Pakistan, the crucible of many cultures and from the stone age sites to the British era has historical remains scattered all over the country. However, the most popular are the Indus Valleys and Gandhara Civilization. Almost all the major museums of the world have pieces of Gandharan art exhibited in their galleries.
Gandhara, the ancient Peshawar valley and the cradle of Buddhist civilization, which gave birth to the famous Gandharan art, is first mention in the Rig-Veda. It remained one of the provinces of the Achaemenian empire according to a Darius period inscription of 6the century BC pushkalavati, its first capital from 6the century BC to 1st century AD was invaded in Mauryan, indo-Greeks, Scythian, Parthian and kushans, who established their capital at pushapura or Peshawar in 1st century AD. In 7th century AD, the Shahi dynasty established its capital at Hund, which remained their centre till the invasions of Gaznavids in 998 ADS, hence ending the rule of Gandhara.
The sites and antiquities of Takht-i-bahi, shari bahlol, Jamal garhi, rani gat, aziz dheri, Bukhara, saidu stupa, andan dheri, chat pat, dam kot khanpur, and the monasteries in Taxila valley provided richest collection of the Gandharan art to the Peshawar, Mardan, Pushkalavati, Taxila, swat, Dir museums through the excavations by British, Italian and Pakistani scholars.
Day 01: Arrival Lahore, meet and assist on arrival. Transfer to Hotel.
Day 02: Passing by the legendary Kim’s Gun reach Badshahi Mosque on the north west corner of the walled city. The Badshahi Mosque built during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb in the early 1670’s, one of the largest mosques in the world. Its red sandstone and white marble present a delightful harmonious contrast. Opposite the Badshahi Mosque is the historic Lahore Fort with its massive walls, several towering gates, marble pavilions and its hall of mirrors, dating to the time of Moghul Emperor Akbar. In the time of the great Moghuls, the city was surrounded by a 9-metre-high brick wall and had a rampart running around it with a moat connected with the river Ravi which served as a protection for the city. There were thirteen massive gates, some of which are still in original from and shape. The narrow lanes, the hanging balconies, the tiny shops, the aroma of spices, and the fragrance of flower garlands lingers on in the city, retaining the medieval char. Within the walled city, the Wazir Khan Mosque in the walled city. The colorful fresco and mosaic in the interior and the exterior of the Mosque is a superb example of Moghul period craftsmanship. later Visit Lahore Museum which has a rich and varied collection of objects from the Indus civilization, the Ghandara, Hindu, and the Muslim period. Overnight Lahore.
Day 03: Following the breakfast check-out from the hotel. First destination is Rohtas Fort which is in UNESCO World Heritage List. The fort is built by Sher Shah Suri in purpose of defending the city against Mughals. The fort is still intact. It reflects the early Islamic architecture. visit Mankiala stupa from 7th century. Overnight Islamabad.
Day 04: Following the breakfast, drive to Taxila. Taxila is one of subcontinent’s archaeological treasures and was once an important city of kingdom of Gandhara. the ruins of Taxila, scattered about 30kms away from Rawalpindi, represent one of the important archaeological sites in Pakistan. The history of Taxila spans over 1000 years (around 500 BC to 500 AD), evolving and changing over the centuries as it absorbed the influences of various conquering empires, Taxila had been the site of the best-known university in the subcontinent, which offered courses in law, history, medicine, arts, etc. The various sites at Taxila, spread over a large era, include: Bhir mound the oldest city of Taxila, Dharmarajika Buddhist stupa and monastery, Sirsukh city, Jaulian Buddhist monastery, etc. The Taxila museum is noted for its magnificent collection of Gandharan art- a rare blend of Greek and Buddhist art, it also housed an interesting coin- collection, utensils, jewelry, toys and pottery highlighting the daily life of the inhabitants of ancient Taxila. Overnight Islamabad.
Day 05: Later excursion to Charsadda (28 Km), the ancient capital of Kingdom of Gandhara, once known as “Push-kalavati,” the Lotus City. There are three sites of ancient cities, Bala Hisar, Shai Khan Dheri and Prang to be visited. Later, visit Takht-i-Bai, the most impressive and complete Buddhist monastery in Pakistan. It is surrounded by ruins of private houses, monk cells, a court of stupas and a high walled open assembly court. The panoramic view from the hill top at Takhti-i-Bai is fantastic, return via Shahbaz Garhi to see Ashoka’s inscription. Overnight Peshawar.
Day 06: Peshawar, Visit the British built Museum in Moghul Gothic style of architecture and Peshawar Club where once British officers took time out from frontier duties. In the afternoon, we stroll down Qissa Khawani Bazaar (Street of Storytellers), were raconteurs once fascinated crowds with lurid tales. Today, dentists have replaced the storytellers’ rows of teeth vie for our attention. We wander down side-streets and see donkeys, goats, sheep, camels, men smoking “hookahs” or sipping tea, but we see few women. And the few that pass by us will be accompanied by a male. Even then, they will reveal only their mysterious eyes that peek through the spidery veil of their ankle-length “burka”. While in the bazaar, we also see the Cunningham Clock tower, built to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen Empress. Overnight Peshawar
Day 07: Drive to swat valley enroute visit, 3rd century stupa at Shingerdar. Transfer to hotel in Saidu Sharif. Overnight
Day 08: Sightseeing of Swat valley with a visit to the Museum which has a large collection of Gandharan sculptures collected from Buddhist sites in Swat. Close by is Butkara, the site of the most important Buddhist Shrine in the valley. Later visit the 1st century Buddhist Monastery at Panr. Evening at leisure. Overnight at Saidu Sharif.
Day 09: Early morning drive to Islamabad, Transfer to airport for onward journey.
End of the services.