PAKISTAN is uniquely blessed with natural beauty and ancient history. The imprints of both endowments make Pakistan an exquisite destination for tourists from all over the world who find it attractive on multiple counts: its landscape features remarkable diversity ranging over mountain chains and glaciers, rugged plateaus, sprawling deserts, large rivers, lakes, and sea. Its people weave into a gorgeous ethnic mosaic depicting vibrant colors of an illustrious heritage. Its cuisine is a refined blend of distinctive spices and savory flavors, whose irresistibly appetizing aroma attracts gourmets and culinary tourists from around the world. Pakistan offers a vast variety of choices to its visitors, providing them with unforgettable experiences.
There are a few areas in the world where mountains rise in such awesome splendor, as they do in the northern areas of Pakistan. The second-highest mountain in the world, K-2, and almost 37 of the world’s 100 highest peaks are in Pakistan—five of them over 8,000 meters. It has also the highest concentration of glaciers outside the Polar region, with seven of them being over 40 kilometers long. Amid towering snow-clad peaks, the valleys of Gilgit, Hunza, Baltistan, and Swat, among other regions are full of fascinating sceneries. The cultural patterns and historical sites of these regions are as interesting as their geography. The Gandhara Buddhist civilization once flourished in these areas, which reflects today through unique relics of Buddha sculptures.
The world’s oldest Silk route used to pass through areas making today’s Pakistan. It has been transformed into the world’s highest paved international road, the Karakoram Highway, which is considered to be the Eighth Wonder of the World. The world’s second-largest salt mine, Khewra, is in Pakistan, which mesmerizes the tourists with its exceptional underground crystalline beauty. The world’s highest polo ground is in Pakistan, where the Shundur Polo Festival is held every year and is a great tourist attraction.
Pakistan was cradle to a thriving civilization over 5,000 years ago, known as Indus Valley Civilization. The excavations in the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro reveal the organized urban life, a civic identity and planned towns with wide streets laid out in a grid pattern, water wells, domestic and public drainage systems, assembly halls and public baths for the people, and a uniform system of weights and measurements.
Mohenjo-Daro is known as the “First Planned City in the World.” The people of the Indus Valley were also credited for being the first on Earth to grow cotton. They used large kilns to produce pottery and standard-sized bricks to make their building. A visit to these excavation sites is a treat for history buff!
Besides breathtaking natural scenery and historical sites, Pakistani cuisine and culture are two other main tourist attractions. Just recently, Pakistan has been ranked among the world’s top five must-visit countries by Cassandra de Pecol, an American tourist who compiled this list after completing her globe-trotting through 196 countries. Speaking about as to why people should travel to Pakistan, she wrote, “To get a true sense of raw, authentic Asian culture, and for the food.”
Pakistan cities are alive with cultural activity sprinkled with a range of religious and spiritual festivals. There is a well-established tradition of folk and classical dance. Pakistani music has exclusive melodies springing from peculiar indigenous instruments like sitar, alghoza, bansuri, and rubab. Pakistan is a treasure-house of Muslim art and architecture. Lahore, the cultural and culinary capital, is situated along the bank of River Ravi. Splendid monuments like the Royal Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Wazir Khan’s Mosque; as well as the tombs of Emperor Jehangir, Asif Khan, Queen Noor Jehan; and the Shalimar Gardens and Hiran Minar are located here. The rich hospitality of Pakistani people and the unparalleled taste of Pakistani food take tourists’ experience to another level.
From the mighty stretches of the Karakorum, in the North, to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus River, in the South, Pakistan remains a land of high adventure for tourists. Trekking, mountaineering, whitewater rafting, wild-boar hunting, mountain and desert jeep safaris, camel and yak safaris, trout fishing, and bird watching are just some of the activities that entice the adventurous and nature lovers to Pakistan. From the mountains of the Himalayas and the Karakorums to the rich hospitality of Lahore and the breathtaking beauty of the Thar Desert, Pakistan offers its visitors a spectrum of experiences.