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Culture & Tourism

Pāk-istān. Paak-Is-Taan

Literally translating to ‘The Land of the Pure’ from its Persian and Pushto origin, the word Pakistan itself stays true to the premise of the meeting of cultures, of the meeting of language and history, of a translation and etymology that already hints at what the country itself has to offer. An amalgamation of a culturally rich heritage and various ethnicities that combine art and architecture, food and dress, music and folklore, Pakistan is a kaleidoscope of beauty and magnificence as it boasts both tradition-laden diversity and an existence abundantly blessed with Mother Nature’s favours. The culture of Pakistan comprises of numerous ethnic groups, the Punjabis, Kashmiris, Sindhis in east, Muhajirs, Makranis in the south; Baloch, Hazaras and Pashtuns in the west; and the Dards, Wakhi, Baltis and Burusho communities in the north. More than 60 languages are spoken in the country of which Urdu, English, Punjabi, Pashto, Seraiki, Balochi and Sindhi are the major ones. The forms of dress, foods, religion etc. are determined by ethnicity and geography.

As religion is a large part of Pakistani culture, many festivities and cultural traditions are heavily influenced by it but Pakistan is rich in both visual and performing arts. Pakistani music ranges from folk to pop and the world-renowned traditional styles: Qawwali and Ghazal, which focus heavily on religion and poetry. Dance is also a part of the culture and dance styles differ provincially from the Bhangra being famous in Punjabi culture to Attan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Art and architecture are also a distinct part of the heritage. For travellers and tourists alike, the country offers everything from archaeological sites to one of the largest mountain ranges in the world, from mile-long deserts to beaches and lakes, art and architecture centuries-old in the form of mosques, palaces, monuments and heritage sites to dresses and handmade crafts, the art of making which has been passed down through generations. And food - endless options of palatable combinations and flavours, we are all food lovers here.

Each province possesses its fair share of attractions. Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, houses the institutes that constitute “Pāk sarzamīn kā niz̤ām” and is home to NIMUN. The city in itself a beautiful city nestled amongst the Margalla Hills. A picturesque city, it is understated urbanity and provides many tourist attractions including the Pakistan Monument and the Faisal Mosque. Murree, a hill station neighboring the city, is a mountain retreat famous for the tourism opportunities it provides. Taxila, a town 30 kilometres from the capital, is an important archaeological site with ruins dating back to 6th century BCE. Punjab showcases the “Quwwat-i Ukhuwwat-i ʿawām,” with Lahore as the cultural heart of the country, which provides multiple tourism attractions including the The Lahore Fort and Shalimar gardens, The Badshahi Mosque and the Walled City of Lahore, The Wazir Khan mosque, an epitome of beautiful architecture, the Minar-e-Pakistan and the Anarkali Bazaar are only a part of what Lahore has to offer. Each tourist attraction has a distinct history that gives prominence to it, some even supporting folklore. Lahore is also famous for its rich food culture, providing its diverse take on regional Punjabi cuisine. With its metropolitan sea port of Karachi exhibiting the bustling mass of over 24 million on end and the multitudes of archaeological sites on the other, Sindh is the living, breathing storyteller of this “Pāyindah tābindah bād” populace and the beginning of many plot twists in its story, including the arrival of Muslims and the Europeans. The Northern Areas of Pakistan, the “Kishwar-i ḥasīn” are nature’s gift that keeps on giving. From some of the world’s largest peaks to lakes and forts, connected by the Karakorum Highway, the northern areas are one of the most beautiful parts of the subcontinent. With decades old forts laden with history and architecture and the right-out-of-Nature’s-lap greens, the northern areas are the closest it comes to a heaven-on-earth. The Baltit fort, the city of Hunza, Lake Attabad, Shangrila Lake, Kachura Lake, Sadpara Lake, Altit fort, Shigar Fort and Khaplu fort are some of the famous tourism sites. The awe-inducing visuals of untouched and pure scenic mountains and the deep blue lakes in Kashmir reminds one of the times long gone, when man roamed free, immersed in the sheer beauty that surrounded. And finally, Balochistan, the “nishān-i ʿazm-i ʿālī shān”, with daunting mountain ranges weaving through it and a wealth of minerals saturating its lands, juxtaposes against the fertile landscape of Punjab, the calming blue of Sindh’s coast and the lush green of the North, combined with the intense history of the entire country, provides a gratifying conclusion to the “Pāk sarzamīn” that is Pakistan.

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