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A rapidly expanding commercial hub in the north-eastern region of Punjab, Sialkot boasts several manufacturing industries. But this Pakistani metropolis holds a special place in today’s football-crazed world as the largest producer of hand-stitched soccer balls. Sialkot reportedly produces 60 million balls a year, or more than half of the world’s supply.
However, aside from satisfying the world’s sporting demands, Sialkot also has much to offer visitors looking to explore its Punjabi heritage and protected wildlife.
Book a flight to Sialkot with Qatar Airways and get acquainted with its bustling bazaars and piquant cuisine.
Because of its relatively compact size, it’s easy to visit all the attractions when you travel to Sialkot, most of which can be reached on foot from major hotels. This gives you a chance to immerse yourself in the lively spirit of the city. In the very heart of the city is Sialkot Fort, a centuries-old military compound. Built by around 10,000 workers, it has been a significant part of the city’s history, especially during the Uprising of 1857.
The most recognisable local landmark is the Clock Tower in Saddar Bazaar. Around the Cantonment area you’ll find a cluster of attractions, including the Sialkot Cathedral, the Puran Bhagat Well and the Seerat Study Center.
Sialkot is the birthplace of writer, philosopher and politician Muhammad Iqbal, credited for starting the Pakistan Movement. The Javed Manzil (also known as the Allama Iqbal Museum) was his former home, which has been preserved to commemorate his extraordinary life. The museum can be found on Iqbal Road in the Old City.
Take a trip to Sialkot and you’ll be struck by the sheer number of open spaces and parks, giving the city a light and airy feel. The main parks worth visiting are Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Garrison Park, Khayaban-e-Iqbal and Sindbad Fantasy Land, which has plenty of entertainment for children. Any of these flower-filled green spaces is ideal for a relaxing amble.
If you want a temporary reprieve from the bustle of city life, take a 40-minute drive from Sialkot to Marala Headworks, a hydro-engineering project along the Chenab River. With the Kashmir mountains serving as an imposing backdrop, this is a wonderfully tranquil spot. Visit with your family and enjoy a relaxed day out at the designated picnic area, or head for the nearby Bajwat Wildlife Sanctuary. The nature reserve is home to more than 100 species of bird and several mammals endemic to the region, including nilgai – also known as blue antelope – and hog deer.
Sports, particularly football and hockey, have huge followings in Sialkot. A tour of one of the many factories that produce hand-sewn footballs is a strangely rewarding experience.
There are plenty of dining options in Sialkot. You can sample traditional Punjabi cuisine, including butter chicken, tandoori chicken and chana masala (chickpea curry), and a host of western fast food and Asian street food.
Head for Ghazi Road for more upmarket eateries, while many of the fast-food outlets can be found along Aziz Shaheed Road.
Travel to Sialkot and you’ll discover an industrious city full of small enterprises making everything from leather goods to sportswear, and even bagpipes.
Most shopping is done in the city centre, so head for the Clock Tower and then explore the surrounding area on foot. You’ll discover hidden gems and small, select outlets in the narrow streets surrounding the fort and the centre of the Old City.
Essential facts about Sialkot
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip