Rawalpindi is better known as the twin city of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, and is to the Northwest of Lahore. It also served as the capital of Pakistan, when the city of Islamabad was being constructed in the 1960s. Rawalpindi has a vast and chequered history.
Rawalpindi also known as Pindi is believed, according to archaeological findings, to be a Buddhist Settlement, with a culture contemporary to the civilization of Taxila. When the Huns invaded, they razed this city to the ground. It is said that a Gakhar Chief, named Jhanda Khan, restored it in 1493. The village named Rawal, which was restored, was later named as Rawalpindi. Till 1765, the Gakkhars ruled over Rawalpindi, until the Sikhs occupied it and developed this city. In 1849, the British occupied this city and a railway service that paved the way for faster development for Rawalpindi was started in 1886.
Present day Rawalpindi is a bustling and modern city. It is the headquarters of the Pakistan Armed Forces. It has a cosmopolitan culture, with people of mixed ethnic groups living here, like the Pathans, Pothoharis, Punjabis, Mujahirs, etc. It has all the facilities required for a modern city living, like shopping malls, theaters, multiplexes, cyber cafes, restaurants, clubs and parks. Many important industries of Pakistan are found in this city. The Grand Trunk Road runs through the middle of it. The important markets of Rawalpindi are the Raja Bazaar and the Saddar Bazaar, Moti Bazaar and the Kashmiri Bazaar. Islamabad International Airport is actually located in Rawalpindi and caters to all international flights.
Rawalpindi houses the Pakistan Army Museum, since it has been a garrison city for a considerable length of time. Other than this, Rawalpindi is the starting point of various hill resorts like Muree, Ayubia, Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu, Chitral etc. The famed Muree road runs through it. Muree has always remained one of the most sought after hill resorts of Pakistan for ages.
The other places of interest in and around Rawalpindi are the Ayub National Park on the Jhelum Road, which has a play land, boating facilities, and a restaurant. There is Rawat Fort, 17 kms east of Rawalpindi, on the Grand Trunk Road, and further away on the same road towards Peshawar, one gets to see the Attock fort. Pharwala Fort, about 40 kms from Rawalpindi, allows only Pakistani visitors. Rohtas Fort is 109 kms from Rawalpindi and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And of course Taxila
If a person was to look for a good bargain in Rawalpindi, he or she should look for inlaid work on Sheesham or Walnut wood. Other than this, Kashmiri shawls, jackets, carpets, Potohari jooties etc are a great buy.
The Pearl Continental Hotel is one of the best star hotels in Rawalpindi. The Marriott Hotel Islamabad, Islamabad Serena Hotel, Flashman’s Hotel, Holiday Inn are the accommodation which are quite good and cosy. The Best Western Hotel and the Depapae Hotel, Savannah Inn Guest House, The Gatmells Motel are good bargain hotels.