Islamabad International Airport is actually in Rawalpindi, and it serves the city along with the capital. Rawalpindi is located in the Punjab province, 275 km (171 miles) to the north-west of Lahore. It is the administrative seat of the Rawalpindi District. Rawalpindi, also known as Pindi, has a long history spread over several millennia. Archaeologists believe that a distinct culture flourished on this plateau as far back as 3000 years.
The material remains found at the site prove the existence of a Buddhist establishment contemporary to Taxila, but less celebrated than its neighbor. It appears that the ancient city went into oblivion as a result of the Hun devastation. The first Muslim invader, Mahmud of Ghazni (979-1030), gifted the ruined city to a Gakkhar Chief, Kai Gohar. The town, however, being on an invasion route, could not prosper and remained deserted until Jhanda Khan, another Gakkhar Chief, restored it and named it Rawalpindi after the village Rawal in 1493.
Rawalpindi remained under the rule of the Gakkhars till Muqarrab Khan, the last Gakkhar ruler, was defeated by the Sikhs in 1765. The Sikhs invited traders from other places to settle here. This brought the city into prominence. Following the British conquest of the Sikhs and their occupation of Rawalpindi in 1849, the city became a permanent garrison of the British army in 1851. In the 1880s a railway line to Rawalpindi was laid, and train service was inaugurated on January 1, 1886. The need for having a railway link arose after Lord Dalhousie made Rawalpindi the headquarters of the Northern Command and Rawalpindi became the largest British military garrison in British India.
In 1951, Rawalpindi saw the murder of the first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, in Liaquat Garden. Today Rawalpindi is the headquarters of the Pakistani Army and Air Force. The famous Murree Road has been a hot spot for various political and social events. Nala Lai, famous for its floods, runs in the middle of the city, dividing it into city area and Cantonment area. History describes Nala Lai water pure enough to do washing clothes but now it has become polluted with the waste water from all sources including factories and houses. It is rapidly developing into a large modern city. It has many good hotels, restaurants, clubs, museums, playgrounds. It has a number of parks, of which the largest is Ayub National Park. Rawalpindi is the nearest major city for the holiday resorts and hill stations of the Galiyat area, such as Murree, Nathia Gali, and Ayubia. It is also a common starting point for tourists visiting Abbottabad, Swat, Kaghan, Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Chitra