Sunday 23 January 2022

155. Heritage Museum Islamabad (Lok Virsa)

Islamabad the beautiful capital of Pakistan has many museums and the biggest of them all is the Heritage Museums. Frankly speaking, I was not expecting much from my visit to the Heritage Museum. After all what could be there on display, earthen pots, a few gaudy dresses and perhaps some old-fashioned musical instruments? But I could not have been more wrong. So when I finally visited this museum on 9th January 2022, a big surprise was awaiting me, although a very pleasant one.

Before going inside the museum, let me tell you something about this museum. It was opened in 1974 to showcase the culture and heritage of Pakistan. At present, it is the biggest museum in the capital. It is located near Shakarparian. Two other museums, the Museum of Natural History and the Pakistan Monument Museum are located nearby. So, all these together make this area a magnet for tourists. 

A traditional house. (09.01.2022.)

The main entrance of the museum. (09.01.2022.)

A village scene of a well with a water wheel. 09.01.2022.)

A bullock cart. (09.01.2022.)

A small village home. (09.01.2022.)

Now let us go inside and explore its marvels. The building is not impressive from the outside and does not give an idea of its true size. But when you start visiting its galleries you are not only impressed by the items on display or how they are displayed but also by the size of this museum. It covers every aspect of human life in this region from ancient times to the present. How the people lived in Indus Valley Civilization or Gandhara Civilization up to the present time.

The collection of items is simply huge.  Every aspect of the heritage of Pakistan is touched upon and very beautifully displayed.  Galleries are dedicated to displaying different facets of our heritage. One of them shows the ancient civilizations of Indus Valley and Gandhara and then the advent of Islam. It showcases the life during those times with the help of life size models of people in the attire of those days and going about their daily life and performing their usual tasks.


A scene of Gandhara Civilization. (09.01.2022.)

Buddha. (09.01.2022.)

A Buddhist monastery. (09.01.2022.)

Living Gandhara. (09.01.2022.)

The oldest civilization, Mehrgarh. (09.01.2022.)

Indus Valley Civilization. (09.01.2022.)

Indus Valley Civilization. 

Artifacts of Islamic Civilization. (09.01.2022.)

One gallery displays very beautifully made dolls in traditional dresses. Naturally a big hit among the young girls. These dolls are an excellent example of the skills of our artisans. 

As the basic purpose of the museum is to show how the people live in Pakistan, so literally the lifestyle of each and every part of the country is on display. From the village life in Punjab to the life in the Thar desert of Sindh and the boat people of Keejhar lake. Nomads of Balochistan to the mountainous people of KP have their own pavilions. Lifestyle lf the people of Kashmir and northern areas has also been presented.

A home in the Thar Desert. (09.01.2022.)

A boat in the Keenjhar Lake. (09.01.2022.)

Probably a home in the Kohistan district. (09.01.2022.)

A gunsmith in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. (09.01.2022.)

A nomad family. (09.01.2022.)

A beautiful gallery. (09.01.2022.)

A home in norther areas. (09.01.2022.)

A pakhtun man. (09.01.2022.)

Nomads of Balochistan. (09.01.2022.)

A Sindhi home. (09.01.2022.)

Pakistan is famous for its folk tales of love and romance. The models of characters of famous love stories of Heer Ranjha, Dhola Maru, Haani Shah Muree etc., are on display. The characters are wearing traditional dresses and are set in the areas where they lived. 

Heer Ranjha. (09.01.2022.)

Dhola Maru. (09.01.2022.)

Haani Shah Mureed. (09.01.2022.)

Dresses of people are one of the most important part of their culture. Pakistan is home to people of many ethnicities. The same diversity is found in their dresses. Naturally the museum has a huge collection of regional dresses from all regions of Pakistan and these colourful and beautifully embroidered and painted dresses, especially of ladies, make a great spectacle.

Nothing explains more clearly our lifestyle than our furniture and household items. There is no dearth of these items in the museum as well. From colourfully painted chairs to the rocking beds of children are part of the furniture collection on display.


Pakistan is famous for its wonderful woodworks. And when we talk about the woodworks nothing is more fascinating than the traditional wooded carved door. It is an art that excelled in the past. Fortunately still many great specimens of this fading art have been preserved and some of them are on display. One such door, brought from Bhera is truly a masterpiece of the woodwork.


A wooden door from Bhera. 

Calligraphy is an integral part of Islamic civilization. This art has always been popular in this region and has produced numerous people who excelled in this art. Our mosques, shrines and even some houses are often decorated with calligraphy. In this museum displays many works of calligraphic writings.


The predominant religion of our country is Islam. So a gallery is dedicated to this aspect of our culture. So our visit would be incomplete if I do not mention some very beautifully handwritten Qurans on display. 

The museum is so large that in addition to Pakistan it covers the culture of our neighbouring countries like China, Turkey, Iran and Central Asian countries as well. One big gallery is reserved to show the culture of these friendly countries, which is indeed very interesting.

At the end I must say I have not been able to cover even one fourth part of all that is on display in this wonderful museum. Seeing is believing, so if you have not visited it before, plan a visit at the first available opportunity. The museum is open from 10 am to 7 pm, everyday except Mondays, on Fridays it has a break from 12:30 to 02:00. It is a great package of fun and learning.

Tariq Amir

January 18, 2022.