Murree is a famous Hill Station of Pakistan. It is just 54 km Northeast of Islamabad. It take almost 2 hours one way. If you depart early you can come back the same day. Climate / atmosphere of Murree is totally different from Islamabad. In winter you can enjoy snow fall there & in summer it is is still cool.
Main points to visit within Murree are:
1. Mall Road : It links both extreme ends of Murree namely Kashmir Point & Pindi Point. Mostly Hotels, restaurants & shops are located on Mall Road. A walk on Mall road is "Must Do" activity in Murree.
2. Kashmir Point : This point is the heart of Murree. View of nearby hills is magnificent. Ice covered hills of Kashmir can also be viewed here.
3. Pindi Point : Its famous for chair lift. After a beautiful ride you go to a very scenic place
You can find a Coach /Hiace for Murree from Faizabad Bus Stand or You can go by Daewoo Bus or Hire a Private Car for Murree.
Rohtas fort, built in the heartland of Jehlum, is situated approx. 100 km from Islamabad and 7km from town of Dina. It is situated near the Kahan River on a hillock, overlooking Tilla Jogian range.
The main purpose of this fort was military only, and was a garrison. It was built by an Afghan king, Sher Shah Suri (1486-1545). The main purpose to build this fort was to keep the local tribes, Gakhars, in line and to keep the Mughul king Humayyun at bay. The Gakhars were allied to the Mughal king.
It is claimed that this fort was never taken by assault, and survived intact today. Fortification is done by massive walls, for more than 4km, that surrounds the fort. It is 2700 feet (820 meters) above sea level and covers an area of 13 acres. A small village also exists within the boundary walls of the fort. Entrances were through twelve gates. Very few gates now survive.
Shah Chandwali (Shahi) Gate
Langar Khani Gate
Mori or Kashmiri Gate
Khwas Khani Gate
Tulla Mori Gate
The fort is now a protected monument and maintained by the Department of Archaeology. In 1997 Rohtas Fort was also placed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
Date of Inscription: 1997
Jhelum City, Punjab
N32 57 45 E73 35 20
To get there from Islamabad/Rawalpindi, drive east on the Grand Trunk (GT) Road. Appox. 100 km (1.5 hour drive) you will reach Dina. Past Dina, make a U-turn, and a sign on the left (next to a police station) will direct you towards Rohtas Fort, 7km from GT Road. The drive will take you trough the heartland of Jehlum district, surrounded by farm land and villages. Once you cross the newly constructed brigde on Kahan River, you will start seeing the boundary walls. But you will have to keep driving, after you enter the main gate, and cross the small village inside, till you reach the monument.
Trivia: (1) GT Road is also known as Sher Shah Suri road, and this highway connected India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
(2) Sher Shah Suri never saw completion of this fort as he accidentally died in a gun powder explosion.
(3) It was another “great” General, President Pervaiz Musharaf, a military man, who took interest in this fort and made it accessible by ordering building a road and a bridge over Kahan River in 2001. Before that, one had to either leave their cars near the Kahan River or risk crossing.
(4) Some major fashion shows and other art/drama functions are held within the boundary walls, in the wide lawns of the fort.
Interesting resources about this fort (right clickj and open in new tab/window):
Life of Sher Shah Suri
World Heritage Site
Some more pictures of Rohtas Fort
From 5th Century BC to 2nd century AD, Taxila was an important Buddhist learning center. The different stages of Taxila was influenced by Persia, Greece, and Central Asia. Taxila ruins contains numerous examples of Hindu, Buddhist and Greek cultures and was an important focal point for interactions with the outside world. It reminds us of the rich cultural heritage that is to be found in Pakistan.
Exploring Taxila is an experience in itself. The richness and variety of various artifacts is bound to attract your attention. There are many images of Buddha, in stone and stucco and numerous panels depicting all the important stages of the great Sage's life. The whole site is spread over several kilometers, starting from a well stocked Museum which houses various antiques found in and around these sites. The main sites to see are the Bhir Mound, Dharmarajika, Sirkap, Jaulian, and lesser traveled Jandial, Sirsukh, and Mohra Moradu.
Located only 35 kilometers away from the Rawalpindi along the Grand Trunk Road (Peshawar Road). It is easily accessible from the main road. As you pass the break in the mountain, take a right at the “tank” round about. Another 2-3 km of drive will take you to the museum, your starting point. It is better to have your own transport as various sites are located at short distances from this museum. There is also a small PTDC motel right next to the museum of one is interested in spending a night to explore this site more in detail.
For more details, check my Taxila page (link below)
Katas Raj temples are mentioned in the epic Mahabharata, written in 300 BC. The legend narrates that Shiv Devta, on death of his wife Satti, wept so profusely that two ponds were created. One at Pushkar near Ajmer, Rajasthan, India, and the other at Ketaksha. Ketaksha in Sanskrit means “raining eyes”. Ketaksha was later pronounced Katas.
In other legends it is believed that the five Pandava brothers, mentioned in the epic Mahabharata, spent several years of their exile in this temple. Katas Raj is also the place where a Persian scholar, Abu Rayhan Biruni, famously known as Al Biruni attempted to measure the circumference of the Earth
Katas was considered as one of the largest holy place in Punjab for Hindu pilgrims. Unfortunately this site was abandoned at partition in 1947.
In June 2005, Leader of Opposition (at that time) in Lok Sabha and President Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) L.K Advani also visited Katas Raj to inaugurate the conservation work at Satgraha temple. See the news report here. Later in 2007, for the first time in 60 years, several Hindu pilgrims from India paid homage at this site.
According to Hindu beliefs, taking bath in the holy pond at the site washes away all sins and makes man innocent. This site houses the Satgraha, a group of seven ancient temples, remains of an old Buddhist stupa, havelis and some recently constructed temples, scattered around a pond.
Situated approx 160 km from Islamabad, in the Salt ranges:
(1) Motorway: One can easily access from the Islamabad – Lahore Motorway. Take Kalar Kahar exit, and head north. After driving for 45 minutes you will reach the site (on your right hand side).
(2) GT Road-Chakwal: From GT Road, take Chakwal exit and go towards Choa Saidan Shah. When you reach this town, there is a sign board directing towards Kalar Kahar. The temples are 20 minutes drive from their.
(3) From Khewra Salt Mines: After visiting this salt mine, second largest in the world, take the road going towards Chakwal. This roads takes you up a small mountain (approx 750 m). When you reach Choa Saidan Shah, there is a sign board directing towards Kalar Kahar. The temples are 20 minutes drive from their.
There are several other temples situated in this region (Malot, Nandana, some unknown), and worth exploring. Go there in cooler months. Although the place is being renovated, sadly still the desecration/damage by unconcerned visitors is taking its toll. Government is also building several guest houses/hostels to cater to pilgrims visiting this area.
Check the link below for more pictures (will upload later).
Simly Dam is considered to be the largest water reservoir for Islamabad, and is mainly fed by melting snow and river/springs from Muree and "Galians" (valleys). The Dam is situated 30 km from Islamabad. Going towards Muree, approx. 15 minutes drive from the Convention center in Islamabad, you will have to take a right from a marker/road sign pointing towards "Simly Dam road". Marker on one side is in Urdu, the other English. The road is not that wide, but is narrow and a bit broken down. Initially it will go through some market places and residential areas, but opens up to beautiful scenery on both sides. It is well worth a drive on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
The problem in going to Simly is that one has to take permission (if you want to take the proper road into Simly Dam area). Alternate is that you will have to drive to the very end of a narrow road, get out of the car, and climb over an embankment/spillway (approx 5-6 foot high). We sweet-talked our way in from the main gate, stating that we have come so far, and weren’t aware of the permission. The guard was kind enough to let us in, but warned us not to go towards the locks/gates. On way out we offerred him some money for his kindness, but he refused to accept it (people like him are rare..hee hee!)
Fishing is allowed but again with permission. But than there was no one around to stop you. We saw amateur anglers catching their dinner. Although it was claimed there were water sports, we did not see any, except for several picnickers swimming in the water.
Situated approx. 40 km from Islamabad in Khanpur, NWFP, the dam is nestled between mountains. It supplies water to the near by city such as Taxila, Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Khanpur dam was completed in 1983 after 15-20 years of construction. Maximum height of the dam is approx. 170 ft.
Khanpur is a nice get away and picnic spot from Islamabad, where one can enjoy boating/water sports, swimming, and for those into it, paragliding from the surrounding mountains.
Boating costs around Rs. 600 for full round (takes approx 45 min), to Rs. 400 for half-an hour. But do negotiate with the boatmen. Depending on rush, they will charge less. Swimming is free, but be careful of wandering buffaloes (see picture).
One can reach Khanpur via Taxila. Take the Taxila road and it will take you straight to Khanpur Dam.
Note: During various seasons, you can also buy different seasonal, especially oranges and “leechy” (do not know the English name for this fruit). There are numerous fruit sellers on both side of Taxila-Khanpur road, surrouned by farms and orchids as yoou drive towards Khapnur.
Trail 3 at Margala Hills provides great activity for Hiking and adventure lovers.
One can hike up trail 3 in Margala hills all the way to Kokina this is a 5.5 Km track and quite a tough one for not so used hikers but if you reach the top you can have a hearty meal at Monal restaurant while watching marvelous view of Islamabad.
Well I am putting Ayub National Park in the off the beaten path tip as this is about 15 km from Islamabad, and I have not made a separate travel page for Rawalpindi.
Ayub National Park in Rawalpindi covers more than 900 hectares and is situated on the GT road near the cantonment area. There is a lake for boating, various paths and play areas, aquarium, snake house, open air restaurants and theatre, and Japanese garden and a zoo with some amusement rides.
There is a camping site inside Rose & Jasmine Garden. You can stay over there by paying Rs.150 ( US $ 2.5 appox ) per night. You are supposed to bring your own camping gear. This camping site is safe and covered by metal wire.
Security gaurd also remains on duty. Bath rooms are available on the site and there is car parking area too where you can park car by paying fee.
Many foreign tourists like to stay at this camping site. It is not recommended to camp at this site during summer due to excessive heat.
If you are adventure lover and wana do something off the beaten path then go for this camping site next time when you are in Islamabad. This camping site is inside Rose & Jasmine Garden near Aabpara.
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