Key Places - Pakistan - The Old Silk Route
Mountains and Glaciers
The 1950s and 1960s were the era of the 'new town' a concept first elaborated in Britain after World War II under the banner 'Homes fit for heroes to live in!' This idealism underpinned the Pakistan government's decision to construct Islamabad to replace Karachi as its capital city.
Work started in 1961 and is still far from finished. Wide Roads, detached houses and gardens contrast somewhat with the old Pakistani city.
Places of interest include Pakistan's largest mosque: Faisal Mosque and the Lok Virsa Museum where you'll see an interesting collection of folk and traditional artefacts and green spaces. Just an hour by taxi from Islamabad is the UNESCO World Heritage site Taxila. Meaning "City of Cut Stone" or "Takṣa Rock", Taxila is an important archaeological site where you can see remains of four early settlement sites, Buddhist monasteries, and a Muslim mosque and Madrassa.
Islamabad's twin city Rawalpindi only 15 km away, has crowded, narrow winding bazaars and ancient buildings huddled together.
A visit to the bazaar in the old city of Rawalpindi wandering through the Saddar and Rajab Baazar is what visiting a Pakistani city is all about. This, as opposed to the planned wide open Islamabad, is how a traveller imagines an eastern city to be.
Witness the vibrant buzz in narrow crowded streets with vendors selling jewellery, brass, copper and Kashmiri embroidery. In fact it is possible to buy almost anything!
Shah Faisal Mosque
You can't fail to be impressed by Islamabad's remarkable mosque; said to be the biggest in Asia with room for 100,000 worshippers.
It was designed by the renowned Turkish architect Vedat Daloky and named after the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who contributed most of the 50 million dollar cost.
Fly the Roof the World
This flight must be one of the most exciting in the world, the small Fokker Friendship plane flies around the 8,125m (26,660ft) Nanga Parbat.
The pilot sometimes invites passengers into the cockpit to see some of Pakistan's 82 peaks over 7,000m (23,000ft), which stretch, range after range, as far as the eye can see.
The sharp triangle of K-2, the second highest mountain in the world, is clearly visible on the horizon.
At an elevation of 1,500m lies the Gilgit valley, offering spectacular scenic beauty. It is surrounded by lakes, rivers, glaciers and high mountains ranges. Some of the world's largest peaks, such as Nanga Parbat (8,125m) and Raka Poshi (7,788m) are located here.
The best season to visit is from May to mid-October. The local dialect is Shina, however, Urdu and English are also spoken and understood.
"I enjoyed the tour immensely - well organized, well led a good bunch of participants who were all friendly and prepared to make the effort to all get on. Dermot..."