Pakistan came into being as we know it with the Partition of India in 1947, but has a long history and rich culture, shared with its neighbours Iran, Afghanistan and India.
Between the capital Islamabad at the foot of the Himalayas in the north, and the largest city Karachi on the coast of the Arabian Sea in the south, Pakistan was once part of the Silk Road and Khyber Pass, which brought outside influences to what would otherwise have remained an isolated region.
Along this path walked the Indus Valley settlers, the conquering Mughals, the Sikh Empire and the British colonial forces, each leaving their mark on Pakistan. As a result, there’s a host of top historic sites in Pakistan to visit and among the very best are Taxila and the Lahore Fort.
To help you get started, here are our top 5 historic locations to visit in Pakistan.
Taxila, also known as the Ancient Gandhāran city of Takshashila, is an ancient site in the Punjab Province of Pakistan dating back as far as the 6th century BC.
One of the factors which make Taxila such a significant archaeological site is the fact that, over its five century lifespan, it witnessed the evolution of numerous civilizations, including the Persians, Greeks and Hindus.
The Lahore Fort (Shahi Qila) in Lahore, Pakistan is a large complex of fortifications, marble mosques and palaces built by Mughal Emperor Akbar, known as Akbar the Great. Whilst there were buildings and fortifications on the site since the 11th century and even before, it was under Akbar the Great that the current fort flourished.
After the Mughal Empire fell in the 18th century, the Lahore Fort was ransacked and many of its buildings were damaged. However it has now been carefully restored, allowing visitors to enjoy its original splendour.
One of the biggest and most formidable fortresses in the Indian subcontinent, Rohtas Fort is a 16th century fortress near Jhelum in Pakistan. Incredibly, Rohtas was never stormed by force and so has survived the ravages of time remarkably intact.
The fort doubled as a means of suppressing the local Gakhar tribes – allies of the Mughal Empire who refused to recognise Sher Shah Suri’s authority. Unfortunately, the fort was soon ceded to Humayun in 1555 after the local governor deserted the fort when the Mughals advanced.
Located in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, the Nagarparkar Jain Temples are a collection of abandoned temples as well as a mosque, dating back to the 12th to the 15th centuries. During this period, the ancient Indian religion of Jainism was at its zenith, and the temples at Nagarparkar boast some of the oldest and most beautiful of Jain frescoes in the region.
Approximately 14 Jain temples are scattered throughout the region, including the Gori Temple. Built in 1375, the Gori Temple features 52 Islamic style domes and is made of marble.
Mohenjo-daro – meaning ‘Mound of the Dead Men’ – is an incredible archaeological site in Sindh, Pakistan. Built around 2,500 BC, this site was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and one of the world’s greatest early cities.
At its height, the city was the most advanced of its time, with remarkable and sophisticated civil engineering and urban planning.