Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, is located against the backdrop of Margalla Hills at the northern edge of Potohar Plateau. In contrast to its twin city Rawalpindi, it is lush green, spacious and peaceful. Islamabad is a city of wide, tree-lined streets, large houses, elegant public buildings and well-organised bazaars. Traffic jams and crowds are rare, and narrow lanes and slums are few and far between. Sidewalks are shaded and safe behind rows of flame trees, jacaranda and hibiscus. Roses, jasmine and bougainvillaea fill the many parks, and scenic view-points show the city to its best advantage.
The master plan of this most modern city was prepared in 1960 by M/s. Constantinos Doxiades, a Greek firm of Architects. Construction was started in October 1961. the city came into life on 26 October, 1966, when the first office building of Islamabad was occupied. It is a modern and carefully planned city. There are ample opportunities for walking, jogging, hiking and trekking around Islamabad in the Margalla Hills. The Margalla Hill range offers excellent opportunities for short and long hikes with magnificent vistas opening up on all sides. A net-work of trails having more then 120 kms total length has been developed.
Excursions around Islamabad
Rose and Jasmine Garden
This 20,360 sq. meters rose garden is famous for its roses. It has 250 different varieties of roses as well as a dozen types of Jasmines. Flower shows are occasionally held here, particularly during spring. Nearby is the Tourist Camping Site.
Shakarparian hills are situated near Zero Point, at a height of 609 meters. Its terraced garden offers pleasant and sweeping vistas of Margalla and Murree hills, Rawal Lake, Rawalpindi Islamabad. Snack Bar facilities are available.
This glistening man-made take covers an area of 8.8 sq. km. The terraced garden and the lake are ideal for picnic, fishing and boating. The highest point in the garden commands a panoramic view of the lake, Margalla and Murree hills, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The PTDC Jaltarang restaurant offers snack bar facilities for visitors.
This low hill over looking Islamabad, known as Daman-e-Koh, offers panoramic view of Islamabad. Snack bar facilities are available at PTDC's Daman-e-Koh Restaurant. The place is ideal for afternoon and evening outing with family and friends.
Murghzar Mini Zoo and Children's Park
Murghzar Mini Zoo is located at the foot of Daman-e-Koh view point. A display corner of Pakistan Museum of Natural History and a Japanese style children's park have also been established near the Zoo. The Park is a gift to Pakistani children from the children of Japan.
Islamabad Sports Complex
A Sports Complex comprising Liaquat Gymnasium for indoor games and Jinnah Stadium for outdoor games, has been built with the Chinese assistance. It is located on Shahra-e-Kashmir near Aabpara. Regular national and international sports events are held in the Complex.
The Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage) works towards preserving the living folk and traditional culture of Pakistan. Its Folk Heritage Museum, located near Shakarparian Hills, has a large display of embroidered costumes, jewellery, woodwork, metalwork, block printing, ivory and bone work. Traditional architecture facades exhibiting such skills as fresco, mirror work, marble inlay, tile mosaic and stucco tracery are also displayed. Lok Virsa Heritage Reference Library is equipped with resource data on ethnography, anthropology, folk music, art, history and crafts.
Idara Saqafat-e-Pakistan (Pakistan National Council of the Arts) runs two art galleries. The National Gallery is located at House # 77, Street # 48, F-7/4, Islamabad (Tel:...................), where contemporary Pakistani art is on permanent display beside revolving exhibitions and paintings available for sale. The other is Children Art Plaza, # 77, School Road, F-7/4, Islamabad (Tel:....................), where Children's art is on display and regular art classes are held for children.
Pakistan Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History is located opposite the Women's College on College Road in F-7/2, Commercial Area. The Museum depicts early human history, geology, and wildlife of Pakistan. the exhibits are particular interest to students and children.
Islamabad museum presents a long historic sequence of the land where Pakistan is situated today. Pakistan has been a seat of the worlds leading civilisations from the time immemorial. There is plenty of evidence to support this argument now on display in Islamabad Museum. For example, 20 million years old fossil remains, 2 million years old man-made stone tools, 7000 years old early human settlements which lead to the world famous Indus Civilisation, Gandhara Grave Culture and Gandhara art, early Islamic settlement and Mughal period, their art and craft.
Four universities in Islamabad have taken onto themselves, four different kinds of responsibilities. Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) was established in 1973 in sector H-8, Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) was established in 1967 while International Islamic University (IIU), located in the vicinity of Shah Faisal Mosque, was created in November 1980. The National University of Science and Technology (NUST) was founded in 1991.
Shah Faisal Mosque
This beautiful mosque was designed by a renowned Turkish Architect, Vedat Dalokay and named after tate King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. It is spread over 1,89,705 sq, meters with 88 meters high minarets and 40 meters high main prayer hall. the main prayer hall can accommodate 10,000 persons while the covered porticoes and verandahs can take over 24,000 worshipers. The main courtyard has space for 40,000 people.
Fatima Jinnah Park
The entire sector of F-9 is being developed as an attractive urban park which will have a profusion of lakes, rock gardens, aquariums, fountains etc. It has been named after Miss. Fatima Jinnah, sister of the founder of Pakistan.
Nestling at the base of Murree hills at a distance of 15 km on Islamabad-Murree road, TDCP Chattar Bagh recreational facility provides a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of the twin cities. Scenic walks, gently flowing stream, water fall and the surrounding hillside are a perfect attraction. The resort has a restaurant, barbecue and two air-conditioned tourist cottages. The Children's Park and playground are spread over an area of 12.5 acres.
Places Around Rawalpindi & Islamabad
The small pass is located 26 km west of Islamabad on G.T. Road. Margalla is mentioned by historians and emperors like Alberuni, Ferishta and Jehangir. Today, it is a pass between the ancient capital of Gandhara, that is, Taxila, and the modern capital of Pakistan, i.e. Islamabad. There is an obelisk right on the top of the Pass, built in 1890 in memory of Brig. Gen. John Nicholson (died on 23 September 1857) of British army, by his colleagues. A small part of the ancient Shahi (Royal) Road can be seen just across the pass, left of G.T. Road. This road was first built by the Persians in 516 BC and later developed by the Afghan King Sher Shah Suri in 1540s. An inscription on the western side of this stone pavement shows that it was again repaired in 1672 AD.
Once a major campsite of Mughal rulers, Wah Gardens are located 12 km west of Taxila on G.T. Road. The gardens were developed with magnificent trees and weather channels by successive Mughal emperors. Tapering cypress trees, loved by the Mughals, line the canals through which cool waters once, Flowed between elegant romantic and cascading into large reflecting basins. The gardens are being restored to their original beauty, by the Department of Archaeology, Government of Pakistan.