Pakistan is a country of endless natural wonders. While the last two decades have seen the country’s once budding tourism industry thwarted by terrorism, there are signs that the country will once again become a regional hub for adventure seekers and lovers of natural beauty. Here are top 10 places in the country that everyone should visit at least once.
Kumrat Valley is Pakistan’s hidden wonder. Imagine dense deodar forests somewhere in the upper reaches of the Rocky Mountains, but without any signs of civilized society (park ranger signs, bear warning signs) for miles on end.
The valley is seeing a rapidly increasing influx of visitors, so the next couple of years are probably your last chance to experience nature in it’s full glory.
Shogran is Pakistan’s most favourite hill-station outside of the Murree area for a reason. Located 10,500 ft. in the air, Shogran is a green meadow bordered by dense green forests and it’s own share of lakes. Some of the country’s most accessible ‘real treks’ are found here, thousands of people hike and trek around the area throughout the year.
The most famous trek here is the one that leads you towards Siri-Paye, the highest mountain in the region. Decorated with luxurious views of the nearby valleys and mountains, this is one trip that can be enjoyed by both family and friends.
While Kashmir may be more green and friendly; the one big reason you want to visit Pakistan is Gilgit-Baltistan. No other place in the world, except Nepal, houses such an impressive collection of 20,000 footers. From the bewildering heights of K2 and Nanga Parbat, to hundreds of lesser known but equally awe-inspiring peaks, this is one place on Earth which has no match.
Hidden between these giants are places which befit the description of ‘heaven on earth’, from the Deosai Plains to the Fairy Meadows.
A few days among the highest mountains in world will make you forget Alaska, New Zealand or Switzerland.
Mohenjodaro may have lost some of it’s appeal two decades after it became apparent that the Indus Valley Civilization was not the first great civilization of mankind; and lost it even further after the horrendous Bollywood movie of the same name came out.
However, it still holds a special role in the overall early annals of civilization. Much of Mohenjodaro has been revealed since the city was discovered over a century ago; and any history buff would be foolish not to spend a sultry afternoon here.
Naran-Kaghan is here for a reason: it’s sheer accessibility. Looking roughly 10 hours away from Lahore, Naran-Kaghan is a picturesque valley with it’s fair share of waterfalls (including the majestic Dhani waterfall), awe-inspiring rivers (Panjkora) and forests. When it comes to storybook lakes, the Kaghan Valley is second to none.
Saif-ul-Malook, the crown jewel of the area, is perhaps the most fantasized of all of Pakistan’s lakes, and is sure to take even the most traveled of people in sheer awe of it’s beauty. About two hours drive from Naran is the famous Babusar Top, which rests 11,000 feet above sea level with stunning views of snow-laden peaks (including, if you are lucky, the Nanga Parbat).
The road of Naran-Kaghan is the finest of all mountain-side roads in the country; so navigable that even drivers with no previous experiences of such roads will be able to reach the area without any issues.
The Walled City, Lahore
For residents of Pakistan’s major metropolitan cities (Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, etc), the Walled City of Lahore may not really make you go ‘wow’ – the reason is that the aside from the historical buildings from the Mughal and British era, the country at large had resorted to the same post-colonial architecture (or lack of). The Walled City, too, is quickly losing it’s centuries-old glamour and mystique that it once swayed.
But not all is lost. The Badshahi Masjid, the Lahore Fort, Heera Mandi; these are just some of the hundreds of attractions (many of them are hard to find and lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life) that remind you of the rich history that make Lahore one of the true historical capitals of the world.