Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Ancient Civilization of Pakistan - - History of Discovery at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro (Part-I)

  • History of Discovery at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro

  • Between 1856 and 1872, Sir Alexander Cunningham (1814-1893), director of the Archaeological Survey of India, performed some small excavations at the Harappan site while looking for settlements visited by Chinese pilgrims in the Buddhist period. (4-5) He had no idea about the age or importance of the Harappa ruins. Entrepreneurial humans (brick robbers) reused the site’s heavy adobe brick to build houses and other structures, such as 100 miles of track ballast for the Karachi-Lahore railroad under construction in 1865.

    In 1914, Sir John Marshall (1876-1958), also a director of the Archaeological Survey of India, surveyed Harappa, identifying a high citadel 50 feet above the lower Harappa city, a great waterproofed tank or bath, and a granary. Seven years later in 1921, he initiated Harappa’s systematic excavation, finding six levels of occupation belonging to a complex contained within a three-mile circumference.

    Sir Marshall also worked on the Mohenjo-Daro site (“Mound of the Dead”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, 1980), (6) the largest of all the 1,500 known cities and hamlets of the Indus Valley civilization. (1) Mohenjo-Daro is located 350 miles south of Harappa in the Indus River flood plain of southern Pakistan’s Sindh province.

    R.D. Banerji, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India, first discovered Mohenjo-Daro in 1921-1922 while studying an overlying Buddhist stupa--a simple mound of mud or clay to cover supposed relics of the Buddha. (7) Sir Marshall wrote about Mr. Banerji’s discovery of Mohenjo-Daro in his 1931 book entitled Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization:

    The site had long been known to district officials in Sindh, and had been visited more than once by local archaeological officers, but it was not until 1922, when Mr. R.D. Banerji started to dig there, that the prehistoric character of its remains was revealed. This is not greatly to be wondered at; for the only structures then visible were the Buddhist Stupa and Monastery at the north-west corner of the site, and these were built exclusively of brick taken from the older ruins, so that it was not unnatural to infer that the rest of the site was referable to approximately the same age as the Buddhist monuments, viz, to the early centuries of the Christian era. Indeed, when Mr. Banerji himself set about his excavations here, he had no idea of finding anything prehistoric. His primary object was to lay bare the Buddhist remains, and it was while engaged on this task that he came by chance on several seals inscribed with legends in an undecipherable script which had long been known to us from the ruins of Harappa in the Panjab [sic].

    As it happened, the excavation of Harappa itself had at my instance been taken up in the year previous by Rai Bahaur Daya Ram Sahni, and enough had already been brought to light to demonstrate conclusively that its remains, including the inscribed seals, were referable to the Chalcolithic Age [Copper Stone Age, 4500-3300 BC]. (8) Thus, Mr. Banerji’s find came at a singularly opportune moment, when we were specially eager to locate other sites of the same early age as Harappa. Mr. Banerji himself was quick to appreciate the value of his discovery, and lost no time in following it up…With the hot season rapidly approaching, Mr. Banerji’s digging was necessarily very restricted, and it is no wonder, therefore, that his achievements have been put in the shade by the much bigger operations that have since been carried out. This does not, however, lessen the credit due to him. His task at Mohenjo-daro [sic] was far from being as simple as it may now appear. Apart from the discoveries at Harappa, which he had not personally seen, nothing whatever was then known of the Indus civilization. (9)

    Sir Marshall published an illustration in Illustrated London News in 1924 of one of the seals (impressions on clay) discovered at Mohenjo-Daro, which University of Chicago archaeologist Ernest MacKay read with great interest, realizing immediately that the seal in the photo was identical to a seal he had discovered under the foundation of a temple at Kish in Mesopotamia. Dr. MacKay’s exciting discovery was the first hint of the antiquity of the ruins at Mohenjo-Daro. Ernest MacKay, K.N. Dikshit, and numerous other directors excavated bountiful Mohenjo-Daro through the 1930s.(90)

    Pakistan - - A Land of Culture, History And Ancient Civilization

    Through the global media, Pakistan often possesses the image of a country with fierce-looking warlords, armed tribal men and holy fighters that come together in the North West Frontier close to the Afghan border.
    However, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan's Minister of Tourism Nilofar Bakhtiar wants to show another Pakistan. She's strong, determined and independent and has a warm, cheerful and charismatic personality.

    She's ready to show the world a beautiful country with a rich history, a marvelous culture and with ancient oriental civilizations spread across the provinces. Pakistan is a country full of undiscovered hidden secrets.

    With the full support of President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, she has prepared elaborate plans to open its doors to foreign tourists and has declared this year ""Destination Pakistan 2007"".
    During the opening ceremony in Islamabad last month, her fascinating speech kept the audience spellbound and her passionate, persuasive oratory inspired me to write an authentic story of Pakistan's as yet undiscovered beauty.

    Undiscovered mountains and deserts
    Pakistan is home to the fierce mountains of the Karakoram, the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush in the north, which provide an unspoiled panoramic view of some of the five highest peaks in the world.
    It's the picturesque land of eternal snow, of valleys with turquoise-colored lakes and fields filled with colorful flowers.

    The majestic flow of the Indus River that continually meanders through the mountains across the country to reach the ocean and the ruins of hundreds of Buddhist monasteries are silent testimony to long-forgotten Buddhist empires from Central Asia.

    Pakistan is the land of the legendary Karakoram Highway, the highest road in the world, which, centuries ago, was used by Marco Polo and other merchants as part of the Silk Road.

    It followed a long and dangerous path through the deadly mountains back and forth from Europe to China.

    Pakistan is the land of the vast deserts of Cholistan and Thar; land of nomadic tribes that travel on the back of colorfully decorated camels, with ancient fortresses that float like mirages in a sweeping sandy sea, and where desert foxes, wolves and dangerous snakes come out at night to prey.

    Lahore, a Persian fairytale
    The capital of the Punjab province, Lahore, is situated on the banks of the River Indus. Since time immemorial, the Indus remained the lifeline of ancient civilizations where history, culture, art and religion met.
    Lahore is the city where Rudyard Kipling spent some important years of his life and which inspired him to write some of his well-known stories and poems.

    A tour around the city takes you to the 17th-century Badshami Mosque in the old quarter built by the Mughals who then ruled the country. It's one of the most striking and largest mosques of the orient and was built of brick and red sandstone with white marble domes.

    A large outside courtyard seats more than 60,000 worshipers. As you enter through the immense gates of this powerful mosque and stand beside its walls, you are taken back to the era of Persian fairy tales.

    As you leave the mosque and continue to the entrance of the majestic and mysterious gates of the Lahore Fort, the white marble and gilded domes of a Sikh Temple magically shine in the sunlight; people are walking in and out, praying for love, peace and harmony.

    The Lahore Museum was built by the British in the 19th century and exhibits many inspiring pieces, including one of the largest known stupas of a fasting Buddha. As you continue to the romantic gardens of love and happiness, you'll come to know that Shah Jahan didn't only build the Taj Mahal, but also designed the Shalimar Gardens in 1641, among the finest Persian-inspired landscaped gems.

    At night, an authentic cultural show in the old quarter catches the eye; poets recite tales from the olden days that touch the heart and feed the soul; young women in traditional and colorful outfits express their dreams, passion and love through folkloric dances, and men whirl endlessly around to the beat of oriental music.

    From a distance you hear a silent echo of galloping horses of great rulers from the past that pass through the city one more time. These are the horses of Genghis Khan, creator of the powerful Mongol Empire.

    A traditional bazaar offers Pashmina woolen shawls from Kashmir, hand-knotted carpets with traditional designs from Afghanistan and Central Asia and ethnic silver jewelry from the northern areas.

    A black cobra silently rises from its basket as a young tribal man from Baluchistan mesmerizes the deadly snake while playing the flute.

    A few steps further down, a bright red parrot cautiously selects a tarot card offered by his master; another tale is about to unfold. Each and every vendor has something interesting to sell at this bustling market.

    Traveling south of Lahore
    As you travel further down the Indus River you'll stop at the ruins of Harappa, the ancient city of the Indus Valley, which is home to one of the earliest and most developed civilizations of the oriental world.

    As you continue south and enter into the mirages of the deserts of Cholistan, from a long distance you'll see the towers of the Derawar Fort floating in a sandy sea.

    Nomadic tribes live in traditional huts made of wooden rods with rooftops of grass, women weave colorful tribal shawls and men wear brightly colored turbans on their heads.

    The Derawar Fort dates back to 825 A.D. and was built by Prince Rawal around a magic tree that kept the cattle safe from the attacks of wolves; once the cattle would move away from the tree, the wolves killed them instantly.

    And so the prince declared the tree sacred to protect the animals and built the fort around as a sanctuary.

    History of the Punjab

    This is the Punjab, the richest province of Hindustan in culture and heritage which derives its name from Panjnad, meaning ""the confluence of five rivers coming together"".

    It's the province where Alexander the Great crossed the mighty Indus River and debated philosophy at the one of the world's first universities in Taxila: an ancient Buddhist site where many rulers came to study and which was once visited by the Christian apostle, Thomas.

    At present, the site shows the ruins of 2,500-year-old temples, monasteries and Buddhist stupas from the Gandhara civilization, which is a rare and unique blend of Greek and Buddhist art.

    A museum situated nearby exhibits some of these unique art pieces.

    During the British Raj, the Punjab was one of its richest provinces, which eventually was divided between India and Pakistan.

    Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Punjab, was only a young boy when he handed over power to Queen Victoria of England. In return, he received a palace and education under royal patronage in England.

    Many years later, when he had grown older and wiser, painful, unbearable realities gripped his heart and soul. He realized he had lost everything meaningful; the respect of his people, his beloved land and beautiful empire but also the Jewel in the Crown of the Punjab, the famous Koh-I-Noor diamond which, to the present day shines brightly in the crown of the British monarch.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Gilgit: Swat Valley - - A land of Greatest Mountains & Colorful Culture

    Gilgit is a located at an altitude of Approximately 1500 Meters (4800 Feet) in the North east of Pakistan . The city had been a central point of trade and political activity as early as 1st century AD. Since then it has always been a very strategic point for the neighboring countries. Surrounded by the massive mountains of Karakorums Gilgit is a small valley with a ground just enough to form a small city of 500000 persons. Beyond here there is no such a big town or city in any direction within a distance of about 450 Kilometers in any direction. Gilgit is the administrative and commercial capital of Northern areas.

    Mountains of the region are known to be the highest and greatest in the Number around the world. Stretch of Gilgit comes in the rain shadow of Nanga Parbat Mountain i.e. The moon soon winds are blocked by the massive of Nanga Parbat and clouds can not reach Gilgit which makes it dry & rugged but the labor of the strong and willing local population has even claimed the hard mountains for cultivation's. Due to this there are beautiful green orchids of many fruits in the valley. This makes an spectacular contrast in the green fields and ruggedness on the mountains topped with white snow a scenery only found in the northern areas of Pakistan.

    The road to Gilgit is an other adventure and beauty filled experience Karakorum Highway built Between 1966 to 1978 by the Chinese and Pakistani engineers, above the shoulders of gigantic mountains of Himalayas , Hindukush & Karakorum ranges. More than five hundred lives are buried under this marvelous road which is known all over the world for its beauty and variation in terrain and culture. The highway runs along the river Indus and later continuous to Gilgit on Gilgit river.

    Each stop of this highway will definitely force you to admire it. There are nice PTDC motels on main points and towns of the Highway.

    An Ideal Itinerary will to take go from Islamabad to Besham overnight at PTDC motel Besham is located on the Bank of Indus river. Later you continue to Gilgit With several photo stops on the way. There are also some interesting Rock drawings from the Buddhist period along the road.

    Flights to Gilgit are depending on weather so are not advisable for a good reliable tour. Road Journey is much scenic and more reliable.

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Traditional Wedding In Pakistan - - An Eventful Ceremony Full of Enjoyment

    Marriage in Pakistan is seen as the most standard and stable living form for adults. A marriage is seen not only as a link between man and a women but it is also considered a union between their parents' families.

    Most marriages in Pakistan are therefore arranged. Arranged marriages have been an integral part of Pakistani society for centuries and it is quite normal for people to have their marriages planned by their parents and other respected family-members. Arranged matches are made after taking into account factors such as the backgrounds of their families (wealth, social standing, caste). Often a marriage is made within the extended family, such as between cousins.

    Polygamy is permitted under Pakistani civil law as well as under family act, however, it is now the exception rather than the norm and is very uncommon in the major cities. A husband is more likely to get himself a second wife, or recommended by family members to have a second marriage, if he remains childless with the first wife.

    Marriage Process

    Arranged marriages in Pakistan often take much time. from starting till the day of marriage it may take more than a year. when the marriage is near to come almost all the close relatives are invited therefore a typical Pakistani marriage requires huge budgets. In some cases marriage is postponed until the important relatives do not plan to arrive in Pakistan from abroad.

    Arranged marriages

    Arranged marriages are still prevalent in Pakistan. Marriages are often arranged within the family or within the same tribe/caste or ethnicity. However, love marriages are slowly becoming more common and acceptable in Pakistan.

    Proposal party

    Is a reception made in the bride's house, where the Groom parents and family elders asks for the Bride's hands from her parents. In religious families once the wedding proposal is accepted the families recite Surah Al-Fatihah, which is the first Surah in the Quraán Kareem, and then tea and refreshments are served. Depending on individual family tradition, the bride to be may also be presented with an item of jewelery and the guests (family elders) may present the groom with gifts in cash.


    Mangni is a formal ceremony to mark the engagement of the couple. It is usually a small ceremony that takes place in the presence of a few close members of would-be bride's & groom’s families. Rings are exchanged between the would be bride and groom and other items of jewellery amongst affluent families. Traditionally the bride and the groom were not seated together and the rings were placed on the bride's finger by the groom's mother or sister and vice versa. In recent years however, segregated functions have become a rarity and rings are usually exchanged between the couple. Prayer and blessings for the couple are recited and the wedding date is usually decided.

    Mayoon or Mayun

    Mayoon is celebrated at the bride's house. Usually the bride's friends and close relatives get together at her house and they dance and sing, often accompanied by drum music. Generally the bride's family give bangles and sometimes clothes to her friends, depending on what the family can afford. The evening also usually includes a henna where the women put designs in henna on each others' hands. The mayoon can last up to late night. The bride usually wears a simple yellow Shalwar Kameez. Mayun is a custom of the bride entering into the state of seclusion eight to fifteen days before the wedding. She is made free of all the chores and errands during this time. The bride and groom are not allowed to see each other after the Mayun. The beautification rituals begin during this time.

    Ubtan is a paste made from turmeric, sandalwood powder, herbs and aromatic oils, which groom's mother brings for bride. She blesses bride and applies “ubtan’ to the bride's hands and face. Groom's sister also does the same, and a thick string called a “gana( Bangles made of Flowers)” is tied to the bride’s arm. “Ubtan” is applied to the bride's skin each day leading up to the wedding. Similar ceremony is held for the groom, where bride's mother, sisters, cousins and friends bring “ubtan” for groom and rub it on his skin.


    Dholki is a popular ceremony of singing traditional wedding & popular songs accompanied by two or three percussion instruments Dholki being the main. The girl is officially treated as bride (dulhan). She wears traditional Pakistani yellow outfit. Her brothers, sisters, and cousins bring her (bride) in the dholki party.


    Mehndi, or the Rasm-e-henna ceremony, typically takes place one or two days prior to the main wedding day. The event is traditionally held separately for the bride and the groom, and henna is symbolically placed on the couple's hands. The groom's friends and family bring along sweets and henna for the bride, and the bride's family does the same for the groom. On the bride's ceremony the groom normally does not participate and similarly, on the groom's event the bride stays at home. Female guests are sometimes offered mehndi at the host's discretion.

    Traditionally since there were separate functions for both the bride and the groom, the groom's function was called 'Tael' (oil) where female guests put some oil into the groom's hair. With the ceremony now held simultanously for both the groom and the bride, the use of the term 'tael' has diminished greatly.

    The bride normally wears a green dress or yellows/oranges for mehndi and uses only light, or no, make up. The groom will typically wear a casual shalwar kameez. The bride and/or the groom are brought forward in the ceremony under a decorative dupatta by their close relatives. A recent trend that has been gaining popularity is to announce a colour 'theme' for the mehendi whereby guests are supposed to dress up in a particular colour. Favourite mehendi colours are bright reds, oranges and yellows.


    Baraat is procession of family, relatives, and friends of groom that accompany the groom to bride’s home for official wedding ceremony. Groom makes his way to the bride's home on a richly decked horse or in a car and “baraat” follows in different vehicles. Usually they are also accompanied by a band playing wedding songs. Groom is given warm welcome by the bride’s family with flower garlands and rose petals thrown upon the procession by the bride's sisters, cousins and friends.


    Nikah is purely Islamic official wedding ceremony that usually takes place at the bride’s home. Nikah is attended by close family members, relatives, and friends of groom and bride. Usually, the men and women are made to sit separately, in different rooms, or have a purdah (curtain) separating them.

    The nikah-naama (marriage contract) is registered during the nikah. The nikah-naama contains several terms and conditions that are to be respected by both parties (bride & groom). It includes bride’s right to divorce her husband. nikah-naama specifies meher, the monetary amount the groom will give the bride. Meher includes two amounts in Pakistani culture, but in Islamic belief is one total amount; one that is due before the marriage is consummated and the other that is a deferred amount given to the bride at a time to be determined. The meher guarantees the bride's freedom within the marriage, and acts as the bride's safety net.

    The fathers of groom and bride (walis) act as witnesses to the wedding. If father is not available, the senior male, brother or uncle performs the ceremony. An Islamic imam (called maulana or maulvi in Urdu) reads selected verses from the Quran and waits for the Ijab-e-Qubul (proposal and acceptance) of wedding. Usually, the groom's side makes proposal and the bride's side conveys her assent. Maulvi and witnesses (gavah) take the nikah-naama to the bride and read it aloud to her. She accepts the nikah-naama saying "qabool kiya," ("I accept") and signs it. The nikah-naama is then taken to the groom and read aloud to him. He accepts saying "qabool kiya" and signs the document. The maulvi and witnesses also sign the nikah-naama contract and the wedding becomes legal. The maulvi recites the Fatihah (first chapter of the Quran), and various durud (blessings) to mark the closing of nikah ceremony.

    After the wedding is legally announced, dishes of dates and misri (unrefined sugar) are served to the groom's family. The groom is then escorted to his bride where he's allowed to sit beside his wife. This is the time when sisters-in-law of groom play pranks and tease the groom.


    The main day of the wedding is called shaadi, which is the bride's reception. The event takes place at the bride's house, where large wedding tents may be set up in the garden or a nearby place. It has also become very common to hold the event in a marriage hall or hotel. The bride's family is responsible for the reception and arrangements on this day.

    The barat or grooms procession indicates the arrival of the groom's family and friends to the bride's house. The barat is often accompanied by the rhythms of a dhol (drum) as it arrives and is greeted with flowers garland and rose petals by the brides family. It is customary for the bride's sisters and friends to stop the barat from entering the arena until a sufficient amount of cash is given to them. This can lead to banter, usually harmless and just for fun, between the bride's sisters and friends on one side and the groom's brothers and friends on the other side.

    The bride traditionally wears a red/pink/purple gharara, lehenga or shalwar kameez which is heavily embroidered; other bright colors may also be seen. The dress is always accompanied with heavy gold jewellery. The groom may wear a traditional dress such as sherwani with a sehra or turban though some may prefer to wear a western inspired suit.

    The nikah is the Islamic marriage contract ceremony. It either takes place at the Shaadi itself or on a separate day at the bride's house, before the shaadi event.

    It is performed by an imam which formally indicates signing of the marriage contract. The bride and groom must both have two witnesses present to ensure that the marriage is consensual.

    A dinner is served which consists of several dishes alongside pullao,biryani , chaap , dal gosht , kebabs , tandoori chicken and naan.


    Finally, the Rukhsati takes place, when the groom and his family will leave together with the bride. The Qur'an is normally held over the brides head as she walks from the stage to the exit in order to bless her. This is a somber occasion for the bride's parents as it marks the departure of their daughter from their home. The departure of the bride becomes a very emotional scene as she says farewell to the home of her parents and siblings to start a new married life.

    Traditionally, the groom traveled by a decorated horse to the bride's house and after the wedding ceremony took his wife in a doli (palanquin) to his parents' house to live. The horse and the carts have nowadays been replaced by cars, and one will, in sharp contrast to western weddings, typically see a quiet bride with wet eyes as she sits in the car beside her husband leaving for her new home.

    Mooh Dikhai/ Arsi Masshaf

    Mooh Dikhai is the ceremony of first time “showing of the face” after the Nikah. The couple is made to see each other in the mirror and the bride unveils her face that she keeps hidden during the Nikah. The custom of Mooh Dikhai is also called “Aarsi Musshaf.” The bride and groom share a piece of sweet fruit, such as a date and family and friends congratulate the couple and offer gifts. Dinner is served to the guests. The sisters, friends, and female cousins of bride take this opportunity to steal the groom's shoes and demand a sum of money for shoes. This is very popular custom and groom usually carries a lot of cash, due to the popularity of this custom. He pays money to get back his shoes and girls divide the money among themselves.

    Ruksati is the ceremony to bid farewell to the bride before her departure to the groom's house. She says goodbye to her parents, close friends and family. The Quran is held over her head as a blessing. Although this practice is un-Islamic, a lot of Pakistani families have come to adopt it.


    This is the final day of the wedding held by couple as they host their first dinner as husband and wife. The groom's family invites all of the bride's family and their guests to their home for a feast at their place or a marriage hall. The walima is typically the most festive event of the wedding ceremony and intends to publicize the marriage.

    The bride wears a heavily decorated dress with gold jewelry provided by the groom's family. Typical colour palettes are pastel shades. The groom normally opts for a formal Western suit or tuxedo.

    The Western equivalent to the walima would be the wedding reception, though walima's are held the day after the shaadi or wedding.

    Religious and ethnic

    Wedding ceremonies and customs often differ significantly between Deobandis , Barelwis , Shias and Sunnis and also among the different sub-groups of the Barelwis. The above mentioned marriage customs are typical of a fairly liberal-minded Pakistani family. More orthodox families have more sober ceremonies , especially no music is allowed , and the bride wears a Hijab. Customs are also variety among Punjabis , Pakhtuns , Sindhis , Memons, Balochis , Muhajirs , Biharis , and Kashmiri Muslims.

    Saturday, October 3, 2009

    Thandiani in Nathiagali - - A Heaven for Trekkers and Nature Lovers

    Now this is a cool place (literally and practically). Thandiani means cold in the local language. Its around about 1 hour and 30 minutes on a good decent road. Its rises steeply at some places. It is 2700 meters above sea level on a small plateau surrounded by pine forests. This beautiful spot can easily be approached from Abbottabad, which is 24 km away. It is totally unspoiled and has the loveliest of views of all the hill stations of Pakistan. The scenery here is breathtaking and superb. It is pretty high. Just a few kilometres into the road and you start gaining height quickly. One place on the road offers a stunning view of Abbottabad city.

    Thandiani is not located in the Galliat Range but some other range. Beautiful trees on the way and also a few small caves which are probably home for the wildlife. Thandiani was discovered by the British but was later neglected and was only rediscovered as a hill station recently so it is completely unspoiled. There are few shops at Thandiani and only one basic guesthouse (no big expectations!). It only gets cold about 2 km before Thandiani. There is also a Pakistan Television Booster at the top and a Pak Air-Force Radar (No Photographs). But the beauty of this area is its views. Stunning views of all the areas around this region. Views of the Galliat Range, Hazara Region, Swat Forests, Chitral region and that of Abbottabad itself. Heard the dawn was beautiful but didn't stay at the guesthouse though. Also heard it gets real cold at night even in summers almost below 0 C. Lots of greenery and some beautiful rocks on the ground. There is also a road at the top which seems to go straight into the sky when you first enter Thandiani but it gives wonderful views. Must visit place!

    Hey its Pakistan so how come you think of traditional night life. But you can do it here in the local way. Go to main bazaar which is the most happening place at night. Lot of activity goes on at that time. You would see many people moving around bazaar.

    The ideal place for people watching is the open air area of Hilal's. You can enjoy your dinner and later coffee at the same place. Afaq is the other most busy place but its not ideal for people watching.

    Alternatively you can arrange a bonfire at the plce you are staying, have some Barbecue and enjoy the night life of Nathia Gali. Some times Greens hotel arrange Bonfire on weekend so its not a bad idea joining them for barbeque where local singers entertain audience with live songs.

    Weather is chilly at nights so better wear warm clothes.

    Cloudbursts & thunderstorms are very common during summer. Most of time it remains fogy so becomes difficult to predict that when its gonna rain. And when it rains it comes with thunderstorm and lightening does strike!

    Some suggestions are:

    (1) Trek in group only
    (2) Start it early morning when its sunny
    (3) Keep umbrella and rain coat
    (4) Stay away when it rains and weather get clear. Track would be muddy and very slippery

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    "Basant": The Traditional Festival of Colours and Hapiness - - Basant (Kite-Flying Festival) is Celebrated to Welcome Spring Season

    In Pakistan all seasons have their own festivities, each has a different flavour. Pakistan shares all it's festivities with its neighbouring countries like India.

    Lahore is the provincial capital of Punjab. It's a very historical city, Mughals who ruled the subcontinent found this city their favourite if you happen to visit this fascinating city you'll find a lot of monuments still showing that Mughals ruled this part of the world for a massive period of time. Lahore is such a famous city especially in Pakistan that people of Pakistan are used to say that (it's a term in Punjabi language which means) "One who hasn't seen Lahore has seen nothing".

    Traditionally its said that Basant is celebrated to bid farewell to the winter season and to announce the arrival of spring season. Basant is celebrated in a big way in Pakistan and has become a very powerful traditional festival of Pakistan. It's a kite-flying festival which had originated from India and now it's famous across Pakistan especially in the Punjab province. In Lahore Basant is celebrated in the month of February usually around 20th of February. Lahorians prepare for the big event with a lot of enthusiasm and zeal. They start the preparation for the festival very early.

    Basant is celebrated on Saturday evening which is usually called as night Basant. The night Basant is totally different thing to see. People prepare for the night Basant by putting floodlights on their roofs. If you get a look of sky at the night Basant you find that sky is covered with white kites floating in the sky like stars representing a spectacular scene. People especially ladies wear yellow clothes, which is a traditional dress of Basant. In contrast to night Basant the Basant on day is a totally different experience because unlike night now people fly colourful kites and sky is covered with vivid colours.

    In March, Basant is celebrated in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The same is the scene here and same is the passion. In whatever city this fascinating festival is celebrated people love to come and enjoy. Hotels are packed to capacity and quite often it happens that people don't even find a room to stay. The reason for that is that not only people from all across the country come to participated in this festival with the locals but also people from neighbouring countries like India come to Pakistan to take part in this flamboyant festival.

    For the last few years more and more organizations are celebrating this festival as commercial venture. This year the government has also jumped in to promote the festival so as to promote the culture of Pakistan. It has been made a part of spring festivities which continue for about one and a half month and includes fun fairs, flower shows, food fairs and kite flying competitions.

    Kite making has developed into a big industry in Pakistan. Thousands of people are involved in this industry and are earning their livelihood from kites and thread. The small festival originating from Lahore has now spread all over the country enlightening the welcoming festivities of spring.

    The Queen of Melody (Mallika-e-Tarranum ): Noor Jehan - - One of The Greatest Singers of Her Time in South Asia

    Noor Jehan (Punjabi, Urdu: نور جہاں) was the adopted stage name for Allah Wasai (September 21, 1926 - December 23, 2000) who was a singer and actress in British India and Pakistan. She is renowned as one of the greatest singers of her time in South Asia and was given the honorific title of Mallika-e-Tarranum (Urdu: ملکہ ترنم, English: the queen of melody).

    Born in a family of musicians, Wasai was pushed by her parents to follow in their musical footsteps and become a singer but she was more interested in acting in films and graced the earliest Pakistani films with her performances. She holds an astounding record of 10,000 songs to her singing credits in various languages of Pakistan including Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi languages, she is also considered to be the first female Pakistani film director.

    In 1957, Jehan was awarded the President's Award for her acting and singing capabilities.

    1. Early Life and Background

    Noor Jehan was born in Kasur, British India and was one of the eleven children of professional musicians Madad Ali and Fateh Bibi.

    The family would often perform at theaters, although only Wasai's eldest sisters would go on to pursue a career in acting. Two of her sisters, Eidan Bai and Haider Bandi, were successful actors at the rural Taka Theatre in Lahore.

    2. Career

    Allah Wasai began to sing at the age of five or six years old and showed a keen interest in a range of styles, including traditional folk and popular theatre. Realising her potential for singing, her mother sent her to receive early training in classical singing under Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan who was also a native of Kasur. He instructed her in the traditions of the Patiala Gharana of Hindustani classical music and the classical forms of thumri, dhrupad, and khyal. At the age of nine, Wasai drew the attention of Punjabi musician Ghulam Ahmed Chishti, who would later introduce her to stage in Lahore. He composed some ghazals, naats and folk songs for her to perform, although she was more keen in breaking into acting or playback singing. Once her vocational training finished, Wasai pursued a career in singing alongside her sisters in Lahore and would usually take part in the live song and dance performances prior to screenings of films in film theatres.

    The family moved to Calcutta (now Kolkata) in hope of developing the movie careers of Wasai and her sisters. During their stay in Calcutta, the renowned singer Mukhtar Begum, encouraged Wasai and her two older sisters to join film companies and recommended them to various producers. She also recommended them to her husband, Agha Hashar Kashmiri, who owned a maidan theatre (a tented theatre to accommodate large audiences). It was here that Wasai received the stage name Baby Noor Jehan. Her older sisters were offered jobs with one of the Seth Sukh Karnani companies, Indira Movietone and they went on to be known as the Punjab Mail. Wasai would later adopt Mukhtar Begum's way of performance and sari attire.

    In 1935, K.D. Mehra directed Pind di Kudhi in which Jehan acted along with her sisters.She next acted in a film called Missar Ka Sitara (1936) by the same company and sang in it for music composer, Damodar Sharma.Baby Noor Jehan also played the child role of Heer in the film Heer-Sayyal (1937). After a few years in Calcutta, Noor Jehan returned to Lahore in 1938. In 1939, Ghulam Hairder composed songs for Jehan which led to her early popularity. She then recorded her first song Shala Jawaniyan Mane for Dalsukh M. Pancholi's movie Gul Bakavli.

    Prior to Khandaan Jehan was cast as a child artist. It was in 1942 that she played the main lead opposite Pran. Khandaan's success saw her shifting to Bombay (now Mumbai), where she shared melodies with Shanta Apte in Duhai (1943). It was in this film that Noor Jehan lent her voice for the second time, to another actress named Husn Bano. In 1945 Jehan player the lead role, alongside Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, in the movie Badi Maa.

    In 1945, she achieved a milestone, when she sung a Qawwali with Zohrabai Ambalewali and Amirbai Karnataki which was "Aahen Na Bhareen Shikave Na Kiye". This was the first ever Qawwali recorded in female voices in South Asian films.

    Noor Jehan's last film in India was Mirza Sahibaan (1947) which starred Prithviraj Kapoor's brother Trilok Kapoor. Noor Jehan sang 127 songs in Indian films and the number of talking films she made from 1932 to 1947 was 69. The number of silents was 12. Fifty-five of her films were made in Bombay, eight in Calcutta, five in Lahore and one in Rangoon (now Yangon), Burma.

    2. 1. Acting Career in Pakistan

    After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Jehan decided to move to Pakistan along with her husband Shaukat Hussain Rizvi. She left Bombay and settled in Karachi with her family.

    Three years after settling in Pakistan, Noor Jehan starred in her first film in Pakistan, Chanwey (1951), opposite Santosh Kumar, which was also her first Punjabi film as a heroine. Shaukat and Noor Jehan directed this film together making Noor Jehan Pakistan's first female director. Noor Jehan's second film in Pakistan was Dopatta (1952) which turned out to be an even bigger success than Chanwey (1951).

    Her penultimate film as an actress/singer was Mirza Ghalib (1961).This contributed to the strengthening of her iconic stature. She gained another audience for herself. Her rendition of Faiz Ahmed Faiz's Mujshe pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na maang is a unique example of tarranum, reciting poetry as a song. Noor Jehan last starred in Baaji in 1963, though not in a leading role. Noor Jehan bade farewell to acting in 1963 after a career of 33 years (1930 to 1963). The pressure of being a mother of six children and the demanding wife of a hero (Ejaz Durrani) forced her to give up her career. Noor Jehan made 14 films in Pakistan, ten in Urdu, four in Punjabi.

    2. 2. Noor Jehan as a Playback Singer

    After quitting acting she took up playback singing. She made her debut as a playback singer in 1960 with the film Salma. Her first initial playback for a Pakistani film was for Jan-e-Bahar (1958), in which she sung the song Kaisa Naseeb Layi Thi, picturised on Musarrat Nazir. She received many awards, including with the highest Pakistani honour in entertainment, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (The Pride of Performance) in 1966, Pakistan's top civil award.

    In the 1990s Jehan also sang for then débutante actresses Neeli and Reema. For this very reason, Sabiha Khanum affectionately called her Sadabahar (evergreen). Her popularity was further boosted with her patriotic songs during the 1965 war between Pakistan and India.

    Jehan visited India in 1982 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Indian talkie where she met Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in New Delhi and was received by Dilip Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar in Mumbai.

    2. 3. Last Years And Death

    In 1986, on a tour of North America, Jehan suffered from chest pains and was dignosed with angina after which she underwent a surgery to install a pacemaker. In 2000, Jehan was hospitalised in Karachi and suffered a heart attack. On Saturday afternoon, December 23 2000, Noor Jehan died from heart failure. Her funeral took place at Jamia Masjid Sultan, Karachi and she was buried at the Gizri Graveyard near the Saudi Consulate in Karachi.

    Malam Jabba - - Essential Travel Ski Guides

    Arguably Pakistan’s finest ski resort, Malam Jabba is located in the breathtaking Swat Valley, close to the border with Afghanistan. The resort is perched on the slopes of the Hindu Kush range and surrounded by the magnificent peaks of the Karakoram and Black mountains, providing spectacular scenery for visitors to enjoy.

    Skiing is a relatively new introduction to Pakistan’s winter activities and while Malam Jabba does not quite match up to international standards in terms of ski trails and facilities, it is nevertheless one of the country’s most enticing winter resorts, with a number of significant historical attractions and superb trekking opportunities on offer in the surrounding area.

    Located at a lofty altitude of 8,530-feet, Malam Jabba offers a small selection of powdery ski trails including a gentle beginner’s track and a slightly more challenging slope for experienced skiers. The resort is equipped with two separate chairlifts, one providing transport to the novice track and the other with a capacity to transport more proficient skiers as high as nearly 10,500 feet above sea level.

    Accommodation at Malam Jabba is offered in 52 rooms at the Swat Valley Hotel, including four VIP units. Additionally, there are two family cottages located right by the slopes, with stunning views of the snow-covered mountains that enclose the resort. Roller skating and ice skating rinks are also encompassed within the resort and on-site restaurant facilities cater for both local and international tastes.

    The Swat Valley has been inhabited for over 2,000 years and several historical sites are located within close proximity to Malam Jabba, including two Buddhist stupas and six monasteries. An ancient mound and a fresh water spring are also located within a mile of the ski resort, offering additional leisure possibilities to fill your off-slope hours.

    Malam Jabba’s ski season usually runs from January to March, with approximately 16 feet of snow falling during this time. The resort is accessible by road transportation from Islamabad, with a journey time of about 6 hours.

    Skiing in Malam Jabba

    Malam Jabba is an all-round summer and winter resort, offering a variety of adventure and leisure activities. Located in close proximity to two striking Buddhist stupas and six ancient monasteries, the region offers many alternative activities. The region is home to the Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Black mountain ranges and a number of exciting treks through the pristine scenery surrounding the skiing area so visitors are sure to enjoy much more than just skiing.

    Visitors to Malam Jabba should not expect to experience skiing on par with international ski destinations. While impressive in terms of Pakistani resorts, the resort presents a very small selection of runs, with a single groomed run suitable for beginners and another suitable for experienced skiers. However, Malam Jabba’s high altitude ensures dry, powdery snow and the region’s spectacular scenery and great adventure activities more than make up for any deficits in the skiing department.

    In addition to two skiing platforms, Malam Jabba also features roller and ice skating rinks that provide alternative leisure opportunities, while those interested in the history of the area should visit the numerous archaeological sites in the area including two Buddhist stupas and six monasteries dating back roughly 2,000 years. Two gorgeous trekking trails begin from points close to the resort and pass through breathtaking mountain scenery, though these are far more enticing during the summer months.

    For visitor convenience, the resort is equipped with telephone facilities, while a police post and hospital are situated in the town of Saidu Sharif, roughly 25 miles from the resort. Skiing accommodation is provided in 52 rooms at the Swat Valley Hotel as well as at two family cottages located next to the slopes at Malam Jabba.

    Weather conditions permitting, skiing is offered at Malam Jabba between January and March. The resort can be reached by car, bus or shuttle bus, with road transportation from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad taking approximately 6 hours.

    Transportation to Malam Jabba

    Malam Jabba is located in the Hindu Kush range of northwestern Pakistan, just over 186 miles from Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, and only 25 miles from the town of Saidu Sharif. An airport is located at Saidu Sharif, from where road transportation is the only direct means of reaching the resort.

    Malam Jabba can be reached by road transportation via the Saidu Sharif-Kalam road, located just off the Karakoram highway, one of the country’s major thoroughfares. The journey to the ski resort takes roughly 6 hours by road from Islamabad and under 1 hour from Saidu Sharif. The road leading to the resort is of a high standard, a pleasant rarity in Pakistan.

    Islamabad is the main port of entry for visitors arriving by air from foreign destinations and connecting flights to Saidu Sharif are available from the capital as well as from Peshawar. From the airport at Saidu Sharif, the 30 miles away ski resort of Malam Jabba is quickly and easily accessible via road transportation.

    Malam Jabba - - The Finest Skiing Resort in Pakistan

    Malam Jabba is perhaps the finest skiing resort in Pakistan. Malam Jabba is located about 300 kilometres from Islamabad near Afghanistan border in the Swat Valley. It takes about six hours to reach Malam Jabba by road. Malam Jabba is also well connected by air with Islamabad and Peshawar. You can take flight from Islamabad to reach Saidu Sharif, which is the nearest airport to Malam Jabba. From the airport, Malam Jabba is about 45 kilometres.

    Mala Jabba Ski Resort is the joint effort of the Pakistan government with its Austrian counter part. Well equipped with modern facilities, Malam Jabba has fine infrastructure and offers a number of facilities like roller/ice-skating rinks, chair lifts, skiing platforms, telephone facility and snow clearing equipment. Accommodation is also available and restaurants offer local and international cuisine.

    Perched about 8,700 feet above sea level, Malam Jabba is an excellent skiing resort. The mighty Karakoram range and black mountains surround the resort and offers excellent views. Apart from presenting wonderful scenic views, the Malam Jabba Ski Resort has some monuments that add to the excitement of a traveller.

    Malam Jabba has two Buddhist stupas and six monasteries that are scattered around the resort. The presence of the monuments at such a height clearly indicates that the area was inhabited for over 2000 years.

    Malam Jabba also offers two exciting trekking trails that offer excellent scenery. Passing through the Ghorband Valley and Shangla Top is one of the treks, which is about 18 kilometres from the resort. The other trek passes through the Sabonev Valley and is about 17 kilometres from the resort.

    Malam Jabba is a complete adventure tourist destination. You can enjoy skiing on the powdery slopes of the Malam Jabba Skiing Resort, trek to the some spectacularly beautiful places or simply sit outside your cottage and enjoy the scenic beauty that the resort has to offer.

    Tour to Pakistan brings you complete information on various tourist destinations in Pakistan. Tour to Pakistan promises to offer you all the help to make your tour to Pakistan an exciting and memorable affair. If adventure sport is what you like, come and take our adventure sports tours. For tour packages or hotel bookings in Pakistan, all you have to do is just fill up the form given below. Tour to Pakistan will get back to you.

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...