Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, located against the backdrop of Margalla Hills is lush, green, spacious and serene. The city was conceived in 1960 and became operational in 1966.
Islamabad is a meticulously planned city with wide tree-lined streets, elegant public buildings, and well-organized bazaars. Roses, jasmine, bougainvillaeas fill the parks and scenic viewpoints provide the city with its lustrous look.
Islamabad is adorned by attractive buildings reflecting modern architectural trends such as Shah Faisal Mosque, Federal Government Secretariat, Parliament House, Prime Minister’s Office, Presidency and Supreme Court of Pakistan along with many commercial complexes.
The capital city offers many cultural spots depicting the beauty and variety of Pakistani culture.
Islamabad Archaeological Museum presents a long history of Pakistan revealing it to be a seat of the world’s leading civilizations from time immemorial. It contains proofs of prehistoric existence such as 20-million-year-old fossil remains, 2-million-year-old man-made stone tools, 7000-year-old early human settlements, which led to the world-famous Indus Civilization, Gandhara Grave Culture and Gandhara Art, early Islamic settlements, Sultanate and Mughal period and their art and craft.
Islamabad is full of beautiful mosques and shrines.
Shah Faisal Mosque, named after King Feisal of Saudi Arabia is the crown jewel adorning the city spread over 1,89,705 square 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 porticos and verandahs can take over 24,000 worshipers.
The Shrine of Shah Abdul Latif (Bari Imam) is another popular place built on the order of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
The Shrine of Syed Meher Ali Shah of Golra Sharif is devoted to a reputed bard who wrote beautiful prose and poetry in Persian, Arabic and Punjabi languages.
Other sights for sightseeing:
i. Lok Virsa Heritage Museum is a cultural hub depicting multiple phases of the life, traditions, and history of the people of Pakistan through a chronological sequence;
ii. The Heritage Library;
iii. Pakistan National Council of the Arts;
iv. Pakistan Museum of Natural History;
v. Rose and Jasmine Garden.
Islamabad is surrounded by rich archaeological, cultural and historical remnants.
One of the fine historical sites is Rawat Fort located 17 km east of the city. It was built by the Gakkhars, a fiercely independent tribe of the Potohar Plateau in the early 16th century.
Rohtas Fort, located 109 km southeast of Islamabad, is one of the most impressive historical monuments built by Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri, in 1540 serving as a huge fortified base for military operations.
Hasan Abdal, 48 km from Islamabad, was frequented by Mughal Emperors on their way to Kashmir. It houses the Sikh sacred place Gurdwara Panja Sahib having a sacred rock with the handprint of Guru Nanak and is visited by Sikh pilgrims twice a year.
Another site of historical significance is Taxila located 35 km from Islamabad. Taxila is a centre of Gandhara art of sculpture, architecture, education, and Buddhism.
Representing the true spirit of a capital city Islamabad is home to several universities.
i. Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU);
ii. Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU);
iii. International Islamic University (IIU);
iv. National University of Science and Technology (NUST);
v. COMSATS Institute of IT;
vi. National University of Modern Languages (NUML);
vii. Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU);
viii. University of Arid Agriculture (UAA).