Original Article @ Ahmed Zoha’s Web Blog
The effort of unveiling the true spirit of being a Pakistani characterized by the liveliness, the passion, the lifestyle, the glee and the zest that is clearly reflected by the architectural heritage and the geography of this pure land. The spirit that holds an energy that resonates in the atmosphere epitomized by the roads & streets of Pakistan. This article touch upon the three major cities trying to paint the vivid colors and the distinguishable textures of life and structures within each .
ISLAMABAD: The ‘Switzerland’ of South Asia
Islamabad (Capital of Pakistan) meaning “City of Peace” lies in the lap of nature, surrounded by lush green Margalla hills and high headed pine trees is often quoted as “The Switzerland of South Asia” due to it’s serene elegance. It is listed amongst the most well planned cities in the world. The amalgamation of modern architecture and nature’s artistry exhibits a heavenly magnificence that symbolizes the aspirations, dreams and hopes of a progressive and shinning Pakistan.
The Lotus lake, Loke Virsa ( The National Cultural Center and Museum), 21st century architectural wonderment like Convention Centre, Serena Hotel, well sculpted gardens like Shakarparian Hills, Jasmine garden, Rawal Dam, Golra Shareef, South East Asia’s largest park Fatima Jinnah park and the breathtaking PeerSohawa are few highlights of Islamabad. To the west of Islamabad lies Buddhist site of Taxila where one find the traces of Greek history. Taxila is oftenly described as “World’s Oldest University”  discovered by Aristotle where eminent scholars from different part of the world used to lay the foundation of earliest research in medical science. Islamabad, a city that hold in itself a history from the pages of time, a charisma of today’s vision, and a future for tomorrow.
LAHORE: The heart of Pakistan ….(by Dua)
Lahore the heart of Pakistan , a versatile city having its historical, cultural and commercial value maintained in today’s modernized era. The city famous for its livelihood, joviality and aroma of it’s food . It is commonly said whosoever hasn’t seen Lahore hasn’t sensed life’s true spirit to its entirety. Sun never sets in Lahore , thrill and compassion dwell in the atmosphere that better describe the spirit of lahori’s (people of Lahore). Life giggles in the corners of streets and smiles in the hearts of hospitable residents of Lahore. Colors of love, life and liberty spread their unanimous shades, never fading.
A city with a historical origin embracing the architectural marvel during the Sultanate period. The Mughal rule greatly enhanced its cultural and social aspect. Some of the monuments that depicts the splendid architecture of the Mughal period are Shahi Mosque, Shalamar Gardens, Shahi Qila (Lahore Fort)and Jahangir’s Tomb. The Diwan-e-Aam, the marble Baradari, the splendid Sheesh Mahal, studded with glittering mirrors and Masjid Wazir Khan are treat to watch. The Badshahi Mosque, built by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1670 is one of the largest mosques in the world. It can accommodate nearly 100,000 worshippers in its spacious yard to offer their prayers.
The “walled city” Lahore comprises of 13 gates known as “old city” which is embodiment of old values ,art and culture. Minar-e-Pakistan which is also called Lahore Monument is situated in the famous Iqbal park with all it’s grandeur symbolizing the sacrifices of our ancestors who gave their precious lives to acquire freedom.
Fun & festivity never ends in Lahore. Food is something that makes lahore special apart from other cities, as lahori’s are said to have real good taste buds. Food Street is the place which is a tourist’s main attraction. In the day light the place is a busy lane bustling with traffic but as soon as sun sets, various lamps lit up the street & side buildings that are built on Kashmiri-Persian architecture and turns into a heaven for food lovers where you will find all kind of traditional Pakistani food. Lahore is famous for it’s basant festival celebrations as the sky get covered with thousands of kites with bright and shinny colors representing the passion, joviality, warmheartedness of the people of lahore. Lahore is also termed as the city of gardens because of the fascinating gardens like Lawrence garden, Shalimar garden, Race coarse park and many more…
Asia’s most expensive motorway M2 connects Lahore to Islamabad passing through various smaller cities is an exhibit of technical marvelous in the road design and construction . It then become M1 linking Islamabad with Peshawar and in between near khewara Salt range lies ” Asia’s Highest Pillared Bridge” designed by highly professional architects , thus becoming another landmark for this country.
Karachi: 7th Largest City in the World (by Huneza Khan)
Karachi, the 7th largest city in the world with population exceeding 13 million spreads over 3,530 km² (2,193 sq mi) in area. It is located in the south of Sindh, on the coast of the Arabian Sea. It’s ablaze with flyovers, high rises and expansive roads. The coastal climate is idyllic as the breeze never stops; the sun never heats up. Karachi is rich in aesthetics due to the Victorian architecture and tendency to amalgamate diversified cultures characterized by the blending of Middle Eastern, South Asian and Western influences, as well as the status of the city as a major international business center. Soon after the creation of Pakistan this city has been inhabited and developed majorly by Muslims migrating from India to their homeland but like any other major metropolitan center it has a unique diversity with a wide variety of communities belonging to different religious and linguistic groups drawn from N.W.F.P, Kashmir, Punjab, Baluchistan, and of course from different parts of Sindh. In this way Karachi has developed into a National Metropolis. No wonder, it is often described as miniature Pakistan, which it really is, just as Bombay is mini-India, London is mini-England, and Paris is mini-France.
The city’s multicultural lifestyle, its monument of historic value, the beaches and structures of various architectural styles has all the flavors for attracting tourist.The unprecedented vitality in the indo-gothic and the Neo-gothic styles of Frere Hall, Empress Market and St. cathedral is highly appreciated. Italian Renaissance was very popular and was the language for St. Joseph’s Convent (1870) and the Sindh Club
The Hindu gymkhana and Mohatta Palace are the example of Mughal revival buildings. Mohatta palace is built using pink Jodhpur stone in combination with the local yellow stone from Gizri. There is the secret underground tunnel that leads from the grounds of the palace all the way to a subterranean Hindu temple less than a kilometer away. Its also wide heard that the palace is haunted and the museum guides and curators have acknowledge supernatural happenings.
Manghopir has the oldest sufi shrines in Karachi famous for its crocodiles and hot sulphur springs that are believed to have curative powers. Similarly the Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar built in 1356 with mirror work and sindhi kashi tiles and two Gold plated doors give a paramount prestige and spiritual contour to Clifton beach.
The Port Fountain is the World’s third tallest fountain located on the Oyster Rocks off the Karachi Harbour. It rises to a height of 620 feet. Because the fountain rises so high into the air, it is easily seen from many locations of the city. Alliance Francaise, Area 51, The Arena’s ice-skating rink, Goethe Institute, Sadequain Gallery, T2f, Universe Cineplex are places to forget the tedium of the humdrum of life and getting indulge in various activities like theatre, drama, music, film, contemporary & classical dances, cultural festivals, sports and education, which are highly appreciated by the local community.
Karachi is the city that never sleeps, The core attraction of this city lies in the beaches which are being renovated and its magnetism is galvanized by the mega projects that are being planned and are under construction. One such mega-project that adds exuberance to the city is Asia’s largest rotary food street at Karachi Port named as “Port Grand Food Resort and Entertainment Complex” which will be inaugurated in August 2009.
Pakistan: The land of Emperors
Pakistan, a piece of land that had been dreamed by the mightiest Emperors in the history of mankind. Whether it was the Aryans in 1,700 B.C followed by the armies of Cyrus the great which later overcome by Alexander the great who stopped it’s voyage of conquer due to the harsh desert regions of Baluchistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Later came Ashoka, the Parthians and lastly the Great Mughal Emperors , all of them left behind monumental signs of their glory in this region. The architecture and design of their Forts symbolizes their strength, knowledge and their pride. Pakistan is endowed with charismatic and mind impelling forts of these great emperors. Ranikot Fort is the “World’s largest Fort“  with a circumference of 18 miles located 30 km south of Jamshuru District, Sindh Pakistan. Derawar, Rohtas, Attock, Giri, Rawat and most famous of all Royal Fort Lahore are few of the notable jewels of Pakistani heritage.
The above article provides a glimpse of magnificence owned by the people of this pure land we know as ” Pakistan“. Apart from these three major cities , every city has a unique story to tell hiding in itself some of the most unbelievable wonders and sites, villages with traditional & exuberant life. Words are not enough to do justice with all of them but it is just an effort to portray the real picture of my homeland.