Pakistan

Pakistan

EMPIRE OF THE SPIRIT – PAKISTAN AND THE INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION

In June 2001, at 4,693 meters above sea level, I entered Pakistan from China.

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - The Karakorm Range near Gilgit

Crossing the Karakorm Range near Gilgit, Pakistan

Pakistan Photo Journal - Working on the Silk Road near the Sino-Pakistani border - Steven Andrew Martin

Working on the Silk Road near the Sino-Pakistani border

At one point, the road was completely washed out from a flood the day before, and I got out of the bus and helped the road workers construct cages of rocks in wire to temporarily repair the road so we could pass.

The Karakorum Hwy, the ancient Silk Road, washed out from a recent flood - Steven Andrew Martin

The Karakorum Hwy, the ancient Silk Road, washed out from a recent flood

The Khunjerab Pass

The Khunjerab Pass is the highest paved international border crossing in the world, and our ancient, rattling public bus creaked and groaned up to it through spectacular mountain scenery, around hairpin bends with terrifying drops for two days.

Khunjerab Pass (4,693 m) Sino-Pakistani border crossing - Steven Andrew Martin

Khunjerab Pass, Sino-Pakistani border crossing, elevation, 4,693 m (15,397 ft)

The Hunza Valley

The first night in Pakistan, we arrived in the Hunza Valley, a high-mountain sanctuary fed by glacial streams and world-famous for the longevity of its people.

Hunza Valley, Gilgit–Baltistan region, Pakistan - Steven Andrew Martin

Hunza Valley, Gilgit–Baltistan region, Pakistan


The Indus River Valley

Traveling south from the Hunza Valley, I began to see what makes the Indus River Valley such a unique historical site, and why the entire subcontinent is named after it. This valley was the cradle of many great Indian cultures, not only Hindu, Jain and Buddhist, but also older and more mysterious cultures whose scripts remain undeciphered.

The Indus Valley civilizations have profoundly influenced the way people think throughout Asia and the world.

Red bricks at the Harappa archaeological site – Indus Valley Civilization [click to view PDF slideshow]

Harappa – Archaeological site visit

Beginning over five thousand years ago, the UNESCO-listed site of Harappa was once one of the world’s most important cities and cultural centers.

With the discovery and excavation of the site in 1921, it has been recognized as one of the oldest and most important civilizations and archaeological sites in the world.

UNESCO divides Harappa’s history into five key phases:

c. 3300-2800 BCE – Ravi
c. 2800-2600 BCE – Early Harappan
c. 2600-1900 BCE – Harappan
c. 1900-1800 BCE – Transitional
c. 1800-1300 BCE – Late Harappan

Ravi/Early Harappan Phase 3300-2600 BCE [click to see 4 phases full HD PDF - adapted from open source]

As explained in the interpretation signage at the site, the earliest settlement at Harappa was the Ravi phase, founded on an ancient levee of the river Ravi between 3500 and 3300 BCE.

Archaeological work on the Ravi phase has revealed that these early inhabitants imported stone from what is now Afghanistan and western India, and shells from the Arabian Sea to make beads. They manufactured earthenware vessels and figurines of clay by hand.

Indus River Valley Civilization site at Harappa [PDF slideshow]

Local people at Harappa [PDF slideshow]

Harappa archaeological site [PDF slideshow]


Taxila – Archaeological site visit

As described on my Silk Road page, Taxila was one of the most ancient universities in the world, where people from all over Asia came to study medicine, religion, and science. Instruction was available in at least five different languages, and this multicultural environment contributed to the pre-eminence of Taxila as a center of learning by the 5th century BCE.

At the height of the Maurya Empire in 250 BCE, King Ashoka recognized the significance of Taxila as an international city at the crossroads of Persia, India, and China, and declared it the provincial capital of his empire.

Jaulian Monastery at Taxila [PDF slideshow]

Interview at Jaulian Monastery, Taxila [PDF slideshow]

Stupas at Jaulian Monastery, Taxila

Sir John Marshall (1876-1958)

Any account of the research into the Indus Valley Civilization sites of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, and the excavations at Taxila, would be incomplete without mentioning Sir John Marshall, the Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India from 1902 to 1928. He was the first person in modern times to recognize the significance of these abandoned cities, and worked extensively to document, protect, and popularize these ancient mysterious sites.

Alongside his meticulous fieldwork, he founded the Taxila museum, which opened in 1918.

During my site visit at Taxila, I had the opportunity to personally interview the grandson of Basharai Khan, who was Sir John Marshal's personal assistant.

Portrait of Sir John Marshall (1876-1958) – Taxila Museum (source: Hermann Maurer – global-geography.org)

The works of Sir John Marshall in PDF

John Marshall’s outstanding work is now (as of March 2017) online and publicly available at: Archive.org.

Below, I have provided direct links to three relevant books from Sir John Marshall’s legacy.

  • Marshall, J. (ed.) (1931). Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization[30MB]
  • Marshall, J. (1951). Taxila: An illustrated account of archaeological excavations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [65MB]
  • Marshall, J. (1960). The Buddhist art of Gandhara: the story of the early school, its birth, growth and decline. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [65MB]

Gandhāra

Taxila was a key site where the ancient Greeks met the Buddhists, a cultural coincidence that occurred at the dawn of Mahāyāna Buddhism and the development of the Gandhāran civilization. Gandhāra reached its zenith during the Kushan period in the 2nd century AD.

Click on a photo to view a PDF slideshow of Taxila, featuring the Second City of Sirkap, founded by Demetrius in 190 BC, and the ruins of Jaulian, a two-thousand-year-old university.


Below, photos taken on the drive beginning at the Khunjerab Pass on the Sino-Pakistani border crossing, ending at Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - Sino-Pakistani border crossing

Khunjerab Pass (4,693 m) Sino-Pakistani border crossing

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - China-Pakistan border crossing - Khunjerab Pass

Khunjerab Pass (4,693 m) China-Pakistan border crossing

The Hunza Valley, Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan - Steven Andrew Martin Photo Journal

Rakaposhi, Hunza Valley, Gilgit–Baltistan region

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - Rakaposhi

Rakaposhi, the 27th highest mountain in the world at 7,788 m

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - tourist guide

Usman – driver and guide

The Hunza Valley, Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan - Steven Martin Photo Journal

The Hunza Valley, Gilgit–Baltistan region

Confluence of the Gilgit and Indus Rivers - Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin

Confluence of the Gilgit and Indus Rivers

Indus River in Gilgit-Baltistan region - Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin

Indus River in Gilgit-Baltistan region

Nanga Parabat - Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin

Nanga Parabat – Killer Mountain – third highest peak in the world

Buddhist rock carvings above the Indus River near Chilas, Pakistan - Steven Andrew Martin

Buddhist rock carvings above the Indus River near Chilas

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - Nissan truck

Colorful Bedford Truck

Karakoram Highway sign - Pakistan photo journal - Steven Andrew Martin

Karakoram Highway sign showing the distance traveled from Beijing

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - roadside salted corn

Roadside snack - Corn cooked in dry salt

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - Kids

Friends made along the way

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - Travels in Pakistan

On the road in Pakistan

Islamabad Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin

Arriving at Islamabad

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - Faisal Mosque Islamabad

Faisal Mosque, Islamabad

Pakistan Photo Journal - Steven Andrew Martin - Faisal Mosque tourist Islamabad

Tourist at Faisal Mosque, Islamabad

Thank you for visiting my Pakistan photo journal page.

Steven A. Martin