a Shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, also known as Bari Imam.


He was a 17th century sufi teacher. Thursday evening can be festive with Qawalis. Foreigners are welcome but should dress conservatively.


There is a May Carnival in the first week of May, “urs” (death anniversary festival) of Bari Imam.


10 mins straight drive passing through the Bari Imam Shrine, the road leads you to the Quaid – E - Azam University.


To reach Bari Imam Shrine you can take Minibus No 3 heads to Nurpur Shahan from Raja Bazaar in Rawalpindi.


5 - MARGALLA HILLS NATIONAL PARK


The Margalla Hills north of ISB are full of hiking trails, Hiking Around Islamabad (Rs 135), produced by the Asian Study Group and available in bookshops.


London Book Company in Kohsar market provides more details on hiking in ISB, preparations hints and natural history.


6 - OTHER PLACES:


There are also many beautiful shopping Centres, secretariat, Pakistan House, President’s House, beautiful Supreme Court, National Assembly building, Rawal Dam, embassies and much more.


PAKISTAN TOURISM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION:


The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation provides free maps of ISB and RWP with useful keys to ISB. The office staff is friendly and helpful.


The office staff can help in organising accommodation in ISB, making reservation at PTDC Hotels and onward transport.


EMERGENCY:


Police: 15 (24 hr)


INTERNET ACCESS:


Internet Cafés are spreading around faster than rumours. It’s not a big deal to get access to internet in ISB.


MEDICAL SERVICES:


Capital Hospital


A few blocks west to the main post office.


Federal General Services Hospital


Near the Blue Area.


Shifa International


Said to be the best.


I highly recommend you ISB. Visit it and enjoy its charm. :)


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