Pakistan Travel and Culture

Dubai Desert Safari an adventure in the desert

March 26, 2014 – 2:14 am

There are two major deserts in Pakistan which are talk of the media at the moment because of the food crisis there, however similar deserts in UAE are the cash machine and the main tourism attraction of Dubai & Abu Dhabi. It was Dubai who started an idea of adventure drive in the dunes of the nearby desert back in the early 90s. The Dubai desert safari as it is called now is an evening adventure that is one of the must activities of the city. Tourists book desert safari tours thru tour operators in Dubai (http://dubai.travel-culture.com)  and take an evening ride into the dunes. The drivers are specially trained for this adventure drive and the vehicles used are forced to make special adjustments int he interior and exterior for safety and adventure.

The drivers drive the vehicles in the sand with special thrilling tactics to give a rolar coaster experience in the desert. Tourist enjoy the ride with loud Arabian pop music.

Each evening a camp is decorated with traditional Arabian tents with a central podium where belly dance show is held and a BBQ dinner is served for the participants of the desert safari.

Similar activities could be started in the deserts of Pakistan namely Thar and Cholistan but only if the government and the local businessmen take interest in such creative activities.

History of Sufism in Sindh

March 21, 2014 – 9:28 pm

An enlightening lecture on ‘Sufism in Sindh’ was delivered by eminent scholar Prof Dr Michel Boivin at the Mohatta Palace Museum on Tuesday evening.

The talk was organised by the Endowment Fund Trust and the Mohatta Palace Museum.

Dr Boivin stated at the outset that he was a historian by training. His talk was divided into three parts: (1) Sufism in Sindh (2) influence of colonial British rule on Sufism in Sindh (3) the culture of Sufism. He commenced his lecture by asking the question ‘what is Sufism’ and commented there could be different answers to it.

Dr Boivin said Sufism in Sindh was similar to Sufism in other parts of the Muslim world. There were signs, discovered through inscriptions and figures, that the first Sufi in Sindh was Haji Turab (9th century). Up to the 13th century Sufism was mainly ascetic in nature. Sufis didn’t belong to any schools of tareeqat. Not before the 13th century that the four branches of tareeqat — Suharwardia, Naqshbandia, Chishtia and Qadria — were found. In India the first important school that was formed was the Suharwardia in south Punjab (13th century). It was an already established school in Baghdad, Iraq. From Iraq they started sending Sufis to India, the first one of which was Hazrat Bahauddin Zakrya who sent other people to Sindh to create more Sufis. Zakrya could be found in different narratives. He played a fundamental role in spreading the Sufi message in the Indus Valley. The Suharwardias were close to the Tughlaq dynasty of the Delhi sultanate.

Dr Boivin said that in the 16th century two more forms of tareeqat — Qadria and Naqshbandia — were introduced in Sindh. The former had its roots in Sheikh Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jilani while the latter came from Central Asia. Here he strove to describe Sufism as ‘a mystic path in Islam where the goal is to become closer to God and the way to do that is meditation’. In South Asia, however, mediation was also practised in different ways. The Naqshbandia did it silently whereas others performed it loudly in the shape of zikr. The most important tareeqat in India was the Chishtia developed in Delhi in the 14th and 15th centuries. It attached importance to music, the samaa, which was equivalent to zikr. But in the beginning of Sufism, it became controversial as some argued music was not allowed while others thought otherwise.

Dr Boivin said the British colonized India in the 18th century. He mentioned the name of a British Orientalist William Jones who was inspired by Sufism in Persia, especially by the poetry of Hafiz. The British didn’t care much about Indian Sufism. When the British came to Sindh in 1843, one of their commissioners in Sindh, Bartle Frere, proved instrumental in many fields. He ordered his officers to learn and develop vernacular language, and learn Sindhi. But Sindhi had a number of dialects and 12 scripts, so to unify a standard dialect was difficult. It was during that time that books had also begun to get published. In the 1850s another prominent Englishman Richard Burton wrote a book in which he mentioned that every Sindhi could quote a verse from Shah Latif’s poetry. Therefore the job of translating Shah Jo Risalo was also undertaken. In the 1860s two versions of Shah Jo Risalo were published in Bombay and Karachi.

Dr Boivin said in the 19th century there was a burst of new elite in Sindhi society who were well-versed in Sindhi and other disciplines such as science and English. They took interest in Sufism and started writing about it. But they were more of ‘hagio-biographers’ of Sufi saints. In the 1880s books devoted to Sufi figures were published in which Sufis like Mansoor Hallaj were named (as Sachal Sarmast often quoted Hallaj). In the beginning of the 20th century Fateh Mohammad Sehwani came out with the first book on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The word tazkira could be read in its first edition but not in its subsequent editions. There’s a chapter in the book devoted to dance, although the word dhamaal was not used in it.

Ending his lecture Dr Boivin reverted to the question he had raised at the start as to what Sufism was. He then said it had different interpretation and in Sindh’s Sufism importance was given to poetry.

Earlier, EFT’s Abdul Hamid Akhund introduced Dr Boivin to the audience. He said the EFT would soon release a set of CDs on Shah Jo Raag: 32 surs sung by Abida Parveen. He thanked Jehangir Siddiqi for helping the EFT in its efforts and mentioned that if anyone approached the EFT for the purpose of restoring Frere Hall, the trust would extend its help and bear the expenses

The big, fat Pakistani wedding

March 21, 2014 – 9:27 pm

We are obsessed, inspired, enamored, enchanted, intoxicated, fixated, bewitched and all in all enthralled by the idea of marriage; or at least by the idea of having a wedding.

From the actual match-making process to the day itself, it is an event in a Pakistani’s life that seems to surpass the importance of birth, death and graduation … at least in terms of sheer hullabaloo and fuss.

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A wedding in our culturc is not a union of two people or even two families; it is a full-fledged circus. One that requires the precise juggling of family members, in order to keep everyone in the forefront, as though it was an affair put together for the sole purpose of showing how important they are in our lives. Then there is the tight rope walk across the arrangements, since it is no less than a four day exhibition of jewels and ‘jalwas’.

pak-bride-groomNothing brings out the expert in us quite like the preparations of a budget family wedding. There is of course the essential ‘phuppo’ or ‘khala’ who is a consummate relationship expert, ready with advice for all your shaacli preparations and even life alter marriage. They will drop nuggets of wisdom till you have firmly tied the nuptials. We all have a wedding planner in the family, a ‘chaehajaan’ or ‘tayajaan’ who knows a cheap caterer to call for a budget wedding and where to buy the perfect roses that don’t burn a hole in the pocket.

A big fat family wedding also brings out the entertainers in any clan. The ones that take over your big day, so utterly and completely, that in actuality it ends up being their day in the spotlight with you as the scenic background. The dynamics of wedding planning have changed so rapidly over the last decade or so that the celebrations today, even in the highest echelons of society, are poles apart from what they used to be. The game changers have been people’s ability to spend, their obsession with perfection, the referencing of Indian cinema as well as the sudden appearance of the quintessential wedding planner.

Gone arc the days when women of the house got together to gift wrap your trousseau amidst the beat of the dhol and the coquettish giggles of expectant future brides in the family. The head of the family is not stressed about the food running out or the flowers arriving late. All he needs to do these days is dig deep into his pocket and pay for a wedding planner to take charge.

If there is anything else that brings out our inner nuptial junkie it is the celebrity wedding. The media knows how insatiably curious we are as to the details of the ceremonies of a famous person. We not only want to know who is tying the knot with whom, we want to know who is attendng, what is being worn and what the guests are going to stuff their faces with. The year 2013 seemed to be every A-listers’ choice for setting the date it seemed. Let’s take a trip down memory lane with the most talked about weddings of last year.

pak-bride-groom2One was that of TV personality Juggan Kazim last May. Juggan began her new life with advocate Feisal Naqvi amidst much fanfare. People were left breathless by every-thing from her dusty pink jora to the beautiful fresh flower arrangements at the venue. She chose to wear a gorgeous traditionally worked yellow creation by Nomi Ansari on her Mehndi and adorned the lightly embellished farshi by the House of Kamiar Rokni at her wedding reception. For her Nikkah, she had decided on a deep red ensemble by Fahad

bride and groom chose the colour cream for their outfits on the big day with Feeha wearing a most sumptuous design by the maestro Umar Sayeed. Every inch of her deep cream ensemble was worked in dull gold thread with hints of sea green and the lightest magenta around the edges. It was a pleasure to see the old tradition of chattapatti used in the border of Feeha’s lehnga. Anyone who is anyone in the fashion and entertainment industry attended, including Mahira Khan, Ayesha Omer, Sanam Saeed, Faiza Samee to name but a few. Mahira Khan also wore an Umar Sayeed, and looked divine in a combination of pink and green.

Another celebrity that was given away in style was fashion designer Misha Lahkani. She chose to design her own wedding lehnga and was looking a picture in cream and gold. Her jora was worked intricately in roses of the deepest red and emerald vines to which her jewels were an exact match. She chose to bring out the embroidery with her accessories and wore the back in fashion jhoomer with great aplomb.

In Lahore, supermodel Mehreen Syed celebrated her big day last year, marrying Ahmed Sheikh a prominent tycoon and son to fashion designer Nasreen Humayun. Her orange Mehndi outfit was a creation of the inimitable Bunto Kazmi. Both bride and groom looked surreal in white on their Nikkah and it was royalty all the way. Then. Mehreen was resplendent in a maroon HSY design with jewels to go with her regal jora, a multi-stringed necklace (sut-larra) reminding us of an era when style meant elegance and attitude.

Popular event manager Freiha Altaf is not only known for the corporate events she throws together, she is keenly sought after for designer weddings.

“Every family has a different budget which can range from someone willing to spend half a million to those that can go up to RslO million on getting the best from their planner,” said Freiha, about the kind of money that is spent on the nation’s favorite celebration.

“Usually there are week-long events per wedding which is why weddings are really tough to plan. People these days are asking lor themed weddings mainly based on the latest hit Indian film. For instance, recently the hot theme was the Ram-Leela wedding. Another trend is destination weddings. This means people fly out to a specific destination to celebrate their special day. Dubai and Morocco are the recent hotspots,” she elaborated. She went on to add that the Dubai-based weddings usually have Indian film stars performing for the guests. The element of entertainment and that also of the most professional manner is the demand of today.

Umar Sayeed seems to have carved a niche all his own in the cut-throat world of fashion. He is best known for his bridal wear and for being his own man. In his own words: “I do not follow trends.”

When asked to predict what would be hot in the coming season, he brushes aside the notion that bridal couture has changed in any major way over the last 30 or so years.

“There have been slight variations in the ensembles worn by our brides but there really haven’t been any major changes. The perception of colours has changed in people, where they were once superstitiously against wearing black; they have now accepted it as a chic colour to be worn at weddings even by the bride,” Umar Sayeed explained. Other than trends, he informs us that the factors to consider before starting on the wedding wear are multi-layered these days. There is the time of the event to consider. “People are now arranging day weddings that start at noon and end by 6pm, generally when the weather is pleasant. Another important thing to consider is the destination these days.

“A wedding in Dubai will require an outfit that has western elements incorporated in it. Brides go for a white dress designed like a gown when their weddings take place outside Pakistan. Some of the favourite destinations today are Malaysia, Hawaii and Bangkok. Therefore the locale plays a pivotal role in how the dress will be styled. Elements of that particular culture will be infused in the design. Then the thing to consider is the jewellery or accessories that will be worn on the day,” he added.

Some say things have got out of hand when it comes to wedding spending. Yet there are those that argue that it is a day that comes but once in a person’s life and should be an occasion to splurge if you have the wealth. There’s hardly anyone who does not want to get pampered and powdered up for the one day when all eyes will be on them. We all get to be the leading ladies and gents on that day for the feature film of our respective lives and hence a little drama is to be expected. Even if having Bollywood wedding comes at a blockbuster price.

PTDC Announces opening of the seasonal hotels and Motels for 2014

March 20, 2014 – 1:58 am

Pakistan tourism development corporation has announced the opening of the following seasonal hotels for the year 2014, this was circulated vide a letter to all tour operators of Pakistan.

The Following PTDC Motels will reopen for the coming season 2014 with effect from the dates mentioned against each motel:

1 PTDC Motel Skardu April, 01, 2014
2 PTDC Motel Astak April, 01, 2014
3 PTDC Motel Ayubia March 25, 2014
4 PTDC Motel Hunza April 01, 2014
5 PTDC Motel Khaplu April 01, 2014
6 PTDC Motel Gupis April 01, 2014
7 PTDC Motel Bamburet April 01, 2014
8 PTDC Motel Mastuj April 01, 2014
9 PTDC Motel Sust April 01, 2014
10 PTDC Motel Rama Lake May 01, 2014
11 PTDC Motel Phander May 01, 2014
12 PTDC Motel Naran
(Subject to opening of road) April 15, 2014
13 PTDC Motel Kalam April 15, 2014
14 PTDC Motel Miandam March 20, 2014
15 PTDC Motel Satpara April 01, 2014
16 PTDC Motel Brseen April 01, 2014

 

Pearl Continental Introduces Paid Parking for Karachiates

March 15, 2014 – 4:50 pm

In view of the low tourism business at 5 star hotels, Karachi’s Pearl Continental hotel one of the top five star hotels in the city has Introduced paid parking service for office going people in the area on monthly and weekly basis.

pc-car-parking

The parking facility, located in the basement of the hotel officers safe secure environment for the cars.

The Pearl Continental Car Park features parking area allocated for about 1000 vehicles, adjacent to the Pearl Continental Karachi. Self-service parking payment kiosk at the entrance of the hotel. The parking facility is also open for the general public.

For special daily, weekly and monthly deals/packages Please Call

021-111-505-505

Polish, Italian climbers back on Nanga Parbat

March 2, 2014 – 6:13 pm

By Jamal Shahid
ISLAMABAD: After retreating to the safety of their base camps about three weeks back, climbers are back on Nanga Parbat and have set up Camp IV at the height of 7,000 metres.

“Friday offered a clear window to the Polish and Italian mountaineering expeditions to push forward. It was not too cold, winds were calmer and the sky was clear too,” said Karrar Haidri, member executive council of the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP).

German mountaineer Ralf Dujmovits and his team member ended the climb in the first week of January, anticipating dangers of avalanches above their camp. The remaining two Italian and Polish win-
ter expeditions were also presumably packing up.

According to the ACP, it was not just the obvious hazards like extreme cold, ice and risks of avalanches. “One of the main reasons behind the failure was continuous bad weather,” said Mr Ilaidri, explaining how in the nearly 25 years 17 climbing expeditions, including some of the finest mountaineers, had unsuccessfully attempted to capture the 8,126 metres high peak, also called the killer mountain, in the winter season.

Mr Haidri also explained how after months of preparation the Polish expedition on the Schell Route had been waiting for a clear weather by February 10 for a summit push. But a combination of intense cold, stormy winds and predictions of deteriorating weather forced the climbers to return to the base camp.

“Nonetheless, the climbers waited patiently and climbed again whenever there was a clear window. And now Tomek Mackiewicz and his teammate David Gottler spent last night 7,000 metres on the mountain,” said Mr Haidri.
The two climbed in sunny and windless conditions to reach that high. Measuring in a straight line Tomek Mackiewicz and David Gottler were approximately 3,500 metres above the base camp, said the ACP official, explaining how it was still a long and challenging climb to the top.

This is the second time Tomek Mackiewicz has reached this high. Although physically fit to push on, bad weather forced him to abandon his climb in February last year. He had turned back from the height of 7,400 metres.

However, the Italian climber, Simone Moro, has not had so much luck so far. Conqueror of all 14 eight thousand-plus peaks and best known for being the first ever to summit Gasherbrum II in the winter of 2011, Moro was back in the base camp again recovering. He turned back between Camp II and Camp HI after his health did not allow him to push forward.

Mr Haidri said capturing the summit now depended on how good the weather would turn out in the next 48 hours for the climbers to accomplish their goals.

Pakistan breaks largest human flag record

February 16, 2014 – 3:43 am

LAHORE: Over 29,000 Pakistani students braced the rain to break the largest human flag world record. The record breaking feat was held as part of the Punjab Youth Festival.

PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz congratulated students who formed the Pakistani flag.

The record was previously held by Bangladesh when 27,170 people formed the national flag in Dhaka.

As many as 29,040 Pakistani students formed the national flag and reclaimed the record for Pakistan. The record was validated by a representative of the Guinness Book of World Records.

 



largest-human-flag

UNESCO DG visits Taxila, Lok Virsa

February 8, 2014 – 3:35 am

taxila-museumISLAMABAD: UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova during her two-day state visit to Pakistan reached Taxila and Lok Virsa Islamabad along with Federal Minister of Education Muhammad Baleegur Rehman and UNESCO Country Director/Representative Kozue Kay Nagata.

Punjab Archaeology Director Dr Saleemul Haq and Taxila Museum Curator Abdul Nasir received the state guest in Taxila on Friday. Abdul Nasir gave the director general a guided tour of the museum. The director general inquired about the specifics of the sculptures and other objects dating back to the Gandhara period.

She also spent some time at the Museum Rest House which used to be the residence of Sir John Marshal, director general of Archaeological Survey of India during 1902-1922, where she was briefed on the development activities on the site and the museum.
“The people of Pakistan must be proud of its heritage. Taxila is a unique site showing so many layers of civilizations in this country, starting with prehistoric heritage and moving to the Greeks, and then to the Buddhist and Islamic cultures. This is a wellspring of creativity, an open book for tolerance, mutual understanding and dialogue, both within the country and abroad,” she said.
Later, the delegation led by the director general was driven to visit the remains of Sirkap site. Speaking to the Museum authorities and the media, she said that Taxila Site and the museum had a great potential to attract national and international visitors so that they could enjoy the first-hand experience of being at the unique historical sites of antiquities and human settlements of the Gandhara Buddhist heritage.

She appreciated the efforts made by the federal and provincial governments in the restoration and preservation of the historical artefacts and sites in Taxila. While taking to the media, she stressed the need for involving the community, especially youth, in the preservation and protection of their cultural heritage.