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The ruins at Bhir Mound

Taxila, a beautiful and historical city, is located 35 kilometres from Islamabad. In 2006, The Guardian called it one of Pakistan’s top five tourist attractions and commented: “This is the region from where Buddhism travelled to the Far East – and Persians, Greeks and Hindus all subsequently left their mark. You can… wander through the streets of an excavated Persian city in the knowledge that there are two older ones buried below.”

Steeped in history… A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Taxila’s many attractions include the ruins of three ancient cities: Bhir (the first city) and Sirkap and Sarsuk. Other places of interest include the Mohra Muradu Temple and Dharmarajika, the largest Buddhist stupa in Taxila. The Taxila Museum is also a major crowd puller, with several exhibits on display. These include priceless weapons, pottery, precious stones, jewellery, coins and statues. One of the most striking exhibits includes a sculpture of a queen adorned with gold jewellery.

An ancient tradition… Taxila is famous for its beautiful marble handicrafts, and plenty of vendors, whose artistic talents have been passed on from generation to generation, can be seen plying their wares around the city. The most popular marble handicrafts include mortars, pestles and decoration pieces.

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The Mini Canal near Khanpur Dam

The breathtaking Khanpur Dam… Another popular tourist destination is Khanpur Dam where visitors can go boating, fishing, rock climbing and paragliding. The less adventurous can be seen picnicking and walking along the lakeshore. Khanpur Dam is also known for its fried fish and kababs (which are available at several dhaabas that dot the area) as well as oranges and lychees.

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Boating is a popular activity at Khanpur Dam

Accommodation options… Tourists on a budget can stay in the Youth Hostel which is located adjacent to the Taxila Museum and is ideal for a short visit. Meanwhile, Royalson Hotel, which is located on GT Road Taxila, is popular among those looking for more comfortable accommodation options.

In a nutshell… With so many tourist attractions, the historical city of Taxila is well worth a visit.

– Muhammad Arsalan Khan

First published in the Real Estate Section of the DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 30, 2013.

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