When it comes to tourism in Pakistan, an individual’s minds immediately wanders off to the northern areas like Kashmir and KPK. But let’s step down a notch and look at what we are missing in the trivialized areas of The Land of Five Rivers, Punjab.
Countryside Punjab, in a winter morning, where the sun rays illuminate the harvests and form paths on roads, with farmers traveling side by side, that’s when you know that this tranquil and serenity will forever have a place in your heart. You can see from afar, houses built on ginormous mountains.
The beauty of this place is enhanced by the welcoming residents who know the importance of this euphoria, they want you to experience it too, wake up in the morning light, breath in the fresh air, bath in spring water, and discover the hidden beauty of nature itself. Punjab is also widely recognized for its cultural patrimony. The legacy of its long lost leaders, their memories, and intangible beliefs which gives a strong sense of identity and belonging and promotes community pride. Studies also show that travelers are more apt to visit places with strong community identity.
We have all heard of the famous Badshahi Mosque and Minar-e-Pakistan, but that definitely isn’t all that this beautiful province has to offer. It’s a variety of aspects that define Pakistani Culture and traditions never fail to mesmerize its visitors. Lahore, being Pakistan’s second-largest city, is home to uncountable traditional tourist attractions which has earned it the title of being the cultural heart of the country. It is widely known for having a diverse religious and cultural heritage.
Punjab is home to a number of ancient civilizations. The Indus Valley Civilization, the earliest known urban culture of the Indian Subcontinent, was a prominent work of art in its time, which once ruled the region. Other civilizations like the Gandhara in Taxila, Greeks, Central Asians, and Persians have been quite dominant, which left behind a number of sites that exist to date as frequently visited tourist attractions.
Perhaps the most important era of Punjab has been the arrival of the Mughals after the Ghaznavids, who ruled the land for centuries. The Mughal culture still stands upright and strong in Punjab. The empire left behind the famous Lahore Fort and the eternally beautiful Shalimar Gardens which are now recognized as World Heritage Sites. The Tomb of Jahangir and Nur Jahan, Badshahi Mosque, Wazir Khan Mosque are other major sites that hold immense historical significance and are visited by countless tourists each year. The 17th Century Mughal-era Picture Wall in Lahore’s Walled City is now being brought back from the brink, thanks to the efforts of the City’s Authority, international donors, and the zeal and zest of young teams of conservators. The Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore is yet another captivating and enriched marketplace where the tomb of the widely known Qutb-ud-din Aibak from the Delhi Sultanate still stands.
It is no doubt that Punjab offers a blend of natural beauty and diverse religious and historical heritage. The Katasraj temple in the city of Chakwal is a major destination for Hindu devotees, but not limited to the people of the same religion when it comes to sight-seeing. The beautiful place offers a variety of vintage looks with greenery and a breathtaking lake in the middle of the temple. We also see remains of the Sikh empire, with the Samadhi of Ranjit Singh being a prime example of the beautiful and delicate Sikh architecture. The Rohtas Fort, built by Sher Shah Suri is also recognized as a World Heritage Site.
Pakistan is widely known for its incomparable nature. Among the oldest mines in South Asia, Khewra Salt Mines is another major tourist attraction for people from all around the country. One of the reasons, Islamabad was chosen as capital was because of its natural mountainous border. It is also known for its beautiful mountain-top “Monal Restaurant” from where the entire city is visible. Moreover, Islamabad Highway is the perfect route for a long drive on a rainy day!
Rawalpindi is known to be a famous hill station top for tourists before they embark on their journey to Murree, Bhurban, and the Northern Areas. In addition to this, the parades on the Wagah Border are definitely a sight to see. Filled with the essence of patriotism, Pakistanis never fail to exhibit the love for their country.
If there was any province that ought to take lead after inspecting the downhill of tourism in Pakistan, it was Punjab. It approved the first Punjab Tourism policy which aims to make Punjab an attractive tourist destination and make the most in terms of economic growth. Being a province of diversity, blended cultures, and historical sites, as well as the most popular region which carries the bulk of the national economy, security, and tourism in Punjab will translate to better possibilities of tourism in other provinces, and bolster economic success in Pakistan as a whole. The most prominent and commendable feature of this policy is the focus on environment-friendly tourism, along with developing and selling the landscape heritage and archaeological assets without disturbing its socio-ecological balance.
Aritcle is written by Omema Kamran