How to visit Saidpur village near Islamabad
This post is about how to visit Saidpur village near Islamabad on your own without a guide. Saidpur is an ancient and scenic potters village in the foothills of the Margalla hills.
Why visit Saidpur village
Saidpur is one of the oldest villages in the region. The history of Saidpur village near Islamabad dates back to the Mughal era. Emperor Akbar, with his capital in Agra, gifted the village to Said Khan for his support to the royal family. Said Khan kept close contact with the Mughals and married his daughter to Akbar’s son Jahangir, giving Saidpur to her as a wedding gift.
Saidpur was a multicultural village at that time, famous for its interfaith harmony and lush gardens. The natural spring that flowed through the village provided water and irrigation, attracting an increasing number of people. Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims lived peacefully together despite their different religions.
Hindus believed that the god Ram from the Ramayana used to live in Saidpur during his 14 years of exile. During that time he drank from the natural spring in the village. As a result, the Hindu people of Saidpur built a beautiful temple where pilgrims from far away could stay and worship god Ram.
Right next to the Hindu temple was also a Sikh temple. The gurudwara was not only a place of worship, but also a school for the children of the village.
Saidpur after the Partition
In 1947 everything changed. As Pakistan became independent, Hindus and Sikhs feared they would not be safe in Pakistan. Hindus took the large idols of Kali and Laxmi from the temple and fled to India. The Sikhs too, moved away, never to return. The Partition was indeed a violent event and the fate of the Hindus and Sikhs of Saidpur is unknown. One can only hope they reached the safety of India.
In 2006, Saidpur village was made into a tourist attraction. Saidpur is one of the few places where temples of different religions were so close together. The temple and Gurudwara were painted in a picturesque floral patterns and new restaurants opened their doors.
The truth is that, although it still remains a scenic place, it no longer boasts the lush gardens and ponds it was once famous for. While the temples appear new from the outside, the interiors serve as a sad reminder of what once was, but no longer is.
Things to do in Saidpur village
I left Saidpur village with mixed feelings. There is no sight more sad than an abandoned temple stripped of its idols where devotees once joined together to worship and celebrate. The old Ram temple, or Rama Kund Mandir, was at the center of the yearly Baisakhi festival.
The small Hindu community in Islamabad tried to revive the temple, but without luck.The temple was renovated to become a tourist attraction and the walls are painted white with colorful patterns that had little to do with the original design.
The largest building in Saidpur’s religious center is the ancient dharamsala where Hindu pilgrims from far away could spend the night.
The outside is now painted with beautiful floral patterns and therefore attracts most of the attention of visitors. Inside the dharamsala is a small exhibition with ancient pictures of Islamabad.
Right next to the Hindu temple is the ancient Sikh temple that you can recognize from the two yellow domes. The gurdwara continued to be used as a school for a long time after the Partition. Its walls were painted white and all religious symbols were removed.
Hike to the Saidpur spring
What struck me most about Saidpur was its chaotic village atmosphere that is so different from the orderly capital of Islamabad. While the temple area is kept somewhat clean, the village beyond certainly does not cater to foreign tourists, but welcomes those that dare to explore further.
What I enjoyed most about Saidpur was hiking towards the Margalla hills to the source of the spring. You can simply follow the trickle of water running through the village that is unfortunately polluted with plastic and dirt.
Saidpur is maybe not the most scenic village anymore, but it shows rural Pakistan as it is.
Have lunch at Dera Pashtun
Saidpur is a small village and easy to visit on a half day trip from Islamabad. I do recommend you plan your visit before or after lunch time. Saidpur is home to some pleasant restaurants that offer great Pakistani food.
Dera Pashtun offers nice views over the temple area and has delicious mutton karahi.
Saidpur village travel tips
How to get to Saidpur
Saidpur village is located very close to Islamabad. The best way to reach Saidpur is by taking a taxi. Indrive and Careem are popular taxi hailing apps.
Where to sleep in Saidpur
You can easily visit Saidpur on a day trip from Islamabad and therefore I recommend you stay in Islamabad where you have a better choice of sleeping options
Shelton’s Ambassador: I stayed a couple of nights at Shelton’s Ambassador. The hotel offers good value for money and has a nice and safe location in the blue zone. I was the only foreign visitor, so I got some curious stares at the breakfast buffet from the other visitors that were mostly Afghan families.
E-Lodge Guesthouse: I stayed one night at the E-Lodge Guesthouse. It was located in a more quiet and upmarket part of Islamabad. The room was very nice and you can rent bicycles to explore the neighborhood. Location wise, it is not that central.
Holidazzle Lodge: I was supposed to stay in the Holidazzle Lodge, but at the last moment they could not accommodate me. They booked the E-Lodge for me with hundreds of excuses and even came to visit to apologize once more. I can not comment on the room, but the owner is very friendly and helpful.
When to visit Saidpur
The best time to visit Saidpur is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). Both seasons offer mild temperatures. Daytime temperatures range from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius (68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit).
Summers in Saidpur (June to August) can be hot, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) or more, so it’s advisable to avoid this season if you’re not comfortable with high temperatures. Winters (December to February) can be cool, with temperatures occasionally dropping to near freezing, but it’s generally a manageable time for visitors who enjoy cooler weather.
Disclaimer: This post with a travel guide about Saidpur village near Islamabad contains affiliate links. If you buy any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me to keep Backpack Adventures alive! Thanks for your support!