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Pakistan, you're beautiful

Updated Aug 14, 2015 06:12pm

This is a compilation of some of the country's well known – and lesser known – landmarks, where Pakistan is looking its best.

Here is to our cherished country on its 69th Independence Day. Happy birthday, Pakistan!

[The photographs were published in the DAWN National Weekend Advertiser. Photographs courtesy White Star.]

Quaid-e-Azam Library

The Quaid-e-Azam Library in Bagh-e-Jinnah, a park previously known as "Lawrence Gardens", in Lahore has a collection of more than 100,000 volumes, both in English and Oriental languages (Urdu, Arabic and Persian). Special attention is being paid to the acquisition of comprehensive literature on Islam and the Muslim world.


Fatima Jinnah Park

Located 13 kilometres from Islamabad’s Zero Point, Fatima Jinnah Park (also known as F-9 Park) is one of Pakistan’s – and South Asia’s ­ – largest parks.

Four separate entrances lead into the park and at one of them stands a Mughal-inspired, white structure, which serves as the Park’s centrepiece. It is there that many visitors choose to pose for photographs. There is also a rock in a small pond which carries an inscription of the date when the park’s foundation stone was laid by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (June 8, 1992). However, it wasn’t until the mid-90s that that the Park was landscaped and became a full-fledged recreation spot.


Hill Park

Spread over 62 acres, Hill Park is one of Karachi’s largest parks. For decades, Hill Park has been attracting visitors from all over Karachi, who come to enjoy the open space, the hilly landscape and the ‘cooler’ breeze at the top of the hill. Before the construction of high rise buildings, Hill Park was one of the best places to get a bird’s eye view of Karachi.


Wah Gardens

The impressive Wah Gardens were established during the Mughal era; they are easily accessible via GT Road.

The Gardens were inaugurated during the 1580s by Raja Maan Singh, a general stationed at Wah during Emperor Akbar’s reign. Maan Singh and his army stayed in Wah because of the stream that flowed through the area; he also built a swimming pool and a small rest house there.


Khanpur Lake

Built in 1983, the picturesque Khanpur Dam is located on Khanpur Lake, which is fed by the Haro River. It is a popular recreational venue, especially over the weekend.

Visitors are rewarded with some breathtaking views. On one side stand the lush green Margallas, while on the other lies the vast expanse of the lake’s sapphire blue waters.


Nishat Cinema

Located on M.A Jinnah Road, Nishat Cinema was Pakistan’s first movie theatre, and despite facing competition from cinemas that were established later, including the nearby, Bambino, Capri and Prince, which boasted 70 mm screens and plush interiors, it continued to entertain crowds for almost six decades. According to its Director, Nawab Hasan Siddiq, Nishat Cinema was inaugurated by Fatima Jinnah in 1947.

Unfortunately, Nishat Cinema was burnt down during a protest in 2012, and any hope of its restoration were dashed when it was put on sale.


Sethi House

Sethi Mohallah is an area in the heart of the walled city of Peshawar. The Mohallah contains seven houses (including Sethi House a cultural heritage) built by the Sethis.

These unique houses are a blend of the art and architecture of Gandhara and Central Asia, are rare architectural masterpieces located in the walled city.The first was built by Haji Ahmed Gul in 1882.


The Ghulam Rasool Building

One of the most impressive examples of colonial architecture on Lahore's Mall remains Number 60, popularly known as the Ghulam Rasool Building.

Named after Haji Ghulam Rasool Tarar, a real estate tycoon and one of Lahore’s wealthiest men of the times, the building was erected in 1916 and covers 5,000 square yards. The building is truly an architectural masterpiece; with a striking central dome, it is divided into five sections or modules with a grand staircase located in the central module. Each module is separated by a 36-inch thick stone wall.

The building now houses a number of shops on rent. Its most famous tenant remains the Ferozsons Book Shop, once the largest book store in the country.


Golra Railway Station

Located near the ancient Buddhist civilisation of Taxila, Golra is strewn with splendid archaeological examples of art and artifacts.

During the British Raj, Golra was considered important enough to warrant an architecturally elaborate, colonial style railway station that was built in 1882, having a stone platform. The Golra junction connected Peshawar, Kohat and Havelian via Taxila. Although railway travel has diminished over the years, the special Safari Train that departs from Golra to Rawalpindi is reminiscent of train journeys from the past.


Raj Kapoor’s House

The ancestral home of legendary Indian actor, Prithviraj Kapoor, is located deep inside Dhaki Nalbandi, in a narrow street called Dhaki Munawar Shah in Peshawar. The family did not have filmi roots and it was on a whim that Prithviraj left Peshawar for Bombay, against his father’s wishes, to pursue his dream of becoming a ‘film star’ at the age of 22, in 1929.

Despite its dilapidated state, the house exhibits fine craftsmanship, particularly with regard to the jharokas that adorn it. It is owned by a Peshawar-based family, although nobody lives in it anymore. Last year, the local government announced that the house would be converted into a museum, but the plans have yet to materialise.


The Azadi Chowk Flyover

Constructed in a record six months at a cost of approximately five billion rupees, the Azadi Chowk Flyover stretches for 2.53 kilometres and is believed to be Pakistan’s longest signal-free corridor.

It is also Pakistan’s only five-ramp flyover, (most flyovers in Pakistan usually have a maximum of two ramps) and is accessible via Ahmad Ali Road, Ravi Road, Taxali Chowk, Timber Market and Shahdara.


Pakistan Chowk

Pakistan Chowk remains the go-to place for wedding planners, event managers and ambitious DIYers who need personalised invitation cards and stationery printed at reasonable rates in Karachi.

Stepping into the narrow lanes of Pakistan Chowk is not for the uninitiated. The maze like streets, the wide variety of cards and designs (from the ‘classic’ red and gold shaadi cards to luxurious gold stamped ‘invites’) that can be found within myriad printers shops can be an overwhelming experience.

In the 68 years since its inception, Pakistan Chowk remains the undisputed hub of commercial printers.


Nila Gumbad

Named after the blue-domed mausoleum of Shaikh Abdul Razzaq, the Nila Gumbad (which means ‘blue dome’) is one of Lahore’s lesser known commercial pockets and is located between Mayo Hospital and New Anarkali Road.

It was named after the blue-domed mausoleum of the mystic Sheikh Abdul Razzaq, believed to have travelled to Lahore from Mecca in the reign of Mughal Emperor Humayun.


Saint Andrew’s Church

Despite the cacophony that defines Saddar, Saint Andrew’s Church emanates serenity. Surrounded by verdant lawns spread over two acres, this Scottish church opened on the last day of 1868 in Karachi; it was designed by T.G. Newnhan in the Gothic style. One characterising feature of the Church are its windows.


Gurdwara Dera Sahib

The Sikh temple, situated opposite Lahore Fort near Badshahi Mosque, houses Ranjit Singh’s tomb. The Sikh Gurdwara was built in memory of the place where the 5th of the 10 Gurus of the Sikhs Guru Arjan Dev was martyred in June 1606 AD.

The domes are gold-plated and the front of the Gurdwara is built in marble. Parakash takes place daily here.

The Gurdwara’s dome is seen in juxtaposition with the minaret of the Badshahi Mosque in the above image.


Fire Temple

The Parsi Dar-e-Meher or Agyari (Fire Temple) is located on Dr Daud Pota Road, Karachi and was constructed in 1948.

Today, the building stands out amidst its dilapidated surroundings, shining bright in the spring sunshine, adorned with engravings of the faravahar (a winged figure that represents Zoroastrianism). Although the temple is the venue where Parsis from across the city congregate to pray daily, it is most frequented on Nauroz.


Wazir Khan Mosque

The magnificent Wazir Khan Mosque is one of Lahore’s most iconic landmarks. It can be reached by traversing along the Shahi Guzargah (Royal Trail), through the Delhi Gate.

The mosque is named after Sheikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari – a wazir at Emperor Shah Jehan’s court, who conceived, designed and oversaw the mosque’s construction, which began in 1634. The Mosque boasts of an impressive dome and octagonal minarets; its walls are embellished with eye-catching calligraphy.