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As anyone who has ever been on a travel adventure in Pakistan will tell you, Lahore is not only home to some truly stunning architecture, but is the beating heart of Pakistan. Whether you are wandering the bazaars, enjoying a Rickshaw ride, or sampling some amazing fusion food, you will definitely not be disappointed. We thought we’d let you in on a few secrets of things you shouldn’t miss whilst on your travels.

Lahore Museum

A trip to Lahore wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the amazing Lahore Museum, the biggest and perhaps most impressive museum in Pakistan. The museum exhibits items spanning way back to the Stone Ages, and filling almost 20 galleries. It’s especially famous for the ‘Fasting Buddha’ sculpture, and other artifacts from the Gandharan civilisation, a collection of art from the Islamic period, incredible display of miniature paintings, and a magnificent collection of coins from the Achaemenian period onwards.

lahore museum

Badshahi Mosque

Nothing could prepare you for the scale of one of Lahore’s most impressive buildings, and one of the world’s largest mosques, the Badshahi Mosque. Through the huge gateways is an open courtyard of red sandstone, four tapering minarets of the same stone.

The mosque was completed by the emperor Aurangzeb in 1674 and is another incredible example of Mughal architecture. Clad in red sand stone with three vast marble domes, its grand and graceful dimensions made it the largest mosque in the world for over 300 years. Today, its courtyard still accommodates over 100,000 worshippers.

The three large marble domes which when illuminated at night looks magnificent, as if glowing from within.

badshahi mosque

Lowering of the Flags Ceremony

If you’d like to see something completely different, take an afternoon to witness the extraordinary lowering of the flags ceremony, which takes place at the Wagah border every evening before sunset. The frontier guards of Pakistan square up to the frontier guards of India in an act of great bravado, pomp and ceremony, closing the gate between the two countries. The ceremony starts with a parade from soldiers of both sides, and ends up in the two nations lowering their flags in perfect coordination.

This over-the-top spectacle of national pride has a genuine party atmosphere and brings out large crowds on both sides with one goal in mind: to prove which crowd can cheer the loudest. Better yet, this is just one of the huge number of cultural events those on Pakistan tours are likely to encounter during their travel adventures.

lowering of the flags ceremony

Jehangir´s Tomb

The elaborately decorated tomb of Jahangir is located in Shahdara, a suburb of Lahore on the northern outskirts of the city. The tomb is a mausoleum built for Jahangir who ruled the Mughal Empire from 1605 to 1627.

The exterior of the mausoleum is clad with red sandstone and decorated with marble motifs, similar to the interior of the mausoleum which is decorated with marble of various colours, delicate inlay work and floral frescoes. Outside is a sunken passageway with one tunnel supposedly leading to Shalimar Gardens and another to Hiran Minar – both tunnels are now bricked up.

Today, the tomb of Jahangir holds special significance for Pakistanis as it is the only Mughal tomb located in present-day Pakistan. Its image appears on the 1,000 rupee banknote and it remains one of Lahore’s most popular attractions.

 

If you’d like to experience some of these amazing attractions, then The Pakistan’s Cities – 5000 years of History and Culture Tour in October might be for you! See one of the many happy customers reviews below.

“Let me thank you for enabling my father and I to have such a deeply memorable and enjoyable stay in Lahore. We had some really great experiences that we did not expect to have. For example, listening to Javed sing in the walled city bath house was deeply atmospheric and moving, something we will not forget. Also, discussing the finer points of punjabi folk tales, with such a receptive audience, on the restaurant terraces above the mosque, was a real joy for my father.

Truly, we became very good friends at the end of 3 days. And our memories of Lahore, an enchanting city, were enhanced by the friendship.”

 

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Historic elections have just taken place in Pakistan and the question on most peoples minds is how this is likely to impact on the burning issues that Pakistan faces.

It was clear that in the last five years, the people had become fed up with crippling power shortages, a nosediving economy and internal terrorism. The new government comes in on a wave of euphoria and hope but it has got its work cut out.

What we know is that the incoming prime minister has been prime minister twice before so in theory has the experience and know how. He’s also a billionaire industrialist and so likely to drive and lend support to policies that will revive the economy and Pakistan’s exports. Ultimately this can only happen hand in hand with increasing power generation.

Whilst the big focus will be on the traditional exports that have a proven track record – such as textiles and rice, it remains to be seen whether or not the potential of tourism will be realised. Probably not.

For that to happen, the security and safety issues have not only to be tackled but resolved in some way. The perception of safety and security for foreign and to a lesser extent domestic visitors needs to change only by 10% for it to have a knock on effect on increasing visitors to Pakistan income derived from tourism related activity.

In this regard, the new government is a centre right leaning one and has openly stated that they are prepared to talk and negotiate peace with the Taliban. However, in the past, they have been accused of being too soft and even providing safe havens to known members of outlawed groups in exchange for support and votes. So again, it remains to be seen whether or not they can lead some serious negotiations without caving into unacceptable demands. Time is also not on their side they will  have to act fast due to the withdrawal of US and UK troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

What is also different this time is that there was a 60% turnout in the elections. The people want democracy and they will vote out those who do not serve them well. The incumbents got such a thrashing that the incoming government can’t afford to get things wrong or they will face the same fate.

Another difference this time was the emergence of the PTI party, lead by ex-cricketer Imran Khan. From having just one seat in the last elections they contested to now 30, they have proved that the two party era is over and there is a third alternative. Credited with energising the youth with their campaigning, PTI secured enough votes in the KP province to form a provincial government. All eyes will be on how PTI now run and manage KP as they have promised a model and progressive province. Many see KP as a poisoned chalice given the troubled borders with Afghanistan and the Tribal Agencies.

Either way, hope remains for a brighter future for Pakistan.

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Rama Lake, Gilgit Baltistan. Pakistan

Rama Lake, Gilgit Baltistan. Pakistan

IMG_9578Rama Valley:

Few places which I wish to visit again and again; Rama Valley in Astore District of Gilgit-Baltistan is one of those. At 3300 meters this valley is blessed with one of the most beautifully preserved, natural forest of Pine, Fir, Spruce and Birch. Freshwater mountain springs gushing through the vast lush green meadows, dazzling flower beds and immense birdlife makes this place a heaven. The perfume of wild flowers, a typical refreshing scent of pine forest, deep blue sky with soothing daylight and cool breeze made me to forget every little worry of this world and sing with the song of nature.

I can feel the whistles of wind passing through the deep shady forest. It’s not just beautiful rather a feeling for which I can use this word to start with.IMG_0107

Rama-lake

During my brief stay at Rama Lake, I witnessed so much natural beauty that there is hardly any other place in Pakistan that matches the diversity of this place.

This is a place where you can enjoy your morning coffee with chirpy Yellow-Wagtails and enjoy the song of nature. Every bush unfolds its exuberant colours and every flower opens its petals, welcoming the eyes to see and nectar feeders to enjoy the sweet juices in the bright daylight.
The deep red, maroon, yellow and orange colours of the wild bushes and plants creating extreme contrast against snow peaked mountains and rich blue sky when combines with the musical sound of flowing water create a spell binding atmosphere.

Fainting sounds of cattle bells echoing with the melodious songs of shepherds transform the whole scene into a majestic plot of some love story.

If you’d like to find out more about planning a trip of a lifetime in Pakistan, just visit http://www.travelpak.co.uk/freeguide, where you’ll be able to obtain a free copy of our new guide, “Discovering Pakistan: Your first steps to planning an incredible holiday in the world’s most underrated tourist destination”, packed with expert tips on travelling to Pakistan.

 

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World's Highest Biologically Active Lake in Pakistan. This lake is world's 32nd highest but none in 31 are supporting life except this "Qurambar Lake"

World’s Highest Biologically Active Lake in Pakistan. This lake is world’s 32nd highest but none in 31 are supporting life except this “Qurambar Lake”

The Lowest altitudinal point in Pakistan is the coastline which is 1100 kms long and runs from Sir-Creek, Sindh to Jiwani, Balochistan.

The Lowest point in Pakistan is the coastline which is 1100 km long and runs from Sir-Creek, Sindh to Jiwani, Balochistan.

Imagine a place which has world’s 2nd highest mountain K2, the unique and precious biodiversity. From permanent snow bound areas of Skardu to lush green valleys, from mighty mountain ranges of Karakorams and Himalayas to the rocky landscapes of Balochistan and from sizzling hot deserts of Cholistan to the coastal areas of Makran coast.

However, unfortunately, majority of Pakistani people are neither aware of the importance of biodiversity and its significance impact on human life, nor are they concerned about the continuous phenomenon of habitat destruction, and decline in population of a number of wildlife species due to uncontrolled / illegal hunting, habitat destruction and lack of general information about the important wildlife areas and species.

Travelpak is committed to unfold the hidden treasures of nature to the rest of the world by joining hands with the most experienced people on ground. Whereever you want to travel in Pakistan, Travelpak is the only tour operating company which provides customized travel experience.

If you’d like to find out more about planning a trip of a lifetime in Pakistan, just visit http://www.travelpak.co.uk/freeguide, where you’ll be able to obtain a free copy of our new guide, “Discovering Pakistan: Your first steps to planning an incredible holiday in the world’s most underrated tourist destination”, packed with expert tips on travelling to Pakistan.

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A Horse by the evening clouds at Chuinj Glacier in Qurambar Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan. The long day walk through the wet and slippery mountains, the horse was tired and needed the rest. Soon after we settled for the night stay, the clouds on the horizon started creating a drama and I then instinctively merged the romantic clouds with the silhouette of the animal.
For me its a message of an unending path of love and passion with Nature where feelings and moods are exhibited on the skies. The boldness and creativity of Nature is only be felt by those who submit their will to the Almighty Creator and The Omnipotent, ALLAH.

If you’d like to find out more about planning a trip of a lifetime in Pakistan, just visit http://www.travelpak.co.uk/freeguide, where you’ll be able to obtain a free copy of our new guide, “Discovering Pakistan: Your first steps to planning an incredible holiday in the world’s most underrated tourist destination”, packed with expert tips on travelling to Pakistan.

(c) 2011 Ghulam RasoolHorse-by-the-evening-at-Chuinj

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Walking up to Qurambar Lake, we stopped by the villagers at Teer e Das. This little boy reminded me of the blossoming wild flowers of this valley with all the purity and warmth. The severe weather on this height will eventually turn this little flower into a wrinkled and weather beaten face but his heart will always be remain the same. Though they are living away from civilisation or any facilities but contentment on the faces, the bright shining eyes and the strong will is the reward from nature. The tourists and visitors may not be able to change the lives of these people but their own lives definitely change once they meet, experience and live with these mountain people. I miss my times walking with them and listening to their traditional songs. I wish to walk again and I think that everyone should walk with such people at least once in this life.

A young flower of Broghil Valley

A young flower of Broghil Valley

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By looking at the sheer expanse of mountain ranges in pakistan, one needs to re-establish his or her sense of space and scale. A mountain at a hand is often many days walk through one of most physically challenging mountains range.
The three mighty mountain ranges Karakorams, Himalayas and Hindukush jointly make the roof of the world and Karakoram range possess the world’s biggest freshwater glacier which is even visible from space. Baltoro glacier is roughly 70 Km in length.

This is a very very small glacier in Qurambar Valley and by paying attention in the square box on left in this picture, one can easily spot a man standing in the picture and this gives a relative sense of scale.

Copyrights 2013: Ghulam Rasool

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Chuinj Glacier, Gilgit Baltistan. Pakistan

Chuinj Glacier, Gilgit Baltistan. Pakistan

Qurambar Valley, Gilgit Baltistan. Pakistan.

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