Other Cities and Towns

Besides major metropolitan cities, a number of important cities and towns dot the map of Pakistan. Some have historic linkages, while others are important because of their location and peculiarities. In fact every place in Pakistan has a its own story to tell and its place in the history dating back thousands of years. Some of the these are listed below.

Shrine of Bibi Jawindi at Uch Sharif, Pakistan - March 2008

Tomb Bibi Jawandi - Uch (photo courtesy: Autumn Sun and Autumn Colours )

Uch: At the confluence of the Sutlej and the Chenab is the historic town of Uch. HOW OLD IS THE UCH? No one knows but traces of Uch are found when Alexander the Great came to Uch after conquering the northern parts of India and spent over a fortnight in the city and renamed it Alexandria. That is why the town is often mentioned as Sikandara or Iskalanda. Uch is famous for shrines ornamented with blue mosaic like the ones in Multan.

uch uch uch

The famous shrines include those of Makhdoom Jahanian Jahangasht, Shaikh Saifuddin Ghazrooni and Bibi Jawandi. The tomb of Bibi Jawandi is the most completing, octagonal in shape, titled in the blue. For the reverence of great saints buried here, the town is respectfully named as Uch Shareef.  Bibi Jawandi, the great granddaughter of the saint Jahaniyan Jahangasht, was known for her piety. Her tomb is considered one of the most important, and the most ornate, sites in the town of Uch, which was the centre of Sufism under the Delhi sultanate. In plan it is octagonal on the exterior, with the interior walls angled to form a circle. The thick walls rise to two stories, transforming by way of squinches into a sixteen-sided drum upon which a dome sits, supported by bell-shaped brackets. Both the interior and exterior walls are decorated with a profusion of faience revetment. The tomb is in poor condition. The tomb dates back to 1494 approximately.

Thatta (or Thatto in local Sindhi language) - a town in Sind Province some 100 kms north of Karachi and west of the Indus River. Thatta has been the seat of Muslim rulers in Sind from 14th to 17th centuries. Thatta has a very rich heritage of Muslim architecture and the beautiful Shah Jahan Mosque, built by the constructor of Taj Mahal in 1647 A.D.

makli Shah

Makli Necropolis (left) Shah Jahan Mosque (right)

Its exquisitely laid 93 domes in a mosaic of radiating blue and white tiles speak of the skilled craftsmanship of its own time. The Makli Necropolis near Thatta is the world largest graveyard spread over 15.5 sq. kms, having millions of graves. There are monuments of Summa period (14th to 16th centuries), the Tarkhan & Arghun period (16th century), and the Mogul period (16th to 18th centuries).

Hasan Abdal 48 km from Rawalpindi, is associated with Mughal and Sikhs. It was mentioned by Emperor Jehangir.  A Mughal era remains of tomb of Lala Rukh is located here. The town takes its name from a 15th century saint Baba Wali Qandhari, popularly known as Baba Hasan Abdal who stayed in this area from 1406-1416 AD . His chamber, located on top of a 715 meter high hill is still visited by devotees. The famous Sikh holy shrine of Panja Sahib having a sacred rock with the hand print of their religious leader, Guru Nanak, makes Hasan Abdal famous for the Sikh community all over the world, who flock the area twice a year.

Gujranwala: Just an hour's drive from Lahore, lies the city of Gujranwala on the main Grand Trunk Road. After Lahore and Faisalabad, Gujranwala is the third largest city of the Punjab province, famous for grains, melons, sugarcane. The Gujranwala district is divided between a low alluvial tract along the river Chenab and Degh Nullah and the upland between these two, which forms the central portion of the Rechna Doab, intermediate between the fertile submontane plains of Sialkot and the desert expanses of Jhang. Part of the upland tract has been brought under cultivation by the Chenab canal. The city is known as the City of Pehelwaans (wrestlers) since it has produced some of the famous wrestlers of the subcontinent. People of this city are fond of eating and some of the best cooked dishes of Punjab like "Tikkas" "Chanps" "Kababs" are the hot favourites here. However "Chirays" (big sparrows special to Gujranwala) are a delicacy for which people even from Lahore and Rawalpindi throng Gujranwala's road side food shops. favourite places of the people.

District Office (Left) Railway Station (Right)

How old is this city anyway? Since all cities of Punjab have their long histories, so everyone asks about the same for Gujranwala. Not very old - just some 300-500 years old. The existence of small villages (now swelled into large size towns) like Eminabad, Ghakhar and Wazirabad  around present day Gujranwala dates back to 16th century. The area comes to limelight during the Sikh rule of the Punjab, when the Sikhs established their Empire in the Punjab after the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir in 1707. One Charat Singh, who was the head of one of the Sikh Clans, is said to have established his stronghold in Gujranwala in 1763. Charat Singh died in 1774 and was succeeded by his son, Mahan Singh, who in turn fathered the most brilliant leader in the history of the Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The British annexed the area in 1849. The Deputy Commissioner of that time Sir Bernardth rebuilt the "Sialkoti Gate" , "Lahore Gate" and "Khiyaaly Gate" in Gujranwala. A railway line was built along Grand Trunk Road, which interconnected Gujranwala with other cities of Punjab and made the commercial trade between cities more convenient. British ruled the city until Pakistan's independence in 1947.

After Independence, most of the Hindu and Sikh residents of Gujranwala, or in fact from entire Punjab that came into Pakistan, moved migrated to India and Muslims migratees from India settled down in various areas of Punjab, including Gujranwala. Gujranwala was given the status of a district in 1951, which paved way for its progress and prosperity. Today, Gujranwala, besides its agro-based industry is also famous for manufacturing units / industries of ceramics, copper, brass, and aluminum utensils and iron safes. Sialkot and Gujranwala are also famous for producing world 's best quality Basmati rice. The Gujranwala hydroelectric project provides power from the Chenab River. Gujranwala is not far behind than Lahore, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi in holding international level cricket at the Jinnah Stadium, formerly known as Municipal Stadium.

This page was created on 1 January 2005 / 29 December 2008

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