National monuments serving as symbols of provincial, political autonomy and national integrity, Khyber Pass for Peshawar (KP), Minar-e-Pakistan for Lahore, Punjab, Quaid’s Mausoleum for Karachi, Sindh and Ziarat Residency for Quetta, Balochistan are instantly recognizable…
By Sadaf Pervez
akistan is a land of beauty and contrasts. Comprising of four provinces (and now a fifth territory called Gilgit-Baltistan –GB– has been added to the federation which is now considered separate from FATA) each province has its own distinct cultural identity. What word-picture comes to your mind instantly when you want to show a symbol depicting the distinct cultural identity of each province? The answer is pretty easy and every child in Pakistan can probably answer it in seconds — Khyber Pass for Peshawar, Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa (KP), Minare-Pakistan for Lahore, Punjab, Quaid’s Mausoleum for Karachi, Sindh and Ziarat Residency for Quetta, Balochistan. These monuments are not only point of attraction for the tourists but also signify political importance for Pakistan.
Pakistan is home to a number of off-beat destinations. If Karakoram Highway takes you to a road that snakes its way into China, traveling to Khyber Pass is another exciting journey that takes you to the tribal hinterland on the borders of Afghanistan.
Khyber Pass, mountain pass in western Asia, the most important pass connecting Afghanistan and Pakistan, controlled by Pakistan. The pass is walled by precipitous cliffs that vary in height from about 180 to 300 m. The pass reaches its highest elevation at the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Driving on the Khyber Pass is a unique kind of experience. Many conquerors and rulers, who came from far off places like central Asia and Greece, used the pass in the past as the point of entry to the Indian sub continent. Traveling through the pass is like passing through the layers of rocky mountain peaks and rugged barren landscapes.
The Khyber Train is another exciting medium that you can take on your tour to Khyber Pass. The train takes you from Peshawar to Landi Kotal. The train journey is a wonderful experience as the train passes through 34 tunnels and crosses 92 bridges on its journey from Peshawar to Landi Kotal.
Minar-e-Pakistan is situated in lqbal Park, Lahore. It was constructed to commemorate the site of famous Lahore Resolution which was passed on March 23rd, 1940, in which Pakistan Muslim League; then the single representative political party of all Muslims of India in its historic 34th annual session unanimously demanded the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of this sub-continent. The Minar is a blend of Mughal and modern architecture and has been very boldly designed. The foundation stone was laid on March 23rd, 1960 by the governor West Pakistan Akhtar Hussain in the Minto Park, which was later renamed as Iqbal Park, after poet Dr Iqbal who first gave the idea of a separate Muslim country for the Muslims of the British India.
The base is about 8 meters above the ground. The tower rises about 60 meters on the base, thus the total height of minaret is about 72 meters above the ground. The unfolding petals of the flower-like base are 9 meters high. The diameter of the tower is about 97.5 meters (320 feet). The base platform is shaped like a five-pointed star and encloses two crescent shaped pools. There is a central spiral staircase rising up with 162 steps. The top-dome of the minaret is made of Stainless steel inlaid with fine glass pieces.
Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum The tomb of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah is the most famous and iconic landmark in the massive metropolis of Karachi, Pakistan. It is an architectural feat of epic proportions. The Mazar-e-Quaid, or National Mausoleum, was built throughout the decade of the 1960s and honors a beloved hero and founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
The mausoleum is made of white marble with curved Moorish arches and copper grills resting on an elevated 54 square meters platform. The cool inner sanctum reflects the green of a four-tiered crystal chandelier gifted by the people of China. Around the mausoleum is a park fitted with strong beamed spot-lights which at night project light on the white mausoleum. The location is usually calm and serene which is significant considering that it is in the heart of one of the largest global megalopolises.
Ziarat Residency Another landmark which was named as the national monument after Jinnah (Quaide-Azam), the founder of Pakistan, spent his last days here. The local people believe that the Jinnah had in fact breathed his last here in Ziarat, contrary to the official reports that he expired in Karachi on 11 September, 1948, the day he was shifted there from Ziarat. The residency building is a majestic piece of architecture, but people visit it primarily for its association with the leader.
The building, constructed in 1892, was originally meant to serve as a sanatorium, due to presence of Juniper Forests in the area, but was later converted into the summer residence of the Agent to the Governor General. The residency is embellished with Chinar (Cedar) trees, beautiful lush green lawns, covered with grassy carpets and with roses, dancing at the rhythmic tunes of wind, all around the garden. From there you can have a striking view of the picturesque valley. It is a two story building with a modern super structure. The furniture used by the father of the nation is still preserved and lies exactly where it was placed in his lifetime. ■
This article was originally published in the print edition of “Valuemag”, issue 13, August 2009