Join Punjab University’s Head of Archaeology, Professor Dr. Hameed and Destinations, as we take you on a journey of discovery through the undiscovered secrets of Pakistan. It is the beginning of the groundbreaking collaboration between the Department of Archeology of Punjab University of Lahore, and the international magazine “Destinations” for the promotion of archaeology, heritage, and tourism. Let us walk you through the details of this program shared by Professor Dr. Hameed.
How did this fascinating Heritage Tourism program begin?
The esteemed Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, the royal patronage to the Heritage Tourism in Pakistan, inaugurated the Tourist trail, named as, “Al-Beruni Radius” at foothills of Nandana Fort where the famous Muslim scholar, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, scientist, traveler Abu Rehan Al Beruni stayed and quantified the circumference of the Earth during the 11th Century. I have been extremely fortunate to be appointed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to do the extensive groundwork on this heritage trail.
Any particular reason to choose these particular sites for exploration?
The presence of these shrines reflects the sacredness of the area, and the remnants of Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim monuments are still there to tell the story of religious tolerance. The sacred mountains are there which in different periods worked as learning centers for the followers of these faiths. The lost glory has been surfaced by the Prime Minister just like the way Ashoka did that in 3rd Century B.C.E and the great Kushana King Kanishka in 2nd Century C.E.
Can you shed some light on the sites included in this heritage trail?
The heritage trail covers seven important sites having religious significance where important monastic settlements in the form of temples, forts, mosques, and other shrines were built. These include the rich archaeological sites of Nandana Fort & Temple, Shiva Temple of Katas Raj, Khewra Salt Mines, Malot Fort & Temples, andTakht-e-Babri.
What’s the first site on your list to explore?
We have already started with Nandana Fort exploration. The strategic location of the majestic Nandana Fort in Jhelum District, Tehsil PindDadan Khan has a history that goes back to more than two thousand years. The descriptive accounts of Nandana are available in Greek, Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit sources. The footprints of Alexander the Great, followed by the local and foreign rulers including Ghaznavid and Mughals remind us of the continued habitation at the complex.
Nandana Fort! Sounds exciting. Can you tell us about the Nandana Fort exploration tour?
We recently organized a tour to Nandana Fort in collaboration with the DESTINATIONS. Along with the students of the Archeology Department and members of DESTINATIONS, Hamza Bokhari, leading fashion designer and the brains behind the popular label Jeem, joined us for this journey. The journey for Nandana started via Lahore-Islamabad Motorway with a midway stopover at Sial Mor. After taking the motorway exit at Lilla Interchange, we headed to village Baghawala – the nearby village where Nandana fort is situated. After reaching the destination around 01:30 pm, we left our rides in the middle of the mountain pass and went for lunch, arranged in the home of a local Numberdar. Impressive hospitality!
Wonderful. Tell us about the interactive sessions the teams had at the Nandana Fort track.
We have already started with Nandana Fort exploration. The strategic location of the majestic Nandana Fort in Jhelum District, Tehsil PindDadan Khan has a history that goes back to more than two thousand years. The descriptive accounts of Nandana are available in Greek, Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit sources. The footprints of Alexander the Great, followed by the local and foreign rulers including Ghaznavid and Mughals remind us of the continued habitation at the complex. The track is surrounded by the water stream, coming from natural springs, which have been the lifeline of the area. Along with the historical narrative, the interactive sessions were about the local traditions, geographical importance, culture, burial practices, topography, animal, and plant life. Did I mention the hiking experience? It made the journey more memorable. It was a treat to watch the sun setting down behind the mountain range. The pleasant, chilly weather condition said the final goodbye and we made our back to our rides using mobile lights.
What should our readers expect from the documented journey?
The complete journey was documented professionally, and a comprehensive package was recorded including the travelogue, storytelling, archaeological and historical narrative. The content will be very useful for the preparation of a comprehensive report/documentary about the rich potential of Nandana Fort to attract domestic and international tourism. We plan to make a separate informatory of the rest of the sites included in the heritage trail.
“IT WAS A TREAT TO WATCH THE SUN SETING DOWN BEHIND THE MOUNTAIN RANGE IT WAS A TREAT TO WATCH THE SUN SETING DOWN BEHIND THE MOUNTAIN RANGE”