Reviving and redefining the Pakistani identity

As the doors of tourism are again opening for Pakistan to be visited, seen and it’s rich culture experienced by foreigners from all over the world.


“There is no better way to learn about who we are than through traveling across Pakistan.

We must start asking the questions, doing the research into where we came from, who influenced us and which ancient empires left us jigsaw puzzle pieces of their genes to make our own.

With pride, we can take ownership of this diverse genetic cultural architecture that makes us unique and rich like no other land.

This identity is worth being proud of and connecting to the soil of, through an experiential learning of our forgotten architectural heritage gems.”

Zain Mustafa

Architect, Heritage Educator, Historian
BFA Parsons School of Design 1993
MA Columbia University 1995


As the doors of tourism are again opening for Pakistan to be visited, seen and it’s rich culture experienced by foreigners from all over the world, there is a valuable role our Cube Edu-Tours can play in the creation of an educated, softer and accessible Pakistani image.

The Cube “Edu-Tours” began in 2011. At a time when there was little to no local or international tourism happening in Pakistan, especially in Sind. It was at that point when I discovered that many Pakistanis has little to no awareness of Sinds diverse and rich architectural history. Along with that of the other provinces.

Since it’s inception, we have been taken groups of Architecture students and school students of all ages, retired adults, teachers and professional adults from other fields not connected to design or architecture to a series of sites all over Sind and to other parts of Pakistan. All the edu-tour groups have been designed with an infusion of historical facts and content which create the context of who we are as a people, nation, culture and identity given a past that one can trace back thousands of years. Unlike any other tour, they focus on the educational facet of our architectural history. The tours look at maps from antiquity to present day and are exposed to the movement of various empires, their interest in this region, the immense importance of our location, geography, landscape and the great River Indus, as the gateway to the rich orient. Each and every one of these tours looks at where the patrons of these magnificent structures came from, our ancestry through them, ways of defining our cultural lineage and looking at the inherent imbedded cultural variety in our own present blood lines. We are not and have not ever been an isolated, inaccessible indigenous people. That diversity is our strength and our pride. To celebrate.

The topics of “culture” & “identity” are often at the mercy of media manipulation. Our tours take those interested in history and our land, back in time to places of immense power, wealth, artistic and design peaks which most are unaware of and never associate with Pakistan. The sites we go to at the moment on our portfolio are the most profound and fundamental ones:

  1. Makli Necropolis
  2. Ranikot Fort
  3. Mohenjodaro
  4. Nagarparkar temples
  5. Shrines of Sehwan Sharif, Bhit Sha, Sachal Sarmast, Noorani ar the edge of Balochistan, Data Darbar and Madhu Lal in Lahore, Uch Sharif and Bahauddin Zakariya Shrine in Multan
  6. Ancient old cities of Lahore, Peshawar, Multan and Bahawalpur
  7. Palaces of Bahawalpur
  8. SukkurKhairpur Palaces
  9. Kot Diji Fort
  10. Darawer Fort
  11. Harappa (Punjab)
  12. Mehrgarh (Balochistan)
  13. Takht-e-Bahi (Mardan)
  14. Shigar Astanas & Khanqas
  15. Hunza & Shigar Forts
  16. Katas Raj Mandir complex
  17. Talpur & Kalhoro Tombs (Hyderabad)
  18. Chawkandi & Bhambore
  19. Kalaash

Each locations history and relevance to Pakistanis as well as international tourists is prepared and shared with the group through Visuals in “pop-up” classrooms set at very site. Local story telling, cuisine, crafts and music are often included for a complete cultural immersion.

Architecture is the best blueprint to learn about our history as people and about the cultures of the people who have influenced us when they came to visit and stayed over the past several millennia.

We believe it would be extremely useful for our government, educational institutes, tourists and visitors to learn about our history through these architectural heritage edu-tours.




Cubes corporate Edu-Retreats are a unique and innovative way for team building exercises. We help groups come out of their comfort zones. They not only experience some adventure but also connect to the history of one’s soil, start a conversation on taking ownership of ones own and thereby bring those priceless values back to their working environments.

These are all custom-made retreats. Multi-faceted and rich. Our edu-retreats are designed to focus on the needs of the team in an exciting and content rich style, breaking away from the expected.

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My relationship to Pakistan feels changed because of Edutours. There are many organisations that offer ‘sightseeing’; Edutours offers ‘sightknowing’ Zain Mustafa is the most engaging and knowledgable of guides, and his passion for Pakistan’s heritage is contagious. Though perhaps it’s more accurate to say he combines the skills of the best teacher and the most detail-oriented event manager to ensure experiences that are beautifully organised and both emotionally and intellectually rewarding

With Edutours I’ve walked through the vast necropolis of Makli, climbed to the top of Ranikot Fort, been pulled into the music and rapture of Sehwan Sharif. Zain knows when to give you time to simply experience a place and when to supply you with insights which allow you to understand more deeply what you’re witnessing. His background as an architect is a particular bonus — Zain is the Sherlock Holmes of built environments. He can look at a rampart or a design feature of a tomb or a the view through a window and deduce the workings of the human minds at behind it. In this way he allows you to feel the presence of people who belong to the historical past, and yet remain so knowable if you just know how to see them.

There’s one downside: once you’ve been on an Edutour all subsequent ‘sightseeing’ feels so superficial by comparison.

Kamila Shamsie

Walking through the mystical 3000 year old ruins of Mohenjo-Daro, one is transported to an ancient land of diversity and culture. Our recent Edutour opened our eyes to the vastness and grandeur of the oldest urban settlement.

Zain Mustafa's detailed information added to the experience, bringing the abandoned land to life.

Not only did we gain a new perspective of Mohenjo-Daro, but Sukkur as well.

Located on the banks of the river Indus - Sukkur is rich in culture and history. Home to a quaint hidden necropolis; Sateen jo Aastan, the Sadhu Bela Mandir; Masoom Shah Minar and many more undiscovered sites - the city offers an abundance of Islamic art, calligraphy, tile work, religious and spiritual heritage.

Our trip with Cube Edutours was a memorable way to welcome a new decade surrounded by family & friends. Immersed in our history and the melodies of the Kalaams ringing in the background - it was truly the perfect way to end the year.

Thank you Zain Mustafa Cube EduTour for this grand finale of 2019!

Looking forward to many more

Sadia Naeem

"The last Cube Edutour of 2019, a 4 day trip to the banks of the Indus by Sukker and Khairpur in Sindh was simply magnificent".

"Imagine visiting the ancient Indus Valley civilization at year end. An entire day walking around the lanes and streets of the remains of the mysterious Mohenjodaro. Then music and singing, a mehfil with the faqir of the shrine of Sachal Sarmast".

"Unbeatable sights around Sukker on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s day at the durgah of Sachal Sarmast followed by the fort at Kot Diji and then a drive to a lake off the Indus, the historic lifeline of legions. Fast forward to the 18th and 19th centuries, the marvelous mahal of the former princely state of Khairpur".

"Can’t think of a better way to have ended 2019, and started 2020".

"Cube Edutours, envisioned and powered by the marvel that is Zain Mustafa! None of the tours I have had the great fortune of going on are much fun without Zain whose brilliance and passion for culture, history, heritage and identity shine bright a s he explains heritage architecture and its relevance to each of us today. His lectures and talks are lessons in discovering ourselves, appreciating and treasuring our past. Always with comic timing and a sense of humour".

"Eagerly looking forward to many more Edutours in 2020".

Najeeba Khan (Dubai)

I discovered Cube Edutours in August 2019, when my sisters and I made a last minute plan to join Zain and his team in Peshawar. Little did I realize at the time that Cube would become a major part of my life.

I was born and raised in Dubai, and despite always retaining a strong connection with my heritage, I was never able to fully discover the rich tapestries that make up our DNA beyond the modern history of post-1947. Cube offered me the most incredible and invaluable gift of all: travelling our beautiful country to places I would never have been able to on my own, in immense comfort and wonderful company.

After Peshawar, I joined Cube’s trips to Mohenjodaro, Sukkur, Khairpur, Hyderabad, Sehwan, Skardu, Khaplu and Shigar. Each of these trips was so unique in their own way; Zain and his team go out of their way to prepare for each journey, our accommodation has always been excellent and comfortable, and the food has been healthy and nutritious. The way Zain conducts these trips is in a respectful way, and he ensures those attending each trip treat the land and people we come into contact with in the same way. Most preciously perhaps, Zain introduces us to local people – we are visitors to their homes, and they are gatekeepers of thousands and thousands of years of history and legacy that too many of us ignore.

I owe a huge amount to Zain, for helping me see more of my heritage that I was blind to. Thank you, Zain!

Bilal Khan
Executive Director, Standard Chartered Bank

Makli CUBE Edu-tour testimonial from an English teacher,

I was quite skeptical when i initially decided to go to Makli with Zain and Cube-edu-tours as i had been to the site before, on innumerable trips, first as a student and then as a teacher and I was not sure how different an experience this would be from.my previous ones. But what a great decision it was indeed!

Thanks to Zain, whom I got to know as a very professional, very knowledgeable and extremely passionate guide, I got to experience my culture as it should be. His thirst and passion is infectious. He is a truly professional when it comes to imparting knowledge. A perfectionist, he had thought of everything. His knowledge paired with architectural prowess was so engaging that one was simply drawn in to a web of interesting historical facts, mesmerising myths about the site and the magestic architecture.

I viewed Makli from a very different angle. The aspects that I never knew existed began to make sense.

Zain's lectures on each pillar, every detail about monuments, carvings, structure and reaaons for its particular form as well as historical value, revealed so much to me, personally.

We, as tourists, were provided with guide maps which held information about the site, history, architecture, location, culture, heritage and interesting local myths. It was a unique and sublime experience to sit in those very surroundings, and read about how it all began and what it would have been like to be there at its beginning. These maps are a complete tour guide and I feel, they should be a part of our school libraries as they will help our children connect with their heritage, enhancing a sense of identity.

The trip, over all, was very organised. From early morning home-made tea to the delicious pie in the sky tea cakes to continuous supply of water, availability of clean bathrooms to sitting in at a dhaba having parathas and omelettes to once again home-made midday snacks and the evening tea on our way back, the trip was complete in every sense. There was a tight security arrangement which further ensured our safety.

Cube-edu Tours are a must for individuals who have never seen Pakistan the way it should be seen, for students of history, art, architecture, music and literature, for school children who need to know the rich history as well as the importance of heritage and one's identity.

For me, it was indeed a phenomenal experience. Looking forward to the next one...

Well done Zain Mustafa and Cube-edu-tours".

Haadia Farooqui
English Teacher

A Testimonial from a Links School teacher who accompanied the students on our last CUBE edu-tour to Ranikot Forts, Sehwan Sharif and Moenjodaro.

"All in all, it was an astonishing experience, being both worthy of recommendation and repetition. We witnessed many aspects of the national heritage of Pakistan and Sindh in particular. At each site, Mr Zain aided us using his acquired knowledge about their history with his class sessions and maps, which further added to our experience. His input, especially the architectural insight, arguably made this tour different from other more commercially orientated tours.

Aside from the significance of imparting historical awareness, the Cube Education tour admittedly had an imaginative facet-- it motivated our accompanying students towards an educational standpoint from which to aim for inventiveness, especially in architecture and design. For instance, the on-trip learning sessions emphasized not only the societal-civilization construct, but also a perceptive of their physical aspect in the form of architectural remnants. The guide maps simultaneously steered our exploration, organized understanding and as such were an excellent instructive device. For our students, this imprinted not only a more comprehensive understanding of their own inheritance, but also an appreciation of architectural and design efficiency which necessitates it. Undeniably, it would greatly augment not only the value of schooling but additionally the intellectual maturity of students if such platforms were more generally available in the conventional system.

In saying as much, as an adult the experience was personally elevating to me as well. Indeed, it would be for our betterment as adults to impart on such tours to facilitate our understanding of our own national inheritance. Additionally, it only further serves to endow us with a base to convey virtues to our younger generation. Additionally, I must appreciate the security measures. We were aided by guards and our excursion was effectively trouble free in this aspect.

Our trek took us to the Ranikot Fort, whose vastness makes it unique in the world aside its colossal encircling walls, whose near continuous and dipping make it resemble the Great Wall of China. Understandably, it adequately acquires its other name as the Great Wall of Sindh.

Next, we journeyed to the old town of Sehwan, the resting place of the great 13thcentury poet and scholar Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, whose beautiful shrine attracts thousands. Here, we witnessed the devotees demonstrate their faith and offer prayers with their commemorative ‘dhammal,’ an incredible experience in itself.

From here we set our course towards Larkana, a town famous for its bazaar and the striking Bhutto family mausoleum at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh. Larkana also served as a good base to next visit Moenjo-Daro.

Amongst the most prominent highlights of our trip was ruined ancient Indus-valley city of Mohenjo-daro. It is not only one of the earliest settlements in the world, but arguably amongst the most advanced of its time. Ancient Egypt may boast monuments like the towering pyramids, Mohenjo-daro possesses infrastructure, including a world's first urban sewage system and relics displaying their advancement in hydraulics and crafts. Mr Faiz’s architectural proficiency only further highlighted its significance. We ourselves discerned artifacts such as broken pottery and bangles. The site was complete with an adjacent airport and a shuttle bus.

As such it was a highly educational experience and also emphasized why these treasures need to be protected for future generations. Such continued interest can not only preserve Mohenjo-daro but other such jewels".

Rabia Saedullah

Mohenjodaro/Sukkur Edutour Testimonial:

"To say that our trip to Mohenjodaro & Sukkur was a wonderful experience would be so banal as it was so much more than that!

While Mohenjodaro transported us to a magical time so long past that its history is lost in the mist of time & we could only speculate on its past glory Sukkur brought us back to a more documented though no less fascinating time.

Through all our ramblings Zain guided us flawlessly with not only his great knowledge of these places but with great regard to our comfort.

Everything went perfectly to plan ... the company was delightful & l think a great time was had by all!"

Bina Muneer

We drive into Makli Hill. UNESCO listed world heritage site. City of Dead. Reds and yellows of sands, carved stone, and pink flowering cacti are the fabric that clothe the otherworld dreams of Sufi saints, philosophers, and the royal dead. The Indus flowed by here once, as recorded by the Greek historian Strabo. Silt now edges the necropolis, retaining the memory of the changing course of the Indus. It’s as if the river had to ensure that the waters of its life would not disturb the temple-like syncretic architecture of mausoleums and cupolas, the cake-tiered and calligraphied graves, and maqbaras or shrine-tombs and mosques. And yet these are living holy places of worship. Lit diyas or lamps and fresh rose petals nourish Mai Makli, mother of Makli, a holy saint-woman’s shrine. The mannat or wishes and prayers—built as if they were shrines from the scattered stones of the ruins--bear witness to the spiritual practices of the lives of everyday people.

I began this brief description by saying; ‘we’ drive into Makli. More accurately, Zain Mustafa, artist and walking architectural encyclopedia arranged for my tour of Makli. A 1400-year sacred site, Makli is part of a very distinctive history of the Sindh region and the nearby city of Thatta, once a thriving seaport, dating back to B.C. The necropolis spans 400 years of architectural history in the form of burials. Myths and legends of the necropolis abound. A Sufi saint was said to be consumed by his devotees so he would remain alive through their bodies. Architectural history here is as savory as legendary tales. Zain explains the marvels of developing technologies of Islamic architecture, and the Makli necropolis is a unique site to study 400 years of changing burial styles in architectural form. Bolstering half arches, for example, grew over centuries to stablize stately domes. Watercolour-like turquoise tiles cascade over later tombs and mosques, while owls perch on jutting stones and guard the ruins of earlier ones.

Makli’s histories are technological as well as sacred and beautiful, and could reveal so much more to historians of the past and present, archaeologists, architects, sociologists, and even artists of all media—digital, paint or pen. Sadly, much more needs to be done at Makli to maintain, preserve, restore, and learn. Zain has produced the first guide-map to Makli’s treasures. The map is helpful in locating the significant buildings and is informative about their histories. Zain’s hope is that more academics and artists could come, visit, learn, and contribute to Makli’s past and present—reviving it as the living museum that it is.

Dr. Goldie Osuri
Associate Professor, Sociology
University of Warwick

Sehwan: The city of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar - The sufi centre that attracts thousands of pilgrims each year. I, after wanting to go for several years, finally spent a weekend in this poor yet serene city. Bulawa - a concept that means you go when you are called upon is something I understood when I landed on the grounds of the Shrine. It was my time to meet the Qalandar in spirit. The Qalandar who is the hope of people from all walks of life. Sitting there taking in the energy, I recollected the thought of how I got here. Witnessing the followers, each in their own worries, each wanting a piece of the blessing of the Saint, even centuries after his death, to change their lives. Did it change mine? Enough to leave a piece of my heart here. Because once you go to Sehwan, you never really come back.

More power to you Zain , for enabling yet another mesmerizing, life altering experience. On to more adventures, experiences and knowledge of ourselves, our history and identity with CSDT Edu tours!

Sana Khan Niazi

There's something certainly unique and exceptional about cube edutours. They actually change you from within and that's the beauty and success of it.They make you realise that there's so much more than just the mountains, the importance of being culturally appropriate and owning our heritage.

From visiting bhit shah and being part of the block printing workshop, to experiencing live performance of Shah jo raag in their melodious voice at the mazar of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, to meeting such a nafees insan, ZAB Jr. in Larkana and having lavish dinner & breakfast with a beautiful traditional sindhi set up in his garden to the surreal yet fascinating trip to moenjadaro, to spending time with the Pandit in the library at the Sadhu bela temple in understanding Geeta, to being the first ever group to witness the pre-harrapan excavation site with the French archaeologists. We just couldn't have asked for more.

Thanks so much once again for these unforgettable once in a lifetime experiences. Happy 10th to CE!!

Najwa Siddiqui

Testimonial on the Ancient Silk Road Skardu (Shigar / Khaplu) edutour June 10-13, 2022

"CUBE Edu-Tours are meticulously curated experiences exploring identity, culture and history. Every aspect of the tour, from the briefing materials and gifts in the welcome package, to complying with local customs and sensibilities, is an opportunity to develop a keener eye and appreciation for the spirit of the land and the customs of the people on it.

Explorations of religious sites spark conversations on indigenous and environment-appropriate architectural forms and the distribution of ideas and technology along the inhospitable artery of humanity and geology which was the Ancient Silk Route.

This is no tour package from a travel agency, and it's not meant to be. This is connecting with the people and the land as humble equals, as itinerant travellers- and seeing from new eyes the layers we merely glanced over.

The accommodations, carefully chosen local-food menus, and travel arrangements were made with an eye to detail and comfort".

Shahriar @shahriarasdarahmad

"All jokes apart, wanted to also tell you how much I appreciate the immense effort you undertook and time you put in to make this trip truly magnificent. From the baggage tag to the booklets to sketch books to charcoal sticks to ticket printouts to hotel accommodations to food options to inclusivity to transportation to supplementary guides to exclusive access to shopping time to ironing out hotel issues every single day of the trip. This was all the "zahir" but also for the "batin" experiences ranging from modern to ancient, from 500 years to 5000 years, of conversing with women with powerful personal journeys, of my own profound inner journey of returning home, of journeys with the land of potohar and the mighty Punjab. One cannot put a price tag to all this. This was special and priceles".

Maleeha Hamid Siddiqui

Had always wanted to visit Mohenjodaro but had never got the opportunity until recently when I finally got the chance to tick it off my bucket list... and how! Thanks to Zain Mustafa and Cube EduTour for organizing this experience of a lifetime. From guided tours around thousands-year-old lanes and alleyways to a museum visit with experts and a sumptuous lunch in the museum gardens, one couldn’t have asked for a better first visit to this ancient city.

The next day was spent visiting famous sights such as Sateen Jo Astana, the beautiful Sadhu Bela Temple, and Masoom Shah Jo Minaro in historic Sukkur... every excursion accompanied by detailed talks about the historical and cultural significance of these wonderful places and the incredible multicultural, multiethnic influences that played such an integral part in giving them life and how those influences continue to play an important role in our lives today.

Kudos to Zain for organizing this truly wonderful trip! So pleased that CubeEduTours organizes similar trips all over Pakistan.... I can’t wait to join the next one!

Farid Alvie

Took an EDUTOUR trip in 2019 to Thar. We visited numerous sites and they were all pieced together with history, culture and architecture making the story complete. Zain has excellent knowledge of the region and he was an amazing guide. All the arrangements were perfect and the program was seamless. I would do it again.

Samir Sadruddin

Following the strong recommendation of a friend who had been on three separate edutours, I went on a guided tour of Moenjodaro, Sukkur and Khairpur (Sindh, Pakistan) Dec 29 - Jan 2.

I had read up on the Indus Valley Civilization a fair bit over the years and was eager to visit the ruins. But the Talpur Dynasty of Khairpur State and the other scattered architectural gems of interior Sindh I had no clue about.

Being in dialogue about connecting the cultural and historical dots makes all the difference. Such tours can plug the gaping hole that exists between textbook type education and first hand, discovery based, research oriented education. So much work needs to be done in this regard at all educational levels.

Identities that have taken centuries if not millennia to evolve lie quarantined within provincial and international boundaries. Only when you walk alongside the conscientious eye of a curator of heritage are you able to appreciate, digest and internalize what you are looking at.

Thank you tour 'architect' Zain Mustafa for a magical experience!

Bilal Musharraf

I have traveled across Pakistan with Cube Edutours, from the furthest reaches of the Thar desert to the Hindu-Kush mountain range and everything in between. The trips are always well organized, meticulously planned and provide all the comforts one might hope for. The Cube edu-tour team consistently books us at nice, clean hotels, and organizes great restaurants, dhabas, other places to eat, and safe transport.

However, the real value of the trips comes from their extensive knowledge of history, architecture, and culture. Every trip I have been on has led me to learn a vast amount about the people who live there, their cultural heritage, why it has developed the way it has, how it ties into our broader Pakistani heritage, and how it's inexorably linked with cultures across Asia. To name a few; I’ve learned about how the architecture in Gilgit-Baltistan is linked to that of Tibet, how Ranikot and the Great Wall of China likely influenced each other, how music across the nation is based on similar instruments and styles, how Mohenjo-Daro was likely a matriarchy and how gender roles and even clothing have changed over the millennia. In addition to all of this, the edutours consistently bring together an interesting group of people and make for a great source of group learning from everyone’s varied life experiences.

Overall, if anyone is interested in learning more about Pakistan, its culture, and its history through travel Cube EduTours is the perfect way to do so.

Bashir Habib
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