The Kingdom of Gandhara or “the land of fragrance” was composed of the area starting from the west of Indus in Pakistan and north of Kabul in Afghanistan. Taxila was the capital and main cultural Hub. It included cities of Mankiala, Peshawar, Swat valley, Buner, Dir and Bajaur in present-day Pakistan and the sites of Hadda and Bamyan in Afghanistan. According to a few archaeologists, the geographical presentation of this Kingdom should not be considered as final and they are convinced that more Gandhara cities are yet to be discovered. Despite the exponential growth of the internet and electronic media, Gandhara remains unknown to the majority of modern-day travellers. Here is a modest effort on our part to expose and project this lost glorious Kingdom to the world. We all know that Lumbini in Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha but not many are aware of the fact that it was King Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty and the King Kanishka of Kushan dynasty who played an important role in propagating Buddhism in the region. Archaeologists have established that the Kingdom of Gandhara existed almost 3000 years ago when Aryan populations from central Asia came and established their settlements here. The hymns mentioned in the sacred book of Hinduism were first sung by the Aryans.
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Arrival early in the morning at the Islamabad International airport. Welcome by your guide and transfer to your hotel. Breakfast and rest of the morning at leisure. Lunch at the hotel. Departure for the sightseeing of the twin cities Rawalpindi & Islamabad. Drive to Islamabad to visit Rawal Lake situated at 12 km distance. Water to both twin cities is supplied from this immense reservoir. It is also a picnic spot amongst local who often come here with families in the evening. Shakarparian is another scenic spot that overlooks the capital city of Islamabad. Next to it is the Folk Heritage museum where you will discover different aspects of Pakistani culture. If time allows, we shall visit the National Council of Arts where you can appreciate paintings of known local artists.
Drive to Daman e Koh, a terraced garden in the Margalla Hills, which offers a panoramic view of Islamabad. Drive back to Rawalpindi to visit Ayub National Park, situated in its outskirts. Covering an area of 2300 acres, it has a lake, a garden restaurant, a Japanese garden and a golf course of 18 holes. Before reaching the hotel, we will be passing through some of the busy
streets and bazaars of this old town of Rawalpindi, such as Muree road, Sarafa Bazaar, Urdu Bazaar, Raja Bazaar, Sadar Bazaar, Mall road…etc.
Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Drive to Taxila and visit some of its famous Buddhist sites and Stupas, Dharmarajika Stupa, Bhir mound, Sirkap, Sirsukh, Jaulian monastery and an interesting museum depicting different life scenes of Lord Buddha. The history of Taxila spans about 1000 years (516 BC to 600 AD). It was a British Jhon Marshal who excavated Taxila for the first time in 1913. Later on, any other international and Pakistani archaeologists worked on these locations and put into light some other Buddhist sites and monasteries. The kingdom of Gandhara included a part of present-day Afghanistan, Taxila, Peshawar, a few parts of northern Pakistan and Varanasi in India. The promotion and propagation of Buddhism really started when prince Ashoka of Mauryan dynasty converted into Buddhism conquered the neighbouring countries and as a sign of his victory, constructed pillars which were later known as “Pillar of Ashoka”. Taxila was once the capital of Gandhara during the Mauryan dynasty. Later on, it became the permanent capital during the Kushans.
Departure to Besham with some photo stops at Khanpur Lake, Harripur and Abbotabad.
Arrival at hotel in Besham in the evening.
Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Today we drive towards Mingora across Shangla pass 92 km distance from besham to mingora and it takes 3:30 to 4 Hours . Mingora (also spelt Mingawara or Mangora or Mingora) is the largest commercial city in Swat District, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It is located at an altitude of 984 metres (3,228 ft) and about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) away from Saidu Sharif, the present administrative capital of Swat. The city is a major tourist destination with a large number of grand hotels.
On this day we drive towards kalam about 4 hours drive and (94 km)Kalam is a cool haven for tourists which is located at distance of 99 km from Mingora in the northern upper reaches of Swat valley along the bank of Swat River in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.Kalam is surrounded by lush green hills, thick forests and bestowed with mesmeric lakes, meadows and waterfalls which are worth seen features of the landscape. It is the birthplace of Swat river which forms with confluence of two major tributaries of Gabral river & Ushu river.
It is a spacious sub-valley of Swat, at an elevation of about 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) above sea level, and providing rooms for a small but fertile plateau above the river for farming.Here, the metalled road ends and shingle road leads to the Usho and Utror valleys. From Matiltan some snow-capped mountains are visible including Mount Falaksar 5,918 meters (19,416 feet), and another unnamed peak 6,096 meters (20,000 feet) high.
There are a lot of grand hotels in Kalam, where one can stay for night and enjoy the cool breeze of Swat river
Drive back to Mingora enroute visit Malam Jabba. Malam Jabba is a Hill Station in the Hindu Kush mountain range nearly 40 km from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It is 314 km from Islamabad and 51 km from Saidu Sharif Airport.
Malam Jabba is home to the only ski resort in Pakistan. The area also contains two Buddhist stupas and six monasteries that are scattered around the resort. The presence of the monuments at such a height indicates that the area has been inhabited for over 2000 years.
Two trekking trails are located near the Malam Jabba resort. The first pass through the Ghorband Valley and Shangla Top and starts about 18 km from the resort. The other trail passes through the Sabonev Valley and is about 17 km from the resort.
Drive to Peshawar across Malakand pass en route visit takht bhai (2 Hours) (91 km).Takht-i- is a Parthian archaeological site in Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It was first a Zoroastrian complex which, after the later arrival of Buddhism, was then converted into a Buddhist monastic complex. It is dated to the 1st century BCE. The complex is regarded by archaeologists as being particularly representative of the architecture of Buddhist monastic centers from its era.It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
After visiting takht bhai we continue our journey to words peshawar.Peshawar is the capital of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,and also serves as the administrative centre and economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.Situated in a broad valley near the eastern end of the historic Khyber Pass, close to the border with Afghanistan, Peshawar’s recorded history dates back to at least 539 B.C.E., making it the oldest city in Pakistan and one of the oldest in South Asia.Peshawar is the largest city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and according to the last census is the ninth-largest city of Pakistan.about 2 Hours drive from takht Bhai to Peshawar and distance between takht bhai to peshawar is 75 km.
This morning we Take a tour to Peshawar city, capital of the North-West Frontier Province. Located at the eastern end of the legendary Khyber Pass, Peshawar has a colourful 2000 year history. This area is a semi-autonomous region where the tribal people pass freely back and forth between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The local people are known as Pathans and are divided into seven main tribes. Many of the men dye their beards orange with henna. The colourful people and the narrow alleys of the bazaars, where tiny shops are piled to the ceilings with exotic goods, give Peshawar a “Thousand and One Nights” atmosphere. Peshawar was once a great Moghul city of palaces and gardens, rivalling Lahore and Delhi. The name “Peshawar’ means the ‘city of flowers.” Above the city looms the huge Bala Hisar fort, re-built by the Sikhs in 1834. In the afternoon, we will visit the Darra Tribal gun factory. Here, we can see stern looking tribesmen turning out handmade weapons– pistols, revolvers, rifles, and pen guns– all crafted by primitive methods. These firearms are replicas of well known foreign makes, right down to the serial numbers, making them greatly treasured by collectors. This is probably the only place in the world where the fine finished products of modern machinery are being cloned by the hammer and anvil of talented villagers. Return to Peshawar.
We will continue our journey towards Lahore.
The city of Lahore is the capital of the Punjab. It occupies a central position, and is generally called ‘The Heart of Pakistan’. Lahore is situated on the banks of the Ravi . Lahore is a city of gardens, and has the reputation of being the ‘Green City’. It occupies a choice site in the midst of fertile alluvial plains. Lahore is the city of poets, artists and the center of film industry.
Overnight at the Hotel.
After the breakfast we will visit Harappa which is 120 Kms from Lahore and about three hours drive.
Harappa has been the centre of curiosity and interest among history students, historians and archaeologists since its discovery some 150 years ago. A date with history is what takes many tourists to Harappa. Excavations in Harappa have revealed a civilization, which was excellent in town planning and other sphere of every day life.
Harappa, the type-site of the Indus civilization, is today a large village in the Sahiwal District of Punjab, 20 Kilometres southwest of the district town. It overlies and adjoins the mounds of the ancient city, which appear to have had a circuit of not less than 5 kilometres, though the moreemphatic mounds occupy a considerably smaller expanse.
There is an enormous amount still to be learned about the site, most of which remains unexcavated. The earliest deposits on the site go back to 5300 B.P. and the area seems to have been continuously inhabited ever since. Archaeologists think that ancient Harappa was the urban center dominating the upper Indus region, much like Mohenjo-daro dominated the lower Indus Valley and Ganweriwala might have been the urban center for what is now Rajasthan.
After the tour of the ancient city we will return to our hotel in Lahore.
Overnight at Hotel.
Full day city tour of Lahore. Although Lahore may not be Pakistan’scapital city, it wins hands down as its cultural, intellectual and artistic hub. If 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 (Islamic devotional singing) and Sufism (Islamic mysticism) that will blow your mind.
The city tour will start with the magnificent Lahore fort which was constructed by Emperor Akbar in 1566 AD on its current standing. Badshahi Mosque will be visit next which is next to it. Then the tour will take us to Shalimar gardens, which was constructed by Emperor Shah jahan in 1641 AD and in the evening we will take part in flag lowering ceremony at wagah border.
Overnight at the hotel.
You will be transferred to International airport for onward destination.