While I pen down this blog, I am frequently reminded of Islamabad being in the list of one of the most beautiful capitals of the world while on the contrary many have made Islamabad a part of what they call a ‘boring conversation.’ Less do they know that Islamabad is the bible of peace and a city of calm. The place to meditate! Every day I look across windows of my workplace. I must say the magnificence of those Margalla Hills stands as a symbol of letting out. Holding a steaming cup of tea standing adjacent to the lush green is more like it. My city, Islamabad! For those who don’t know much about it, here is a list of some places you can be out at for all the recreation.
Shah Faisal Mosque is a vision standing as the most iconic pieces of architecture. Faisal Mosque pulls in a significant amount of tourists, both Muslims and non-Muslims from around the world. It has been famous amongst them for subjects of travel and architecture photography. The sacred mosque stands as an illuminated beacon visible from any vantage point across the city.
It is a great place of learning about all artists who have contributed highly to this building from its Turkish architect Vedat Dolakay to the famous Pakistani painter and sculptor Guljee. It also has a library, restaurant and a café for. It is in close proximity to people living in Bahria Town. Bahria Enclave is also a society that has easy access to the place. Federal Government Employees Housing and PECHS are also in close proximity with a nearly 20 minute drive to the mosque.
Lok Virsa Museum
Situated off the Garden Avenue, LokVirsa museum, literally meaning “Place of People’s Heritage,” is a vision to take a tour of. For those who want to learn about the culture of Pakistan, its history, folklore, music, geography and neighbouring ties, Lok Virsa Museum is a place to be. It owes to an outstanding and well preserved display of pottery, art, musical instruments, religious statues, mini galleries of Buddhist and Sufi shrines and architectural relics.
Besides the museum, Lok Virsa has a variety of shops that sell traditional handicrafts from handmade shawls and clothes to traditional foods. For people it is the only place to have a taste of the original Pakistan that we live in. Societies like PECHS, Bahria Enclave and Satellite Town are at a 15-20 minute drive from the museum.
If your’re looking for a countryside down-to-earth break from Islamabad’s extravagant malls and teeming bazaars, Saidpur village is a great place to experience authentic village life in a 21st century metropolis. Wandering through the village in a gorge of the Margalla hills, one can visit a Hindu temple and a Sikh Gurdwara that is still rich with historical narratives and intricacies still hanging off its walls.
High end restaurants such as Des Pardes and DeraPakhtoon are also there to add to your fun. Feed yourself up with some sizzling plates of spicy chicken masala as you quench your eyes as they gaze upon the Himalaya foothills. This place stands at a distance of around 30 minutes from housing societies like DHA and Bahria while other like the Ghori Town, Media Town take around 25 minutes to reach.
Pir Sohawa is one of the famous escapades from a hustle bustle of the main Islamabad city. It offers a great place for peace, relaxation and letting out all the stress. It offers you to have conversations with mountains away from a busy life. Pir Sohawa offers food places like Monal Restaurant and High Land Country Club for those who want to sit down for breakfast, lunch, evening snacks or dinners.
A great view, pleasant weather and finger licking good food is the best deal to get. Being at the mountain top, Pir Sohawa takes approximately 30 minutes to reach from the main Islamabad while societies like DHA, Bahria Town, Bahria Enclave and PWD take 45 minutes to an hour to reach PIr Sohawa.
The Pakistan Monument
Nestled in the Shakarparian forest-covered hills overlooking the city, the Pakistan Monument stands proud as a petal-closed flower, arching its pointed granite blocks together towards the sky. This monument is in fact an iconic convergence that is a symbol of Pakistan’s national unification and solidarity. Carvings on it represent all the provinces and territories of Pakistan including Balochistan, Punjab, Kyhber-Pakhtunkwa and Sindh. It is a happening place for friends and family to spend evenings at. It is also one of the great photography architectures.
In addition, the four converging petals represent Pakistan’s major provinces – Balochistan, Punjab, Kyhber-Pakhtunkwa and Sindh while the shorter petals sandwiched between them portray Pakistan’s territories – specifically Azad Kashmir, GilgitBaltistan, and government controlled Tribal Areas. It is in close proximity to people living at both ends; Bahria Town and Bahria Enclave. Federal Government Employees Housing and PECHS are at a 20 minute drive to the Monument. Margalla Town and Chak Shahzad also lie close to the architecture.
Margalla Hills of Islamabad had a variety of trails leading to the hill tops. Not only do they offer a picturesque view of the scenic greenery and forests but also will you come across rare bird species which you may not find anywhere else. One of the most famous trails of all in Islamabad has been the Trail 5 at the end of the Margalla Road. With family or friends, this trail offers activities for all so get on your hiking boots and walk on. Water streams running along the entire track is a great enjoyment to spend a day with. Societies like Bahria Town, DHA, PWD and Ghori Town lie at a distance of 45 to 30 minutes from the Trail.
Shah Allah Ditta Caves
Twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad may have a lot of new additions to its infrastructure but some major pieces of history and still intact. One of the most famous artefacts of history that still stand afresh are the Shah Allah Ditta Caves. More than seven hundred years old, this route has been in use by Alexander the Great and Sher Shah Suri. It was once home to Hindu Sadhus and Buddhas. Great weather to be enjoyed at the caves with some fresh chae and pakora simply double the fun.
It also has stupas discovered at hill tops which are situated at a hiking time of 2 hours. People living near G-13 are in close proximity to the location. Being more inwards of the Margalla Hills, these caves lie at a distance of an hour or more from the main Islamabad and all societies on the Islamabad Highway.
Lake View Park
Also known as the Rawal Lake View Point, this place in Islamabad attracts a majority from the twin cities. With the Rawal Lake offered a view to the eyes, this park has a plethora of activities from wall climbing, paint ball, laser tags, water scooters and boating to a ride section with swings for all ages. It is not only a recreational park but it also is host to wildlife park and bird aviary. The aviary is home to rare bird species from pelicans to swans, parrots and much more.
Cafes and side restaurants offer a variety of food to offer making Lake View a complete package from food to fun. If you’re coming from Bahria Enclave or Bahria Town, both the ends lie at a distance of around 45 minutes from the Lake View Park. Residents of main Islamabad however the residents of main Islamabad have this recreational place at a drive of just 15-20 minutes.
While we exhaust ourselves in a fast paced world, Islamabad stands as one of those cities that have two sides to a coin. The more the fast growing it is, the more the places it has to sit back and relax. Islamabad is a modern city amidst pieces of history and stories that date back to thousands of years and religions of all kinds. A tour to all these places is an experience that’s speaks for itself. Being in the centre of Islamabad, these locations are at easy access from anywhere in Islamabad which makes touring around more fun and less of a hassle.
To all the friends, family, foodies and photographers, Islamabad is calling!