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Situated on the crossroads of South Asia, the Middle

East and Central Asia, Pakistan is a beautiful country

with a unique history and cultural heritage. Pakistan

was the site for one of the world’s earliest human

settlements: the great prehistoric Indus Valley Civilization,

the crucible of ancient empires, religions

and cultures. The land of Pakistan ranges from

lofty mountains in the north, the Karakorum and

the Himalayas, through dissected plateaus to the

rich alluvial plains of the Punjab. Then follows the

desolate barrenness of Baluchistan and the hot, dry

deserts of Sindh blending into miles and miles of

golden beaches of Makran coast.

This complex nation consists of various ethnic

groups, each with its own cultures and subcultures,

but which are unified by the common values

of hospitality, honor, and respect for elders. Strong

family ties and respect for human feelings are at the

core of Pakistani society. The differences in language

have never been a cause of political instability. That

the country has been able to hold together is mainly

due to the strength of its workforce and family ties.

Pakistan has extremes of wealth and poverty. For

most people, though, daily life is full of difficulties,

yet everyone knows how to cope with crises. Creative,

tough, and adaptable, Pakistanis are among the

most self-reliant people in the world, bouncing back

after major catastrophes. They are passionate, enterprising,

and remarkable people.

Occupying land crisscrossed by ancient invaders,

Pakistan is a young country whose history stretches

back for thousands of years. It is the home of two

ancient civilizations -the Indus and the Gandharaand

its culture has been shaped by invaders, nomadic

tribes, clans, refugees, and preachers of various religions.

It was home to some of the earliest human settlements,

and the region along the eastern banks of the

Indus River was a magnet to the ancient Greek and

Persian empires. Numerous races came here, moved

on, or settled in the fertile valleys. The flow of migration

continued even in modern times, with millions

entering from India at the time of Partition, from

Bangladesh, and from Afghanistan at the end of the

20 th century.


The Persian Achaemenian Empire collapsed under

the onslaught of Alexander of Macedonia in the

fourth century BCE. He crossed the Indus at Swabi

and came to Taxila in 326 BCE, to be welcomed by

the local king, Ambhi, in his palace at Bhir mound.

Alexander then moved on to the Jhelum River, fought

with Raja Porus on its banks, and conquered Multan.

His exhausted army refused to go beyond the Beas

River and he had to turn back to the Makran coast to

head home. He left behind in Central Asia a number

of Greeks, who founded the Greco-Bactrian kingdom

of Gandhara. It lasted more than five hundred years,

ruled by 13 Greek kings and queens, and its art and

religion had considerable influence on the development

of the region.

This civilization was the result of the interaction

of several peoples who followed the Greeks,

Scythians, Parthians, and Kushans -who came one

after the other from Central Asia by various routes

and integrated into the local society. It is under their

patronage that Buddhism evolved here into its new

Mahayana form, and this became the religion of the

contemporary people in Pakistan.

Under their encouragement Buddhist monks moved

freely along the “Silk Road,” the great transcontinental

trade route, and carried their religion to

central Asia, China, Korea, and Japan. Trade along

the Silk Road was controlled mainly by the Kushana

emperors, who built a mighty empire with Peshawar

as their capital. The Kushana period, from the first to

the third centuries, was the golden age of Pakistan,

with the Silk Road trade bringing unparalleled prosperity

to the area.


Pakistan is in essence a multiethnic and multilingual

nation that is home to people of various regional

nationalities. Nation building has been a difficult

process. The country has undergone a succession of

traumatic sociopolitical experiences since achieving

independence; but it continues to demonstrate

resilience and the capacity to survive and adapt to

changing circumstances.

The people of Pakistan are warm and welcoming.

Their love of color is seen in everyday life, in the

brightly colored painted houses, doors, and windows.

On the roads exuberantly decorated trucks and

buses, painted with mountain scenery, religious

calligraphy, or verses from the famous regional poets,

are ubiquitous. Their qawwali music, performed

in the shrines of famous Sufi saints in Punjab and

Sindh, is unique and attracts millions of people every

year who come to make a wish or offer alms and to

listen to the music and poetry recitals. The Pakistani

passion for cricket is proverbial, and there is a team in

every locality with aspiring young players who want

to be on the national team.

Pakistan hosts one of the largest refugee populations

in the world, mainly from Afghanistan. This diversity

is more visible along cultural and linguistic, rather

than religious or genetic lines. Almost all Pakistanis

belong to the Indo-Aryan ancestral groups that

include Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhi, Balochi, Baruhi,

Balti, and dozens of other smaller groups. In the

northern mountains are some of the oldest Aryan

peoples, the Dardic, Kashmiri, and Swati. Urduspeaking

migrants from India known as Muhajirs,

mostly living in Karachi, are grouped on a linguistic

rather than an ethnic basis.

The estimated population of Pakistan is 197 million,

making it the world’s 6 th -most populous country.

About 95% of its people are Muslim, with the

remainder made up of small groups of Hindus, Christians,

Sikhs, Parsis (Zoroastrians), Buddhists, and

followers of other faiths. The majority of the Muslims

are of the Sunni Hanafi branch, and others are Shia


‘Pakistan’ was originally an acronym for the five

northwestern regions in which Muslims constituted

a majority; Punjab, Afghania (now known as Khyber

Pukhtoonkhwa), Kashmir, Sindh and Balochistan.

However ‘pak’ in Urdu also means ‘pure’, making

Pakistan ‘The land of the pure’. The Muslims of India

adopted the name in 1933 in their demand for a

separate and independent homeland.

The Independence of India Act 1947 stated that

provinces with a majority of Muslims (such as

western Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and what is

now Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa) were to join Pakistan.

Hindu-majority areas (such as eastern Punjab) would

join India, while princely states (like Kashmir) were

required to pick a side. Jinnah had campaigned for

a geographically contiguous state, however Muslims

were not only numerous in the northwest of India,

but also in the northeastern region of Bengal, which

was to be divided into Indian and Pakistani halves. To

complicate matters, millions of Muslims lived in the

lands of central northern India, but were outnumbered

by Hindus, while millions of Hindus lived in

areas such as Sindh, Bengal and western Punjab

which were to become part of Muslim-ruled Pakistan.

Finally, Sikhs, Christians, Zoroastrians and others

were given little or no consideration in the process.

The process of partitioning India had all the ingredients

of a humanitarian catastrophe. In the summer

of 1947, millions of Muslims from Hindu-dominated

areas left their cities at short notice and migrated

towards the lands which would become Pakistan.

Millions of Hindus made a similar move, but in the

opposite direction. With nationalistic fervor and

ethnic tensions in the subcontinent at their most

critical point, the two groups encountered each

other and the inevitable violence broke out. Entire

trainloads of migrants were burnt alive. Women were

raped, children kidnapped and sometimes entire

families were butchered by angry mobs. Those who

survived the terrible journey arrived in cities such

as Delhi, Kolkata, Karachi and Dhaka to ill-prepared

refugee camps. Sikhs and anyone else caught in the

middle tended to gravitate towards India, although

a considerable number also stayed where they were.

On 14 th August 1947 Britain relinquished control of

Pakistan, and on the following day, of India. More

than 100,000 lay dead, more than two million people

had switched sides, and Pakistan was independent

with Karachi as its capital city.


Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s achievement

as the founder of Pakistan, dominates everything else

he did in his long and crowded public life spanning

some 42 years. Several were the roles he had played

with distinction: at one time or another, he was one

of the greatest legal luminaries India had produced

during the first half of the century, an ambassador

of Hindu-Muslim unity, a great constitutionalism, a

distinguished parliamentarian, a top-notch politician,

an indefatigable freedom-fighter, a dynamic Muslim

leader, a political strategist and, above all one of the

great nation-builders of modern times.

What, however, makes him so remarkable is the

fact that while similar other leaders assumed the

leadership of traditionally well-defined nations

and espoused their cause, or led them to freedom,

he created a nation out of an inchoate and downtrodden

minority and established a cultural and

national home for it. And all that within a decade.

For over three decades before the successful culmination

in 1947, of the Muslim struggle for freedom in

the South-Asian subcontinent, Jinnah had provided

political leadership to the Indian Muslims: initially

as one of the leaders, but later, since 1947, as the

only prominent leader- the Quaid-i-Azam. For over

thirty years, he had guided their affairs; he had given

expression, coherence and direction to their legitimate

aspirations and cherished dreams; he had

formulated these into concrete demands; and, above

all, he had striven all the while to get them conceded

by both the ruling British and the numerous Hindus

the dominant segment of India’s population. And

for over thirty years he had fought, relentlessly and

inexorably, for the inherent rights of the Muslims for

an honorable existence in the subcontinent. Indeed,

his life story constitutes, as it were, the story of the

rebirth of the Muslims of the subcontinent and their

spectacular rise to nationhood, phoenix like.


“We are a nation”, they claimed in the ever eloquent

words of the Quaid-i-Azam- “We are a nation with our

own distinctive culture and civilization, language and

literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature,

sense of values and proportion, legal laws

and moral code, customs and calendar, history and

tradition, aptitudes and ambitions; in short, we have

our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. By all

canons of international law, we are a nation”. It was

his powerful advocacy of the case of Pakistan and his

remarkable strategy in the delicate negotiations that

followed the formulation of the Pakistan demand,

particularly in the post-war period, that made

Pakistan inevitable.


It was, therefore, with a sense of supreme satisfaction

at the fulfillment of his mission that Jinnah told the

nation in his last message on 14 August, 1948: “The

foundations of your State have been laid and it is now

for you to build and build as quickly and as well as you

can”. In accomplishing the task he had taken upon

himself on the morrow of Pakistan’s birth, Jinnah

had worked himself to death, but he had, to quote

Richard Symons, “contributed more than any other

man to Pakistan’s survival”. He died on 11 September,


It was, however, given to Surat Chandra Bose, leader

of the Forward Bloc wing of the Indian National

Congress, to sum up succinctly his personal and

political achievements. “Mr. Jinnah” he said on his

death in 1948, “was great as a lawyer, once great as

a Congressman, great as a leader of Muslims, great

as a world politician and diplomat, and greatest of all

as a man of action. By Mr. Jinnah’s passing away, the

world has lost one of the greatest statesmen and Pakistan

its life-giver, philosopher and guide”. Such was

Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the man and

his mission, such the range of his accomplishments

and achievements.


Experts from:

Site of the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington

Pakistan: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture, Kuperard,

by Safia Haleem

Pakistan Traveller, Tim Blight

Emerging Pakistan Gov Pk

Visit Swat org.




Peshawar is the heart of the NW Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

province, watered by the Kabul and Swat

rivers, that runs for over 1,100 km along the border

with Afghanistan. Here is also the heart of the

ancient kingdom of Gandhara, rich in archaeological

remains. It lies at the edge of the historic Khyber

Pass and is well known for its historic and cultural

values. The name derives from a Sanskrit word

“Pushpapura” meaning the “City of flowers”.

Over the years the city has seen many invaders and

travelers passing it by, from around the world. The

pass and the valley have resounded to the tramp of

marching feet as successive armies hurtled down the

crossroad of history, pathway of commerce, migration

and invasion by Aryans, Scythians, Persians,

Greeks, Bactrians, Kushans, Huns, Turks’ Mongols

and Moghols. Alexander the Great’s legions and

the southern wing of his army were held up here

in 327 B.C. for 40 days at a fort excavated recently,

27 km NE of Peshawar at Pushkalavati (Lotus City)

near Charsadda. The great Babur marched through

historic Khyber Pass to conquer South Asia in 1526

and set up the Moghal Empire in the South Asia.

The city is the land of the Pathans - a completely

male-dominated society, who are faithful Muslims.

Their typical martial and religious character has been

moulded by their heroes, like Khushal Khan Khattak,

the warrior poet and Rehman Baba, a preacher and

also a poet of Pushto language. Today, they themselves

guard the Pakistan-Afghanistan border along

the great passes of the Khyber, the Tochi, the Gomal

and others on Pakistan’s territory. Before independence

they successfully defied mighty empires, like

the British and the Moghal and others before them,

keeping the border simmering with commotion, and

the flame of freedom proudly burning.

In the early 21 st c. the activities of the Taliban spread

into the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and

then deeper into Pakistan. Peshawar increasingly

became a target of Taliban attacks, which grew in

frequency in 2009, as the Pakistani army confronted

Taliban forces in the region.

Peshawar is now, as always, very much a frontier

town. The formalities of dress and manner give way

here to a free and easy style, as men encounter men

with a firm hand-clasp and a straight, but friendly

look. Hefty handsome men in baggy trousers and

long, loose shirts, wear bullet studded bandoleers

across their chests or pistols at their sides as

a normal part of their dress. It is also a place where

ancient traditions jostle with those of today, where

the bazaar in the old city has changed little in the

past 100 years, except to become the neighbor of a

modern university, several international banks and

one of the best museums in Pakistan.


mid 50’s Peshawar was enclosed within a city wall

and sixteen gates. Of the old city gates, the most

famous was the Kabuli Gate, but only the name

remains now. It leads out to the Khyber and on to

Kabul. Being an important border city the bazaars

of Peshawar are the most attractive. There is always

a lot of activity going on.

The KISSA KHAWANI BAZAAR (Story Tellers Bazaar):

It was described in the mid-19 th c. by the British

Commissioner in Peshawar, Sir Herbert Edwardes,

as “the Piccadilly of Central Asia”. Towering over

the street are tall, narrow buildings with intricately

carved balconies and window frames. Before the

advent of radios and television, the art of professional

story telling flourished in the traditional

teahouses and balakhanas in the bazaar. The storyteller

relied on his tongue and his imagination to

earn his livelihood. The tales were partly narrated,

partly sung to an audience of traders and travelers

arriving with their caravans from distant corners of

the world.

KHYBER BAZAAR: Here are located many of Peshawar’s

cheaper hotels and, in the evening, food stalls

selling excellent kebabs and fry-ups. Meat is sold by

weight and then cooked while you watch. The main

street, full of doctors, lawyers and dentists, features

billboards depicting sets of false teeth of nightmarish


MOSQUE OF MOHABAT KHAN: The only significant

remaining Moghal mosque in Peshawar was built by

Mohabat Khan in 1670, when he was twice Governor

of Peshawar under Moghal Emperors Shah Jehan

and Aurangzeb. The mosque was nearly destroyed

by fire in 1898 and was only saved by the unremitting

efforts of the faithful. The extensive renovation

of the mosque was done by the traditional

craftsman. The mosque is a fine specimen of Moghal

architecture. The interior of the prayer chamber has

been lavishly decorated with floral work and calligraphy.

According to the late 19 th c. Gazetteer, the

minarets were frequently used in Sikh times ‘as a

substitute for the gallows’.

SETHI HOUSES: These houses are situated in

Mohallah Sethian and can be approached from

Chowk yadgaar. These are highly decorated style

of building with carved wooden doors, partitions,

balconies, mirrored and painted rooms. The Sehtis

are the traditional business community of Peshawar.

The main house was built in 1882 by Haji Ahmed

Gul, who migrated from a near village almost six

generations ago.

BALA HISAAR FORT: This mighty Fort lies on

both eastern approaches to Peshawar city. It is a

massive frowning structure, as its name implies,

and the newcomer passing under the shadow of

its huge battlements and ramparts cannot fail to

be impressed. Originally built by Babar, the first of

the Moghals in 1526-30, it was rebuilt in its present

form by the Sikh Governor of Peshawar, Hari Singh

Nalva, in the 1830’s under the guidance of French

engineers. It houses government offices at present.

PESHAWAR MUSEUM: Peshawar Museum is housed

in an imposing building of the British days. It

was formerly the Victoria Memorial Hall built in

1905. The large hall, side galleries and the raised

platform, which were used for ball dances, now

display in chronological order finest specimens of

Gandhara sculptures, tribal life, the Muslim period

and ethnography.






The ancient ethnic group of the Kalash people, live

high in the remote mountains of Pakistan’s Hindu

Kush (an extension of the Himalayas) deep in the

valleys of Bumboret, Rumbur and Birir, near the inaccessible

mountain border of Taliban-controlled zones

of Afghanistan.

For centuries this light-skinned, pagan people have

claimed to be the long-lost descendants of Alexander

the Great’s world-conquering armies, which

invaded this region in the fourth century B.C. and are

the direct descendants of the ancient Greek-Macedonian

armies who set up outposts in this region 2,300

years ago. How they got there is a mystery. How they

manage to survive is another. The Kalash have links

with Greece in almost everything but proximity. They

dance around night-time fires; they make wine and

indulge in ancient Olympic sports such as wrestling

and shot-put. With their piercing blue-green eyes,

strong features and olive skins, even Alexander the

Great was convinced of the Hellenic connection.

Tragically, in the 19 th c. the Kalash were brutally

conquered by the Muslim Afghans. Their ancient

temples and wooden idols were destroyed, their

women were forced to burn their beautiful folk

costumes and wear the burqa or veil, and they were

converted at swordpoint to Islam. Only a small

pocket of this vanishing pagan race survived in three

isolated valleys in the mountains of what would later

become Pakistan. The Kalash are one of the most

remarkable cultures on the planet. With a population

of just over 3.500, the largest minority group

in Pakistan, they are an oasis of color and warmth in

stark contrast to the seemingly inhospitable land that

surrounds them. The valleys are idyllic and a heaven

from the hustle and bustle of Pakistan’s major cities

and tourist attractions. Walnut and jujube trees cling

to the lower slopes, while carefully cultivated sugarcane

fields thrive along rivers at the bottom of each.

It is here, deep within the Hindu Kush, that villages

are little more than a scattering of wooden homes.

But if the first thing that strikes you about the Kalash

is their disarming hospitality, the second is their

appearance. The word “Kalash” means “black” and

refers to the clothing worn by the women and girls.

When it comes to the way they dress, it is usually

the female clothes that grabs someone’s attention.

Kalash men have abandoned their traditional goathair

tunics for shalwar-kameez, the pajama-like

outfits worn throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Kalash women still wear cheos, baggy black cotton

dresses brilliantly embroidered at the collars, cuffs

and hems. Glass beads drip from slender necklines.

Long head-dresses are decorated with regimented

waves of cowrie shell and elaborate embroidery, with

blood reds, shocking pinks, Byzantine blues, canary

yellows and emerald greens woven together in kaleidoscopic


Colorful wool headdresses cascade to the women’s

shoulders. These kupas are packed with tight rows of

cowry shells brought from the Indian coast. The shells

are believed to embody prayers for fertility. Unlike

many Muslims, Kalash women remain unveiled and

are famous for their beauty.

Because the Kalash are pagans and worship a

pantheon of gods including Dezao, the creator, or

Jastak, the goddess of family, love, marriage and

birth, rather than Muhammad, they are free from the

restraints of Purdah. The Kalash people have very

distinct customs from the neighboring communities.

There’s a popular misconception among neighboring

Muslims that the Kalash are kafirs, or non-believers,

but this is not true. The Kalash follow a strict

code of customs and have a myriad religious quirks,

something that has brought them notoriety among

anthropologists, writers (the Kalash are the mythical

tribe depicted in Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who

Would Be King) and, most recently, travelers. Promiscuity

is frowned upon and incest taboos dictate

marriage must occur outside the valleys. The cost of

fulfilling this cultural requirement is high. With an

already depleted population, villagers often have

little choice – either marry out, or invite insiders,

Muslims, to marry in.

But perhaps the most remarkable custom is that

of the Bashali, a wooden hut in each village where,

every month, the women retreat for the duration

of their period. These houses don’t just represent

a monthly break from work commitments for the

women, but are a fundamental part of Kalash religious

beliefs and demonstrate that everything,

from location, behavior, gender and objects, is separated

into the spheres of pure (Onjesta) and impure

(Pragata). The pollution theory also explains why

men are permitted to look after the goats in the

higher pastures while domestic chores remain strictly

the women’s realm on the valleys below.

The Kalash have a culture where their festivals form

a central point of their lives. Impure persons are not

admitted to the celebrations without purifying themselves

beforehand. The purifying ritual consists of

fire and of brands of juniper being waved above the

uninitiated’s head.

While during the harsh winter there is very little

reason to celebrate, once the spring comes in the

valleys, people are greeting the new season in a

massive celebration. This is the yearly Joshi Festival

that occurs at the end of each May. Milk plays an

important role during this festival. But not just any

milk, but milk that was saved ten days prior for this

very special occasion. Kalash people use this milk to

purify newborns and houses. Newborns are fed the

milks, but it is thrown on houses and objects as well.

At the end of the festival, leaves are thrown on participants’

heads to show the arrival of the spring.

Another festival of the Kalash is the Uchau and it is

celebrated every autumn. But the most important of

all festivals is the Chawmos, celebrated in the middle

of the harsh winter, in the month of December. This

festival marks and celebrates the end of the harvest

and during this time, the animals are sacrificed to

provide food source for the winter.

The Kalash have always been proud of their way of

life and recently so is the rest of Pakistan. Traditionally,

they were ostracized by their majority neighbors

and forced deep into the mountains for their

religious beliefs, they have been tolerated through

gritted teeth. It is only recently, once communications

improved and the tourist interest soared, that

the Pakistani authorities have tried to understand

this wonderful culture.


Chitral is a valley located in the North West Frontier

Province of Pakistan, amidst the ranges of the

Karakorum, the Hindu Kush and the mighty Himalayas

that is Chitral’s point of view in more than

just a scenic way. It reflects the peace, the serenity

and the unique culture of the area. It is divided into

small valleys and is a romantic, captivating and

enchanting place in the majestic Hindu Kush range

in the extreme north of Pakistan.

At an elevation of 1,128m has Afghanistan on its

North, South and West. The 7,788m Tirich Mir, the

highest peak of the Hindukush Mountain, dominates

this 322km long exotic valley.

Chitral shares much of its history and culture

with the neighboring Hindu-Kush territories of

Gilgit-Baltistan, a region sometimes called “Peristan”

because of the common belief in fairies (peri)

inhabiting the high mountains. It has always been

a very important route for many invaders to southeast

Asia, including Alexander the Great, Scythians,

Mangol Changez Khan and numerous others.

The landscape of Chitral is extremely mysterious,

with its steep harsh mountains, lush green valleys,

beautiful meadows and big glaciers, which have

made it one of the most difficult and inaccessible

area of the world. The remote human communities

live in narrow valleys dominated by mountains,

rivers and prehistoric sites abound. Chitral’s biodiversity

is unique, and many of the passes are migration

routes between central Asia and the Indian


Approximately one million migratory birds pass

through each year, of which several are globally

important species. The weather is extremely

harsh and cold in winter, while the summer is very

pleasant. There are certain famous places and

valleys in Chitral like Garam Chashma, Booni, Golen,

Madaklasht, Arandu, Birir, Rumbur and Bumburat.

Chitral is situated in a multi-hazard prone zone.

Every year, life, property, and hard-earned means

of livelihood are lost as a result of different kinds

of natural and human-induced disasters. Flash

floods, glacial lake outburst floods, earthquakes,

avalanches, landslides, debris flows, droughts,

heavy rain and snow, soil erosion, and riverbank

collapses are common natural hazards in the


Historically Chitral was known as an independent

Princely State. After the Independence, Chitral was

the first state to declare the accession to Pakistan.

In 1970, it was declared as district of Pakistan and

attached to the Malakand Division.

One of the major attractions of Chitral are the

Kalash valleys-the home of the Kafir-Kalash or

“Wearers of the Black Robe”, a primitive pagan

tribe. A legend says that five soldiers of the legions

of Alexander of Macedon settled in Chitral and are

the progenitors of the Kafir-Kalash.

Situated on the main crossroad to Central Asia,

Chitral has a long and fascinating history. In fact,

it is this strategic location that compelled invaders

to capture it before any other area in the region.

The recorded history of Chitral begins with the

Tibetans invading Yasin Valley in early 8 th century

BC, followed by the Chinese 7 th century BC and

the Buddhists in 900 AD. Later, the Kalash also

ruled Chitral for decades. In 1400 Chitral became

a unified independent state under Shah Nasir Rais,

while in 1570, the Rais dynasty was replaced by

the Katoor dynasty. The famous mehtar of Chitral

Aman-ul-Mulk ruled from 1857 to 1892. In 1895, the

siege of Chitral Fort took place and lasted a month,

after which Chitral became an independent state

under British rule. Finally, in 1969 it was merged

into Pakistan.

Today, Chitral hosts ancient Chitrali Tribes as well as

nomads who were invited by the mehtars to settle

in the State. Chitral is also home to the ancient

pagan tribe of the Kalash who are now confined

to the three valleys of Bamburat, Rambur and Birir.

The original state of Chitral covered a greater area,

with its borders reaching as far as Badakhshan and

Bashqal in the north-west and Kunar Valley in the

south. In addition, the State extended to Sherqilla

on its north-eastern front, which lies in Gilgit today.

The culture of Chitral bears traces of Greek, Iranian,

Tatar and Turkish influences, due to its unique

location and historical links with Central Asia and

Europe. The Chitrali people call the land of Chitral

“Kho” and their language is Khowar. Persian is

spoken only in Madaglasht Valley. Pushto and

Urdu have also made their way into Chitral. Other

languages spoken in Chitral include Kalash, Gujari,

Nuristani, Dameli, Wakhi, Kirghiz, Yidgha, Gawar-

Bati and Phalura.

The tradition of hospitality can be observed

throughout northern Pakistan but in few places it

is offered as generously as in Chitral. Chitralis also

have a strong musical tradition. The Chitrali sitar,

a string instrument, can often be heard at many

places and family gatherings. Polo is the most

popular sport in Chitral.

The town of Chitral is the main town in the district

and serves as its capital. It is situated on the west

bank of the Chitral River (also known as the Kunar

River) at the foot of Tirich Mir . Until 1969, it served

as the capital of the Princely State of Chitral.

TIRICH MIR: This lofty mountain peak is the highest

of Hindukush range. Tirich Mir can be viewed from

a higher place of Chitral Town in a clear weather. It

can also be viewed from the palace of Chitral’s King.

This mountain is also highest in the world apart

from Himalaya and Karakoram ranges.


foreigners who visit the Chitral and Swat Valleys

must register upon arrival, and are automatically

assigned an armed guard from the local police

force, free of charge. The registration is required to

monitor who is visiting this sensitive border region,

where Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and China

are all within a few hundred kilometers of each

other. International politics aside, the roads to the

north are believed to act as a route for illegal drug

trade from Afghanistan.


Swat is a valley and an administrative district in the

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Swat’s

capital is Saidu Sharif, though the largest city,

and main commercial center, is the nearby city of

Mingora. The region is inhabited largely by Pashtun


The name “Swat” is of Sanskrit origin. One theory

derives it from “Suvastu”, the ancient name of the

Swat River (Suastus in Greek literature). “Suvastu”

literally means “clear azure water” and is attested

in the earliest Sanskrit text, the Rigveda. Another

theory derives the word Swat from the Sanskrit

word “Shveta” (white), also used to describe the

clear water of the Swat River.

Swat, the land of abundant water, plants, small and

big mysterious mountains have a long, rich and

remarkable history. This land fused various civilizations

and cultures, such as, the Aryans, the Greeks

and the Buddhists and for most of its known history

retained its separate entity. The history of the

earliest settlements in the Valley has been traced

back to 3000 B.C. Alexander was in hurry when he

came to Swat, and the local even today say that

if he had time to relax at the bank of Swat River

and feel the cool breeze coming from the snowcapped

Ushu mountain and to listen to the echo of

the flutes coming from the mountain of the valley,

he would never had left this heaven on earth and

today his grave would have been here.

The beautiful valley of Swat, are popularly known

as the Switzerland of the East. It is part of the

Provincially Administrated Tribal Area (PATA) of

the North-West and it is also an integral part of the

strategic and significant region where three parts

of the Asian Continent–South Asia, Central Asia and

China, meet.

Swat was described as “Udyana” (the garden) in

ancient Hindu epics. Alexander the Great crossed

Swat River with part of his army in 327 BC. He

fought and won some of his major battles at Barikot

and Udegram and stormed their battlements,

before crossing over the plains of the five rivers. In

Greek accounts these towns have been identified

as Ora and Bazira. After the death of Alexander the

Great the Greeks quickly lost effective control of

their far flung colonies and soon the northern part

of the sub-continent situated west of the Indus,

which includes Swat, was annexed by Chandra


From the 2 nd c. BC to the 9 th c. AD, Swat was cradle

of Buddhism where more than 1400 monasteries

flourished. The ringing of the bells in these places

of worship used to create a strange mysterious

impression all around the valley. During this time

Swat became famous as the hub of Gandhara

School of Sculpture, which was an expression of

Greco-Roman style mixed with the local Buddhist

traditional sculpture.

Swat is also the historical land where the Muslim

conquerors, Mahmood of Ghazni, Mughal king

Babar and Akbar fought their battles preparatory

to the conquest of the sub-continent. The history

of modern Swat commences with the emergence

of the Akhund Sahib of Swat as a charismatic religious

leader and a reformer. With his help and

support, Syed Akbar Shah established the rule of

Shariat in Swat from 1849 to 1856. The Swat state

was founded in 1917 by Miangul Abdul Wadood,

known as Badshah Sahib. The princely status of

Swat, along with the adjoining states of Chitral and

Dir, was brought to an end by the presidential order

in 1969. And all of them merged in Pakistan.

Swat was once a stronghold of the Pakistani

Taliban, who ruled by terror, public hangings and

suicide attacks on security forces. The militants and

their leader, Mullah Fazlullah, were driven out after

a fierce military campaign in 2009, and the valley

has since returned to a more normal life. First, Pakistani

Taliban militants swept into this conservative

part of northwestern Pakistan, killing more than

2,000 people.

Over the next two years, the Taliban gained effective

control of much of Swat. It banned dancing,

parties and music shops, and warned barbers not

to shave beards. Residents who disobeyed were

often executed, including one woman who was

hanged in Mingora for dancing. The Taliban also

destroyed more than 400 schools. Then Pakistan’s

army showed up to battle the Taliban, forcing 1.5

million residents to flee their homes.

And even after the soldiers regained control and

residents returned, the 2012 shooting of schoolgirl

Malala Yousafzai (now a Nobel Laureate) was a

reminder that life here remained cruel and unpredictable.

But now, with security finally improving,

residents are releasing years of stress. The residents

of Swat have long been more educated and

wealthier than those in many other rural areas of


An ancient rock carving of the Buddha that was

blown up by the Taliban as militants overran Pakistan’s

Swat valley a decade ago has been restored

after an international effort. Seated serenely in the

lotus position above a verdant valley in the foothills

of the Himalayas, the 7 th c Buddha of Swat is back

to its former glory as a tentative calm returns to the


The carving was half destroyed when the Pakistani

Taliban swept into Swat in 2007, imposing its brutal

Islamist rule. Opposed to religious icons, the militants

targeted the valley’s rich Buddhist heritage,

razing former monasteries, burial sites and statues.


foreigners who visit the Chitral and Swat Valleys

must register upon arrival, and are automatically

assigned an armed guard from the local police

force, free of charge. The registration is required to

monitor who is visiting this sensitive border region,

where Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and China

are all within a few hundred kilometers of each

other. International politics aside, the roads to the

north are believed to act as a route for illegal drug

trade from Afghanistan.


Islamabad, is located in the northwest of the

country on Potohar Plateau, and it is one of the

earliest known sites of human settlement in

Asia. Some of the earliest Stone Age artifacts

in the world have been found on the plateau,

dating from 1 million to 500,000 years ago.

The crude stones recovered from the terraces

of the Soan River testify to the endeavors of

early man in the inter-glacial period. Items of

pottery and utensils dating back to prehistory

have been found in several areas.

The name of the city is derived from two words,

Islam and abaad, meaning “City of Islam” or

“Abode of Islam”. Islam is an Arabic word which

refers to the Faith of Islam with many forms of

variations of the Ibrahamic Religion and -abad

is a Persian place name that means inhabited

place or city. This area has been significant in

history for being a part of the crossroads of

the Rawalpindi and the North West Frontier


Situated at one end of the Indus Valley Civilization,

the area was an early habitation of the

Aryan community in Central Asia, whose civilization

flourished here between the 23 rd and

18 th centuries BC. Many great armies such as

those of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan,

Timur and Ahmad Shah Durrani used the

corridor through the region on their way to

invade the Indian Subcontinen. A Buddhist

town once existed in the region and remains

of a stupa have been identified. Modern Islamabad

also incorporates the old settlement of

Saidpur. The British took control of the region

from the Sikhs in 1849 and built Asia’s largest

cantonment in the region in Rawalpindi.

After the formation of Pakistan in 1947, it

was felt that a new and permanent Capital

City had to be built to reflect the diversity of

the Pakistani nation. It was considered pertinent

to locate the new capital where it could

be isolated from the business and commercial

activity of the Karachi, and yet is easily accessible

from the remotest corner of the country.

A commission was accordingly set in motion

in 1958, entrusted with the task of selecting

a suitable site for the new capital with a

particular emphasis on location, climate, logistics

and defense requirements, aesthetics, and

scenic and natural beauty. The new city was

designed by the Greek architect Alexandros

Doxiadis and was built in 1960. Due to Islamabad’s

proximity to Rawalpindi, they are considered

sister cities.

Compared to other cities of the country, Islamabad

is a clean, spacious and quiet city with lots

of greeneries. The site of the city has a history

going back to the earliest human habitations

in Asia. This area has seen the first settlement

of Aryans from Central Asia, ancient caravans

passing from Central Asia, and the massive

armies of Tamerlane and Alexander the Great.

Margalla Hills are in located in the north of the

city. Hot summers, monsoon rains and cold

winters with sparse snowfall in the hills, almost

summarize the climate of this area. Islamabad

also has a rich wildlife ranging from wild boars

to leopards.

Although the majority of the population in

Islamabad traditionally have been employees

of the Federal Government, it has become an

important financial and business city. In the

last decade there have been vast changes in

the city’s traditional reputation. From it being a

typical 9 to 5 city, has become more lively with

many new restaurants and hotels springing up

to service this new wealth.

Even now, Islamabad remains a city where

people come from all over the country to enjoy

its peaceful, noise-free atmosphere with a lot

of greenery and nice surrounding scenery. It

also serves as a base camp for people from the

south and coastal areas like Karachi visiting

the valleys in the area. Islamabad consists of

mainly Federal Government offices, Parliament

House, the official residences of the President

and Prime Minister along with the Diplomatic

Enclave, an area next to the Parliament House

dedicated to foreign embassies.

LOK VIRSA MUSEUM: Islamabad’s premier

museum featuring more than 25 large galleries

in four blocks linked through passages

depicting cultural linkages with Iran, Central

Asia and China. There are large halls dedicated

to architecture, musical heritage,

textiles, romances, Sufi shrines and several

other cultural themes. It has a large collection

of embroidered costumes, jewelry, woodwork,

metalwork, block printing, ivory and

bone work on display. The Heritage Reference

Library of the Museum has a great collection

of data on art, music, history and crafts of all

regions of Pakistan.

FAISAL MASJID: Islamabad’s most recognizable

landmark, a very large and beautiful

mosque gifted by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

GOLRA SHARIF SHRINE of Pir Mehr Ali Shah is

a Sufi Saint located in a village of Golra that is,

an Islamic religious site.


Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of

Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the

Classical Greek culture and Buddhism, which developed

over a period of close to 1,000 years in Central

Asia, between the conquests of Alexander the Great

in the 4th century BC, and the Islamic conquests of

the 7 th c. AD. It is characterized by the strong idealistic

realism and sensuous description of Hellenistic

art and the first representations of the Buddha in

human form, which have helped define the artistic

and particularly sculptural canon for Buddhist art

throughout the Asian continent up to the present.

The origins of Greco-Buddhist art are found in the

Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian kingdom (250–130 BC),

located in today’s Afghanistan, from which Hellenistic

culture radiated into the Indian subcontinent with the

establishment of the Indo-Greek kingdom (180–10

BC). Under the Indo-Greeks and then the Kushans,

the interaction of Greek and Buddhist culture flourished

in the area of Gandhara, in today’s northern

Pakistan, before spreading further into India, influencing

the art of Mathura, and then the Hindu art of

the Gupta empire, which was to extend to the rest of

South-East Asia. The influence of Greco-Buddhist art

also spread northward towards Central Asia, strongly

affecting the art of the Tarim Basin, and ultimately

the arts of China, Korea, and Japan.


Hellenistic states were established in the areas of

Bactria and Sogdiana, and later northern India for

three centuries following the conquests of Alexander

the Great around 330 BC, the Seleucid empire until

250 BC, followed by the Greco-Bactrian kingdom

until 130 BC, and the Indo-Greek kingdom from 180

BC to around 10 BC.

The clearest examples of Hellenistic art are found in

the coins of the Greco-Bactrian kings of the period,

such as Demetrius I of Bactria. Many coins of the

Greco-Bactrian kings have been unearthed, including

the largest silver and gold coins ever minted in the

Hellenistic world, ranking among the best in artistic

and technical sophistication: showing a degree of

individuality never matched by the descriptions of

their royal contemporaries further West.

These Hellenistic kingdoms established cities on the

Greek model, displaying purely Hellenistic architectural

features, statuary, and remains of Aristotelian

papyrus prints and coins. These Greek elements

penetrated India quite early as shown by the Hellenistic

Pataliputra capital (3 rd c. BC), but the influence

became especially strong, particularly in NW India,

following the invasion of the Greco-Bactrians in 180

BC, when they established the Indo-Greek kingdom

in India. Fortified Greek cities, such as Sirkap in

northern Pakistan, were established. Architectural

styles used Hellenistic decorative motifs such as fruit

garland and scrolls. Stone palettes for aromatic oils

representing purely Hellenistic themes such as a

Nereid riding and deities such are Atlas. Dionysiac

scenes represent people in Classical style drinking

wine from amphoras and playing instruments.

Early Gandhara creations: stone palettes (2 nd c. BCE

– 1 st c. CE): The Greeks in Asia are well known archaeologically

for their stone palettes, also called “toilet

trays”, round trays commonly found in the areas of

Bactria and Gandhara, which usually represent Greek

mythological scenes. The earliest of them are attributed

to the Indo-Greek period in the 2 nd and 1 st c.BCE.

Artistic model: Later, Greco-Buddhist art depicts

the life of the Buddha in a visual manner, probably

by incorporating the real-life models and concepts

which were available to the artists of the period.

The Bodhisattvas are depicted as bare-chested and

jeweled Indian princes, and the Buddhas as Greek

kings wearing the light toga-like himation. The buildings

in which they are depicted incorporate Greek

style, with the ubiquitous Indo-Corinthian capitals

and Greek decorative scrolls. Surrounding deities

form a pantheon of Greek (Atlas, Herakles) and Indian

gods (Indra).

Stylistic evolution: Stylistically, Greco-Buddhist

art started by being extremely fine and realistic,

as apparent on the standing Buddhas, with a realistic

treatment of the folds and on some even a hint

of modelled volume that characterizes the best

Greek work. It then lost this sophisticated realism,

becoming progressively more symbolic and decorative

over the centuries.

Architecture: The presence of stupas at the Greek city

of Sirkap, which was built by Demetrius around 180

BC, already indicates a strong syncretism between

Hellenism and the Buddhist faith, together with

other religions such as Hinduism and Zoroastrianism.

The style is Greek, adorned with Corinthian columns

in excellent Hellenistic execution. Later in Hadda, the

Greek divinity Atlas is represented holding Buddhist

monuments with decorated Greek columns. The

motif was adopted extensively throughout the

Indian sub-continent, Atlas being substituted for the

Indian Yaksa in the monuments of the Shunga Empire

around the 2 nd c. BC.

Buddha: Sometime between the 2 nd c. BC and the

1st c. AD, the first anthropomorphic representations

of the Buddha were developed. These were absent

from earlier strata of Buddhist art, which preferred

to represent the Buddha with symbols, such as the

stupa, the Bodhi tree, the empty seat, the wheel, or

the footprints. But the innovative anthropomorphic

Buddha image immediately reached a very high level

of sculptural sophistication, naturally inspired by the

sculptural styles of Hellenistic Greece.

Many of the stylistic elements in the representations

of the Buddha point to Greek influence: the Greek

himation (a light toga-like wavy robe covering both

shoulders: Buddhist characters are always represented

with a dhoti loincloth before this innovation),

the halo, the contrapposto stance of the upright

figures, the stylized Mediterranean curly hair and

top-knot apparently derived from the style of the

Belvedere Apollo (330 BC), and the measured quality

of the faces, all rendered with strong artistic realism.

Some of the standing Buddha were sculpted using

the specific Greek technique of making the hands

and sometimes the feet in marble to increase the

realistic effect, and the rest of the body in another


In Gandharan art, the Buddha is often shown under

the protection of the Greek go Hercules, standing

with his club (and later a diamond rod) resting over

his arm. This unusual representation of Hercules is

the same as the one on the back of Demetrius’ coins,

and it is exclusively associated to him (and his son

Euthydemus II), seen only on the back of his coins.

Soon, the figure of the Buddha was incorporated

within architectural designs, such as Corinthian

pillars and friezes. Scenes of the life of the Buddha

are typically depicted in a Greek architectural environment,

with protagonist wearing Greek clothes.

Gods and Bodhisattvas: Deities from the Greek

mythological pantheon also tend to be incorporated

in Buddhist representations, displaying a strong

syncretism. In particular Hercules has been used

abundantly as the representation of Vajrapani, the

protector of the Buddha. Other Greek deities abundantly

used in Greco-Buddhist art are representation

of Atlas, and the Greek wind god Boreas. Atlas

in particular tends to be involved as a sustaining

elements in Buddhist architectural elements. Boreas

became the Japanese wind god Fujin through the

Greco-Buddhist Wardo. The mother deity Hariti was

inspired by Tyche.

Devotees: Some Greco-Buddhist friezes represent

groups of donors or devotees, giving interesting

insights into the cultural identity of those who

participated in the Buddhist cult. Some groups, often

described as the “Buner reliefs,” usually dated to the

1 st c. AD, depict Greeks in perfect Hellenistic style,

either in posture, rendering, or clothing (wearing

the Greek chiton and himation). It is sometimes even

difficult to perceive an actual religious message

behind the scenes.

Fantastic animals: Various fantastic animal deities

of Hellenic origin were used as decorative elements

in Buddhist temples, often triangular friezes in

staircases or in front of Buddhist altars. The origin

of these motifs can be found in Greece in the 5th c.

BC. Among the most popular fantastic animals are

tritons, ichthyo-centaurs and ketos sea-monsters.

As fantastic animals of the sea, they were, in early

Buddhism, supposed to safely bring the souls of dead

people to Paradise beyond the waters.

Cultural significance: Beyond stylistic elements

which spread throughout Asia for close to a millennium,

the main contribution of Greco-Buddhist art

to the Buddhist faith may be in the Greek-inspired

idealistic realism which helped describe in a visual

and immediately understandable manner the state

of personal bliss and enlightenment proposed by

Buddhism. The communication of deeply human

approach of the Buddhist faith and its accessibility to

all have probably benefited from the Greco-Buddhist

artistic syncretism.


TAXILA MUSEUM: Located at Taxila, Punjab, Pakistan.

The museum is home to a significant and comprehensive

collection of Gandharan art dating from the 1 st

to the 7 th c. CE. Most objects in the collection were

excavated from the ruins of ancient Taxila.

There are some 4000 objects displayed, including

stone, stucco, terracotta, silver, gold, iron and semiprecious

stones. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religion

are well represented through these objects discovered

from three ancient cities and more than two

dozen Buddhist stupas and monasteries and Greek

temples in the region. Taxila Museum has one of the

most significant and comprehensive collections of

stone Buddhist sculpture from the 1 st to the 7 th c. in


SWAT MUSEUM: It is located in Mingora, province

of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The museum

was conceived in 1959 under the aegis of the Italian

Archaeological Mission to Swat and the Wali of Swat

to contain his personal collection of artifacts. It was

later expanded with the assistance of the Japanese

government, but was badly damaged in the Kashmir

earthquake of 2005. With the war between the Pakistan

government and Taliban in 2007, the museum

was closed and its contents were moved to Taxila, this

proved lucky as a bomb exploded nearby in February

2008 killing many and damaging the museum. The

2,700 objects were returned to the museum in July

2011 and a new seismic-resistant museum was

opened on December 11, 2014.

PESHAWAR MUSEUM: It is notable for its collection

of Buddhist artwork dating from the ancient Gandhara

Empire. It was founded in 1907 as “Victoria Hall,”

in memory of Queen Victoria.

The current collection has almost 14,000 items based

on Gandhara, Greco-Buddhist, Kushan, Parthian and

Indo-Scythian life. Examples include art, sculptures,

coins, manuscripts, statues, ancient books, early

versions of the Quran, weapons, dresses, jewelry,

Kalash effigies, inscriptions, paintings of the Mughal

and later periods, household materials and pottery,

as well as local and Persian handicrafts.

Peshawar Museum has one of the largest and

most extensive collections of Gandhara art of the

Buddhist period and is considered to be one of the

biggest collections of Buddhist objects in the world.

The museum also contains the largest collection on

Gautama Buddha. Buddhist stone sculptures, terracotta

figurines, and other Buddhist objects. The

display of Gandhara art in the main hall includes

Buddha’s life stories, miracles, worship of symbols,

relic caskets, and individual standing Buddha sculptures.

It also has 8,625 coins, 4,510 of which are


LOK VIRSA MUSEUM: It is also known as the National

Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage, who the

museum calls “the real bearers of our cultural traditions”.

Located on the Shakarparian Hills, in Islamabad,

opened in 1974. The museum showcases Pakistan’s

multicultural society by displaying history and

living traditions of the various ethnic groups of Pakistan

from all corners of the country.

It displays the cultural heritage of Pakistani people.

The living style of the different areas of Pakistan is

exhibited here in statues, pictures, pottery, music and

textile work. Lok Virsa is the finest cultural museum

in Pakistan. It showcases art works that help in

preserving the living folk and traditional culture and

crafts of Pakistan and has a large display of embroidered

costumes, jewelry, woodwork, metalwork,

block printing, ivory and bone work. Traditional

architecture facades exhibiting such skills as fresco,

mirror work and marble inlay; tile, mosaic and stucco

tracery are also displayed.








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