Quiet possibly about the Hindu/Sikh/Buddhist/Jain culture of the land that comprises the modern day Pakistan.
In Hindu tradition, the name Lahore derives from “Lavpur”, and is said to have been founded by Prince Lava, son of Rama and Sita. The first mention of the place is in “Hudud-Al-Alam”, a 10th century text which says that the place had majestic temples, large markets and huge orchards.
Rawalpindi falls on the boundaries of the ancient Gandhara kingdom. 55 Stupas, 28 monasteries, 9 temples and several ancient manuscripts have been unearthed from the historic place. A prominent Stupa unearthed is the Mankiala Stupa. It is the spot where a Buddha incarnation offered himself as food to 9 tiger cubs to quench their hunger.
Multan derives its name from “Multasthana”, that was the name for a grand sun temple at the place. The temple was established by Samba, Lord Krishna’s son. It was the center for a sun-worshiping cult. Hsuen Tsang visited Multasthana in 641 AD and mentioned that Buddha and Shiva were also worshiped in the temple along with Aaditya, the solar deity. Multasthana was ultimately destroyed in 10th century AD by Ismail rulers. Al Biruni who visited the site in 11th century mentioned that Hindu pilgrims no longer visited the site as it laid in total ruins.
Taxila or Takshashila in what is now Northern Pakistan, was one of the earliest universities in the world. It continued to be a center of Buddhist learning until 5th century AD when it was destroyed by White Huns who invaded Gandhar and Punjab in 470 AD.
It is one of the four provinces in Pakistan and derives its name from the Sindhu river.
It contains the second largest Indus Valley site Mohenjo-daro.
It also finds mention in the Mahabharatha as being part of the cumulative Bharatvarsha.
Hinglaj Mata Mandir, one of the Shakti Peethas, also lies very near to Sindh in Balochistan province.
Peshawar is the capital of Kyber Paktunkhwa. It derives its name from Purushpura (City of men). Ancient Peshawar’s population was about 1,20,000 which makes it the seventh most populated city of the time.
Under the Kushan rule, Kansishka built the Mahavira Jain monastery in Peshawar in the second century AD.
Kanishka stupa, built after Kanishka’s death, might have been the tallest building of its time (120–170m).
The monasteries were razed to the ground by Shapur I, a Zoroastrian emperor.
It houses the famous Indus valley site Harappa.
The region was called “Sapta Sindhu” in the Vedic age, or the land of seven rivers. The battles of Mahabharata have been described as being fought in the Indian state of Haryana and the ancient Punjab. It is mentioned as the Panchnanda.
The earliest Hindu text, the Rig Veda was composed on the banks of the now extinct River Saraswati, in Punjab
The land is also the birth place of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev ji..
Kashmir is the northernmost portion of the Indian subcontinent and has been a territorial dispute for too long. But it has played an enormous role in shaping the culture of the Indian subcontinent.
Abhinavgupta, one of the greatest Indian philosophers, was born in Kashmir. Mokshopaya, a treatise on salvation for non-ascetics was composed in Kashmir. Yoga Vashishtha, a discussion about Maya and Brahman, as well as principles of non-duality was also composed in Kashmir. Rajtaringini is one of the earliest recorded history books in the world and it is about the history of Kashmir. But the most important contribution was the Kashmir Shaivism that spread rapidly to the rest parts of India.
Coming specifically to Azad Kashmir in Pakistan, it houses the Sharada Peeth, dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of learning. It was a major center of learning for a long time and is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas. It is said that the right hand of Sati fell here while Shiva carried her.
Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang stayed at the site for two years and greatly appreciated the learning he received. He mentioned that Kashmir was a great center of learning with over 100 monasteries and 5000 monks.
In 14th century AD, Sharda Peeth was unfortunately ransacked during the Islamic invasion.
9. Swat Valley
The river Swat has been mentioned as River Suvastu in the Rig Veda, from which the valley derives its name. It was historically named as Uddiyana and Tantric Buddhism greatly flourished here.
It houses several Buddhist artifacts. One of the most prominent being the famous seated Buddha statue. Only the Buddha of Bamiyan in Afghanistan was taller than this statue, but its face was dynamited by the Taliban and sadly, Pakistan government did nothing to protect this relic.