The ancient art of carpet weaving is what is also now called collective art in which individual genius, cultural heritage and the meticulous patience of many on anonymous craftsman create one of the finest forms of artistic and enduring human expression – the carpet.
The ‘Oriental Carpets’ tour is a trip to one of the oldest art forms, practiced with very little change even today. The intricacies of carpet weaving is a fascinating and complex subject for most people because it involves so much tradition and history passed from generation to generation and weaver to weaver. Today you can experience the magic of this great art, as you are taken to places where this art still flourishes, but because carpet weaving is one of the many art forms of this part of the world, the tour encompasses other equally spellbinding crafts.
There is the exquisite and special wood carving tradition on display at Chiniot, some distance from Lahore and inside Lahore, in its meandering streets and narrow lanes you can see art forms taking shape as expert craftsmen create master pieces out of maple wood. There is exquisite embroidery to see and fabulous dresses and linen to buy. And there is more. In Peshawar, shop for brass antiques and rugs of splendid vintage and in Swat, there are the famous emerald mines, traditional shawls and handicrafts and a host of original art forms that are difficult to resist. In Islamabad, tour art galleries and view exotic fashions collected from remote and far away northern areas. And on you way out, the magic of the carpet is still with you as you shop for pieces of onyx carved to perfection in the bazaars of Karachi. There is all this and more – to see, to savour and to enjoy.
Day 01: Arrival Islamabad. meet and assist on arrival. Transfer to Hotel.
Day 02: Visit the British built Museum in Moghul Gothic style of architecture and Peshawar Club where once British officers took time out from frontier duties. In the afternoon, we stroll down Qissa Khawani Bazaar (Street of Storytellers), where raconteurs once fascinated crowds with lurid tales. Today, dentists have replaced the storytellers rows of teeth vie for our attention. We wander down side-streets and see donkeys, goats, sheep, camels, men smoking “hookahs” or sipping tea, but we see few women. And the few that pass by us will be accompanied by a male. Even then, they will reveal only their mysterious eyes that peek through the spidery veil of their ankle-length “burka”. While in the bazaar, we also see the Cunningham Clock tower, built to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen Empress. Dinner in a typical Pathan restaurant. Overnight hotel.
Day 03: Depart for Saidu Sharif, the capital of Swat. Drive through Malakand, land of the handsome Pathans. The route to Swat is dotted with Buddhist monasteries and ancient forts. Afternoon visit to the bazaars of Saidu Sharif and adjoining town of Mingora. You will see the artisans at work making Shawls. Overnight.
Day 04: Morning at leisure. Midday departure by air for Islamabad. Meet and assist on the arrival. Transfer to Hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.
Day 05: Visit colourful bazaars of Rawalpindi for bargain shopping of handicrafts, carpets, shawls and jackets. Driving through rose and jasmine gardens, reach Shakarparian Hill for panoramic view of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Later visit national Institute of Folk Heritage where you can glimpse various cultures of Pakistan. Return via Rawal Lake. Afternoon departure for Lahore by air. Met and assist on arrival. Transfer to Hotel. Evening at leisure.
Day 06: Lecture by a Pakistani expert on Oriental carpet making followed by a visit to his factory, to watch various Processes of hand knotted carpets. Dyeing weaving, washing and clipping. Later visit a show-room and buy carpets at bargain prices.
Day 07: Passing by the legendary Kim’s Gun (Toup Bhangian) reach Badshahi (Royal) Mosque on the north west corner of the walled city. The Badshahi Mosque built during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb in the early 1670’s, one of the largest mosques in the world. Its red sandstone and white marble present a delightful harmonious contrast. Just outside the Mosque, see the Mausoleum of the philosopher poet of Pakistan Dr. Muhammad Iqbal and the Bara Dari (the marble pavilion) built by the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. Opposite the Badshahi Mosque is the historic Lahore Fort with its massive walls, several towering gates, marble pavilions and its hall of mirrors, dating to the time of Moghul Emperor Akbar. In the time of the great Moghuls, the city was surrounded by a 9 metre high brick wall and had a rampart running around it with a moat connected with the river Ravi which served as a protection for the city. There were thirteen massive gates, some of which are still in original from and shape. The narrow lanes, the hanging balconies, the tiny shops, the aroma of spices, and the fragrance of flower garlands lingers on in the city, retaining the medieaval char. Within the walled city, the Wazir Khan Mosque in the walled city. The colourful fresco and mosaic in the interior and the exterior of the Mosque is a superb example of Moghul period craftsmanship. Later visit Mozang area for inlaid work on maple leaf wood done by craftsmen of Kashmir.
Day 08: Morning visit the Shalamar Gardens laid out during the reign of emperor Shah Jehan, a tribute to the aesthetic and artistic sense of the Moghul period. The gardens cover an area of about 42 acres, comprising 3 beautiful terraces which reveal themselves as you stroll along the gardens. The ancient Festival of Lamps is held annually on the last Sunday of March just outside the garden walls. later Visit Lahore Museum which has a rich and varied collection of objects from the Indus civilization, the Ghandara, Hindu, and the Muslim period. Later, Drive across the ageless River Ravi and visit the Majestic Mausoleum of Emperor Jehangir, surrounded by Dilkush Gardens, which belonged to his wife noor Jehan. Nearby is the small but impressive mausoleum of Noor Jehan (The Light of the world). The Moghuls brought carpet weavers from Smarkand and Bokhara. Like the architecture, the arts and crafts of Moghul period has survived and even flourished. Pakistani hand knotted carpets are famous the world over. Spinning, dyeing, designing, knotting, washing and finishing are all done by hand and this visit will reveal this ancient craft. Visit to a carpet showroom and a handicraft centre will be followed by shopping tour of famous Anarkali Bazaar. This Bazaar is a favorite of the ladies of Lahore and those who visit its meandering by-lanes and profusion of hundreds of shops containing clothes, Jewelery, linen and bangles. Afternoon departure for Karachi. Meet and assist on arrival. Transfer to Hotel. Evening at leisure.
Day 09: Morning sightseeing. Like the covered bazaar in Istanbul and Khan-el-Khalili in Cairo, Karachi has the Bohri Bazaar. In and around Bohri Bazaar you will find everything that the colourful East can boast of. Gold jewellery, carpets, wood crafts, traditional wedding dresses, hand embroidered garments, exquisite linen, all in a bazaar, from the pages of a book. Also visit handicrafts and Onyx shops.
Day 10: Departure for onward destinations.