Twinned with Islamabad, Rawalpindi is a bustling market city between the Punjab and Azad Kashmir. Commonly known as “Pindi”, it’s renowned for its historical havelis and being one of Pakistan’s largest 19th-century British Indian Army garrison towns.
Things to do in Rawalpindi
Rawalpindi clusters around the main commercial hub of Raja Bazaar where everything from clothing to books, bags and food goods are sold. Its narrow streets are lined with colonial-era British residences and shopfronts, with the market spilling into neighbouring Sasamusa Bazaar, Sabzi Mandi Bazaar and Machli Bazaar.
Take time to wander around Ayub National Park, named after the Pakistani president and general, Ayub Khan. There’s an aquarium and large lake with boats to rent, as well as the Jungle World animal theme park and zoo that is home to Bengal tigers and Asiatic black bears.
Want to see Rawalpindi at its most energetic? Watch a cricket match at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. It lies opposite the picturesque Nawaz Sharif Park, where walking trails meander between flower beds, fountains and a children’s play area.
Be sure to visit the 16th-century Rawat Fort, which is a short drive east of Rawalpindi and listed as a Cultural Heritage Site of the Punjab. It was built atop an ancient caravanserai to defend the Pothohar Plateau from the Pashtun King Sher Shah Suri, with an ancient three-domed mosque among its fortified buildings.
Getting around Rawalpindi
Rawalpindi is home to Benazir Bhutto International Airport, which is around 20 minutes’drive from Raja Bazaar.The central railway station also has train services to major cities across Pakistan. The city centre around Raja Bazaar is easy to explore on foot, while tuktuks are readily available for longer journeys.