“There!” I exclaimed, firmly holding the steering wheel with one hand while my other hand pointed outside the car’s window. My sister Arooj’s gaze followed the direction and a smile spread on her face. I gradually pulled the car on the road side to have a bird’s eye view of Islamabad. We were on our way up the Margalla hills which is located north of Islamabad and hosts the two popular leisure destinations namely Daman-e-Koh and Peer Sohawa.
On the way further up Arooj noticed a few monkeys peeping from behind the bushes and some frolicking among the Pines and Eucalyptus trees. Luckily we had some fruit to offer which allured a whole bunch of them out from the clusters of Mulberry trees, Peepal and Silver Oaks. These hills are quite popular among hikers, bird watchers, rock climbers and those interested in Paragliding and Hand gliding.
As we reached Damn-e Koh’s view point, the panoramic view of this calm and beautiful capital of Pakistan highlighted Faisal Mosque which is South Asia’s largest mosque .
Standing tall and conspicuous among the city’s buildings is the Forty-one storied Centaurus attracts everyone’s attention due to its mega structure comprising of three skyscraper buildings linked by a huge shopping mall.
This planned city was inhibited in 1964 and is divided into sectors, and sub sectors, each sector catering to the needs of its residents through several markets and parks. The traffic is relatively civilized; roads are smooth making driving less stressful and finding unfamiliar places quite easy. Being home to foreign embassies and large number of foreigners advocates the city’s peacefulness and cleanliness. Islamabad has a high literacy rate of 87 percent and a relatively high cost of living too.
Food street in Blue area is a hub for foodies. Whether you wish to tantalize your taste buds with traditional Pakistani food or you are in the mood to take them on a journey around the world, food lovers can choose from a wide variety of cuisines available all over the city, operating mostly in houses transformed into restaurants.
Blue area offers a wide variety for shopaholics while Super market and Jinnah Super are quite popular among tourists for handicrafts (the salt lamps, wooden and marble decoration pieces etc) and hand woven Afghani and Persian carpets.
Islamabad is a bounty for nature lovers who are looking for some adventure in the stark silence where one hears nothing but the whispers of wind, rustling of leaves and sounds of cracking boughs under one’s boots. The Margalla hills provide a number of Trails for hiking among which Trail 3 is the most popular one.
Pakistan monument and Museum gives a glimpse into our history but Lok Virsa is simply NOT to be missed! This place literally takes you on a detailed tour around Pakistan in the shortest possible time where you can experience the rich multi-ethnic cultures. As the visitors take a walk in its corridors, they come across real life scenarios created in glass show cases along the isle. It is replete with knowledge about the culture and handicrafts of the five provinces.
Living in Islamabad is like dwelling close to nature yet enjoying the hustle and bustle of a cosmopolitan city. Taking a mere walk down the road itself is a pleasurable experience. The air is clean; thanks to millions of trees planted within the city and massive jungles spread over Margalla hills. Being close to Muree- the most visited hill station of Pakistan; Islamabad serves as a base station for visitors the entire year, especially in seasonal holidays.
Islamabad is not as lively as Lahore but this city has never failed to entertain me. Each time I go on a picnic with kids at a local park, Japanese park, the most beloved F-9 park, or take kids out to the Zoo or Rawal lake, it is always fun! My kids adore “F-1 Trax” where dozens of Disney characters roam around to amuse children.
Floral exhibitions at Rose and Jasmine Garden celebrate the onset of spring every year. People interested in water sports and boating can head straight to Rawal Lake. The city also caters to night life of foreigners. So whether you plan to go out for bowling, Ferrari racing, dinner at a restaurant or watching a play at Islamabad Club, you have quite a hand full of options. But one thing is for sure, nature lovers can never get bored in this beautiful city.