Tourism is a great potential for Pakistan, which is still untapped.
(Imran Khan-the Prime minister of Pakistan at Davos Summit 2020)
Looking for a sanctuary to get away from monotonous and tiresome life for a while, then head to Pakistan. Pakistan offers the best travel packages on cheaper rates and its beauty can very easily compete the likes of Alps. With the introduction of e-visa and ease in accessibility, visit to Pakistan has never been this so easy.
This beautiful country has a diverse topography that caters to all types of adventure seekers. In the south of Pakistan you will find plateaus, deserts, stretched barren lands and also Indian Ocean. Be prepared to spend days and nights in chilly winters among humongous snowcapped mountains, and isolated remote valleys. You will find such contrasting beauties scattered across the country. Besides the geography, what attracts visitor’s attention most is the unique and distinct culture of different parts of Pakistan. This small country will bewitch you with its mesmerizing landscapes, gigantic mountains, towering glaciers, roaring rivers and above all the loving and kind people. Let’s explore what Pakistan has to offer.
Pakistan is a mountain heaven though undiscovered the country is home to some of the world’s spectacular and grandeur mountain ranges. The mountain ranges of Karakoram, Himalaya and Hindu Kush are stretched across the North. These ranges also converse in some places. Yearlong these magnificent mountains remain covered with snow. Five of the world’s mountains above 8000 meters are located in Northern Pakistan including K2 and Nanga Parbat. Pakistan annually receives mountaineering expedition who visit in pursuit of conquering some of the world’s most dangerous and highest mountains. One of the most dangerous and highest paved road-the mighty Karakoram Highway snakes through these mountain ranges. Apart from these, Pakistan has some of the largest fresh reservoirs in form of Glaciers-all situated in Gilgit-Baltistan. The likes of Baltoro (63km long), Batura (57km long), Biafo (67km long) and Passu glaciers among others are the most popular among trekkers and mountaineers. The country has the some of the highest concentration of glaciers outside North Pole. Climate change is taking a toll on the glaciers as some of them are thinning rapidly causing Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) and formation of artificial lakes. These incidents have increased recently endangering lives and livelihoods of local communities.
Tourists can experience glacier hikes, skiing, and mountain trail trekking, camping at basecamps, and mountaineering. Moreover, Khyber Pakhtoonkhua province has some spectacular hill stations that are ideal to for skiing. For instance; Malam Jabba is a very popular destination for winter sports that hosts annual national and International skiing competitions.
The meadows, forests cover and wild life habitation on hills provide an ideal habitat for eco-tourism in Pakistan. The North of Pakistan is known for spectacular landscapes and sites. Valleys of Hunza, Ghizer, Skurdu, and Astor offer ideal eco-tourism spots. Besides Neelam valley in Azad Kashmir, Kalash valley in Chitral, Kaghan, Shandur, Malam Jabba and Saif ul Muluk in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa are among the most visited places. The hilly resorts of Patriarta, Thandiani, Kalar Kahar, Ayubia and Changa Manga have some mesmerizing green cover. The country also inhabits some diverse wild life species on the mountains. Unfortunately some of the wild life is on the brink of extinction. The endangered species of Markhoor, blue sheep, snow leopard and some other also exists in the mountains of Karakoram and Himalaya. And to conserve these precious species National parks have been created around the natural habitat of endangered animals. Deosai National Park, Central Karakoram national park, are in Gilgit-Baltistan which are run in collaboration with the local communities to make the effort of conservation more sustainable. Whereas Chitral National Park is in KPK and Kirthar National park is in Sindh province of Pakistan.
The cultural diversity of Pakistan is its real beauty. Each province has its own distinct culture, the ritual, celebrations, attire and languages are different. Though Urdu is the national language yet you will find immense diversity in dialects. Moreover, the dress code is different in each region but the national dress is Shalwar Qameez. Apart from these obvious cultural representations, Pakistan is home to ancient cultural landmarks. Lahore was the seat for Mughul empire from 1524 to 1752 that ruled the subcontinent from 1526-1857. During their stay they build some of the amazing monuments and forts across Lahore. For instance, Lahore Fort, Badshahi mosque and the gardens stretched around the fort are among the major attraction for visitors.
Pakistan is also known for historical tourism and two of the ancient civilization, namely Ghandara and Indus Valley civilization are situated in KPK and Sindh. The excavated artifacts are all placed in museums that are accessible to all.
Religious /Pilgrim tourism is yet another emerging industry. Pakistan is also focusing this industry to attract tourists as the country has many scared religious and heritage sites of Hindus, Sikhs, Sufis and Buddhists. The ancient archeological sites of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, the excavation sites of Texila-sacred for both Hindus and Buddhists are located in KPK, while the birth place of Guru Nanak-the founder of Sikhism is situated in tehsil Shakargarh, Narowal District in Punjab. Recently opened Kartarpr corridor has not opened doors to Indian pilgrims also. Moreover, the country is also rich in Sufi culture and heritage. Often thronged by mystics these Sufi shrines can be found in almost every part of the country. Similarly, Gilgit-Baltistan also has many archeological sites that are sacred to Buddhists. The renowned Silk Route used to pass through Gilgit-Baltistan and many Buddhist pilgrimages used to take the route to reach texila in Punjab. Texila being the junction of ancient subcontinent and central Asia is home to ancient civilization that dates back to 2nd millennium and 6th century BCE. On their way to texila the pilgrims carved rocks adjacent to the path and these carvings often depicts the face of great Ghautama Buddha. These sites with carved rocks can be found in Hunza, near Ghanish, Manthal Buddha Skurdu, in Chilas among many other places. By the end of 2019 for the first time in Gilgit-Baltistan history after annexation to Pakistan, monks from South Korea visited Gilgit and chanted ancient texts under the Buddha carving in Yashini Kargah Gilgit.
Sports tourism is in its dormant form in Pakistan, though gradually it has started to evolve with normalcy taking root across the country due to better security and political stability. Pakistan is a sports loving country and it is a major factor that unites the masses. The national sports is Hockey yet Cricket overshadows the national sports often in popularity. After a hiatus of 8 years the country witnessed first international Cricket match in 2019. Apart from these major sports the game of polo, skiing, wrestling and squash are also popular. Skiing competitions annually held in Malam Jabba (KPK) and Naltar (Gilgit-Baltistan). Free style Polo is played on the hightest polo ground in the world, with an altitude of 3,700m Shandur polo ground hosts annual polo competitions among Chitral and Gilgit teams, whereas professional polo is usually played in Lahore and Rawalpindi.
Pakistan has recently introduced cycling, climbing, trekking, canoeing, paragliding and marathons in major tourist destinations across Pakistan.
The tourism industry around the world is evolving and expanding day by day. Consequently local economies are receiving much needed economic boost but on the other hand this outpouring of local and International tourists is taking a toll on natural habitats. These tourist sites are facing serious issues of rampant littering and excessive usage of single-use plastic. These mounting challenges calls for sustainable tourism. Travelers can help through reducing carbon footprint, recycling, and avoiding use of single-use plastic and littering.