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Gandhara was the name given to the land and its associated civilization that existed in what is now northern Pakistan and Afghanistan from the mid-1st millennium BCE to the beginning of the 2nd millennium CE and consisted of multiple dynasties which ruled over the same area but which were linked by their adoption of Buddhism as a religion for the most part and also of the Indo-Greek artistic tradition as its cultural identity.
Although Gandhara has been historically known since the Achaemenian Empire and more specifically during the reign of Cyrus the Great (558-28 BCE), it wasn’t until the pilgrimage of XuanXang in the 7th century CE, at the tail end of the Gandhara Civilization, that we first see a descriptive account of the region down to the extent of the area itself as well as the various places and sites which can be identified today.
It has been speculated that Gandhara was a triangular tract of land about 100 kilometers east to west and 70 km north to south, lying mainly to the west of the Indus River and bounded on the north by the Hindukush Mountains.
Gandhāra was an ancient region in the Peshawar Basin in the north-west of the ancient Indian subcontinent corresponding to present-day north-west mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and north-east Afghanistan. The centre region or Gandhara proper was at the confluence of the Kabul and Swat rivers, bounded by the Sulaiman Mountains on the west and the Indus RIver on the east. The Safed Koh Mountains separated it from the Kohat region to the south. This being the core area of Gandhara, the cultural influence of “Greater Gandhara” extended across the Indus river to the Taxila region and westwards into the Kabul and Bamiyan valleys in Afghanistan, and northwards up to the Karakorum mountains range. During the Achaemenes period and Hellenistic period, its capital city was Pushkalavati modern Charsadda. Later the capital city was moved to Peshawar by the Kushan emperor Kanishka in about 127 AD.
Islamabad International Airport
Based on your Flights Schedule
Arrival at Islamabad International airport by flight, after welcome reception by the team of Active Tours, you will be transferred to centrally located hotel along with your luggage. Reminder: half day (Morning till noon) is free for you to rest/relax after taking long flight to Pakistan & noon till evening there will be semi-day tour of Islamabad, including Faisal Mosque whose architecture was a Turkish, named Vedat Dalokay and the construction of the mosque is financed by Arabic king Faisal, that is why his name was given to the mosque in honor of him. Next, we will visit Pakistan monument, where we will try to know Ideology of Pakistan, Shakarparian Hill, the garden in which Pakistani and allied countries’ politicians erected trees, with view of Rawal Lake and Margala hills before sunset to watch twin cities (Islamabad & Rawalpindi) and the day activities will be ended with welcome dinner at a very traditional Restaurant. Transfer back to the hotel for night stay.
Following breakfast we will drive for 2 hours to Peshawar, the capital city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Upon arrival, we will offer you city tour include, Peshawar Museum is; notable for its collection of Buddhist artwork dating from the ancient Gandhara Empire, Mohabat Khan’s Mosque is; 17th-century Mughal-era masjid in Peshawar, Pakistan. The mosque was built in 1630, and named after the Mughal governor of Peshawar, Nawab Mahabat Khan bin Ali Mardan Khan, known alternatively as Mahabat Khan and Ali Mardan Khan, later we will go to Islamia college university founded by the personal initiatives led by Sir S. A. Qayyum and Sir George Roos-Keppel in 1913, it is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Pakistan, and its historical roots are traced from the culminating point of the Aligarh Movement, we will continue our next visit to Qisa Khani Bazaar (story teller bazaar) is one of the ancient landmarks & attractions in Peshawar City. Throughout ancient days, this was the meeting ground for caravans and military adventures from Central Asia, where professional storytellers recited ballads and tales of combat and passion for traders and warriors and our last visit of the day will be Chowk Yadgar formerly Hasting’s Memorial, is a famous attraction in the old walled city of Peshawar. It is located at the convergence point of different major roads and bazaars of the old city. Dinner will be served at a local restaurant and back to hotel for accommodation.
Leave hotel in the morning towards Swat Valley is also known as Switzerland of Pakistan. On our way to Swat, we will visit Takht-i-Bahi Monastery, is an Indo-Parthian archaeological site of an ancient Buddhist monastery in Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The site is considered among the most imposing relics of Buddhism in all of Gandhara and has been “exceptionally well-preserved. After the visit, we will continue our drive via Malakand Pass to Shingardar village to see Singardar Stupa. It is largest Stupa of the Indian Subcontinent. This stupa is a remnant of Buddhist era, and is one of the thousands ancient monuments in Swat Valley. Later, we will drive to Saidu Sharif, Swat. Dinner & night stay will be at hotel.
Full day city tour of Swat includes Swat Museum, a huge collection of Gandhara sculptures from Buddhist sites in Swat, our next visit will be the Butkara Stupa is an important Buddhist stupa near Mingora in Swat, Pakistan. After the visit we will drive to Sakorai village to see Gandhara huge rock carved Buddha. Last visit of the day will be Mingora Bazaar. Back to hotel for dinner & overnight stay.
This morning, we will start our journey toward the mountain kingdom of Gilgit-Baltistan. Our first part of drive for an about 1.5 hours will be over the beautiful Shangla Pass and we will descend to Besham which is town on famous Karakorum Highway (8th wonder of the world). Before reaching Chilas, we will face some interesting photogenic stops along the River Indus and we will visit pre-historic rock carving inscription at Shatial, Dinner and overnight stay will be at hotel.
Following breakfast, we will visit ancient graffiti’s at Chilas, viewpoint of Nanga Parbat (9th highest peak in the world, also known as killer mountain) offers breathtaking panorama on behind, the unique point where three mountain ranges, Karakorum, Himalayas, and Hindukush meet, and our next stop will be at confluence of River Indus & Gilgit. Later, we will continue our drive to Gilgit and after a quick check-in at hotel tour of Gilgit town will include Kargah Rock carved Buddha; is an archaeological site in Gilgit Town. It is a carved image of a large standing Buddha; we will get back to city and will have walk in typical mountain bazaar. We will get back to hotel for dinner & accommodation.
For half a day, we will drive along the beautiful Hunza river, one of the most special parts of Pakistan, en route we will stop at Monument of Karakorum Highway, collision point of Indian & Eurasian Plates, viewpoint of historical silk route and viewpoint of Rakaposhi peak (7788m). As we approach Karimabad the peak Rakaposhi (7788m) dominates the skyline to the east. Above Hunza stands the prominent rock spire Bublimating 6000m, and the Impressive Ultar peaks (7388m). After check-in, we will drive higher up to place is called Duikar for the best sunset photography (subject to weather condition). We will spend sometimes to enjoy the breathtaking panoramas all around us. Later, we will drive back to hotel for dinner & overnight stay.
Full day tour of Karimabad town include meeting with local folks, understanding the secrets of their longevity and visit some of the important historical sites including the recently renovated, simple yet overpowering, Baltit Fort and the Altit Fort. We will back to our hotel in the evening for night stay and dinner will be served at hotel. Very few places in the world compare with this small mountainous region, which was a semi-autonomous state until very recently but is now fully unified with Pakistan, the ruling dynasty of Hunza having lasted for over 600 years. The scenic beauty of this area, with its greenery and snow-capped mountains, makes it a true paradise. During the summer there is an abundance of apricots, peaches, pears, and grapes. Hunza lies on the ancient trade route to Kashgar in the Chinese province of Sinkiang. Today the Karakorum Highway runs along this route with Karimabad being the main town of Hunza. Hunza is probably most famous for the longevity of its people, due to their simplicity and natural diet, along with the unpolluted mountain air. Tibetan traders referred to the beauty of this humble paradise as “Shangri-La”.
For half day we will explore Nagir Valley by 4×4 jeeps. Nagir Valley is a former princely state like Hunza Valley but now it is one of ten districts of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. This panoramic drive will give you some superb views of traditional villages, high mountains, and a glacier. We will leave around noon and drive back to Karakorum highway and further short an hour of driving on KKH along the river with the high peaks all around will bring us to Passu village of upper Hunza. But before reaching Passu we will stop en-route, we will visit Scared rock carving, stop at viewpoint of Atabad Lake (formed by the land sliding in 2010). Later, we will continue to Hussani Village for walk on Hussani suspension bridge and stop at viewpoints of Passu cathedral. If time permit (old village): The general belief, however, is that the original inhabitants are descendants, we will walk in passu village to see traditional houses & meet local people. We will reach hotel around evening; dinner & accommodation will be at hotel.
Full day excursion to Khunjerab Pass (The border between Pakistan & China). In the olden days there were few high passes leading from China those were suitable for travel. Today the Khunjerab Pass, which at an altitude of 4733 m is the highest point in the world on the Karakoram Highway, provides an easy all-weather entry from Pakistan to the famous Sinkiang Province of the Peoples Republic of China. This route is a beautiful drive, with views of the high mountains of the Karakorams and the distant Pamir Mountain Ranges. At Khunjerab, now declared a national park, one can see Marco Polo Sheep (ovis ammon poli). On the way back we visit Borit Lake and after the lake we will drive back to Gilgit, dinner & overnight stay will be at hotel.
Following the breakfast, we will drive back to Besham (midway). Along the road we will make stops for tea, toilet and photography. we will reach Besham around evening, check-in at hotel and dinner will be served.
This morning, we will drive to Taxila is 35 km from Besham. Most of the Archeological Sites at Taxila (600 B.C-500 A.D) are located around Taxila Museum. For over 1000years, Taxila remained famous of as a center of learning in respect of Gandhara Art of Sculpture, education, and Buddhism in the days of Buddhist glory. There are over 50 archeological sites scattered in a radius of 30 km around Taxila. Some of the most important sites include Dharmarajika, Stupa and Monastery (300 B.C – 200 A.D), Bhir Mound (600-200 B.C) Sirkap (200 B.C – 600 A.D,Jundial Temple (250 B.C), and Julian Monastery (200-600 A.D). After our visit we will continue our drive to Islamabad. If time permit, en route we will visit truck painting art, which is an indigenous form of art performed only in Pakistan. With its all-colorful floral patterns, imaginative creatures, and depiction of human heroes. After the visit, we will get back to the city Islamabad, dinner will be served at local restaurant and then transfer to hotel for accommodation.
You will be transfer to Islamabad International airport. From peace and serenity of North Pakistan to the hustle and bustles of “modern” trends, you say Khuda Hafiz, the typical farewell, as you depart after a tour of Pakistan. End of the tour.
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