Pakistan International Mountain Film Festival or PIMFF is a positive initiative for a country like Pakistan, which holds immense tourism potential.
This first Film Festival of its kind will be held in Lahore, on June 13-14, 2015. Where the Himalayas meet the Karakorams and the Hindukush, Pakistan is home to one of the most beautiful clusters of mountainous lands that inhabit any of the surrounding lands. Mesmerizing Glaciers glue countless sets of eyes to its contents and doesn’t seem to let them go anytime soon. In recent years, however, Pakistan has not enjoyed the tourism it once had, and with the development of the festival the region looks to regain those glory days. Pakistan International Mountain Film Festival is in fact an effort to remind the world about tourism potential of Pakistan.
Pakistan International Mountain Film Festival, also known as PIMFF, is the event which will accomplish such a rise in tourism very quickly. To be held at Alhamra Arts Council Lahore the film festival will look to enjoy a massive crowd of people who support tourism. Put into action by Eyebex Films along with Punjab Government, the festival will attract the crowds Pakistan once had in the past. This event will be the first annual festival in existence. Such an event garners attention worldwide and will be recognized by a multitude of entertainment groups.
In all, 80 countries have submitted well over 500 entries for the screening. Selected entries are to be featured at the festival. With over 32 of these entries selected to participate the outcome has already been labeled a huge success. Before the event is screened, it is widely known that sellout crowds are expected on ground. Also featured at the festival will be countless discussion forums, non-commercial but related films, and an unimaginable selection of photographic exhibition proportions.
Established by Eyebex Films out of Islamabad, the festival will include a variety of different features to grace the big screen. These include tourism films of the ages, travel documentaries of very high quality and adventure shots which will imprint the beauty of Pakistan. Wajahat Malik, Managing Director of Eyebex Films and Maryam Cheema the Festival Director, form an all important team whose goal is to bring in the well deserved travel attention from across the world.
The International Mountain Film Festival is of the purpose of generating tourism to the area which has seen little of late. The festival looks to make those aware of the past struggles as well as the beautiful land that still captivates the masses. Tour operators will be on site to take select few through the travels of the ages. Photographers look to capture an image of the land previously not captured.
Pakistan International Mountain Film Festival is one of the few festivals in existence presently. The only other significant competition is that of Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival residing out of Asia. The festival already operating for years has been successful in bringing in countless crowds to its many showings for the purpose of growing awareness of their own mountainous plots and inspiring film adaptations. Pakistan has now taken the leverage of the standings bringing such a development to the mountain cliffs. Pakistan International Mountain Film Festival looks to gain the spotlight from which past successes have been available, and the stage is set.
The charming city of Quetta in Pakistan attracts tourists because of its unique features. One of the best things about Quetta is that accommodation for all price ranges is available here. Serena Hotel Quetta is the most expensive place to stay but the service and amenities are worth every penny. Lourdes Hotel is the second best option in high end hotels. There are many moderately priced hotels which provide clean rooms and good service such as Qasr-e-Naz, Fab’s Hotel, Marina Hotel, Shees Hotel, Hotel Al=Naem, Islamabad Hotel, Hotel Maryton, Deluxe Hotel, Qasr-e-Gul and Zulfiqar Hotel. Hotel Bloom Star and Gardenia Resort also provide decent service and accommodation at a mid-price range and are located in a bit of a secluded place so if you are looking for some solitude, these hotels are definitely for you. Those on a budget can stay at the Azad Muslim Hotel.
There are two museums worth visiting in Quetta; the Geological Museum and the Archaeological Museum. A great collection of rocks, gems, minerals and even meteorites is on display in the Museum of Geological History. An interesting collection of fossils of prehistoric animals and plants have also been put up for exhibition some of them dating back to 500 million years. A comprehensive history of the place can be studied from the wide variety of historic items exhibited in the Archaeological Museum. Pottery, coins, weapons and other items belonging to the early Islamic era are also found here.
The main attractions of Quetta are Hanna Lake and the Chilton Hazar Gangi National Park. Hanna Lake is located five miles from Quetta. The beautiful man-made lake is a striking contrast to the rugged mountains that surround it. Hanna Lake is one of the most picturesque picnic spots of Pakistan. There are activities such as chairlift rides and boating and people can also go for hiking.
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park is located 20 km outside Quetta; it is a must see place if you are a nature lover. This place is a sanctuary for wildlife species and some rare trees are found here.
Some great places to shop in Quetta are the Kandhar Bazar, Suraj Ganj Bazar and the Liaquat Bazar. Yu can buy traditional handicrafts, clothes and shoes for men, women and children and a host of other items.
As portrayed by the Western media that Pakistan is a state of Islamic hardliners and fundamentalists, who promote training camps for terrorism and with an image of a male dominated society with no women rights and cheating is a common trait, Pakistan looks as if it is a tough sell to the prospective tourists en masse. Though the West has not heard of Pakistan’s diverse culture, breathtaking scenery, sprawling deserts and splashing rivers, enthralling mountains and sandy beaches with plentiful archaeological sites, it has a lot more to offer to the tourists who visit Pakistan.
Tourism in Pakistan is still in nascent stage due to the geo-political conditions, social and economic constraints; despite that, The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) has played a key role in promoting tourism in Pakistan. PTDC was incorporated in 1970 and since then it is striving to attract tourists from every corner of the globe. However, the frail tourism regulatory framework since 1947 and lack of prioritization by the government towards the tourism industry has battered this beautiful land with ancient historical places and enchanting flora and fauna.
Tourism in Pakistan has seen a decline through decades as now Pakistan is being considered as one of the most dangerous destinations to visit. The military operations in Pakistan’s scenic sites viz. Swat and other areas of Khybar Pakhtoonkhwa have dealt an enormous thump to the tourism industry. Not only this is the reason, the low tourist volume is also blamed for the weak marketing strategies to attract tourists along with a constricted perception about Pakistan’s tourism. In a pre-military operation era, Pakistan was earning a revenue of Rs 18 billion though tourism, however, currently the tourism industry is incurring a loss of Rs 3.5 billion.
Government of Pakistan seems oblivious to the great potential of the tourism industry with is currently on the verge of a collapse. Measures should be taken for the survival of this industry as Pakistan has plentiful tourist destinations where rich culture, excellent cuisine, enchanting metro life and captivating green fields and golden sandy beaches are waiting to welcome the tourists.
Muzaffarabad the capital of Azad Kashmir is a place of breath taking beauty located at the junction of Neelum River and Jhelum River. Its stunning landscapes have earned it the title of “Paradise on Earth”. Some spots worth mentioning are:
1. Pir Chinassi
Pir Chinassi is a large mountain located at an elevation of 2900 meters. It offers an awesome view of Muzaffarabad city. Its claim to fame however is the tomb of a saint (pir) at the mountain peak. There is also a trekking route at the foot of Pir Chinassi.
2. Neelum Valley & Jhelum Valley
These river valleys with their mesmerizing beauty are an ideal tourist spot.
3. Leepa Valley
Known for its dry fruits and honey, Leepa is another place where you would like to go for a relaxation.
4. Sharda Valley
It is also famous for its picturesque scenery. Sharda has many cool water springs. Shardi and Nardi are two peaks overlooking the valley.
5. The Forts
The Muzaffarabad Fort or the Red Fort and the Black Fort are also major tourist attractions.
It is situated at a height of 1371m, it is the sub-divisional headquarters of the area and is an attractive place known for its variety of fruit. All necessary facilities like bazaar, post office, banks, hospital, and telephone exchange are present.
The awe-inspiring locus, with an altitude of 3110m, it is located 32 Km east of Muzaffarabad. The fascinating beauty of the place wins the admiration of nature lovers. The view of the summit at the neighboring mountain peaks spell bounds of tourists. The devotees of Saint Pir Chinassi come in large numbers to pay homage at the Shrine.
7. Shaheed Gali
The comely beauty of this place attracts a restive mind to prolong his stay. The picturesque Shaheed Gali, situated at the height of about 1640 meters above sea level is at a distance of about 16 kilometers westward from Muzaffarabad. From Shaheed Gali a trek of 4 Km leads towards a wholesome spot namely “Sri Kot”. A tourist is bound to be fascinated by the serenity for the backdrop of the area. A Tourist Rest House is available for accommodation at Shaheed Gali.
Being the capital city is not only the hub of political and cultural activities but it also serves as a base camp for the tourists. It has various spots of leisure. View point Sathra, a public place, unravels the panorama of the entire city before a beholder. The junction point of the river Neelum and Jhelum presents a magic beauty from here. Lohar Gali situated 9 kilometers from Muzaffarabad on Abottabad road. The Red fort is a witness to the ancient history of this great city. The local market in Muzaffarabad can be explored for walnut carvings, Kashmiri shawls and other traditional handicrafts. It is always possible to get a good bargain. It has besides official buildings; farms, parks and historic fort standing on the bank of the Neelum. Shopping is an exciting activity in Muzaffarabad and you can shop for Kashmiri shawls and walnut carvings.
Abottabad, the well known hill resort of Pakistan is located at an elevation of 1,225 meters in the province of NWFP. It enjoys a temperate climate with cool pleasant summer and bearable winter with sporadic snow falls. Abottabad is also the gateway to the northern areas of Pakistan.
Abottabad is known for having the largest number of educational institutions and is thus called “The City of Schools”. The military academies of Pakistan Army are also located here Pakistan Military Academy Kakul being the most prominent one.
Abottabad is a neat clean city with all modern facilities easily available. It has beautiful gardens, a golf course, well maintained parks and pine covered hills. The pleasant weather makes it all the more alluring.
While traveling from Rawalpindi to Abbotabad, one can visit Taxila. Taxila is one of the few places in the world with rich history. Placed at a strategic position Taxila has witnessed some great civilizations. Built on a plateau, the city of Taxila was situated at the junction of three trade routes. Taxila was ruled by the Persians, the Greeks (Successors of Alexander the Great) and the Buddhist (Asoka). All of them have left a mark in the form of monuments, buildings and statues.
Taxila is a beautiful place to visit especially in winters. It is warm and sunny as the sites one likes to visit are all open. The university and other ruins are very attractive and enjoyable sites for the visitors.
Of the three civilizations, The Buddhist (Gandhara) civilization has left a deep impact. This city was invaded by the White Huns who after plundering ultimately destroyed it. Numerous statues of Buddha, ruins of monasteries, stupas, and Buddhist monuments in the Gandharan style of art have been excavated. Some places of interest in Taxila are Bhir Mound, Dharmarajika, Sirkap, Jaulian, Jandial, Sirsukh, and Mohra Moradu. A trip to the Taxila Museum is a must if you are visiting Taxila.
Present day Taxila has an Engineering University and a Heavy Mechanical Complex which was set up in collaboration with China.
The Northern areas of Pakistan are by far the most visited places of the country. The tourists both foreign and local prefer the Northern areas because of the scenic beauty of the place. The lush green valleys, lofty mountains, bubbling springs, sparkling waterfalls and the pleasant climate of the place are some features which draw the tourists to the northern areas. The valleys of Swat, Naran, Kaghan, Kalam, Chitral, Hunza, and Skardu are crowded with tourists in the summer. Mountaineers usually flock to Hunza, Chitral and Skardu because they are situated nearer to the mountain ranges. Some other spots in various cities which draw crowds are:
The mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah is situated in Karachi and it is visited by people throughout the year. On weekends and public holidays it’s simply crowded with visitors. The mausoleum is surrounded by a big beautiful garden.
2. Data Darbaar The Data Durbar is in Lahore. It is the shrine of the saint Hazrat Data Ganj Bakash. Every day hundreds of people come here to pay their homage to the reverend saint. It is the most visited shrine in Pakistan. Other popular places among visitors in Lahore are the gardens and other buildings of the Mughal era. The archaeological sites of the Buddhist Civilization in Taxila and its adjoining areas attract a lot of tourists. The sites are well preserved.
Islamabad is the Federal Capital of Pakistan. It is situated in the North of the country on Potowar Plateau. Islamabad is a well planned city established to replace Karachi as the state capital. Established against the backdrop of the tree clad Margalla Hills, it is truly a beautiful city. As all the official residence of the Prime Minister and The President are located here, it is the cleanest city of Pakistan. When visiting Islamabad do go to the following places:
1. Margalla Hills Margalla Hills are a range of small hills spread over an area of 12,605 hectares. The hills are extremely pretty with a wide variety of flora and fauna. Hiking and trekking are the main activities. Some private clubs also provide facilities for Hand gliding and Para gliding. The best spot of Margalla Hills is Daman e Koh. It is the central point of Margalla Hills and gives a fantastic view of Islamabad. It is a well developed picnic point.
2. Faisal Mosque The Faisal Mosque is the largest mosque of Pakistan and the 6th largest in the world. The construction of the mosque was completed in 1986. Faisal Mosque covers an area of 5,000 sq meters. The interior hall is decorated with chandeliers and the walls are adorned with mosaic and calligraphy done by Sadequain the great Pakistani artist.
3. Rawal Lake Rawal Lake is the man made lake of the Rawal Dam. It has been developed as a tourist resort. Boating can be done here. It is also a bird watcher’s paradise. It is a very beautiful place with many things to entertain you. There are several places worth visiting in Islamabad like Pir Sohawa, The Zoo, Margalla Hills National Park, Japanese Garden, Rose and Jasmine Garden and The Pakistan Monument.
Machiara National Park is one of the three significant national parks in the world chosen for Global Environmental Facility sponsored project. It is situated in The Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan. It covers an area of 13593 hectares. The region was declared a National Park in 1996 to save the vegetation (the mixed broad leaf coniferous forest) and wildlife of the area.
The most endangered specie of the area is the Western Tragopan Pheasant. The park provides a breeding ground to the birds whose number was fast dwindling in the past. The Himalayan griffon vulture and lammergeyer (large vulture) are also found here. The park also provides sanctuary to the Himalayan Brown Bear, Ibex and Snow Leopard.
The local community is very protective towards the past and is trying its utmost to save the threatened animals as well as their natural habitat. Machiara National Park is ideally located in one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. Kashmir valley is blessed by nature in this regard. In simpler words it means maintaining the beautiful green look of Machiara National Park in Kashmir valley is easier because of the the fact that this valley is by nature covered with visible attractive flora. This national park adds to the attraction of this valley for the visiting tourists.
The Hingol National Park in Pakistan is the largest National Park of the country. It is situated at the Makran Coast in the province of Baluchistan. It covers an area of 619,043 hectares and is spread over three districts namely Lasbela, Gawadar and Owaran. It was declared a shelter for various species of wildlife in 1988. The park is unique in the sense that it provides refuge to land as well as marine creatures. The topography of the park varies from coast lines, beaches, sand dunes, barren mountains and a river. The area is mostly semi desert.
A large number of animals exist in this rocky and marshy area some of whom are close to extinction. The estuary of the Hingol River is the home to many species of fish. Marsh crocodiles are also found here. These are few in number only around 50. Olive Ridley Turtles and Green Marine Turtles are occasionally seen here. The river is a resting place of many migratory water fowls such as Dalmatian and Spot billed Pelican, Sociable Plover, Spoonbills, and Black Ibis etc.
Around 35 species of mammals including the Sindh Ibex, Afghan Urial and Chinkara Gazelle are found here. There are 65 species of reptiles and amphibians and 185 species of birds in the park. Besides animals, 250 species of plants are housed in the Park too.
Another claim to fame of the area is the Shrine of Devi Hingali commonly known as Nani Mandir. It is a sacred Hindu temple.
Murree is the most popular local tourist destination in Pakistan. People from all over the country visit this beautiful hill resort to escape from the sweltering heat. It is situated 30 km northeast of Islamabad. It takes an hour to reach Murree from the federal capital Islamabad. Murree is located on the foothills of the Western Himalayan Mountains and is at a height of 2,300 meters above sea level.
Murree was basically established by the British as a Sanatorium for its soldiers serving at the Afghan Frontiers. It was later developed as a town. The British built a church, post office, homes, shops etc. The main road was called ‘The Mall’. Because of its fine weather and breathtakingly beautiful surroundings, it served as the summer headquarters. It also earned the title of “The Queen of Hills”.
Present day Murree is a commercial city. Its easy access has led to heavy tourism which has robbed it of its charm. You can find a number of restaurants, fast food joints, hotels and souvenir shops but the peace and quite and the cool weather are sadly lacking. The merciless cutting of trees has left the mountain slopes barren. Still it’s a nice place to visit. Two well known places of Murree are the Kashmir Point and the Pindi Point. The Kashmir Point is located at the north east end and gives a spectacular view of the Kashmir Valley. The Pindi Point is located on the south west end from here you can see the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Chairlift rides from Pindi Point to Bansara Gali are really enjoyable.