Explore Islamabad: The Modern Capital City of Pakistan
Islamabad is the modern capital city of Pakistan. It is nestled in the north of the Potohar Plateau, at the foothill of the Margalla Hills. At an elevation of 507 meters above sea level, this vibrant city is strategically located in the heart of Pakistan. Moreover, the city is equipped with all types of facilities including recreational points, cycling tracks, hiking tracks, shopping malls, restaurants, parks, museums, and exhibition centers.
Geographically Peshawar is 185 km (115 mi) to the east, Lahore is 295 km (183 mi) to the north and northeast, Muzaffarabad is 120 km (75 mi) to the south and southwest, and Srinagar, the capital of Indian Kashmir, is 300 km (190 mi) to the west and southwest.
Islamabad undoubtedly boasts a rich history. Evidence shows ancient human settlements dating back to the Stone Age. Even some artifacts date as far back as 100,000 to 500,000 years. Moreover, excavations along the banks of the Soan River have revealed relics and human skulls from around 5000 BC. Additionally, the region has historically served as a crossroads between Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the Margalla Pass acting as a gateway.
The emergence of Islamabad as the Capital City
After the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, Karachi became the initial capital of Pakistan. However, it was soon realized that Karachi’s location on one end of the country made it vulnerable to attacks from the Arabian Sea. Therefore, the need for a centrally located capital city with a moderate climate and easy accessibility from all parts of the country became evident. In 1958, the commission responsible for selecting the capital city chose the area that would become Islamabad. The selection was made by considering its proximity to the army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the disputed territory of Kashmir in the north.
Development and Layout
The construction of Islamabad as a forward capital began in 1960. Planned by a Greek firm of architects called Konstantinos Apostolos Doxiadis, the city follows a grid scheme and is triangular in shape, with its apex facing the Margalla Hills. The capital territory is further divided into eight zones. Each zone is particularly designated for specific purposes like administrative, commercial, educational, industrial, and diplomatic activities. Moreover, The residential areas, rural zones, and green spaces provide a harmonious living environment.
The city’s layout is well-organized, with lettered sectors from A to I, each further divided into four numbered sub-sectors. Therefore, clear demarcation makes navigation easy and allows for convenient addressing.
Climate and Environment
Islamabad experiences a unique climate characterized by hot summers with a monsoon season and mild winters. Three artificial reservoirs, including Rawal Lake, Simli Dam, and Khanpur Dam, regulate the city’s micro-climate. For instance, summers, from May to July, are the hottest months, with temperatures averaging around 40 degrees Celsius. Likewise, the monsoon season, spanning July through September, brings heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. Notable was July 1995 recorded the highest monthly rainfall of 743.3 millimeters (29.26 in). Winters, from October to March, vary in temperature depending on the location, with the lowest recorded temperature of -6 degrees Celsius occurring on January 17, 1967.
Things to Do in Islamabad
Islamabad offers a plethora of exciting activities for visitors and locals alike. Some popular options include:
Fishing in Rawal Lake
Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy their favorite pastime in the picturesque setting of Rawal Lake.
Paragliding on the Margalla Hills
Thrill-seekers can experience the exhilaration of paragliding while taking in breathtaking views from the Margalla Hills.
Designated cycling routes across Islamabad provide an excellent opportunity for cyclists to explore the city’s scenic beauty.
The city offers a network of specially designed hiking trails. Major hiking trails are Trail 1, Trail 2, Trail 3, Trail 4, Trail 5, and Trail 6, besides Saidpur Trail and Bari Imam Trail, catering to outdoor enthusiasts.
Museums and Tourist Places
History lovers and culture enthusiasts can explore the various museums and tourist attractions within Islamabad.
Visitors can venture to nearby attractions in the nearest destinations in Punjab, KPK, and Kashmir for memorable day excursions.
Islamabad’s well-planned layout includes central shopping malls in each sector. The city offers a wide range of local and international brands at reasonable prices. The popular markets, such as F6 Markaz (Supermarket), F7 Markaz (Jinnah Super Market), F8 Markaz (Ayub Market), G6 Markaz (Melody Park), and G9 Markaz (Karachi Company), each have their distinct charm and shopping options.
The city of Islamabad boasts a diverse culinary scene, catering to various tastes and preferences. From star hotel restaurants to international chains and local food joints, visitors can savor Chinese, Thai, Italian, and local cuisines, among others.
How to Reach Islamabad
Islamabad can be reached via the Benazir Bhutto International Airport (IATA: ISB). Flights arriving from numerous international destinations include Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, London, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and China.
Well-established local transport companies, such as Skyways, Faisal Movers, Niazi Express, and Daewoo Sammi, offer international standard long-haul bus services. Moreover, direct travel is available from major cities in Pakistan, including Karachi, Multan, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Lahore, and Peshawar. Additionally, these companies have arrangements made to transport passengers to offices within the twin cities.
Rawalpindi is well-connected by train to major cities, making it possible to reach Islamabad by train.
Islamabad, with its rich history, well-planned layout, and diverse offerings, obviously stands as a testament to Pakistan’s progress and development. From its fascinating historical sites to its modern amenities and attractions, Islamabad invites visitors to explore its beauty and charm. Whether one seeks adventure, cultural experiences, or simply wants to enjoy a relaxing time in a dynamic city, Islamabad has something to offer for everyone.