Sunday, 13 August 2017

PAKISTAN: Chaotic Rawalpindi Is A Twin City Of Islamabad, Avoid Flashing Large Banknotes Openly

Rawalpindi is in Pakistan. It is a bustling town strategically located between the Punjab and Azad Kashmir. It has a strong colonial influence and possesses a large military cantonment with the headquarters of the Pakistan Army.

The word "Rawalpindi" consists of two Punjabi words; Rawal, and Pindi. The origin of the name may derive from the combination of two words:Rawal, meaning "lake" in Punjabi, and Pind, meaning "village." The combination of the two words thus means "The village of lake".

It is the sister city of Islamabad, and is essentially the older sister of Islamabad. To locals, it is simply known as "Pindi".

For the visitor Pindi offers a slice of real Pakistan in contrast to Islamabad,however there are few tourist attractions of note in the city. Bahria Town, a wealthy suburb to the south of Pindi, offers a couple of attractions that warrant an excursion.

Islamabad International Airport is located within the city of Rawalpindi. Daily flights to and from various international and local destinations are available. A new airport to the west of the city is under construction but several years from completion.

Rawalpindi commonly known as Pindi Iin Punjabi, is a city in Punjab, Pakistan. It is the fourth-largest city in Pakistan by population, while the larger Islamabad Rawalpindi metropolitan area is the country's third-largest area. The economy of Rawalpindi is interlinked with Islamabad, and the two are jointly known as the "twin cities". The city is the administrative seat of the Rawalpindi District.

Rawalpindi is located on the Pothohar Plateau, which is known for the existence of a Buddhist community, particularly in neighbouring town of Taxila, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The city was destroyed during the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni before being taken over by Gakhars who went on to name the city as "Rawalpind" in 1493.

In 1765, the Gakhars were defeated as Rawalpindi became part of the Sikh Empire. The city became part of the British Raj in 1849 and in 1851 became the largest garrison town for the British Indian Army. After the partition of India in 1947, the city became home to the headquarters of Pakistan Army hence retaining its status as a major military city.

The city received a major boost with the start of the construction of Islamabad in 1961 which saw greater investment and even enjoyed a brief stint as the country's temporary capital.The modern-day city is socio-economically tied with Islamabad and the larger metropolitan area, with a large number of people commuting to Islamabad, particularly due to the presence of several suburbs in Rawalpindi.

The city is also a major transit point due to presence on the Grand Trunk Road and presence of Benazir Airport and the Liaquat Airport.The city is also a tourist attraction due to its historical haveli's, while it is a popular transit point for tourists visiting Rohtas Fort, Azad Kashmir, Taxila and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The predominantly Muslim population supported Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while the Muslim refugees from India settled in Rawalpindi. In the succeeding years, Rawalpindi saw an influx of Muhajir, Pashtun and Kashmiri settlers. In 1959, the city became the interim capital of the country after President Ayub Khan sought the creation of a new planned capital of Islamabad in the vicinity of Rawalpindi.

As a result, Rawalpindi saw most major central government offices and institutions relocate to nearby territory, and its population boom.

In 1951, Rawalpindi saw the assassination of the first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan in Company Bagh, now known as Liaquat Bagh Park,also called Liaquat Garden. On 27 December 2007, Liaquat Bagh Park's rear gate in Rawalpindi was the site of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.Her father, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged in Rawalpindi in 1979.

The famous Murree Road has been a hot spot for various political and social events. Today Rawalpindi is the headquarters of the Pakistani Army. Pakistan Air Force also has an active airbase in the Chaklala region of Rawalpindi.

Rawalpindi features a humid subtropical climate with long and very hot summers, a wet monsoon and short, mild and wet winters. Rawalpindi and its twin city Islamabad, during the year experiences an average of 91 thunderstorms, which is the highest frequency of any plain elevation city in the country. Strong windstorms are frequent in the summer during which wind gusts have been reported by Pakistan Meteorological Department to have reached 176 km/h (109 mph). In such thunder/wind storms, which results in damage of infrastructure especially electric poles, billboards and sometimes buildings too.

Rawalpindi is chaotic, but relatively dust-free. The weather is highly variable due to the proximity of the city to the foothills of Himalayas. The average annual rainfall is 1,200 mm (47 in), most of which falls in the summer monsoon season. However, westerly disturbances also bring quite significant rainfall in the winter. In summer, the record maximum temperature has soared to 48.4 °C (119 °F) recorded in June 1954, while it has dropped to a minimum −3.9 °C (25 °F) in the winter several times in the past. The last time it reached that temperature was in January 1967.

The population of Rawalpindi is 4,700,000 in 2017. There are 84% of population are Punjabi and 9% consist of Pashto people and 7% others.

There are different ethnic group who are migrated from different part of countries.

Balochi, Brahvi, Balti, Hunzai, Kohistani, Khowar, Shina, Sindhi and Punjabi speakers are found.

Ayub National Park is located beyond the old Presidency on Jhelum Road. It covers an area of about 2,300 acres (930 ha) and has a playland, lake with boating facility, an aquarium and a garden-restaurant. Rawalpindi Public Park is on Benazir Bhutto Road near Shamsabad. The Park was opened to the public in 1991. It has a playland for children, grassy lawns, fountains and flower beds.

In 2008 Jinnah Park was inaugurated at the heart of Rawalpindi and has since become a hotspot of activity for the city. People from as far out as Peshawer come to Jinnah Park to enjoy its modern facilities. It houses a state-of-the-art cinema, Cinepax, a Metro Cash and Carry supermart, an outlet of McDonald's, gaming lounges, Motion Rides and other recreational facilities. The vast lawns also provide an adequate picnic spot.

Rawalpindi is situated near the Ayub National Park formerly known as 'Topi Rakh' (keep the hat on) is by the old Presidency, between the Murree Brewery Co. and Grand Trunk Road. It covers an area of about 2,300 acres (930 ha) and has a play area, lake with boating facility, an aquarium, a garden-restaurant and an open-air theater. This park hosts "The Jungle Kingdom" which is particularly popular among young residents.

Liaquat Bagh, formerly known as the "company bagh" (East India Company's Garden), is of great historical interest. The first prime minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated here in 1950. Pakistan's Prime Minister Banazir Bhutto was assassinated here on 27 December 2007. She was the youngest elected prime minister in the world.

Rawalpindi Public Park or Nawaz Sharif Park is located on Murree Road. The park was opened in 1991. It has a play area for children, lawns, fountains and flower beds. A cricket stadium was built in 1992 opposite the public park. The 1996 World Cup matches were held on this cricket ground.

In mid-2012 3D cinema, The Arena, started its operations in Bahria Town Phase-4 in Rawalpindi.The cinema has a maximum capacity of 264 people and caters to the needs of both Rawalpindi and Islamabad residents.

Rawalpindi Golf Course was completed in 1926 by Rawalpindi Golf Club, one of the oldest golf clubs of Pakistan. The facility was initially developed as a nine-hole course. After several phases of development, it is now a 27-hole course and the biggest in Pakistan.From the clubhouse, there is a panoramic view of Faisal Mosque, the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and the course itself. Major golf tournaments are regularly held here.

Playland is another public park parallel to Ayub Park; its nearness to many classy colonies and housing schemes makes this wonderland an attractive hotspot during the holidays.

Rawalpindi has its own central railway station, with regular sevices to many destinations within Pakistan.

Rawalpindi has extensive road networks, linking it directly to various major cities such as Lahore, Peshawar and Taxila to the north. Apart from that the twin city, which Rawalpindi is otherwise called, has a complete structure of traveling around in the city through local buses. However, this is not a recommended mode of transport to tourists.

Taxis are cheap, and you'll be looking at around Rs600 or so for a trip from Ghakar Plaza to the outer sectors of Islamabad, so travel within Rawalpindi will be around Rs200 per trip - very affordable for a foreign tourist. Make sure you agree the price before getting into the taxi.

Skyways and Daewoo are 2 of the nicer long-haul operators. Skyways offer some direct services to/from Islamabad and Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi. Daewoo has its own terminal on the road from Islamabad just outside Rawalpindi. You can call the Daewoo Station in advance for booking.

They shall confirm a seat for you.You can travel to Peshawar, Lahore, D I Khan, Murree, Sialkot, Abottabad, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Multan, and recently they have started service between Karachi and Hyderabad.

Coach is a very comfortable way to travel in Pakistan, and is very popular for travellers between Rawalpindi and Lahore. You will receive a small meal on the coach, and a first class ticket is between Rs1000-Rs3000.

Rawalpindi is a large sprawling city, however the centre,focused on Raja Bazaar is walkable but easy to get lost, so a GPS or compass isn't a bad idea. There are many auto shops for repairing vehicles of tourists. To travel eg. Raja Bazaar to Saddar its best to hop in a tuk-tuk. Buses are an option for going up or down Murree Road, but working out how to get a bus to more far flung parts will require some Urdu.

A trip to Bahria Town is best done in your own car or a taxi (and armed with a map).

Rawalpindi is not blessed with an extensive architectural history. However the city is an interesting place to wander, especially if you are based in Islamabad and are looking for some hustle and bustle.

- Liaqat Bagh gardens that has a depressing history of political assassination - The first prime minister of Pakistan, Khan Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated here in 1950, and 57 years later Benazir Bhutto was assassinated here on 27 December 2007.

- Nawaz Sharif Park is located on Murree Road near Shamsabad. The Park was opened in 1991. It has a play area for children, lawns, fountains and flower beds. A cricket stadium was built in 1992 opposite the Public Park. The 1996 World Cup cricket matches were held on this cricket ground.
Jinnah Park is located near Kachehri Chowk.Mcdonalds,Pappasalis,Cinepax and COSMO(Cash and Carry)are build inside this park

- Ayub Park is located beyond the old Presidency on Grand Trunk (G.T.) Road. It covers an area of about 2,300 acres and has a play area, lake with boating facility, an aquarium, a garden-restaurant and an open air theater.

- Eidgah Sharif

- Shah Chun Charagh

- Army Museum at the end of Murree road, being refurbished and should reopen in early 2012. The Army Museum was established in 1961 to collect and display material, relating to the Pakistan Army and the British Indian Army.

There are various things you can do in Rawalpindi. A few of them are:

- Plan a trip to Raja Bazar, Bara Bazar and Murree Road. Although the traffic gets horrible at times, but you will find such amazing stuff at amazing prices that you'll forget the pain. Be careful in Raja Bazar in particular - it is not recommended for lone female travellers.

- Go to Ayub Park, have a pleasant walk around, it will give you hours of walk in green meadows without having to worry about anything else. If you take the family along, you can eat snacks and even take you own for added fun !

- Head to Bahria Town to the south of Pindi - this new-build suburb offers a mini golf course, karting track, a luxury spa, and a strange copy of Trafalgar Sqaure in Safari III.

- Plan a visit to Rawat Fort 15 kms away off the Grand Truck Rd

- Jinnah Park A park located on the Jail Road and houses a McDonald's franchisee and Cinepax exhibition centre. It also has a dedicated play area, lawns, fountains, flower beds and a jogging track stretched across the boundary wall. The park contains many good restaurants such as McDonald's papa salis and Diva restaurant. There are few cricket pitches and big COSMO cash and carry store.

- Cinepax, (next to Jinnah Park). Modern western style cinema complex showing a range of south Asian and Hollywood films.

- Taxila tourist train, Rawalpindi train station, . On the first Sunday of each month a tourist train (possibly steam) makes its way from Pindi to Taxila, stopping at Golra Sharif station where there is a small museum. From Taxila a coach can take you to Khanpur dam - or you can check out the Taxila museum and ruins. The train leaves Pindi around 9am, returning in late afternoon. Rs 1,200.

- mashaa allah girls college, cungi no.20 adyala road rawalpindi (kecheri to jail). government of punjab registered and pindi board affiliated educational institute

- Saddar Bazar is the most versatile, modern and easily approachable market place of Rawalpindi. Its connected to Mall Road on one side, city to the other, and railway station on the 3rd side. Saddar Bazar has certain good looking plazas, banks, fun houses for children and has a few recreational parks for children and elderly

- Gakkahr Plaza is one of the most renowned shopping markets in Saddar Rawalpindi. You can buy leather jackets, trousers, all sorts of garments, kameez salwar, khussas, sandals and all gents garments from Gakharr Plaza. Unfortunately, on 20 December 2008, Gakhar Plaza was completely gutted down by a huge fire.

- Close to Gakhhar plaza, you will find Jabbar Tailors which is one of the oldest tailors in Rawalpindi. Mostly busy with military uniform stitching.

- Metro Shoes. A well known shoe shop.

- Computer and Mobil Phone: Plazas at 6th Road, and Sadar are the major markets, where one can find many computer items and other electronic items.

- College Road near Liaqat Bagh sells electronic components for electronic enthusiates.

Most economical market in Rawalpindi is Raja Bazaar where you can find most of the things at very economical rates.

- Sheikhs Mall, Adam Jee Road Saddar Rawalpindi (KFC Basement Saddar). Sheikhs Mall is one of the largest shopping malls of the twin city. It deals in ALl Imported Garments (Imported From Hongkong,Thailand,Italy,France,UK),imported and stylish jewelry, men's branded suiting, branded shoes, children's branded suitings, complete range of ladie's western dresses, party wear and under garments.

- Midway Centrum Shopping Mall, 6th Road & Murree Road. until 8pm. If you are looking for a multifloor shopping mall, with escalators, shiny floors and lots of shops this is a good option (especially in the Summer, when the bazaars are baking hot). Lots of clothing shops covering male and female fashions, and a good option if you are looking for a comparatively relaxed shopping experience.

A visit to Rawalpindi makes a pleasant change from Islamabad's restaurant scene. As you might expect Pindi offers some excellent places for top-notch Pakistani food, and offers better value than you find in Islamabad. You'll almost certainly be the only non-Pakistani customer, and you can expect the staff to go out of their way to be hospitable.

- Fortress Street, (Next to Rawalpindi cricket ground, off Stadium road). until late. A good collection of Pakistani restaurants popular with families and couples - including a nice outdoor grill serving sheesha around low tables (Shahinshah). Plenty of parking and feels secure - and very little traffic. cheap.

- Namak Mandi, 2nd Flr, Zarkoon Plaza, Saddar area (just off main Murree Road before junction with GT road). lunch until late. Excellent upscale Pakistani / Afghan restaurant. Dual western seating / lounging on cushions setup. Air conditioned also makes for a good choice in summer. The fact it is always busy is testament to the great food, atmosphere and service. Meal around Rs600.

- Mei Kong, 32 Haider Rod, Saddar area. Western quality Chinese restaurant set away from the main road. Extensive menu covering all the Chinese bases. Seafood is a bit of a specialty,the honey prawns being particularly good and even lobster is available. Perhaps Pindi's nicest restaurant. Note that the portions are all designed for 2 people to share, so ask for half portions as necessary. Around Rs600 per person for a decent meal.

- Cafe dine light, Rawal Plaza, Commercial Market Road (look for a plastic camel). 7-11pm. Sheesha bar cum restaurant - popular with Pindi's young and rich - a possible place to order a steak or a burger, but better to head here after eating for some ice cream, sheesha and people watching. Separate area for mixed groups. There are some other smokey sheesha places in the same building if you want a puff after 11pm.

- Rahat bakers & pizzeria, (between Bank Road & Haider Road, Saddar). Very popular bakers and Pindi's best place for pizza (Rs.650). Outdoor eating area.

- Mini golf club restaurant (Sizzle'n'spice), Bahria Town Phase IV,print a google map beforehand. until late. Memorable setting on the terrace of the minigolf course, with a small lake, flamingos, and Greek statues. Good selection of Pakistani food (BBQ and curries mainly). Popular with Pindi's middle classes. About Rs700 per person for a good sized meal.

- Texas Steak House, (Ground Flr, Zarkoon Plaza, Saddar). lunch & dinner. Pindi isn't the place to go for a good steak - but if you are looking for one then this uncomplicated family restaurant is probably your only choice. Serves a range of western food, including sizzling hot-plate style steaks.

- Asian Palace, Midway Centrum shopping mall (6th Road & Murree). Set in the middle of Pindi's only western style shopping centre this family friendly place is not a bad choice for a quick lunch or ice cream.

- Savour Foods, Gordon College Road.

- Kala Khan Nehari House, Kartarpura (Near Banni Chowk). Kala Khan Nehari House is the oldest and authentic Nehari breakfast and brunch restaurant in Rawalpindi serving delicious and traditional breakfast for over more than 3 decades. Kala Khan Nehari House is located at Kartarpura, near Banni Chowk, the heart of Rawalpindi city. The Kartarpura has significant importance as being cultural/traditional hub of the city. The shop is also at just about 8 Km distance from the capital city, Islamabad that makes it a good meeting point for the twin city.

- HOUSE RETRO, EMPIRE HEIGHTS II, CRESCENT MALL II, PHASE 6, BAHRIA TOWN RAWALPINDI. 1PM -2 :30 AM. Based on Retro theme from the 70’s House Retro provides a blend of colorful and artistic ambiance that brings back the memories of yester years for many who have a tooth for exotic food, aesthetics for lively environment and zest for family entertainment.

If you think you have any of the above palates, then this is one celebrated place for you and your family. Be it tasteful variety of food at Retro CafĂ©, a game of Pool or Snooker, Gaming Zone fun for youngsters or a Movie of your choice in a personalized E-theater’s comfortable environment, House Retro offers complete entertainment with ultimate vibrancy and joy.

- Fast food In Pakistan there is a big fascination with these large fast-food chains, particularly Pizza Hut, McDonalds, KFC, and Subway. As a tourist, it is recommended to try the local food, as these fast food chains do not live up to their hype, and are in ways cleaner establishments than local restaurants.

They are also quite overpriced, with combo meals costing around Rs 300, whilst this is still a mere £2.50 or $5 very competitive with any branch of these restaurants found in the Western world it compares poorly with the Rs 7 (6p or 11 cents) you could expect to pay for a naan bread at the local market.

The first McDonalds opened in Rawalpindi at Jinnah Park. It is huge with a lot of parking spaces and it is open late. KFC is the best place for getting international-style fast food, and it is situated just in the cantonment area of the city and also has a big parking area.

Eating in these chains is more of a statement of status in Pakistan than anything else, and you will notice that there is usually quite a fashion parade in many of these establishments!

In Rawalpindi, do as the Pindites do! Grab a bag of the most yummy and juicy local sweet called "jalebee" from Gratto on Murree road, or the luxuriously garnished icecream from Chaman at Saddar, or the famous 'samosas' from Karim hotel, or 'fresh from the pan' halwa poori from Satelitown, or 'rabri' (milky drink) from 'nirala' in Saddar.

Alcohol in Pakistan is forbidden but one can find drinks at many modern hotels like Pearl Continental(PC), Shalimar Hotel and Flashman Hotel. There are no bars and night clubs in Rawalpindi, but all the big markets are open late. Drinking culture in Pakistan is essentially soft-drink culture, where Pepsi is traditionally the drink of choice. It is impossible to avoid Pepsi advertising throughout Pakistan.

Be warned as a traveller about the cleanliness of bottles - always drink from a straw, and always request that bottles be opened in front of you, as a cleanliness measure. Drinking culture also revolves around tea, called 'chai' in Urdu, and this is available everywhere and anywhere. Coffee is not impossible to come by, however iced coffee tends to be the popular coffee drink of choice.

The locally available drinks are:

- Sharbat of Imli and Alu Bukhara (Plums)

- Shakar Kola (drink made from brown sugar)

- Sugar Cane Juice.

- Lemonade.

Do not drink from places with flies.

Rawalpindi has one hotel 5 star hotel. It is called Pearl Continental or more famously known by its acronym PC. Other than that this one can go to Hotel Shalimar, Flashman, de mall.

Rawalpindi is not necessarily as safe as it's sister, Islamabad. Islamabad has higher foreign tourist traffic, and thus has become accustomed to it, however foreign tourists are somewhat rare in Rawalpindi. Pakistan on the whole is not recommended to lone young female travellers, however Pindi is relatively safe for larger groups of females, or mixed gender paired-travellers.

For female travellers, it is highly recommended to purchase a shawl upon arrival in Pakistan,even better to bring one over on your flight, for airport arrival purposes. It is not necessary or expected for you to wear this on your head at all times, however to avoid unwanted attention, and gain local respect, cover your chest with this shawl,i.e. drape it across your neck. Also attempt to purchase/wear a long shirt/top, that covers your backside region - this again, will draw away unwanted attention.

Avoid flashing large amounts of cash around - Rs 1000 notes are commonplace, however the haggling process is often easier when you show the limited cash you have. Keep your larger notes on the inside, and only allow small notes to be seen, for example, when paying taxi drivers, purchasing items, etc.

Do not feel compelled to give money to all beggars, not matter how young or needy. Of course exercise discretion, and it not unacceptable to give them money, however, the beggars are regulars in Pindi, and have their regular locations, and are known to beg in the same place, everyday, with a new outfit each day!

If you have more time on your hands, go to Murree. Murree is one of the hottest attractions,attraction wise, temparture wise its very cold where you can spend even weeks if you'd like to; every day is a new day.

Archeology lovers can visit the ruins of Taxila, 28 km from Rawalpindi. Taxila houses many ruins of Buddhism; most important is that of Julian University. A beautiful museum holds the artifacts of that time. Taxila also offers many beautiful stone utensils.


- Taxila Ruins

- Rawat Fort

- Stupa in Mankiala
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