UNESCO sites in Pakistan

32 must-see UNESCO Heritage sites in Pakistan

UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan are Six in number and are recognized as having significant heritage value that would require protection and monitoring. Four of these sites are located along an arc on the ancient invasion route from West to East, across Northern Pakistan. The remaining ones are also on the South to North Sea invasion route from Sindh province. 

Top Six protected UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan

There are Six protected UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Pakistan and they are:-

  1. Takht-i-Bahi and Sehr-i-Bahlol
  2. Taxila Buddhist Ruins of Gandhara
  3. Rohtas Fort
  4. Shalimar Garden
  5. Thatta Necropolis
  6. Mohenjo-Daro (city of the dead).

The truth is many other sites are just a goldmine of heritage information.

Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist monastery

Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist Monastery Ruins near Mardan is said to date around the 1st century BCE and are one the most well-preserved Buddhist Complex of the Gandhara period.

This was an elite school of the Mahayana (larger) Buddhism sect that spread out eastwards to the Indian region and beyond into the Far East. A neighboring town called Sehr-i-Bahlol, established around the same time, provided sustenance to the monks of this monastery.  This complex supported the Zoroastrian faith before Buddhism, at this site. The syncretic white Huns sacked it in the fifth century AD.

Taxila or Taxasihila (Est. 1000 BCE)

Taxila Buddist Ruins were the center of the Gandhara Civilization in the North of present-day Pakistan. The Taxashila University is said to be the oldest higher-learning institution in this region.

Great Strategists and Governors like Chandraput Mauriya and Ashoka graduated from this school. It has civilization written all over the place.

Taxila Museum is a treat to visit because of its rare artifacts, like the teeth of Gautam Buddha. There are about a dozen Stupa and Monastery Ruins all around Taxila, that are yet to be excavated. One such site is the beautiful Bhamala site, which has a rare 40-foot supine Buddha in the world.

Also see, Jaulian Buddhist Stupa Taxila

Rohtas Fort

The Rohtas Fort of Rawat was established in 1541 AD by Sher Shah Suri to prevent any incursion by the defeated Mughal Humayun, on the West to East invasion route into India.

Its uniqueness is the Turkish style of military architecture that is unique to Muslim Mughals. A lot of it is still preserved. Worth seeing there are:-

  • The general’s quarters
  • Watering holes
  • Temples
  • Hangman’s plank
  • Living quarters.
  • Sikh Gurdwara
  • Museum

City of the Dead, Mohenjo Daro (Est. 2500 BC)

Mohenjo Daro “City of the Dead” was once the seat of power in the lower Indus. Why it was abandoned has no explanation except the river Indus just shifted its banks suddenly. Its glazed s

Mohenjo Daro, Sindh World Heritage Site
Mohenjo Daro, Sindh World Heritage Site

Sections of Mohenjo Daro Ruins’

  • The Swimming pools
  • Sectored living quarters
  • Drainage systems
  • Main Fort
  • Granary

All this indicates that it was designed by civilized people, similar to the ancient cities of Sirkap & Harappa up north., but much older.

Courtesy Wikipedia

The necropolis of Thatta

 Thatta Tombs were built over 400 years ago and are a reminder that man is mortal. Great families that ruled Sindh in the 15th & 16th centuries are all buried here.

  • General
  • Viziers
  • Landlords
  • Rulers

Thatta Necropolis is the ultimate tribute to the now-abandoned town’s glory. It has elaborately carved tombstones and mausoleums. Thatta Cithy faded away when the River Indus changed its route.

Shalamar Gardens Lahore

These Gardens were built by Mughal Emperor Jehangir in 1641 AD, when the dynasty was at its zenith in power and culture.

The calm canals, arched terraces, mosaics and echo chambers take you back to glory days of splendor ad surplus


26 Tentative UNESCO Heritage Sites in Pakistan

 UNESCO is also considering 23 more heritage sites for protection and these are:-

  1. Badshahi Mosque Lahore
  2. Wazir Khan Mosque Walled City Lahore
  3. Tomb of Jehangir & Akbari Serai
  4. Hiran Minar Sheikhupura
  5. Tomb of Hazrat Shah Rukn-e-Alam
  6. Ranikot Fort Dadu
  7. Shah Jehan Mosque Thatta
  8. Chaukhandi Tombs Karachi
  9. Mehrgarh Ruins Bolan (7000 BC)
  10. Rehman Dheri Ruins Dera Ismail Khan (3000 BC)
  11. Harappa Punjab
  12. Ranigat Buddist Monastery Swabi
  13. Shahbaz Garhi Rock Edict of Ashoka
  14. Mansehra Rock Edict
  15. Baltit Fort Hunza
  16. Tombs of :-
    • Bibi Jiwindi
    • Baha al-Halim
    • Jalaluddin Bukhari
  17. Ancient Port Ruins of Bambhore
  18. Derawar Fort and Mud forts of Cholistan
  19. Central Karakorum National Park
  20. Hingol National Park,
  21. Ziarat Juniper forest
  22. Derawar Fort, 
  23. Khewra Salt Range,
  24. Karez System Baluchistan, 
  25. Deosai National Park.
  26. Nagarparkar Jain Temples

Honorary List of Heritage Sites in Pakistan 

My personal list of Top Heritage sites of Pakistan is :-

Lahore Fort Shahi Qila

One look at Lahore Fort and I start hearing Umrao Jan’s ‘Dil cheez Kya Hai aap mere jaan lejiye (take my life, my beloved, my heart is too insignificant)’, in my head.

Lahore Fort is said to have been reconstructed in its current form in 1566 AD

Walking through the massive structure you get a feel of the:-

  • Splendor
  • Royalty,
  • Power
  • Culture
  • Architecture
  • Song & Dance,
  • Cruelty in the Dungeons
  • Art

 It’s a must-see for travelers who want to understand the heart of Lahore city.

Why is UNESCO important?

UNESCO stands for United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organisation. UNESCO is more of an acronym rather than an abbreviation. If UNESCO recognizes a site for its Cultural and Heritage significance to world history, it means the whole world recognizes the same.


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