Bazaar of Landi Kotal

Landi Kotal is a small town, found on the way from Peshawar to the Afghanistan border town of Torkham.  Located in the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), it was once known as the “Smuggling Market,” known for trading goods like appliances and car parts into smuggled items like weapons and narcotics. When I first visited around 1992, I was surprised to see chocolate-shaped narcotics lined up in stores.
Now the status of the “Smuggling Bazaar” has disappeared and it is a normal market for rural Pashtun tribes.

 

The shop owners call out ‘Hello! Hello!’ to try to earn some business.

 

When a foreigner pass them by, everyone pays attention! It really reminded me of old Pakistan.

 

The Pashtun officer who accompanies us, took us to a local butcher shop and request some popular Landi Kotal Domba Sheep. These unique sheep have a big butt which is a delicacy for the locals.

 

We purchased a cut of meat and it was grilled over charcoal.

 

This is a typical Domba sheep lunch. We ate it along with a the local green tea called Kahwa Tea!
By the day, I did not see any women, the whole day.

 

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA

Visit : Oct 2019, Landi Kotal, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Category : - Peshawar / Khyber Pass > ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lahore’s Old City Walk

Lahore Walled City Bazaar

 

Our friends from Switzerland and Mexico went for a stroll through the Old City of Lahore.

The Old City of Lahore, also known as the “Walled City of Lahore,” was established about 1000 years ago as a fortified town surrounded by mudbrick walls and gates. During the Mughal Empire, it prospered as the capital city.

Currently, only a part of the city walls remains. However, since 2012, developments have transformed the Old City into a tourist destination, with the cooperation of the Norwegian and US governments. From the Delhi Gate to the Wazir Khan Mosque, tourists can now enjoy the exciting “Old City Walk”!

 

Video & text: Mariko SAWADA

Visit: Mar 2020, Lahore, Punjab

Category : = Video Clip Punjab > ◆ Video Breathtaking Views of Pakistan > - Monument / Heritage of Punjab > ◆ Punjab > - Lahore
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Views of Nanga Parbat! PIA Pakistan International Airlines ★ Skardu Flight

A panoramic view of the Nanga Parbat massif from a flight from Islamabad to Skardu

These mountain flights in northern Pakistan are often canceled. The reason is, of course, the quickly changing weather in the mountains. Considering that, in the last few years, the flight rate has improved considerably. In particular, if you were to try to move by car the distance of the Skardu flight, it would take two full days by land. But taking this “picturesque flight” it only takes one hour to travel the same distance.

You should really see this scenery from the Skardu flight! For the Skardu line, if taking the regular route (depending on the weather), you will see Nanga Parbat on the right and K2 on the left (if you are lucky!) just before arriving in Skardu. K2 is often hidden by the clouds and is only visible a little at the very end of the flight. So sitting on the Nanga Parbat side will give you more time to enjoy the mountainous view.

When you take off from Islamabad, you will increase altitude while slowly circling up in the Punjab Plain. Soon, you start to see the mountainous view at the western end of the Himalayas. If you look closely below, you can also see the Indus River and the Karakoram Highway running alongside it.

 

Nanga Parbat is seen as a gigantic mass of mountain. It is 8,126m, the 9th highest peak in the world.

 

My personal favorite is to see both the Indus River and Nanga Parbat. It’s hard to see in the photo, but below you can see the Indus River and the Karakoram Highway. The Indus River is a large river that crosses the border from Ladakh, India, and enters Pakistan passing through Skardu, and flows beyond that into the Arabian Sea.

This great mountainous region of Pakistan borders the Indus River. The Himalayas to the south of the great river and the Karakorum Mountains to the north of it. This is where the ancient Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate collided to form these vast mountain ranges.

 

And in this photo, at the bottom, the altitude of the riverbank of the Indus River is 1,100-1,200m, while at the top, the summit of Nanga Parbat is 8,126m. If you draw a straight line, there is a height difference of 7,000m in a distance of about 23km!

 

Shortly after the view of Nanga Parbat disappears, you enter the Skardu Valley. Surrounded by the mountains of Karakorum, the open valley of Skardu contrasts so much. It is a magnificent view shaped by the Indus River.

 

Pakistan International Airlines circles around the town of Skardu, which is like an oasis lined with poplar trees. You will see Satpara Lake and finally land at the airport in Skardu.

 

Arrived safely in Skardu.

Can you see the mountains if you can’t get the window side? ···Nope!  There is no choice but to take turns looking out the small airplane windows. And…should your flight be cancelled, you have to stay flexible and just be content to enjoy the views of the Karakoram Highway and the mighty Indus River from the car!

 

Photo & text: Mariko SAWADA

*The photo is taken from the right seat of the actual Pakistan Airlines Skardu flight.

Category : - Skardu > ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Nanga Parbat / Himalaya Range > ◇ Mountain of Pakistan
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

(video) Lahore Fort – History by Night

History by Night at Lahore Fort on the weekend evening.

Although held in Urdu for the general public in Pakistan, this is the only way to enter the illuminated treasure of Lahore Fort, Sheesh Mahal.

 

Video & text : Mariko SAWADA

Visit : Mar 2019, Lahore, Punjab

Category : = Video Clip Punjab > ◆ Video Breathtaking Views of Pakistan > ◆ Punjab > - Lahore > ◇ Heritage of Pakistan
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Truckers of the Indus Highway: It’s Harvest Season!

November, Sindh Province when wheat and millet harvest season begins. We regularly saw these trucks, filled beyond capacity with wheat, along the National Highway (N5) and the Indus Highway (N55).
As you head south on the Indus Highway, there were many trucks carrying their harvest from the Dadu Region.

 

According to the truck driver, the packed material was not the actual wheat but the straw leftover after the wheat was harvested. Each truck can carry about 8,000 kilograms (8 tons) from Dadu down to Karachi’s livestock feed factory. Selling one truckload can pay about 2.5 million rupees (~$15,000 USD ).

 

The long line of trucks that wait at the check post.

 

While waiting in line, some of the truck drivers graciously allowed our Japanese tourists to take a commemorative photo from inside the truck. These eye-catching trucks are not only nice on the outside, but the colorful interior is also elaborately decorated as well.

 

Photo & text: Mariko SAWADA
Visit: Nov 2019, Indus Highway, Dadu, Sindh

 

Category : - National & Indus Highway > ◆ Sindh
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Long-legged Buzzard (Balochistan)

This is a long legged buzzard that was seen on the coast of Kund Malir, in Balochistan. These birds are found throughout the African and Eurasian continents. They breed in Central Asia and then travel to the open areas in southern Pakistan during the winter months.

 

And there certainly are plenty of ‘open areas’ all over Balochistan. The buzzards often prey on rodents, lizards, small birds etc.

 

Balochistan is famous as a place where Arab millionaires go to illegally hunt wildlife. These rare birds are unfortunately being targeted for the sake of Eagle Hunting hobbyists. Recently, thankfully, these kinds of threats to the birds are being spotlighted on social media and other media outlets, so now people have more awareness about the problem.

 

Photo & text: Mariko SAWADA
Observation: Nov 2019, Kund Malir, Balochistan

 

Category : ◆ Balochistan > ◇ Birds of Pakistan
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

(Video) The curious tailed sheep that I met in the Swat Valley

This is a video taken in the Swat Valley of the sheep living there.
While traveling the Valley by car, one after another we saw groups of herders and their sheep. A typical scene in Pakistan.

 

Sheep in the Swat Valley (Pakistan)  The curious tailed sheep|

The tails are dyed with henna which I found so interesting.
The Pashtun people of Pakistan. It is a fashionable expression unique to them.

 

Sheep Tail Variations

This video features various sheep’s tails: some long and some short tails.
The Dunba sheep has no tail and its hips make a heart shape. It is a type of sheep that accumulates fat in the buttocks, a Pakistani delicacy. Namak Mandy, a restaurant district in Peshawar, is famous for Dunba cuisine.

 

And then, finally the sheep after they have been shaved…
Without hair, the sheep look so odd.

These are such curious looking sheep with very unique looks.

This photo was taken in Kashgar, China, not Pakistan. It’s a neighboring country across the border, but the Uyghur people also seem to like Dumba sheep as well.

The Swat Valley has changed a lot. In the fall of 2019, a new road was extended into the Valley. I hope the sheep continue to march along the road as they did in the past.

 

Video/photo & Text: Mariko SAWADA
*The photos and videos were taken between 2008 and 2015 in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

 

Category : ◆ Video Breathtaking Views of Pakistan > = Video Clip KPK > - Swat > ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > ◇Domestic animal of Pakistan
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Crossing the Gondogolo La Pass from the Baltoro Glacier

The quiet peak of Karakorum before dawn seen from Gondogolo La (pass). From the left, K2, Broad Peak, G4, G3, G2, G1.

 

The route over Gondogoro La (at 5,680m), considered to be the ultimate trekking route to see K2, the second highest mountain in the world. As it requires snow wall climbing gear, make sure to check the rope work skill  thoroughly.

 

Taking glimpses behind us at K2 and Broad Peak, every now and then, we head toward  our base camp, Ali Camp (5,010m), to get over Gondogoro La. Checking in with the Islamabad office by satellite phone, we get the weather report. Fortunately, it will be clear tonight, so without hesitation, we decide to make our climb before dawn.

 

Our porters always carry the heavy equipment that we all use. This elderly man passed us quickly as we all crossed the Gondogoro La Pass, without much difficulty and waited for our mountain descent back at the camp. The local staff are always amazing through it all. Hats off to them for sure.

 

1am: Head out from base camp. Climbing up a snow wall using jumar, with an average slope of 50 degrees.

 

At last, 5:20 on July 6, 2012, we arrived at top of Gondogoro La!
A photo of my youthful self and the ridgeline behind me are K2 and Broad Peak.

 

As the sun rises, the down slope becomes a little loose and the risk of avalanche and rockfall increases. We rushed to get down the mountain.

 

A long, steep descent is more difficult than the climb up.

 

We arrived in a totally different world from the snow and ice world we just left high above. Camping in Khuspang, a lush campsite where so many alpine plants bloom.

I could finally let go of all the tension I was storing until now, and I slept like a log.

 

Photo & text :  Tomoaki  TSUTSUMI  from the expedition in Jun-July 2012

 

Category : ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Karakorum Range > ◇ Mountain of Pakistan
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

(Video) Crossing the Indus river by Pakistan Railways

Pakistan’s railways are less developed compared to India’s. However, it retained the original railway system and station buildings, as they were, created by the British during the colonial period.

Especially near Attock, this railway crosses over the Indus river!

It is a great heritage trip where you can see not only the railway bridge and stations of the British Indian Empire era, but also the Mughal Empire’s Attock Fort, all from the train windows.

 

Video & text: Mariko SAWADA
(Video is from a trip in Feb 2020)

Category : = Video Clip Punjab > ◆ Video Breathtaking Views of Pakistan > - Monument / Heritage of Punjab > ◆ Punjab > ◇ Pakistan Railways
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Fusion of Eastern and Western Civilizations in Gandhara (Peshawar Museum Exhibitions)

Gandhara’s art is strongly influenced by many civilizations and art influences such as Greece, West Asia, Persia (Iran), India, and more. The first Greek civilization in the 4th century BC, was brought to the Gandhara region with Alexander the Great in the Great Expedition to the East. This is when the fusion of the Greek and Orient civilizations, was born and is now called the Hellenistic civilization.

Gandhara art reached its peak in a later period, in the 1st to 5th century AD with the Kushan dynasty. Buddhism, which was born in India, so alongside the Buddhist statues met with the Western gods and elements of both were incorporated into Gandhara Buddhist art.

This sculpture is of the Greek god Atlas, that appeared in Gandhara.

 

Atlas, the mythological Greek god that supports the sky at the western end of the world. In Gandhara, Atlas sits at the pedestal of the Buddha’s stupa and supports it. The Greek god that supports the Buddhist’s worldview…what a wonderful thought!

 

This is the Centaur, a half-horse monster that appears in Greek mythology.

The upper part of the body is human, the lower part of the body is a horse’s forelegs, and the rear part is a swirl-shaped tail fin like that of Trītōn (the son of Poseidon, the god of half-man and half-fish)

Centaur and Trītōn motifs often appear in right-angled triangular panels that are thought to have decorated the corners of buildings.

 

This is Vajrapāṇi (one of the Bodhisatvas in Mahayana Buddhism), who holds in his hand the Vajra (a weapon that symbolizes both the property of a diamond and a thunderbolt).

Its origin is Hercules, a hero of Greek mythology. Hercules, who assisted Kings with his awesome power, is depicted in the Gandhara as a guardian deity who is always beside the Buddha.

Hercules of Gandhara carries with him a Vajra, but the Hercules of Greece often has a club in his hands.

 

This piece shows a festoon pattern. A young man holding a wavy festoon (garland of flowers), which originated in Greece and Rome, and was very popular in Gandhara.
The cupid seems to carry the raised part of the festoon, and the lower part is decorated with grapes and a ribbon.

 

This is Hārītī and Pāñcika. Hārītī is both a goddess and a demon in the Buddhist tradition.

Hārītī was at first a cannibal demon that kidnapped and ate children. After the Buddha taught her a lesson about how parents suffer from the loss of their children, she became a “protector of children” and started to love both her own children and all others. In addition, since Hārītī had about 500 or 1,000 of her own kids, she is also a “guardian of safe childbirth.” She adorns pomegranate flowers on her hair, which is also a symbol of “fertility.”

This Hārītī looks like a Greek goddess, because it is based on the goddess of fate, Tȳchē in Greece.

 

The style of pillars that appear in Gandhara is generally the Greek Corinthian style decorated with acanthus leaves. However, the one pictured is another style that you might see in Gandhara.

At the top of the column, two humped cows are placed back to back, with (what is thought to be) a lion’s head in the middle of the design. This is the principle style of the capital (topmost part of the column) of ancient Persia (Iran) and can be seen in the ruins of Persepolis.

 

And this animal is a lion. Maybe you might think that a lion is an African animal, but at that time, there were “Asian lions” in Pakistan.

The relief of “the Lion Hunt” drawn on the ruins of Mesopotamia and the lion drawn on the ruins of Persepolis in Iran are famous, but this example is a lion in Gandhara art.

Although the wild Asian lions are now extinct in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, they still live in the forests of Sasan Gir National Park, in Gujarat, India. There are about 500 of them!

 

Photo & text: Mariko SAWADA
(The photos are from a trip in Oct 2019 – Feb 2020)
Location: Peshawar Museum, Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Category : - Peshawar / Khyber Pass > - Gandhara > ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > ◇ Heritage of Pakistan > ◇ Museum of Pakistan
Tag : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,