The Manchester of Asia – From Textile to Tourism and Education

Written By: Sohail Salim Sukhiani

Whenever we talk about cities in Pakistan we always consider first Karachi, then Lahore, and then we move on to Islamabad. But the fact is that Islamabad comes very late in the list because the third largest city in Pakistan is Faisalabad. Faisalabad is also the second largest city in terms of Textile Manufacturing and agriculture; in fact the most modernized type of systematic agriculture is practiced in Faisalabad. The city is located at a road and railway junction and has rich fertile soil. Also the Chenab and Ravi rivers have played an influential role in the development of Faisalabad's trade and economy.

Faisalabad was named after the King of Saudi Arabia who had good ties with Pakistan – King Faisal in 1977. Bhagat Singh, a famous Indian Freedom fighter was born here, at that time this place was called Lyallpur.

Faisalabad has a strong industrial base including textiles, jewelers, home furniture, and pharmaceuticals, assisted by the expanding transport network which includes the newly-built motorway and highways to Lahore, Multan, Sargodha and Islamabad. Faisalabad is one of those cities in Pakistan that have been built according to a proper plan. The city has turned itself from just being an agricultural ground, to a fully developed industrial hub where you find a textile mill and a garment store on every other road. However, the planning of these textile mills is exemplary.

The people that live here are mostly Punjabis and of Hindko descent. Punjabis generally are mostly said to be fun loving and energetic but Faisalabadis are more work oriented, they are usually peace loving people with a slower lifestyle then most of the cities and prefer tranquility and a calm environment around them.

Compared to its more tourist-attractive provincial capital, Lahore, Faisalabad is basically an industrial and agricultural city, especially in the field of textile. It is the second largest business city in Punjab and it is a region for investment and economic prosperity. There is a good large amount of sites and tourist attractions in the city;

The Faislabad Clock Tower, locally called "Ghenta Ghar", was one of the first main markets of Faisalabad and it is also the oldest area of the city. Here you can also find the remains of buildings which mainly belonged to the British Empire. This market has eight bazaars, forming a "Union Jack" (British flag), which can be seen from above. There are still structures from previous settlements such as Zoroastrian Temples, Buddhist Monasteries, Hindu mandirs and Sikh gurudwaras still visible, however, since the creation of Pakistan these have been converted into schools and museums.

"D Ground" is the second most important market after The Clock Tower. The area has been continually developing into a shopping area with many brands from all over the world. It is seen busiest at night when local people come out for an outing. There are many local and western restaurants ranging from Namwah Chinese, Bundu Khan, KFC, Al Maida, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Olive Garden, Sardines, Yummy 36, Cube and many open-air bar-be-cues.

The Jinnah Garden is probably the most famous park in Faisalabad. It is locally known as "Company Baagh". The tomb of H.E. Sir Charles James Lyall is situated here. He was the founder of this city and the city was first named Lyallpur in his honor. There are many food outlets, walking paths and cycling lanes, and a huge fountain structure. The park is often used by the local council for holding rallies, concerts, shows and carnivals.

Getwala Park is a small park situated on the edge of Faisalabad. It is popular for family picnics and relaxing. Canal Park is on the west bank of the Rakh Branch Canal. It is also a good place for families.

Happy Land Water Park is an amusement park built to international standards, a complete entertainment centre for families. It has the biggest water slides in Pakistan equipped with swings for both children and adults. Aqua Land Water Park, the latest water park to open in Faisalabad, stands on the Canal Road and attracts many tourists and families. Sindbad is an amusement park located near the Iqbal Stadium. It has an indoor bumper cars, flume rides, train rides as well as large gaming arcade room to suit all ages.

Rex City is a huge computer shopping mall dealing with everything computer related. Here you can find a computer at low prices. There are service shops, as well as CD and mobile shops and computer software and hardware experts. There are also internet services from well known companies such as "Cyber net", "WOL-net", "Dancom", "Nexlinx" and "Satcom".

Kohinoor One is a newly constructed shopping mall located on Jaranwala Road which has many retail outlets, restaurants, clothing outlets and home furniture stores. Am Tex Waterfall is to be found at Am Tex Squire, Abdullah Pur.

The majestic "Chenab Club" is the outing place for the elite of Faisalabad. It was the first such club established in Faisalabad. It stands in the beautiful surroundings of "Jinnah Garden". The club is situated in the heart of the city, just a short walk from the Railway Station and within walking distance from the Clock Tower.

There are also a few monuments still fully erect in many parts of Faisalabad such as Gumti Water Fountain, Qaisery Gate (Entrance to the Eight Bazaars), Ghenta Ghar and various Sikh Gurudwaras and Hindu Mandirs still visible in the older part of the city.

Iqbal Stadium, is last on the list but not at all the least, it hosted its first test match in October 1978 which was Pakistan against India and its first One Day International Match again hosting Pakistan against India in November 1974. The ground has a seating capacity of 2500 people and is not one of the most famous grounds in the world because the weather conditions here have been a major reason for matches not being played in this ground, therefore only 25 Test and 14 ODI matches have been played here. It became a good spot for leisure activities for the Faisalabadis when they started screening Pakistan’s matches in the ground and charged only a minimal amount from the public. The former name of the ground was Lyallpur Stadium then it changed to City Stadium and now it has been kept as Iqbal Stadium after the famous Muslim poet Allama Iqbal.

Another site to be seen in Faisalabad is the University of Agriculture. It was formerly called the ‘Punjab Agricultural College & Research Institute, Lyallpur’, which was established in 1906 and was the first higher educational institute in the field of Agriculture in the whole of subcontinent. It has various departments which focus towards the field of agriculture and its supporting activities. The university building depicts the touch of British 19th century architecture and unusual but fortunate the building has been maintained throughout this period and is now centrally Air-conditioned. The library is also considered to be one of the best in Pakistan, a double story separate building which is again centrally Air-conditioned which contains 385 publications from FAO and 307 publications from World Bank.

Other Beautiful University buildings include Government College University Faisalabad, University of Faisalabad, Government College of Technology and the most important one for the success of Faisalabad, National Textile University, which is spread over 62 acres and is located around 12 kilometers away from the city centre. It was formed in 1954 when the major industrialists realized its need in the city who then donated funds for its creation while the government of Punjab provided with the huge piece of land previously owned by them. The government of UK provided with the equipment and machinery along with their experts to teach in the university and provide with technical assistance.

Amazed by the facts of the developed Faisalabad up till now? Here’s some more, the city also provides an Arts Council. It has an auditorium - Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Auditorium with a seating capacity of 500 people. Arts council organizes many cultural events including exhibitions and cultural shows.

The Food:

Faisalabadi cuisine is the same as Punjabi Cuisine. The Samosas of Faisalabad are different from any other place because of the chatni variety they offer. The very famous name Chacha Samosay Wala is also in the D Ground. Dahi Bhale is prepared by a hawker at Jinnah Colony, near Chatri Wala Ground which is very famous and is usually filled with customers at evenings. Gol Gappay is another famous offering by the Faisalabadis. The most famous is a person who sells gole gappe is at AminPur bazaar. A sour drink called "khatta", which is almost the same as Limca that we get in other cities of Pakistan is served with them. There are also some Punjabi drinks like lassi, limo pani and sugar cane juice which are famous in Faisalabad. A lot of famous fast food and foreign restaurants along with Bundu Khan exists in the city as well.

The Transport System:

The transport system of Faisalabad has always been maintained to its best standards so as to support the business activities in the city. The National Highway Authority has recently been rebuilt and has been improved in standards to improve logistical networks for freight companies. The city is connected to all parts of the country through the Motorway and the National Highway and the GT Road which links most parts of Pakistan as well as the neighboring countries. The most important factor for the huge industrial progress in Faisalabad was the building of the Railway station in the 19th century by the British Empire. The airport is 10 kilometers away from the city centre and it has limousine service providers present to facilitate high worth people from the airport.

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