Pakistan has inherited a wide array of heritage
sites, six of which have been inscribed on the list of "World
Heritage Sites", while a new tentative list has been prepared
and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for approval. A brief
description of sites already inscribed in the World Heritage List
is given below:
Archaeological Ruins at
The ruins of an immense city, Moenjodaro, which flourished in the
valley of the Indus in the 3rd millennium B.C. were inscribed in
the World Heritage List in 1980. The remains of the city are situated
on the western bank of River Indus, about 12 kilometres from Moenjodaro
railway station, in Larkana District of Sind.
The well-planned city, built mostly in baked brick buildings, having
public baths, and a college of priests, elaborate drainage system,
soak pits for disposal of sewerage and large state granary, bears
testimony that it was a metropolis of great importance, with approximately
forty thousand inhabitants, enjoying a well-organized civic, economic,
social and cultural life.
Excavations comprising figures of animals like rhinoceros, tigers
and elephants on seals recovered from the site, and the brick-lined
street drains, suggest that the region enjoyed heavier rainfall
at that time than at present. Wheat, barely, sesamum, field peas,
dates and cotton appear to have been the main crops. Discovery of
precious stones and other metallic objects, not normally found in
this region, indicate trade with foreign countries.
It is not known for certain, how the great metropolis came to a
tragic end. A gradual decline of the civilization, before the ultimate
end is however, clearly noticeable, and an invasion by the Aryans
or the neighbouring hill tribes, appears to have sealed the fate
The remarkable structural remains of Moenjodaro, when excavated
in the early 20s, were in excellent state of preservation, but the
phenomenon of salt efflorescence on them was soon noticed. Over
the years the problem has assumed alarming proportions, leading
to damaging of bricks and disintegration of the structures. Another
serious threat to Moenjodaro is that of inundation, posed by the
River Indus, flowing very close to the site.
UNESCO, approached by the Government of Pakistan launched an International
campaign to safeguard Moenjodaro. The international community responded
favourably, and the international organizations such as UNDP, provided
financial as well as technical resources to address the main problems
of River and Ground Water Control. Some equipment for scientific
study and execution of work and training of a few specialists was
also arranged. Conservation of structural remains however, did not
match the speed of deterioration. The International Campaign has
since been closed, and the responsibility of maintenance and further
conservation now rests with the Department of Archaeology, Government
From the ancient neolithic tumulus of Saraikala to the ramparts
of Sirkap, (200 B.C.), to the city of Sirsukh, dating from the 1st
century A.D., Taxila illustrates the different stages in the development
of a city on the Indus, alternately influenced by Persia, Greece
and Central Asia and which, from the 5th century B.C. to the 2nd
century A.D., was an important Buddhist centre of learning. Taxila
was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1980.
The remains of the Buddhist establishments associated with Taxila,
are spread over several kilometres on all sides. The large scale
archaeological excavations in the valley, exposed vast areas of
ancient structures. Most of these are built in lime stone masonry.
Measures for conservation taken soon after the excavations, largely
stabilized the structures. The wild growth of vegetation, weeds,
lichen, fungus, mosses, atmospheric pollution etc. are largely responsible
for the deterioration, and still pose major problems in conservation.
In a workshop sponsored recently by UNESCO, the concerned officials
were imparted training to deal with these problems. Lately, the
Taxila Valley has also become the hub of industrial activity, and
several industrial units have been set up in the valley. Moreover,
the rapid increase in population is posing new threats to the monuments.
To deal with such problems, the Government of Pakistan has established
a 'protected zone', which covers all the important areas of archaeological
interest. Restrictions imposed in the protected zone, however, have
not been very effective. Last year, a sports stadium was built in
an open area of the Bhir Mound, the first city site. Orders have
now been issued for its demolition.
Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi
and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol
These extensive remains of the Buddhist monastic establishment
or Sangharama, were placed on the World Heritage List in 1980, and
popularly known as the "throne of origins". This archaeological
site and its associated secular buildings are located about 15 kilometres
north-east of the city of Mardan in the North-West Frontier Province
The Takht-i-Bahi Complex, a gigantic Buddhist establishment was
discovered in 1852 by European Lieutenants Lumsden and Stokes. The
complex comprises several well-knit units:
i) Court of Many Stupas
iii) Main Stupa
iv) Assembly Hall
v) Low Level Chambers
vii) Court of Three Stupas
viii) Wall of Colossi
ix) Secular buildings
All these structures are built in grey-coloured limestone, in mud
About five kilometres south-west of Takht-i-Bahi, is the modern
village of Sahr-i-Bahlol, which occupies an extensive mound containing
the remains of an ancient city, dating back to the same period.
The excavations at Takht-i-Bahi and Shar-i-Bahlol have yielded
a large number of fine sculptures of Buddha, Boddisattavas and other
deities, both in stone and stucco. Other valuable antiquities have
also been found in the vicinity.
Being of outstanding quality and significance, the remains of Takht-i-Bahi
have received much attention of the conservators. Consequently,
conservation work on the site has been carried out periodically.
The recent conservation works are a good example of a judicious
mix of traditional as well as modern conservation practice. However,
the residential buildings too, need the attention of conservators.
Historical Monuments of Thatta
The remains of the city of Thatta, inscribed in the World Heritage
List in 1981, and its dilapidated necropolis provide a unique view
of the Sind civilization. The capital of three successive dynasties
and later ruled by the Mughal emperors, Thatta is a symbol of the
glorious past of Sind from the 14th to the 18th centuries A.D. During
this period, Thatta was one of the major seats of learning, fine
arts and handicrafts.
The architecture of Thatta bears the distinct marks of its variant
ancestry, its hallmark being the variety of forms and techniques
of decoration. The brickwork found on the buildings of Thatta, is
a superb example of craftsmanship.
The buildings, the tombs and the great necropolis of Thatta are
now in shambles and need immediate attention. The Department of
Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan, is responsible
for the site's maintenance and conservation. A detailed study had
been conducted a few years back, in consultation with national and
international experts. In the light of the findings of this study,
the proposed conservation measures entail an amount of US$ 63 million,
far beyond the government's resources. Efforts have been made by
the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan,
to capture the interest of visitors, by installing general and individual
information boards on the monuments. But much needs to be done to
make the site more presentable to attract tourists and other visitors.
Fort and Shalimar Gardens in
The history of Lahore can be traced back to the 2nd Century A.D.
with the city having enjoyed the status of a capital for about a
thousand years - sometimes of an empire and at other times that
of a province. Each dynasty of its rulers - the Ghaznavids, Ghaurids,
Turks, Sayyads, Lodhis, Mughals, Suris, Sikhs and the British -
has left its imprints on the city.
Excavations conducted in the Lahore Fort revealed existence of
the city in the early historic period. It is therefore believed
that, the Fort was built with the founding of the city itself, its
chequered history bearing testimony to the vicissitudes it suffered.
The Mughal rulers however, brought this exercise to a halt, by providing
it real stability.
The Fort is the only monument in Pakistan, which represents a complete
history of Mughal architecture, as it was renovated, added and improved
upon by subsequent Mughal rulers, after Emperor Akbar.
After the collapse of the Mughal authority, the Fort suffered again
due to poor additions, alterations and an aggressive siege in 1841.
After having demolished its southern fortification wall, in 1927,
the British Government handed over the Fort to the Archaeological
Survey of India, which took measures to remove systematically, all
the additions and alterations carried out during the British rule,
in an attempt to restore the original layout of the buildings and
Since Independence in 1947, the Department of Archaeology of the
Government of Pakistan has been carrying out conservation work,
on a limited scale though. Moreover, the pace of deterioration has
rapidly outstripped the conservation efforts. The southern portion
of the fortification wall and the Matbakh or the Royal Kitchen have
demolished, while the ceiling of the Shish Mahal (Palace of Mirrors)
is on the verge of collapse. Efforts are being made, in cooperation
with UNESCO experts, to save the latter, after a detailed research
into the cause of its decay.
The Shalimar Gardens, laid out at the command of Emperor Shah Jahan,
reflect the genius of the Mughal landscape architecture, and embody
the Mughal concept of a perfect garden: an enclosed area divided
into symmetrical patterns of turf, containing water canals, ornamental
tanks, and fountains, lined by cypresses and rose bushes.
Having lost much of their original splendor and beauty, at the
hands of Sikh plunderers during the rule of Ranjit Singh, the Gardens
were handed over to the Department of Archaeology in 1913. Since
then, sustained efforts have been made to preserve the buildings,
restore the Gardens to their original appearance and, recreate the
UNESCO has time and again, provided expert advice through experienced
consultants and encouraged the authorities concerned, to take appropriate
measures to create awareness among the masses, to help preserve
The Lahore Fort and the Shalimar Gardens, the two exceptional examples
of the splendor of the Mughal era, were inscribed together, in the
list of World Heritage Sites in 1981.
Qila Rohtas or the Rohtas Fort is an exceptional example of early
Muslim military architecture in Central and South Asia, for it was
built essentially for military purposes. Following the defeat of
the Mughal Emperor Humayun in 1541, Sher Shah Suri built a strong
fortified complex at Rohtas, a strategic site about 16 kilometres
north-west of the city of Jhelum.
The gigantic fort is founded on steep rocks jutting into the river
Kahan, its ramparts protected on the west and north sides by the
river and by high hills on its east and south. It was never taken
by assault and survives intact to the present day. The main fortifications
consist of the massive walls, which extended for more than 4km;
they are lined with bastions and pierced by monumental gateways.
There are indications that more structures had existed earlier,
which either collapsed due to neglect, or were demolished in Mughal
or later periods.
The Rohtas Fort is now a protected monument under the Antiquities
Act 1975, and maintained by the Department of Archaeology, Government
of Pakistan. Owing to its marvelous qualities of strength and solidity,
and being the finest specimen of medieval military architecture
in Pakistan, the fort was inscribed in the World Heritage List,
by UNESCO, in 1997.