Famous Sculptures and Monuments of Pakistan

Pakistan is a country filled with a rich culture and also boasts a number of unique sculptures. We explore some of these varied art pieces.

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The tower is a beautiful mix of Mughal and modern architecture.

Popular sculptures and monuments in any country belong to the heritage and are an important visual aspect of its history. Pakistan’s rich past is represented by a number of famous works.

When sculptors use different materials, they do it to showcase their interpretation of what they are creating, be it contemporary, traditional or monumental.

Pakistani sculptures are part of the country’s long history, especially when they have been made of natural materials such as stone.

The work which has gone into the sculptures have seen a number of them become iconic monuments and tourist attractions.

Some have been around for centuries and have stood the test of time.

We look at some of the famous sculptures and monument in Pakistan which have become part of vibrant history.

Buddha of Swat Valley

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The Buddha is the most famous sculpture of many creations in the Swat Valley district of Pakistan.

Buddhism has a long history in Pakistan, dating back to the Mauryan King Ashoka.

This particular one is probably the most well known and one of the oldest rock carvings, having been carved on the side of a cliff during the seventh century.

The carefully rendered details in the carving have seen people suggest Western influences, but these have been debunked.

A number of other designs in the area have similar styles which date back to the time period of the Buddha of Swat’s creation.

The beautiful figure, coupled with the stunning scenery, has made the area an attraction for tourists.

It is a six-metre tall sculpture and is considered one of the largest sculptures in South Asia.

However, in 2001, the Buddha was badly damaged in an explosion. But Pakistan received help from the Rome government to restore the cultural artefact.

It was a lengthy process, taking nine years, but was ultimately a success.

Locals see the restoration as a powerful symbol of tolerance and visit it for inner peace.

It is a preservation of Pakistan’s ancient history and culture.

Minar-e-Pakistan

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The Minar-e-Pakistan is one of the country’s most famous monuments and is located in Lahore.

Building began in 1960 and it took eight years to complete. It is the idea of Nasreddin Murat-Khan, an architect and engineer hailing from Punjab.

The tower is a beautiful mix of Mughal and modern architecture and stands 70 metres tall.

Its base is made of four platforms, each built with different stones.

The first platform is made up of Taxila stones and the second uses hammer-dressed stones. The designers used chiselled stones for the third platform and white marble makes the final one.

The base of the tower resembles a flower and is surrounded by parks and flowers.

It is a fascinating sculpting monument which is also known as the Tower of Pakistan.

Today, the minaret is a major tourist attraction is provides a panoramic view to those who use the elevator.

The parks which surround the monument include marble fountains and an artificial lake.

Three Swords Monument

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The Teen Talwar (Three Swords) monument is a stunning piece of art located in Karachi.

It is the brainchild of the former President and Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and was built in 1974.

The sword design was to reflect the emergence of Bhutto’s government. It was also supposed to be draped in black, red and green to represent Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Bhutto later changed it and decided to have it inscribed with Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s motto, Unity, Faith and Discipline.

Today, the monument is covered in various political banners and flyers.

The monument is made of white marble and is a grand sight to see.

It is one of Karachi’s most iconic monuments to visit, however, it is difficult to see up close.

The Three Swords monument is located in the middle of a busy roundabout, so it is not possible to get a picture, up close.

But from a distance, the Three Swords monument is magnificent to look at.

Two Moons

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Amin Gulgee is one of Pakistan’s most renowned sculptures and the son of famous artist Ismail Gulgee.

He is known for his intrinsic paintings and sculptures, many of which are located in his Karachi-based museum aptly named the Gulgee Museum.

It speaks volumes about his father’s legacy as well as a vast collection of artworks.

One interesting sculpture is his unusual creation called ‘Two Moons’.

The glass creation is a half-sphere shape which is the epitome of contemporary sculpting, guaranteed to stand out in any gallery.

It incorporates reflective green glass within the metal net-like design which highlights Gulgee’s own ideologies.

At the unveiling in 2015, curator Zarmeene Shah said:

“Amin has created a world, which has three moons, instead of having one, revolving around the world.”

“To understand this world, one needs a different approach of thinking, which is in growing need of today’s world in order to find the solution to the problems we all are facing.”

Gulgee’s unique way of thinking has made his Two Moons sculpture a famous piece of art.

Jahangir’s Tomb

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The Tomb of Mughal Emperor Jahangir is one of the finest pieces of architecture in Lahore.

It has even been considered the most magnificent Mughal monument after the Taj Mahal.

The 17th-century mausoleum is 22 feet tall and was built by Shah Jahan in honour of his father.

Red sandstone and marble are primarily used for the exterior and is adorned with white marble motifs and floral patterns.

The four minarets on each corner take influence from Timurid architectural styles from Central Asia and are decorated with inlaid stone.

It’s interior is very unique as floral designs embellish it as well as delicate inlay work, all in vibrant colours.

The vast gardens which surround Jahangir’s Tomb are just another addition to the mastery of work.

Since 1993, the site has been on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Hopefully, it becomes official in the future.

Pakistan Monument

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The Pakistan Monument is a popular tourist destination due to its fascinating structure.

Located in Islamabad, the petal-shaped granite structure reflects the history, culture and unity of Pakistan’s provinces.

Construction began in 2004 at the west viewpoint of the Shakarparian Hills and was completed in 2007.

While it is currently a museum, the complicated design makes it an impressive piece of sculpted architecture.

Inside, there are displays of ancient civilisations and the achievements of Pakistan, all in a creative way.

At the museum’s entrance, sculptures of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Fatima Jinnah are seated in a horse and carriage.

The elevation of the monument makes it visible from the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area.

The monument’s four main petals represent the four provinces, including Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Pakistan Monument’s three smaller petals symbolise Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu, Kashmir and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

It truly is an iconic structure in Pakistan which represents a number of elements regarding the country’s rich history.

The Dancing Girl

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Situated in Lahore’s Heera Mandi is a hybrid of a restaurant and art gallery, which promises delicious food and appealing artwork.

Cooco’s Den is filled with art pieces which take multiple influences from the area’s history as a red light district.

The owner and well-known painter Iqbal Hussain has created a number of striking artworks.

He also collects a number of sculptures, many of which are of deities, but some are of women from Heera Mandi.

They often appear scantily-clad and sexualised, and while some like this are deemed controversial, it reflects the history of the area.

The Dancing Girl uses rock which has been shaped into a woman, native to the location and most likely a sex worker.

The creation is dressed in revealing clothing, which was commonly seen among prostitutes in Heera Mandi.

It has been sculpted in vast detail, from the folds in the clothes to the facial features.

One thing is that whenever you go to Cooco’s Den, you will remember this sculpture.

Faisalabad Clock Tower

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The Faisalabad is one of the oldest monuments which is still standing in its original state from the British Raj.

It is popularly known as Ghanta Ghar and does not fail to fascinate anyone who visits Faisalabad.

The majestic Clock Tower was completed in 1905 and is the idea of sir Charles Riwaz, British lieutenant governor of Punjab.

It is a historical structure which is placed at the centre of eight markets and can be seen from a number of directions.

From a birds-eye view, the market area resembles the Union Jack flag and still exists today. It is believed that the clock tower was built in Queen Victoria’s memory.

Sculptors installed big blocks of red sandstone. One of the sculptors was Gulab Khan who belongs to the family who built the Taj Mahal.

Expert carpenters also helped create the stunning monument.

The historic structure has managed to stay in pristine condition on the outside, but the interior is in need of renovating.

Nevertheless, it is the most recognised structure in the city and many events take place at the Clock Tower.

The Fasting Buddha

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This graphic sculpture was excavated in the 19th Century and is now displayed in the Lahore Museum of Pakistan.

The Fasting Buddha dates back to the second century and is from ancient Gandhara, in Peshawar Valley.

It represents an event which took place before the Buddha’s enlightenment.

The sculpture depicts Siddhartha Gautama on his quest to try many aesthetic practises.

This includes starving himself until he resembled a living skeleton. He later realised that mental cultivation and insight, not bodily deprivation would lead to enlightenment.

The sculpture has come in many variations, some even made of metal, but all depict the fasting stage of the Buddha, hence the name of Fasting Buddha.

It is shown with his skin gripping his skeletal body with his thin muscles and veins bulging from his skin and his neck is taught with his tendons sticking out.

The ancient sculpture is one of the most stand out sculptures in Pakistan and one with an intriguing story.

Lahore Fort

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The Lahore Fort is one of the most iconic structures in all of Pakistan.

Its origins are obscure but the fort is notable for being almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century during the Mughal era.

The sheer size and history of Lahore Fort have made it appear like an art gallery with all the intricate details.

Each inhabitant over the years added new bits to it to add their influence to the structure.

One of the most iconic parts is the Picture Wall, considered to be the greatest artistic triumph of the Lahore Fort.

It is a large well decorated with a vibrant selection of glazed tiles and mosaics.

The artistic wall depicts a number of figures such as elephant fights and polo games. The creation began under Jahangir and was completed under his son, Shah Jahan.

Other unique elements include the Sheesh Mahal, which is elaborately decorated with a myriad of reflective glass tiles.

The Lahore Fort is full of artistic designs spanned over centuries and is a sight to see in the city.

Alfred Woolner Sculpture

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The legacy of noted Sanskrit scholar Alfred Woolner lives on outside Punjab University in Lahore as a public sculpture.

It is in recognition for his work as the vice-chancellor at the University when it was built in 1937 by sculptor Gilbert Ledward.

The impressive statue stands seven feet and nine inches tall and is made of bronze.

Each detail of Woolner is captured, from every fold in his clothes to each curl in his hair, it is an ideal memorial for him.

The structure is one of few in Pakistan to still remain in a public area, however, there have been attempts to remove it.

A mob attempted to damage it but did not succeed, which is a big problem for those who admire the memorial sculpture.

The district administration has not taken any measures to protect the art piece, especially as it reminds those about the enriched history of Lahore.

These famous structures were initially sculpted for a number of reasons with influences from various art styles.

Most of these sculptures were built centuries ago. Since then they have been recognised as famous monuments in Pakistan.

They have become major tourist attractions because of their magnificent designs.

Each design features unique architectural aspects which have managed to stay relevant.

Other countries are aware of these structures and some have helped with restoring them to their former glory.

Over time, these sculptures have become some of the most famous pieces of art in Pakistan and in the world.

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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