Islamabad is the rambling capital city of Pakistan. It is a well developed and planned city, endowed with all the essence of a well-groomed capital town. Truly, Islamabad is beautiful and holds a name for being a symbol of progress, architectural marvel and innovation.
Combining an affluent history, you can experience the confluence of many civilizations under the temperate climate. Wide, tree-lined streets decorate the zones and sectors of the city, making it striking. Apart from the ancient structures, one does feel the mechanical crush, exasperating human, grassy parklands, shiny restaurants that epitomize most of the Asian subcontinents.
When to Go to Islamabad
Islamabad has a humid subtropical climate with very hot summers and cool winters. During peak summers, the temperatures can climb as high as 47°C whereas the coldest periods can come down to -4°C. The monsoon comes down in July and August. The best time to visit the capital city is between October and March where the cold creeps in with the influence of snowfall at the nearby mountains.
Places to Visit in Islamabad
The city's brilliance as a vital metropolis is reflected on the overall architecture, which is amazingly modern and yet Islamic in nature. The main attractions in Islamabad include Murghzar Mini Zoo and Children's Park, Shakarparian Hills and the Rawal Lake.
The Shakarparian Hills rise to 609 meters, blessed with a terraced garden that offers sweeping vistas of the surrounding lake and the thriving city. The man-made Rawal Lake lies adjoining the Shakarparian Hills and has become a hot-spot for picnics and other jubilant gatherings.
Another renowned low hill-top attraction is the Daman-e-Koh that offers captivating views of the city. Located at the foot of the Daman-e-Koh, the Murghzar Zoo is highly attractive to the children as well as the adults. At the corner lies the Children's Park which is a gift to the children of Pakistan from the Japanese children.
Places to Eat in Islamabad
Countless Pakistani as well as international cuisine has developed a trail in the city's culinary scene. Fast food chains are quite common, and so are the traditional food outlets. According to the British Airways, "locals love their lamb" and "alcohol-free Islamabad is a fantastic spot for a detox.” You can refresh with buttery lassis made from yoghurt and flavoured with salt, sugar or mangoes.
However, it is traditional cuisine that has helped Islamabad achieve a high reputation amid food connoisseurs all over the world. The cuisine is a variation of North Indian dishes, with the influence of the Mughal Empire very much in evidence. The food has a distinctive taste of its own with the term ‘Mughal Cuisine’, which is now a noteworthy cuisine from this region.
Places to Shop in Islamabad
Shopping in the capital city can be a lot more exciting if you know where to dig in. The shopping scene may not be as maddening as the markets of Karachi or even Peshawar, but it’s a fact that shopping in Islamabad has a charm of its own.
The most striking feature is the centrally located shopping square in each sector called 'markaz'. Such shopping arcades cater to the daily shopping needs. The large squares have a wide range of shops with mobile franchises, grocery stores, bakeries, bookshops, boutiques and shoe stores.
Important and crowded markets include the affordable and reasonable Abpara market, Blue Area, Super Market F6, Kohsar Market and Jinnah super. There are weekly bazaars where several stalls sell edible and non edible items at cheaper prices than retail shops.
Specialties of Islamabad
Islamabad and Rawalpindi are twin cities, separated by a distance of 12 miles, and commonly viewed as one unit. If you plan to visit just the capital city, do step into Rawalpindi as you are not far away from the fascinating archaeological digs and Graeco-Buddhist art that have evolved and flourished, creating history. The nearby city of Taxila holds splendid museums and forested ridges.
Festivals in Islamabad
Fairs and festivals of Pakistan stir up life and vigor among the locals as well as the tourists who flock into the city. Be it any of the religious festivals such as Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Azha that takes place with an animal sacrifice and ends with a colorful procession that depicts the art and culture of Pakistan.
The locals display their fun-loving nature with fun festivals such as Shab-e-Barat that features fireworks and a heavenly array of lights. With the coming of Ashura, two emotional days of mourning with processions are displayed on the streets. The most unique and haunting bloody sights are seen as Shiat Muslims celebrate it with vigor and rage.
Apart from the religious celebrations, one can admire Basant Kite Flying Festival, Sindh Horse and Cattle Show and Sibi Mela that displays an exhibition of handicrafts. The decorations done at the places of worship during these festivals are a feast to the eyes.