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Pakistan is known as a cradle of civilization. The Indus civilization developed around 3,000 be and flourished for a period of about fifteen hundred years. The Aryans, who arrived from central Asia around 1,700, be, displacing the Indus civilization and bringing Hinduism to the region. 1200 years later, the Aryans yielded in turn to the armies of Cyrus the great, and the Indus region became a part of his Achaemenid.
Arrive in Islamabad. A representative of Karakorum Adventures will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport. This representative will answer questions, brief you on the immediate arrangements, and escort you to the hotel in Islamabad.
Overnight stay at hotel.
Discover the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi is an old British -era settlement and Islamabad is the capital city and administrative center built sometime after the partition of India in elevation in 1947. The cities are Located at about 1,500 feet in elevation in the hot and steamy plains of Pakistan’s upper Punjab. You may wish to explore Rawalpindi by wandering among its many and varied bazaars or visit the imposing Shah Faisal Mosque superbly situated at the foot of the Margalla Hills. This mosque is one of the largest in the world, with room for 15,000 worshippers inside and 85,000 in the courtyard.
Overnight in Hotel
Proceed to Taxila (World Heritage) for full day sightseeing including:
Jaulian Buddhist Monastery,
Mohra Muradu Buddhist Monastery,
Sirkap ( Greek City Remain),
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 modern town of Taxila is 35 km from Islamabad. Most of the archaeological sites of Taxila (600BC to 500 AD) are located around Taxila Museum. For over one thousand years, Taxila remained famous as a centre of learning Gandhara art of sculpture, architecture, education and Buddhism in the days of Buddhist glory. There are over 50 archaeological sites scattered in a radius of 30 kms around Taxila. Some of the most important sites are; Dharmarajika Stupa and Monastery (300 BC – 200 AD), Bhir Mound (600-200 BC), Sirkap (200 BC – 600 AD), Jandial Temple (c.250 BC) and Jaulian Monastery (200 – 600 AD).
The very earliest examples of Buddhist Art are not iconic but aniconic images and were popular in the Subcontinent even after the death of the Buddha. This is because the Buddha himself did not sanction personal worship or the making of images. As Siddhartha Gautama 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, ‘Buddhas 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. Dharmarajika stupa (Taxila) and Butkara (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.
Overnight in Hotel. Full Board.
Rohtas Fort is one of the most imposing historical monuments which represents the Pathan period of architecture style in Pakistan. The Rohtas fort lies sprawling upon a low rocky hill to the north of Jhelum in a bend of the river Ghan (mostly spelled as Kahan). The gigantic fort is founded on steep rocks jutting into the river Kahan, its ramparts protected on the west and north sides by the river and by high hills on its east and south. It was never taken by assault and survives intact to the present day. The main fortifications consist of the massive walls, which extended for more than 4km; they are lined with bastions and pierced by monumental gateways.
After a short Diversion through to Uch Sharif, we will drive to Multan, which is a historical city and is known as the city of saints.
Uch, 75 km from Bahawalpur, is a very old town, it is believed that it existed even in 500 B.C. Some historians believe that Uch was there even before the advent of Bikramajit when Jains and Buddhists ruled over subcontinent. At the time of the invasion by Alexander the Great, Uch was under Hindu rule. Some historians say that Alexander came to Uch after conquering northern parts of India and spent over a fortnight in the city and renamed it Alexandria. Some have mentioned Uch by the name of Sikandra or Iskalanda. They have decided it as the most flourishing and beautiful town perched upon the Plateau near the confluence of the Chenab and Ravi rivers. Famous shrines existing at Uch include those of Hazrat Bahawal Haleem, Hazrat Jalaluddin Surkh Bukhari, Makhdoom Jahanian Jahangasht, Bibi Jawindi and Sheikh Saif-ud-din Ghazrooni etc.
Overnight in Hotel. Full Board.
Lahore may not be Pakistan’s capital city; it wins hands down as its cultural, intellectual and artistic hub. Are history and architecture are your passion? There’s an evocative mix, from formidable Mughal monuments to faded legacies of the British Raj. Indeed, even a ramble around the old city can unfold into a mini adventure. For those in search of spiritual sustenance, Lahore has Qawwali and Sufism that will blow your mind.
Lahore Fort (Shahi Qila)
Built, damaged, demolished, rebuilt and restored several times before being given its current form by Emperor Akbar in 1566 (when he made Lahore his capital), the Lahore Fort is the star attraction of the Old City.
The fort was modified by Jehangir in 1618 and later damaged by the Sikhs and the British, although it has now been partially restored. Within it is a succession of stately palaces, halls and gardens built by Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurangzeb, comparable to and contemporary with the other great Mughal forts at Delhi and Agra in India. It’s believed that the site conceals some of Lahore’s most ancient remains. The fort has an appealing ‘abandoned’ atmosphere (unless it’s packed with visitors) and although not as elaborate as most of India’s premier forts, it’s still a fabulous place to simply wander around.
Completed in 1674 under Aurangzeb as the Mughals final architectural fling, the sublime Badshahi Mosque, opposite the main gateway to the Lahore Fort, is one of the world’s largest mosques. Replete with huge gateways, four tapering minarets of red sandstone, three vast marble domes and an open courtyard said to hold up to 100,000 people, it was damaged by the British and later restored. The rooms above the entrance gate are said to house hairs of the Prophet Mohammed and other relics. The mosque looks lovely when it’s illuminated in the evening.
In the courtyard stands the Tomb of Allama Mohammad Iqbal, a modest memorial in red sandstone to the philosopher-poet who in the 1930s first postulated the idea of an independent Pakistan.
To the northeast of town, about 4km from the main train station, this was one of three gardens named Shalimar Gardens created by Shah Jahan in the 17th century. It’s also the only surviving Mughal garden of several built in Lahore. The gardens are now rather run-down and a far cry from their former glory, but they’re still popular with locals. The walled gardens were laid out in a central tier with two smaller and lower ones to either side, with a pool of the corresponding size, in keeping with the mathematical principles of Mughal design. Visitors originally entered at the lowest level and walked up through successive gardens illuminated by hundreds of candles housed in chini khanas (niches).
Overnight in Hotel. Full Board.
The largest town of lower Punjab and the centre of Pakistan’s main cotton-growing area, Multan is noted for its remarkable shrines and mosques.
Little is known of Multan’s pre-Islamic history, although it’s thought to date back some 4000 years. Alexander the Great is believed to have captured it around 324 BC. In AD 641 Chinese traveller Xuanzang recorded a magnificent Hindu temple to Shiva, of which there is now no trace. This and other Hindu shrines made Multan an important pilgrimage centre even before the Islamic era. The Sanskrit Rig- Veda is believed to have been written here.
Multan was the first town of Punjab to be captured by Muhammad bin Qasim (in 711). Ruled at the time by a Brahmin dynasty, it eventually became a major Islamic centre. Since then it has attracted more mystics and holy men than perhaps anywhere else on the subcontinent and today is dominated by their shrines and tombs.
Mausoleum Of Sheikh Rukn-I-Alam
Lying just inside the main entrance to the fort, this masterpiece of Mughal architecture is the most significant and attractive of Multan’s shrines. A pious and widely loved scholar, Rukn-ud-Din Abul Fatah (1251-1334), commonly known as Sheikh Rukn-i-Alam (Pillar of the World), became head of the Suhrawardiyya Sufi branch introduced to the region by his father Bahauddin Zakaria, and is regarded as the patron saint of Multan.
Mausoleum Of Bahauddin Zakaria
Just near the Mausoleum of Sheikh Rukn-j. Alam, the Mausoleum of Bahauddin Zakariya (1182-1262), father of Rukn-i-Alam, was built in 1263. A disciple of the Sufi mystic Hazrat Shahabuddin Umar Suhrawardy of Jerusalem, he introduced the Suhrawardiyya branch to the subcontinent and founded a university in Multan. His tomb was badly damaged in 1848 but was later restored. The brick building has a square base and an octagonal second storey supporting a dome, and is decorated with blue tiles and Arabic inscriptions.
Mausoleum Of Shams-Ud-Din Sabzwari
On the dry bed of the Ravi River, less than 1 km northeast of the fort, the shrine of Shams-ud-Din Sabzwari (Shams Tabrez), who is believed to have lived from 1165 to 1276, was founded by his grandson in 1330 and rebuilt by more distant descendants in about 1780.
One of the most enduring legends about the many miracles of Shams Tabrez is that he moved the sun closer to himself, hence making Multan the hot and dusty city it is today (shams means sun in Arabic). Whether or not the saint has been forgiven for this action, his tomb attracts vast numbers of devotees on his urs, held on 14-16 Rabusani.
Karachi is the capital of province Sindh as well as the largest and most populous metropolitan city of Pakistan and the main seaport and financial centre of the country. Karachi is also known as City of Lights mainly due to city’s nightlife, for which it is famous as the city which never sleeps Karachi metro has an estimated population of over 23.5 million people as of 2013, and area of approximately 3,527 km2 (1,362 sq mi) resulting in a density of more than 6,000 people per square kilometre (15,500 per square mile).
Overnight in Hotel. Full Board.
Pakistan’s largest metropolitan city with population of above 20 Million. Although Karachi lost its crown as Pakistan’s capital to upstart Islamabad and the country’s [cultural elite look towards Lahore, Karachi is the undisputed heart of the nation’s economy. A true world megacity, greater Karachi is spread over an ever-expanding 3500 sq. km and population of over 20 Million
Karachi is known as the ‘City of the Quaid’, for Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah (also called the Quaid-i-Azam, or ‘Great Leader’), who died here in 1948. There are several sites linked to him, plus a variety of museums and British-era buildings.
National Museum of Pakistan
Pakistan’s history, from early man to Independence, is well represented at this museum.
The main galleries are upstairs. After a quick survey of Stone Age axes from Sukkur! and Rohri, the museum gets into its stride with displays of some of the finest Indian Valley civilisation Artifacts. The 6000-year old pottery from Mehrgarh is quite lovely and surprisingly delicate, and is followed up by a room dedicated to Moenjodaro and Harappa. The iconic ‘priest-king’ bust is just one of many highlights, alongside a large array of fertility goddess cult figures, jewelry and seals covered with the mysterious Mohenjo Daro script.
The next room shifts the focus forward to Buddhist Pakistan, with displays of Gandharan art and an array of carved schist statues, mainly from Taxila and Takht-i-Bahi The Islamic room next door has a small section on the early Arab settlements of Debal and Mansura, but is poorly labelled and only the 13th-century pottery from Persia really stands out.
The ‘Freedom Movement’ gallery has a collection of photos, paintings and newspaper articles relating to the Independence movement. Other rooms have items of ethnological interest, including regional costumes from across Pakistan, traditional jewellery, militaria and wooden burial totems from the Kalasha valleys in North-West Frontier Province.
This elegant mausoleum is both a monument and tomb to Jinnah. It’s a starkly modernist building! pointing both to Pakistan’s past and future. An unadorned white marble cube is pierced on each side by a high and narrow arch, and I then topped with a semicircular dome raised 31m high. Built between 1958 and 1968, the simple design works surprisingly well, and sits on a square pyramidal platform in the middle of a spacious park.
Overnight in Hotel. Full Board.
After an unparalleled insight into an ancient culture, transfer to airport for your departure flight.