Travel Writer Halima Ahad tells us about the cultural and gastronomic diversity of Pakistan and explains why this country should be on our bucket lists

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Pakistan is a beautiful country filled with so many things to do. It is incredibly rich in culture with many different ethnicities and mouth-watering food. Here are a couple reasons why I think you should add Pakistan to your bucket list. 

The cultural diversity of Pakistan is absolutely wonderful. There is an array of different cultures, traditions and dialects in each of the four provinces of Pakistan. The four provinces include the Punjab, the Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; there is also the autonomous territory of Gilgit Baltistan. Each province brings unique ethnicities which have had a long-lasting effect on Pakistan’s culture. When visiting each province, there is a uniqueness in the way people dress and speak, and this enriches the culture as a whole. The diversity of Pakistan is present in the food that is eaten, the range of musical instruments, the literature read and the different dialects that are spoken.

The food of Pakistan is delicious and intricately cooked. Pakistan is famous for its specialised use of herbs and spices. The food is fragrant and spicy, each local dish carrying cultural heritage rooted in the country’s geography and history. The country is also famous for its sweet goods, known as mithai, which have unique, local recipes and are topped with many different nuts and flavours. Another famous national dish of Pakistan is biryani, which is a mixed rice dish made with Pakistani spices and rice. There can be different versions of the dish including meat and seafood. 

The food is fragrant and spicy, each local dish carrying cultural heritage

Another thing to note is the hospitality of the people of Pakistan. The people of Pakistan are welcoming and generous. Locals are genuinely pleased to see tourists – an example of this is in the Hunza Valley, in the Gilgit Baltistan region, which has led the way for the tourist renaissance in Pakistan. Recently, in 2017, the valley attracted 1.72 million tourists, according to the Business Recorder. Hotels were bursting, so the citizens opened up their homes for travellers that needed a place to stay. 

There are also many historical buildings which are the pinnacle of the beauty of Pakistan. They showcase the history of what Pakistan used to be when many different people and cultures reigned and took over the region. In the centuries the Mughals reigned, they hired different artists and architects to create beautiful mosques. The most famous ones include the Badshahi mosque in Lahore and the Shah Jahan mosque in Sindh. There are also temples which date back to ancient Hindu scripture. One of the most famous temples in Pakistan is the Katas Raj Temples.

The unique history of Pakistan is also very interesting. There are many artefacts and remnants dotted around Pakistan which give a nod to different cultures and countries that have been situated in Pakistan in the past. This includes the earliest statues and the remnants of monasteries from the history of the time of Buddha, the prevalence of Hinduism through ancient Hindu temples and the mosques which have been built from the time of the great Mughals who invaded Pakistan from Central Asia. 

Condé Nast awarded Pakistan as the number one holiday destination for 2020. It said ‘this is a place of exquisite landscapes, where green spaces are overlooked by towering mountains,’ giving a nod to the North side of Pakistan and the famous K2 mountain. There are many things to consider when travelling to Pakistan, but travel advisories have been relaxed and after two decades, tourism is being promoted once again in Pakistan. 

So these are the many reasons why Pakistan should be on your bucket list. The rich culture and vibrant ethnicities as well as the flavoursome food add to the list of many things you can discover in Pakistan, and I hope to visit there one day myself.

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