Pakistan...The civilizations of the Indus Valley to the Roof of the World
March 22 to April 13, 2020
Escorted partially (South part only) by Dr. Mehreen Chida-Razvi, lecturer, historian and archaeologist
Pakistan, which got its independence from British controlled India on 14th August 1947, shares an eastern border with India and a northeastern border with China. This tour will take you to the mountain villages to meet the hardy souls that live in stunningly beautiful scenery under harsh conditions. You will travel the Karakoram Highway to Hunza Valley, through Besham, Khoistan, Chilas and Gilgit. The high mountain valley of Hunza is located in the extreme north of Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan. It is bordered by the Wakhan Corridor and surrounded by the giant mountain ranges of Karakorum, the Himalayas, Hindu-Kush and Pamir. Neighbors to the far north are the heavenly mountains of Tianshan and Kunlunsun and the historic city of Kashgar, which you will visit if you join our pre-tour to Western China. The legendary land of Hunza is most majestically placed on the roof of the world. It falls on a junction of the old Silk Route, now replaced by the Karakoram Highway or KKH, snaking into the People’s Republic of China through the Khunjerab Pass 15,528’, between the Oxus and Indus rivers.
The Indus Valley Civilization flourished in the vast river plains and adjacent regions in what are now Pakistan and western India. The earliest cities became integrated into an extensive urban culture around 4,600 years ago and continued to dominate the region for at least 700 years from 2600 to 1900 B.C.
The Indus Valley Civilization is also known as the Harappa Civilization, after Harappa, the first of its sites to be excavated in the 1920s, in what was then the Punjab province of British India, and is now in Pakistan. The discovery of Harappa, and soon afterwards, Mohenjo Daro, was the culmination of work beginning in 1861 with the founding of the Archaeological Survey of India in the British Raj. Excavation of Harappan sites has been ongoing since 1920, with important breakthroughs occurring as recently as 1999.
Tour can be combined with Afghanistan trip
Tour cost per person in double occupancy (Land only)
South Part only (March 22 to April 05, 2020): $7,995.00
Single Supplement: $995.00
North Part only (April 05 to 13, 2020): $3,995.00
Single Supplement: $595.00
Extra pre night in Karachi: $250 per person in double & 350 per person in single
Extra pre/post night in Islamabad: $240 per person in double & $320 per person in single
Prices based on a minimum of 6 participants and a maximum of 16 participants
Escorted by Dr. Mehreen Chida-Razvi, lecturer, historian and archaeologist
Your tour does not include
International airfare (Approx. from NYC is $1000.00).
Pakistan Visa (Currently $195.00, subject to change).
Beverages with or without meals.
Items of a personal nature (camera fees, laundry, phone calls, emails, excess luggage, etc.).
Transfers if not arriving/departing on scheduled flights/tour dates.
Dayroom/overnights necessitated by changes in airline schedules.
Travel protection insurance (HIGHLY Recommended).
Your tour includes
Domestic air from Islamabad to Gilgit and back to Islamabad
Airport/hotel/airport transfers in every city.
Accommodation in hotels as per the itinerary (based on 2-4 stars categories and few 5* hotels in larger cities.)
All meals as mentioned in the itinerary & water on board bus.
Sightseeing in each city as per the itinerary.
Services of English speaking guides.
Visa support letter and approval.
Porterage at airports and hotels throughout program.
Entrance fees to all historical sites and museums.
Gratuities to guides, drivers and porters.
III Challenging – Parts of the trip are physically challenging, involve hiking on rough terrain or in sand or at high altitudes. There may be very long drives on rough roads; weather conditions will be cold in the north & warm in the south. You may have simple picnic lunches, primitive bathroom facilities along the road and remoteness from modern towns or cities.
✶✶✶ - ✶✶✶✶ Superior: Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards. (3 or 4 stars with a couple of 5 stars as well.)
About your lecturer Dr. Mehreen Chida-Razvi; earned her BSc and BA from the University of Florida, Gainesville, before moving to London, England where she completed an MA in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and a second MA and a PhD in the History of Art & Archaeology from SOAS, University of London. She specializes in the history of Islamic art, architecture and material culture in the early modern era, with a particular emphasis on the Persianate regions of Mughal South Asia, Iran and Central Asia. Dr. Chida-Razvi’s primary research examines the history of architecture and the built environment and she has carried out extensive fieldwork and site-research in Pakistan and India. Another area of particular interest is the cultural and artistic interactions between Europe and the Persianate world and the social and historical circumstances which allowed for such connections to take place. Since 2007 Mehreen has given lectures and taught courses on Islamic art and architecture in London and Oxford, and has furthermore been an academic contributor and consultant for a documentary on Taj Mahal.
Special trip notes and trip grade: Moderately Rigorous Touring:
Anyone joining this trip must understand that in many places the tourist infrastructure (roads, restaurants and bathrooms) is very primitive. Some days are long and hard and the level of services will not match those offered in most tourist locations. Elevations vary from 5,000’ up to 10,000’. The hotels and lodges are comfortable but some lack the usual luxuries of the west. Security checkpoints can sometimes be annoying but one has to be flexible, and patient. Many roads are in a bad state of repair and hence journeys can be long and tiring. By signing up for this tour, participants are acknowledging their full understanding and acceptance of all terms and conditions and are admitting that they are in good physical and mental health and are equipped with an open mind, a sense of adventure and a tolerant and patient spirit to cope with the tour.
Suggested air and post tour extensions:
We recommend using Qatar Airways or Emirates Airline with connecting flights through Doha or Dubai for a possible pre or post stopover at either of these amazing cities. Both cities feature world renowned museums, stunning architecture, a delectable cuisine, and exceptional accommodations and in Dubai the ultimate shopping experience. The other ideal air option is using Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. Contact us for discussing such options.
View Tour Itinerary
Sun, Mar 22
Upon arrival, meet and transferred to Pearl Continental Hotel for check in and overnight.
Mon, Mar 23
Karachi “ South”
After breakfast, head out on a tour of Karachi. Visit the Mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Continue to the National Museum of Pakistan with its numerous galleries. The museum features a multitude of artifacts including objects from the pre- and proto-history of the region (5000 to 1500 BC). After lunch, tour the Mohatta Palace Museum near Clifton Beach, where there are always unique collections of art and textiles on display. The Mohatta Palace was built in 1927 by Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, a Hindu Marwari merchant from modern-day Rajasthan in India. After partition, the palace became the property of the state and initially housed Pakistan’s foreign affairs office when Karachi was the capital of Pakistan. After the capital was moved to Islamabad, the palace became the private residence of Fatima Jinnah, a Pakistani dental surgeon and political leader and one of the founders of Pakistan. Later, the Sindh government converted it to a museum and meticulously restored it to its former glory. If time permits, visit the Saddar Bazaar (Empress Market). Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Tue, Mar 24
Karachi - Haidarabad
After breakfast, drive to Haidarabad and stop at Thatta, the medieval capital of Sindh. Visit the 17th century Grand Mosque of Shah Jahan, a gift he made in recognition of the hospitality he received in Thatta while seeking refuge from his father, Jahangir. The mosque is a contemporary of Shah Jahan’s famous Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Visit the historical monuments at Makli, one of the most visually stunning archaeological sites in Pakistan. Covering over 15 square kilometers and said to contain over one million tombs, it is considered to be the world’s largest necropolis. Tour the tombs of Jam Nizammudin, Isa Khan Tarkhan, Jan Baba, and Diwan Shurfa Khan. Finally, visit Chokondhi to view the tombs that are thought to be from the 13th – 16th century and are attributed to the Jokhio and Baluch tribes. These superbly carved sandstone tombs are built out of rectangular slabs placed one on top of the other in pyramidal fashion, some reaching four meters in height. They stretch for several kilometers along a low ridge with two large domed mausoleums in the center. This style of the tomb is found only in the Sindh and Baluchistan provinces, particularly along the coast of Makran, and their intricate designs are still applied to the textiles, pottery, jewelry, and woodcarving in those regions. Transfer to Indus Hotel for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Wed, Mar 25
Haidarabad – Larkana
After breakfast, drive to Larkana. Enroute, visit Manchur Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Pakistan and one of Asia's largest. Visit the impressive shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, as the 13th century Sufi saint and religious poet Syed Usman Marvandi was known. His writings are still celebrated in present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan. Transfer to Sambara Inn for check in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Thu, Mar 26
Larkana – Sukkur
This morning, explore the famous archaeological site of Mohenjo-Daro, one of the most important archaeological sites in South Asia and one of the best preserved and restored prehistoric sites in the world. Built in 2500 BC, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley and contemporaneous with ancient Egypt and Minoan Crete. The site was first excavated by the Indian Archaeological Survey team under Sir John Marshall in 1922 and 1931, and then by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1947. Now in the hands of the Pakistan Archaeological Survey team and supported by UNESCO, the site is excellently presented. Tour the great bath, the granary, the College Square and Pillared Hall, private homes, and the Mohenjo-Daro Museum. Then drive to the Kot Deji archaeological site to visit the famous fort of the state of Khairpur. This site stands on one of the rare outcroppings of limestone that are part of the Rohri Hills to the north. The site, which dates from 3500 to 2500 BC, has two distinct parts to the site. Excavation of the upper level revealed pottery of the Harappan civilization, while the lower levels exposed evidence of an unknown pre-Harappan culture, designated as Kot Deji. Continue to Sukkur and transfer to Hotel One for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Fri, Mar 27
Sukkur – Bahawalpur
After breakfast, visit the Hindu Shrine, the Lodhy Barrage, and the famous Hindu pilgrimage center of Sadu Bala. Continue to Bahawalpur and transfer to Hotel One for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Sat, Mar 28
Enjoy a full-day tour of Bahawalpur, visiting the Cholistan Desert, locally known as Rohi, the Deraward Fort, a large square fortress in Yazman Tehsil. Visit the town of Uch Sharif, believed to hase been founded by Alexander the Great during his invasion of the Indus Valley and renowned for the extensive tile work of its shrines dedicated to Muslim mystics. If time permits, visit the famous library of the Abbasi family. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)
Sun, Mar 29
Bahawalpur – Multan
This morning, drive to Multan, stopping enroute at a factory that produces the famous blue pottery of Multan. Transfer to Hotel One for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Mon, Mar 30
Today, visit the tombs of Sheik Baha-ud-din Zakariya and Shah Rukn-e-Alam. Rukn-e-Alam was an eminent Sufi saint from Multan and the grandson and successor of Baha-ud-din Zakariya. He was buried in his grandfather’s mausoleum but later transferred to the present mausoleum, which dates from the 14th century. His tomb is a pilgrimage site, drawing over 100,000 pilgrims a year. Visit the Hussain Agahi Bazar, a huge market full of local color. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)
Tue, Mar 31
Multan – Lahore
After an early breakfast, drive to Lahore, stopping enroute at Harappa. Founded over 5,000 years ago, it is one of the world’s earliest cities. Visit the archaeological site and the museum. Transfer to Sheraton Hotel for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Wed, Apr 01
After breakfast, visit the Wazir Khan Mosque, the Shahi Hammam (Royal Bath), and the 17th century Badshahi Mosque. This marble structure is an example of some of the most aesthetically pleasing architecture of the Moghul period. Continue to the Lahore Fort, locally known as Shahi Qilla. Built in 1631 by Shah Jahan as a private apartment for his empress, it has several pavilions including Shish Mahal, the Palace of Mirrors. Visit the Samadhi of Ranjit Singh, a 19th century building housing the funerary urn of this ruler, and the Gurdwara Dera Sahib temple, which marks the spot where Guru Arjun Dev, the 5th century guru of Sikhism, died. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)
Thu, Apr 02
Visit Lahore Museum, Pakistan’s largest museum. Established in 1894, it contains fine examples of Mughal and Sikh doorways and woodwork, and has a large collection of paintings dating back to the Mughal, Sikh, and British periods. There are also collections of musical instruments, ancient jewelry, textiles, pottery, and armor. After lunch, visit the Shalimar Gardens before heading to the flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah border with India. Known as the Beating Retreat Border Ceremony, it is famous worldwide and the subject of many You Tube videos. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)
Fri, Apr 03
Lahore – Islamabad “North”
After breakfast, take the motorway to Islamabad. On the way, visit the Salt Mines, and the Hindu temple at Kitas Village. Transfer to Pearl Continental Hotel for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Sat, Apr 04
This morning, drive to Taxila, one of the subcontinent's most important archaeological treasures. Strategically located at the crossroads of trade routes linking China, India, Central Asia, and the West, it contains the remains of three great cities, and dozens of Buddhist monasteries dating from 600 BC to 600 AD. It was here that Buddhism took hold in around 275 BC and spread to Central Asia, Tibet and China. Among the best-preserved sites are Julian, Dharmarajika, Jandial and Sirkap. We also visit the Taxila Museum. This evening, explore Islamabad by night, visiting the world’s second-largest mosque, Shah Faisal to enjoy its beautiful illumination. Our dinner is at a restaurant at the top of Daman-e-Kok hill. Here we say goodbye to those of you who are not continuing with us to the north of Pakistan. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)
Sun, Apr 05
Islamabad – Gilgit
Fly to Gilgit and transfer to Serena Hotel to freshen up. Then visit the Bazar, followed by the archaeological site of Kargah with its large standing Buddha carved high on a cliff face. Overnight at your hotel. (B,L,D)
Mon, Apr 06
Gilgit – Karimabad
This morning, drive to Karimabad in the Hunza Valley. On the way, visit the Chinese Graveyard, known locally as China Yadgar, which is the final resting place of the Chinese engineers and workers who lost their lives during the construction of the Karakoram Highway. We also stop at a viewpoint to admire Rakaposhi (“Snow Covered”), one of the world’s most beautiful mountains and over 25,500 feet high. Transfer to the Serena Hunza Inn for check in and overnight. (B,L,D)
In case of flight cancellation, drive to Chilas and transfer to Shangrila Midway House motel for overnight.
Sun, Apr 05
Islamabad - Chilas
After breakfast, drive for 10 hours to Chilas. Transfer to the Shangrila Midway House Hotel for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Mon, Apr 06
Chilas – Gilgit
This morning, drive for 4 hours to Gilgit. Transfer to the Serena Hunza Hotel for check-in. Then visit the Bazar, followed by the archaeological site of Kargah with its large standing Buddha carved high on a cliff face. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)
Tue, Apr 07
Start your day by exploring Hunza; a princely state ruled by one family – the Ayashkutz – for over 900 years. The family’s rule came to an end in 1974 when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the prime minister of Pakistan at the time, eliminated all princely states. Visit the Baltit Fort, which was occupied by some of the elderly members of the Ayashkutz family until 1960 although the Mir of Hunza had moved to a new palace much earlier. In 1996, the Baltit Fort was reopened after a meticulous restoration by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and has been transformed into a heritage museum. Visit the Aga Khan Academy, an initiative of the Aga Khan Development Network and part of a network of non-denominational schools around the world. Visit the Altit Forts, built on a rock cliff by people from Baltistan about 900 years ago. Legend has it that a local prince married a Baltistan princess whose wedding procession included 500 townspeople who accompanied her across the Biafo Hispar Glacier. Today, it is one of the most challenging routes for trekkers. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)
Wed, Apr 08
After breakfast, visit Hoppar in the Nagar Valley, site of the Spantik and Hoppar Glaciers. This evening, visit Duikar, Hunza’s highest village at over 9,000 feet high, to enjoy the sunset over Rakaposhi , Lady Finger, and other peaks. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)
Thu, Apr 09
Karimabad – Passu
This morning, drive along the Karakorum Highway to Sost, 90 kilometers from the border with China and Pakistan’s northernmost town. Continue to the Khunjerab Pass in the Karakoram Mountains. At 16,000 feet high, it is the highest paved international border crossing in the world, and the highest point on the Karakorum Highway. Then drive to the small village of Passu and transfer to the Passu Ambassador Hotel for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Fri, Apr 10
Passu – Gilgit
After breakfast, drive to Lake Attaabad, also known as Gojal Lake, which was created in 2010 by a landslide. The lake has since become a tourist attraction for its unique blue color and dramatic mountain scenery. Drive back to Gilgit and transfer to the Serena Gilgit for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Sat, Apr 11
Gilgit - Islamabad
Fly to Islamabad and transfer to the Pearl Continental Hotel for check-in and time to freshen up. In the afternoon, explore the city of Rawalpindi, commonly known as Pindi. Islamabad’s sister city, with which it shares strong social and economic links, Pindi is a bustling town with a strong colonial influence and one of the only remaining old Jewish Synaguoges. Return to your hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)
Sun, Apr 12
This morning is free for you to rest, shop, or explore Islamabad on your own. In the afternoon, explore Islamabad. The capital of Pakistan, it is lush, green, and spacious. Visit the Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage). Then visit Shah Faisal, the world’s second-largest mosque, which was designed by the Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay and financed largely by donations from Saudi Arabia. Our farewell dinner is at a restaurant at the top of Daman-e-Kok hill, which overlooks Islamabad and offers panoramic views of the city. (B,L,D)
Mon, Apr 13
Islamabad – USA
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to the USA.
In case of flight cancellation, drive to Besham and transfer to PTDC Motel for overnight.
Sat, Apr 11
Gilgit – Besham
After breakfast, drive for 10 hours to Besham and transfer to PTDC Motel for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Sun, Apr 12
Besham – Islamabad
After breakfast, drive for 7 hours to Islamabad through the lush green Valleys and towns of the lower Himalaya. At Mansehra, view King Ashoka’s edicts carved on a roadside rock. Then drive through Abbotabad, the town where Osama Bin Laden was captured. On arrival in Islamabad, transfer to the Pearl Continental Hotel for check-in and overnight. (B,L,D)
Mon, Apr 13
Islamabad – USA
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to the USA or if you are taking our Afghanistan tour of April 13-24, you will fly on the direct flight to Kabul.
We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed