City Rumble – Islamabad versus Rawalpindi

Actually, this is a tale of two cities rather than one versus the other. But it seemed to fit along the lines of a City Rumble in my head. Islamabad is the somewhat modern capital of Pakistan, and so close they basically kiss each other is the much older city of Rawalpindi.


Islamabad was built in the 1960s taking over from Karachi. Rawalpindi is built where an ancient civilization once stood – Taxila. You can visit as I did, the site is actually not that impressive but there is quite a collection of items found at the site. It’s a shortish journey outside Rawalpindi. A small museum, and a few fields where things were dug up. It dates from 1000 BC or earlier.

Goats heads, Rawalpindi
Market Rawalpindi

They are considered ‘twin’ cities in some circles. I stayed in Rawalpindi, and I visited Islamabad in one day. Rawalpindi is a sprawling city of over 2 million. It’s full of trucks, cars and auto-rickshaws. I visited a busy market there, which was interesting. Some interesting sights there – goats heads in a row. I stopped but didn’t take a photo, but on the way back I took a snap.

Guy making truck art Rawalpindi
Truck Art Street, Rawalpindi

There’s a special road in Rawalpindi where they specialize in making ‘truck art’. The trucks in Pakistan all are decorated in amazing colours. One highlight from Rawalpindi was walking down the street and seeing where it all takes place!

Road Islamabad
King Faisal Mosque Islamabad

Islamabad on the other hand, well it’s spread out. It’s got a lot of nature mixed in with buildings. And the highlight is the modern King Faisal Mosque, which is really beautiful in its own way. It’s silver/metallic in look with beautiful marble floor as you enter.

Fountain on Margalla Hills Islamabad
Atop Margalla Hills

I went for a walk in a park on Margalla hill. And met a few people there – it was a very friendly spot in a friendly country. This was another highlight of Islamabad. It’s a popular place for locals to visit and spend time with loved ones.

Dusty Rawalpindi admittedly not its best side
Amazing trucks Rawalpindi
Heritage Library Islamabad

This is a ‘City Rumble’, so I guess I need to choose a winner. But I don’t feel qualified. They are very different and so it’s great to visit them together for the contrast. But at a pinch, I think I slightly preferred the craziness, noise and traffic of Rawalpindi. Any thoughts? Thanks anyways for stopping by today – and May the Journey Never End!

2 thoughts on “City Rumble – Islamabad versus Rawalpindi

  1. Love it! I’ll be sharing this soon for my Pakistan Traveller book page 🙂 I prefer Islamabad to be honest, but I live in Lahore, so i guess it’s something different for me. Do you (by any chance) remember where that skyline picture of Islamabad was taken from?

  2. Pingback: Essential Travel Tips to Pakistan! – Andy's World Journeys

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