Heritage sites worldwide are a fascinating way to glimpse the past, and Pakistan is no exception. UNESCO has recognized 25 World Heritage Sites in the country, including some of the most iconic landmarks in history. People are always looking for new and exciting tourist destinations, so why not add these UNESCO World Heritage Sites to your list of things to see in Pakistan?

The UNESCO World Heritage Sites are areas of great significance to cultural or natural tradition, as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. The convention was established in 1972 to protect these heritage sites. Heritage refers to cultural and natural assets with historical, aesthetic, scientific or spiritual value. Cultural heritage includes monuments, buildings and sites with historical or architectural importance. In contrast, natural heritage refers to physical and biological formations, geological sites and habitats of threatened plant and animal species.

There are currently six world’s top Heritage Sites in Pakistan, with 26 on the tentative list. The first three sites were listed in 1980 and included the Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro, the Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi, and the Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol. Two additional sites were recorded in 1981, with the most recent being added to the list in 1997 (Rohtas Fort). All six of Pakistan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites are cultural.


Mohenjo-Daro is an ancient site located in the northern Sindh province of Pakistan. The site consists of a group of mounds and ruins on the rightward bank of the Indus River. The site of Mohenjo-Daro is thought to derive its name from the local phrase for “mound of the dead.” The site’s archaeological significance was first noted in 1922, shortly after the discovery of the nearby site at Harappa. Subsequent excavations have revealed that the mounds likely contain the residue of what was once the largest city in the Indus civilization.

The Moenjo-Daro ruins, located in the Indus valley, are one of the earliest physical confirmations of urban planning. The site is vast and dates back to 3000 BC. As one of the first Indian cities, it shows evidence of complex street and drainage systems. Archaeological findings suggest that the ancient city was wealthy, with gold and lapis lazuli among the items uncovered. The city layout is an indication of its former inhabitants’ prominence. However, experts warn that without proper preservation, the site will be entirely gone by 2030.

It is the best site for travelers interested in architecture, urban planning and ancient Indian history.

Takht-i-Bahi and Sahr-i-Bahlol:

The Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist monastic complex was founded in the early 1st century. Its location on the topknot of a high hill protected it from successive invasions, and it is still extraordinarily well preserved. Nearby are the other ruins of Sahr-i-Bahlol, a small protected city dating from the same period. The Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and the nearby City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol are some of the most impressive relics of Buddhism in the Gandhara region of Pakistan. Both components of the inscribed property date back to the same era.

The Buddhist Ruins of Takhi-i-Bahi, founded in the early 1st century A.D., are located on various drifts ranging from 36.6 metres to 152.4 metres in height. The compounds cover an area of 33ha. The Buddhist priory was in continual use until the 7th century A.D. It is composed of an aggregation of buildings and is the complete Buddhist monastery in Pakistan. The buildings were constructed using stone in Gandhara patterns (diaper style) and locally dressed and semi-dressed rock blocks set in lime and mud mortar. Today the site comprises a central stupa court, a votive stupa court, a set of three stupas, the monastic courtyard with meditation cells, a meeting hall, covered stepped passageways and other secular buildings.

The Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and the Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol were both identified as protected memorials under the Ancient Preservation Act (1904) and afterwards under the Antiquities Act (1975) of the Federal Government of Pakistan. Proposals to amend and strengthen the Antiquities Act are currently under consideration. The Takht-i-Bahi ruins are effectively owned by the federal Department of Archaeology, while the Sahr-i-Bahlol ruins are mainly private property owned by the local Khans. The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has recently declared the whole mountain area of 445 hectares an Archaeological Reserve to control urbanization. It has resulted in a revision of the property boundaries being seriously considered, acquiring the land around the site and creating a larger buffer zone. However, adequate documentation of the remains is still needed, as well as enhanced capacity building for artisans in traditional building techniques.

As the UNESCO heritage of Pakistan is constantly under threat, the Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Sahr-i-Bahlol are an essential testimony to a past that is being rapidly obliterated. The site is a reminder of the diverse and rich cultures that have shaped Pakistan over the centuries and should be preserved for future generations. One must visit the Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi to understand the richness and culture of the Gandhara region truly.

Rohtas Fort:

The Rohtas Fort, also known as the Rohtas Castle, is a 15th-century fort located in the Rohtas district of Punjab province, Pakistan. The fort is situated on an elevated hilltop overlooking the Beas River valley. It was initially built by the Tomar Rajputs in the 12th century and later occupied by the Mughal Empire and Sikh Empire before becoming part of British India. In 1758, it was captured by Afghans and passed to the Durranis in 1793. After the Third Anglo-Afghan War, it became part of British India again. The Pakistani Army now administers the fort.

The Rohtas Fort, built by Sher Shah Suri in 1541, remains intact today. The fort’s walls stretched for over 4 kilometres and served as a deterrent for rebellious members of the public and the return of emperor Humayun. The fort is a bold example of the capabilities of the Muslim military architecture of the time. It is of particular importance culturally as it is the only existing example of architecture created at the time of Sher Shah Suri’s rule. Despite its military use, the detailing on the fort is quite beautiful, and its location on a hilltop means it boasts exemplary views of the surrounding landscapes.

Rohtas Fort is an excellent example of a Hindu-Mughal-style fortress with an alternating red sandstone and yellow limestone facade. It has a large central keep with five wings framing courtyards and terraces. The fort is also notable for its bastions, machicolations and crenellations. The fort also has temples within its walls, including a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva and a Muslim mosque.

Mansehra Rock Edicts:

Mansehra Rock Edicts, also known as the Mansehra Stele or the Edicts of Ahura Mazda, is a set of inscribed rock slabs discovered in 1933 near the town of Mansehra in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The inscriptions record Zoroastrian religious doctrine and practices dating back to the 6th century B.C. The mandate is also significant historically because it provides one of the earliest written records of the Pashto and Balochi languages.

The inscription was discovered on two sandstone columns that measured about 3.5 meters high and 1 meter wide. The height and width are unusual for carvings, as they usually only feature images that are within 2 meters tall and 1 meter wide, making it difficult for people to see them from a distance. The inscription is in two columns, with the left column dated 511 BC and the right column to 357 BC.

The inscriptions on the rock edict are in Pashto, Balochi, Sanskrit and Aramaic. The inscriptions are about Zoroastrianism’s religious doctrine and practice, the dominant religion in ancient Iran. The text tells of how Ahura Mazda created heaven and earth, ordained priests and laws for humanity, and appointed a champion to protect his people from evil. There is also a reference to a festival celebrating victory over Angra Mainyu.

The Mansehra Stele is significant historically because it provides one of the earliest written records of the Pashto and Balochi languages. It is also one of the few survivors of Zoroastrianism, the dominant religion in ancient Iran. Finally, the inscription is culturally significant because it tells of religious doctrine and practices still practiced by Zoroastrian Muslims today.


Taxila, also known as Takshashila or Taksali, was an important city in ancient Pakistan. It is located about 25 kilometres northwest of Peshawar and was one of the most renowned universities of its time. The town was founded around 560 BC by the Achaemenid king Darius I, who named it after his ancestor Taksha-Sena. Taxila served as an essential center of learning for students from all over the Near and Middle East.

The University of Taxila is one of the oldest universities in Asia and is regarded as one of the most favoured universities in the world. The university is home to many famous scholars, including Aryabhata, who developed mathematics; Jamshid ibn al-Jawzi, who developed astronomy; and Biruni, who studied philosophy and theology.

The University of Taxila is also notable for its Buddhist and Hindu scriptures collection. The university’s library has more than two million manuscripts and books, making it one of the world’s largest collections of Buddhist and Hindu scriptures. In addition, Taxila is an important archaeological site because it is a shelter to one of the world’s oldest universities and a significant collection of Buddhist and Hindu scriptures.

Lahore Fort and Shalamar Gardens:

Lahore Fort is a historic fort and palace in Lahore, Pakistan. The Mughal emperor Akbar built the fort between 1563 and 1574, considered one of the most critical Mughal architectural projects. The fort is also significant historically because it was the first city in Muslim-controlled territory to be captured by an army from outside of the Islamic world.

The Shalamar Gardens are a garden in Lahore, Pakistan, often referred to as the ‘Paris of the East. The fort was built, destroyed and rebuilt several times between the 13th and 15th centuries. It is home to marble palaces, motifs and intricate detailing, which highlight the use of symbols in the Mughal design. The sandstone walls are inlaid with detailed motifs and precious materials. The Shalamar Gardens are a pinnacle of Mughal garden design and influenced much of the later Indian architecture and design. The gardens were built in 1892 by Ranjit Singh, the last Sikh ruler of Punjab. The gardens are notable for their Italianate features and have been called the “most beautiful garden in Asia.”

The Shalamar Gardens are an important archaeological site because it shows the Mughal & Colonial Heritage of ancient times and they are one of the few remaining examples of European-style gardens in South Asia. In addition, they are home to one of the world’s vast collections of roses.

End Line!

Just like popular heritage sites, some UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Pakistan are lesser known but no less significant for that, including Makli Hill, Shah Jahan Mosque, Tomb of Hazrat Rukn-e-Alam, Thandiani Zenda Wildlife Reserve, the Barmaktun Fort, and Wazir Khan Mosque. These sites are worth a visit for anyone interested in history and culture, provide a glimpse into Pakistan’s rich and varied heritage, and are sure to impress.