(Picture population of over 28 million. Bahasa
(Picture 1A)Located on the pre-historic Potohar plateau, Islamabad is adorned with its many architecture gems, fountains and green belts. The modern Capital of Pakistan has its landmark in the foothills of Margala: the Shah Faisal Masjid – one of the largest masjid’s in the world. At the time when the capital of Pakistan was shifted to Islamabad in 1961, the then King of Saudi Arabia, Shah Faisal generously offered financial aid for the construction of the masjid.
Designed by famed architect Vedat Dalokay, the masjid covers an area of 189,705 square meters. Each of its four minarets soars 88 meters high and the dome over the main prayer hall rises to 40 meters. The tent shaped architecture marvelously acquiesce the surrounding of the lush hills and the large crescent on top of the dome symbolizes the crescent-shaped Magalia range. The interior of the masjid is equipped with a magnificent chandelier and the walls are trimmed in paintings by the country’s celebrated artists: Gulgee and Sadequain. The masjid to its full capacity accommodates some 100,000 prayers. (Picture 1)Although the Muslims are in the majority – Malay, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and a rainbow of indigenous groups (Dusuns, Ibans, Kadazans, Bidayuhs and Muruts to name a few), belong to all the major religions of the world, which makes up the tropical Malaysia with a population of over 28 million. Bahasa is the national language though English, Urdu/ Hindi and Cantonese is spoken among the inhabitants.
With a strong urge in compliance towards Shariah, Malaysia’s Capital Kuala Lampur and its sub-urban towns offer beautiful examples of masjid architecture in the form of Jamik Masjid, Shah Alam masjid and newly structured at Putra Jaya. (Picture 2A) Today’s dynapolis, Islamabad boasts the most beautiful city of the country in terms of natural surrounding and neat living. Just a couple of decades ago, the capital had a feel of a remote countryside in the outskirts of its sister city of Rawalpindi, which is about 18 kilometers from zero point-Islamabad. The Pakistan National Council of Arts, Institute of Folk Heritage, the Sports Complex (Jinnah Stadium), National Institute of Health, and the Islamabad Club cater the need for medical services, promotion of sports, social and cultural activities. Shakar Parian and Daman-e-Koh (rock-saddle) affords a birds-eye view of the Capital. Spacious parks and gardens The Japanese Garden, Rose and Jasmine garden and Rawal Lake are some of the recreational places for the 4.5 million inhabitant and visitors alike. The more recently developed Capital Park is attractively profuse with water ponds, rock gardens and fountains.
(Picture 2) From the staggering heights of the Petronas Twin towers(452meters/ 1483 meters) – the obvious landmark of Malaysia; the bird’s eye view of the garden city of Kuala Lumpur offers a sweeping vista of a cluster of tall skyscrapers, including the KL Tower, the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center (KLCC). The so called “Golden Triangle” is well connected with a network of mono rail (over ground) complementing LRT and the underground train system. KL with its 1.6 million inhabitants is truly a unique place to come across peoples of Malaysia consisting of the Malays (50%), Chinese (30%) and Indians (20%), including the indigenous groups of the Western Peninsula as well as Sabah and Sarawak in Eastern Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Of the country’s total population of 23 million, KL breathes at a tone of 1.
8 million people speaking Bahasa Melayu – the national language. (Picture 3A) In just over 60 years, the Capital has fully developed with fine examples of architecture that stands along the Constitution Avenue like the Supreme Court, the Chief Executive Secretariat and the President’s House. Islamabad with a secured diplomatic enclave extends to secretariat and the Ministry block of buildings. In the vicinity, while the Pakistan National Council of Arts is a center of encouraging local talent in art and music; the fortified Islamabad Marriott Hotel entertains local and visiting diners with thematic evening or live music at Nadia and Dumpukht restaurants. The Convention Center located at the junction of road leading to the Murree hills is the venue to hold international conferences and theme evenings. Major gathering of foreign delegation often accompanied with a troupe of performers entertains the audience a colorful presentation of their country by visiting guests.
The world class Sports Complex has been the ground for Asian games and regular sporting events take place here from time to time. (Picture 3) Seri Perdana – the permanent official residence of the present and future Prime Ministers of Malaysia is located in the model Intelligent Garden City – Putra Jaya, which lies within the Capital limits. The architecture is a fusion of Malay-Moorish and Islamic style during the Mughal period. Taman Botanic Park is an Arcadia or a National Sanctuary for Malaysian living collection of plant taxonomy and also a center of education and research. This Largest Botanical Garden in the country spans over 92 HA is divided into: Flowers, Ornamental Plants and Preservation/ research area, with over 700 species of local plants and also from Africa and Asia Pacific regions.The highlight of Putra Jaya is the Lake spanned over 400 ha. The Kelah/ Sebarau sundowner dining cruise offers a delightful experience cruising by some of the modern bridges like the Seri Wawasan Bridge; Putra Bridge – a jewel in the crown of bridges; Seri Bakti Bridge and the cable-stayed Bridge – also the land mark of Putrajaya. (Picture 4A) Islamabad Marriott Hotel and its Restaurants offering irresistible world cuisine is the only recommended, fortified with high security alert place in town for business and pleasure.
Regular musical evenings and dining in pleasurable environs are the highlights of the Hotel. In-house restaurants assure freshness and high quality culinary experience at the following outlets: – Nadia – the all-day dining venue also offers high-tea and buffet lunch and dinner;- Dumpukht Mughlai: Diners are pampered with a typical Pakistani cuisine with live sitar and table musician to add extra luster into a perfect evening;- Jason Steak House: Dining concept focused on steaks and high quality food abound elegant atmosphere in earth colors. Two Private Rooms each with the capacity of four persons makes an ideal venue for business dinner;- Dynasty Chinese Restaurant; The talk to the town restaurant for authentic Chinese cuisines- The Royal Elephant serving Thailicious cuisines;- Sakura Japanese: Business lunch over sushi, tempura and other Japanese delights in intimate Japanese style surrounding; – Lobby Lounge with a treat of sweet temptations;- Terrace Café: Continental delights including juicy burgers, ice-cream for family and young people. Picture 4 The Royal Chulan Hotel with its friendly services and spacious suite rooms is centrally located abound shopping complexes and craft centers offering world’s renowned branded products side by side to a festive nightlife with rows of restaurants that offers cuisine from around the world. The Hotel’s own restaurants engage the guests to returning to the hotel and indulge into fine dining experience. In the heart of the garden city of Kuala Lumpur a cluster of tall skyscrapers in the close proximity of the hotel, including the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center (KLCC), which conveniently connects the Time Square. (Picture 5A) Along the Garden Avenue Drive, the Pakistan Lok Virsa (Pakistan Folk Lore) is dedicated to local art and folk heritage of Pakistan and holds folk exhibitions and carnivals at a regular time interval.
The Food Court at Civic center incepted with a vision of world food courts in the South-east Asia, offer a range of Pakistani culinary from barbecued meat, traditional dishes like nihari, haleem to the savory snacks like pakora, samosa including stalls that offer seasonal fresh fruit juices.The Saidpur Village in the foothills of the Magalia is a more authentic folkloric venue to dine in restaurants designed in traditional style and to indulge into the rural lifestyle of surrounding local houses. World cuisines centers around the main centers around the capital in the vicinity of the Super Market and Jinnah Super, to name a few: Luna Caprese Italian Restaurant (behind Super Market), the Golden Dragon (behind Jinnah Super).On holidays local residents flock to the zoological Garden in the base of Daaman-e-Koh, and a number of parks like the Japanese Garden, Rose and Jasmine garden and shaker parian. (Picture 5) Bintang Walk, also called Arab Street is one of Kuala Lampur’s talked about shopping and entertainment district.
With the Capital’s main shopping complexes, the area is queued up with al-fresco cafes, food streets and night markets. For lavish dining, there are 5-star hotels like the Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lampur, where dining is on the concept of pork-free menu. One of the award winning restaurants at the Hotel is the Villa Danieli – a rustic, family – style Italian restaurants with all-time favorite authentic Italian dishes prepared by innovative chef. The Warisan Café at the Royal Chulan Hotel is a recommended all day lavish buffet dining venue with lip smacking traditional spiced Malaysian cuisines with plenty of tropical fruits on the serving table. A sun downer cruise and dine from Kuala Lampur’s model suburb town: Putra Jaya is a journey through Malaysian culinary treat while enjoying sweeping vistas of this town of the Bridges with several masjids along the river.