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From Deosai to Kund Malir, Pakistan’s top tourist spots

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From the mighty peaks of the Himalayas to the sandy, white beaches of the Arabia Sea, Pakistan is rich in natural beauty, culture and history. Over the years, thanks to an improvement in the security situation and increased accessibility, a lot of these spots, previously unknown, have become tourist hotspots.

On the occasion of World Tourism Day, let’s celebrate all the wonderful places our country has to offer.

Deosai

‘Deosai’ which translates to ‘The Land of Giants’ is a high-altitude alpine plain located largely within the Skardu District in Gilgit Baltistan. It remains covered with snow for 8 months. The rest of the year, it hosts a range of beautiful flowers of all hues and colours, attracting tourists from far and wide. The area is also home to the brown bear.

Naltar

Naltar, a valley near Gilgit, Hunza and Nomal, in the Gilgit–Baltistan province of the country, is popular for its three lakes which boast vivid colours of blue and green. Naltar is a forested region known for its dramatic mountain scenery and towering high peaks. The area is also known for its Ski Resort which hosts ski competitions regularly.

Neelum Valley – Arang Kel/Taobat/Sharda

The picturesque Neelam Valley is the northern most region and district of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan. The valley is dotted with quaint villages and towns which make the perfect retreats away from the hustling and bustling of city life. The River Neelum meanders through the valley, the water making soft sounds as well as soothing the eyes.

Lahore

Though Lahore doesn’t appear to be a tourist spot, the provincial capital is rich in history which dates back to the Mughal era, making it the perfect place for all those interested in history. Monuments and buildings dating back to the Mughals including the Lahore Fort, Badshahi Masjid, Wazir Khan Masjid and Shalimar Gardens are popular tourist spots. Moreso, buildings from the British era including Governor House, Quaid-e-Azam Library and Railway Station are also an integral part of the city’s history.

The mouthwatering dishes and food the city has to offer is also close to none. And as the locals say, “Whoever hasn’t seen Lahore, isn’t born.

Taxila

Taxila meaning “City of Cut Stone” is an important archaeological site situated a few kilometres north-west of the capital, Islamabad. The city dates back to c. 1000 BCE  and in its glory days was one of the main cities of the ancient Kingdom of Gandhara. What makes Taxila unique and fascinating is the mainly Buddhist art and architecture of the Gandharan period. The city is dotted with monasteries and stupas which provide a unique insight into Buddhism as well.

Derawar Fort, Cholistan Desert

Built in the 9th Century, the historic Derawar Fort, is a large square fortress located a few hundred kilometres south of Bahawalpur in the heart of the Cholistan Desert. The fort is an architectural marvel featuring massive bastions.

Meanwhile, the Cholistan Desert is rich in culture and tradition. The dry bed of the Hakra River runs through the area, along which many settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization have been found.

Kund Malir Beach/Hingol National Park

Kund Malir is a beach in Balochistan, Pakistan located in Hingol National Park. The drive between Kund Malir and Ormara is considered to be scenic. The area is part of Hingol National Park which is the largest in Pakistan. The Princess of Hope is also located in the area which is rich in flora and fauna and also has mud volcanos.

Travel

The Balochistan I know

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 Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan and is home to a fair share of the beautiful landscapes. Due to the media portraying a dangerous image of Balochistan, many people are hesitant to believe that this place is home to heartwarming locals and breathtaking locations. 


1- Pir Ghayb (The Invisible Saint) Waterfalls

Bolan, BalochistanPir Ghaib Falls, is an awe-inspiring view of Pir Ghaib, Balochistan. Locals here believe in the myth of the Invisible Saint (Pir Ghaib), who was saved by the Almighty, after a wicked King’s men attacked him. The Saint struck a stick in the mountain from which the water pours out till date, believe it or not.

2- Moola Chotok

Khuzdar, BalochistanMoola Chotok, Is a tourism deprived sight. Amidst stronghold of nationalists in the Jhalawan belt, Chotok seemed like a lost cause at first. Ever since the military operations in Khuzdar division, Chotok has been swiped clean of all dangers and is now open to locals and tourists to go and witness the unfathomable beauty.

3- Quaid-e-Azam Residency Ziarat, Balochistan

Father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohommad Ali Jinnah spent his days of affliction in this wooden cottage in Ziarat, Balochistan. Definitely one of the top tourist attractions of Pakistan. The place holds historic importance but faced a bombing attack on 2013. However miraculously the concrete structure was standing and the photographs along with the other artifacts were safe and sound. The reconstruction work completed by renowned builder Nayyer Ali Dada and the rehabilitated Ziarat Residency opened on August 14, 2014. 

4- Hannah Jheel (Hannah Lake and Urrak) – Quetta, Balochistan

This is how the Hannah Lake looks in winters, frozen, frosted and astounding. This is where people from all over Pakistan go first when they visit Quetta. Only about 18km away from the city, the Hannah Lake serves as the perfect escape for the locals.

5- Hingol Nationa Park, Hingol, Balochistan

 Exotic looking mountains, rare and exotic animals including the Markhor and several others of the deer family, which are protected by the National park authorities, surrounded by shallow blue waters in monsoon seasons and shallow frozen lake in winters. 

6- Pir Chattal Noorani Gandhawa, Jhal Magsi, Balochistan

An oasis in the middle of nowhere. An astonishing natural habitat amid desert plains with a mythical story to follow. The awe-inspiring oasis caters to thousands of rare fish in the water. Legend has it, that if you catch or eat one of Pir Chattal’s fishes, you’re bound to either die of poisoning or the fish comes out of your mouth alive in one piece. This myth is a huge tourist attraction of Balochistan. But maybe this is just the locals way of making sure the fish are not eaten. 

7- Prospect Point

 Located about 6 km from Ziarat town, called Nari Sar by locals, Prospect Point offers a panoramic view of the Koshki valley below. A Jupiter tree is also located there which is in the shape in Allah’s (SWT) name, known to be here for many many years.

 8- Astola Island, Gwadar/Pasni

Astola Island, also known as Jezira Haft Talar Satadip or ‘Island of the Seven Hills’, is a small uninhabited Pakistani island in the Arabian Sea. Also the largest island in Pakistan, it is the epitome of Balochistan’s undermined beauty. 


 9- Jhal Magsi, Balochistan

Famous for its desert safari and the yearly desert rally, caters huge crowds and sponsors every year. Rally enthusiasts from all over Pakistan round up in one place for stay till the rally ends. The desert like plains of Jhal Magsi offer the best route in Pakistan for people who like to off-road. Definitely one of Pakistan’s top attractions.

10- Zezri, ziarat balochistan

Zezri, is one of the most beautiful valleys of Ziarat. This valley possesses a breathtaking beauty. The valley has very large and some of the oldest Juniper trees. The mountains surrounding the valley are called khalifat. It has untouched natural beauty which make it unique from other valleys of Ziarat. 

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Entertainment

Exploring Art in Istanbul

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Zara Sajid’s recent trip to Turkey was a fun mix of quality family time, good food, a serious dose of history and culture and an overdose of art! Overdose in a good way though! 

I fell in love Salt Galata. Salt is inside an old bank building. There’s an art gallery, a library, a cafe and a fine dining restaurant. You could easily spend a few hours here. 

“After spending a day in Istanbul, you realize how the entire city serves as a canvas not only for historic art & architecture but is also home to contemporary art galleries & museums but what adds to the character of the artistic landscape the most is the street art/graffiti that you’ll see everywhere. You walk out of your hotel and there it is! You’re unconsciously surrounded by art all the time! It’s exhilarating to say the least! I also made a day trip to Konya. Spent the day at the Rumi Museum where Rumi himself is buried as well and enjoyed the whirling dervish sema in the afternoon.  This was one of the highlights of my trip. There’s so much to absorb. Absolutely loved the zen vibe of this place!”

Indonesian artist Ichwan Noor’s sculpture at Dirimart, Istanbul. The sculpture is part of their permanent collection. 
The Hagia Sophia Museum, Istanbul 
From the exhibition “In Pursuit of the Present” at The Istanbul Modern Museum of Art. 
The dervish lost in trance at the sema, Konya. 
 Arik Levy at Pilveneli Gallery, Istanbul. 
Tracey Emin’s work “To hold your soul” at the Istanbul Modern Museum of Art” in Istanbul 

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Entertainment

Discovering Africa with Hajra Tariq

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Hajra Tariq is a full time Graphic Designer and Photographer (IG: pinkrikshaw.studio ). She is also an aspiring traveler.  Having lived in different countries around the world, she realized how important art and design was and how different cultures have helped evolve her. 

“My goal in life isn’t to travel the world, to not regret not doing something my heart has longed to do. My latest travel expedition took me to the heart of East Africa, Kenya. I’ve always imagined myself on an African safari and my dream finally came true! We’ve all seen things that take our breath away. For me, it was a perfectly clear night at the Mara Ashnil in the heart of the Masai Mara National Reserve where you were literally inches away from the “BIG 5”, and facing the sunset on a yatch in the middle of the Kilifi Creek . Two extremely different things, in one country, and yet they both didn’t fail to amaze me.”

Accompanied by her favourite travel buddy, her sister, here are a few of her best memories…

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