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
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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
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(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
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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
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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
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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
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(Drone Footage) Sirkap City Ruins, Taxila

This is the aerial view of the Taxila City Ruins Sirkap.
You can see the whole Ruins by aerial photography, where the city plan and roads are organized in a grid plan.

For more information about Sirkap Ruins, see here

 

 

Video & text : Mariko SAWADA

(Video is from a trip in Feb 2020)

Location : Sirkap, Taxila, Punjab

Category : = Video Clip Punjab > ◆ Video Breathtaking Views of Pakistan > - Monument / Heritage of Punjab > - Taxila > - Gandhara > ◆ Punjab > ◇ Heritage of Pakistan
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Takht-i-Bahi, Ghandara’s Buddhist Monastery

The ruins of Gandhara include city ruins like Taxila’s Sirkap and Buddhist temples secluded deep in the mountains. Takht-i-Bahi is a typical example of Buddhist temples built during this time. Takht-i-Bahi is 80 km (50 miles) northwest of Peshawar and 15 km (9 miles) from the town of Mardan and has been a well-preserved archaeological site since long ago.
In the 1 – 7th Centuries AD, Gandhara art had reached its peak in the Kushan Dynasty with the flourishing Buddhist temples. The (winter) capital of this era was Purushapura, which today, is known as Peshawar.

 

The Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist site was built on a mountain, rising 150m (492 feet) above the plains. Walking up the well-maintained stairs, you will arrive at the archeological site and at the entrance of the dedication tower area.

This photo of the wall of the ruins was taken just at the entrance. The upper section is an unrestored wall from the Gandhara era, but the white line shows the lower part, which is engraved with “A.S.I 1946” by archeological teams. “A.S.I.” stands for the “Archaeological Survey of India,” which worked to excavate and restore the site back during the British Indian Empire in 1946, before India and Pakistan separated.

 

The ruins of Takht-i-Bahi still retain the structure of the typical Gandhara Buddhist Temple, which includes the Main Stupa Court, the votive Stupa court, the monastery, meditation room and other structures.
Touring this site on foot, we came to this Stupa court, as the first thing we saw. There are 35 consecrated stupas lined up in a row between the South Tower and the North Monastery. Now, only the base of the structure is left. The base is decorated with Greek styled columns.

 

The votive Stupa Court
Of the 35 holy stupas, 2 are round base and the rest are rectangular in shape.

 

This is the monastery. There were 15 small cells surrounding the courtyard, each cell having a wall with a lamp on it, and some having a second floor. There is also what looked to be the remnants of a kitchen on the edge of the courtyard.

 

This is the Main Stupa. As you go up the stairs, you will see a square, then there is a 6.2m (20.3 foot) platform for the Main Stupa. There are shrines lined up on all three sides of this stupa, and stucco statues were placed in the wall of shrines.

 

This is a shrine near the stairs to the Main Stupa. The three sides are walled off and back in those days it was probably covered with stucco statues.

 

A basement area that is most likely a meditation room. The small room is pitch-black, but it connects to the bright courtyard.

This is the base of the stupa court where the caretaker lives. You can see the stucco of an Acanthus leaf sticking out from the top of the column. There is even still some color left.

 

If you climb up the mountain a little more, it leads to the observatory overlooking the ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and the town below. There are still many other buildings visible from here, so it is impressive to think what a huge Buddhist temple Takht-i-Bahi used to be.

 

Photo & text: Mariko SAWADA

(Photos are from a trip in Oct 2019, Feb 2020)

Location : Takht-i-Bhai, Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Category : - Gandhara > ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Takht-i-Bahi > ◇ Heritage of Pakistan
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Taxila – Mohra Moradu

This is Mohra Muradu, one of Taxila’s historic Buddhist ruins. It’s actually a mysterious sounding name, but the ruins of Gandhara’s monastery and stupa is simply taken from the nearby village, Mohra Muradu.
This picture shows the main stupa square platform, which is 4.75m (15.6 ft) tall.

 

Mohra Muradu has two stupas. There is a main stupa and a smaller stupa to the south of it, and there are stucco statues (decorative stucco) of Buddha and elephants which remain preserved on the walls.

 

The monastery has 27 cells on all four sides of a square courtyard, and some of them have stairs, so you can see some had additional levels. The central part of the garden is empty, possibly used for ceremonial baths.

 

This is a preserved Stucco Buddha statue (decoratively lacquered) in the monastery. The coloring remains despite the many years that have passed.

 

The highlight and masterpiece of Mohra Muradu is this 4m (13 ft) tall monumental votive stupa. Found in a small cell of the monastery, it is a hemispherical bowl on a circular platform, with a flat box-shaped fixture on it (probably a place to store a sarira, a container holding the Buddha’s remains). And on top, is a decorative 7-layered umbrella-shaped structure.
When you have so many layers, it doesn’t even really look like an umbrella, but it was a must-have item during the Buddha’s day. When a king or nobleman was outside, servants held an umbrella over by his head. It became a symbol of respect as well for Buddha, and the believers donated umbrella covers stacked to the top.

 

This is the 5 layer circular platform of the votive stupa. Each panel on the sides is separated by Corinthian columns (influenced by the Greeks) and decorated with carved reliefs of Buddha.
Also supporting at the base, is the elephant and the Greek god Atlas, who was said to “carry the sky at the west end of the world.”

 

Photo & text : Mariko SAWADA

(Photos are from a trip in 2005)

Location : Mohra Moradu, Taxila, Punjab

Category : - Monument / Heritage of Punjab > - Taxila > - Gandhara > ◆ Punjab > ◇ Heritage of Pakistan
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Sirkap – Taxila

About 30km northwest of Islamabad, the Taxila ruins are located at the eastern edge of an area that once flourished in Ghandara art (Buddhist visual art). Taxila is a group of archeological sites, stupas, monasteries etc. but among them, Sirkap city archeological site is an important area which is a must-visit for all tourists.

 

In the 2nd century BC, the city was built by Bactrian Greeks (Indo-Greek) who flourished in northern Afghanistan. The ruins of the town are located off of the main street and they spread out in a grid pattern, the foundations of the shops, Buddhist temples and Buddhist pagodas endure.

 

Ghandara stood in a cultural intersection where it received the cultural influence of India from the east and the cultural inspirations from Greece and Persia (Iran) from the west. The iconic buildings that symbolize that remains in Sirkap.

This is the “Double-Headed Eagle Stupa” that remains in Sirkap. There are three panels separated by Corinthian wall columns with shoots of Acanthus decorations on the wall of either side of the stairs in front of the square platform.

 

The beautifully preserved panels just to the right of the stairs.

In the panel on the very left, the Greek temple style building with the triangular gables.
Decorating the central panel is a double-headed eagle-like bird perched on top of an arched building shaped like the entrance to the Indian Chaitya Temple. The double-headed eagle is a design often found in Western Asia such as in Hittite and Babylonia.
On the rightmost panel is an Indian Torana (like the Indian Sanchi stupas) with a bird-like figure on top of it.

The Taxila Double-Headed Eagle Stupa is a structure that captures your imagination, blending the architectural artistry of India, Greece and Western Asia.

 

An aerial view of Sirkap, taken by drone, shows a large circular building foundation on the left side of the main street. It is said that it is the remains of a Chaitya temple because it has the same structure of the sacred temples.

It had been quite a long time since I was last able to visit Sirkap, but this time, I could see many students from Pakistan and families coming out for a picnic. Most of the Ghandara ruins are located on mountain tops, but this one is a flat, easy to access spot where people can enjoy the family time.

 

Photo & Text : Mariko SAWADA

Visit : Feb 2020, Sirkap, taxila, Punjab

Category : - Taxila > - Gandhara > ◆ Punjab > ◇ Heritage of Pakistan
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