Pishin Valley And Bund Khushdil Khan
The Urak Valley is 21 kms from Quetta City. The road is lined on either side with wild roses and fruit orchards, peaches, plums, apricots and apples of many varieties are grown in this valley.
A little short of the place where the Urak Valley begins and 10 kms from Quetta, is the Hanna Lake, where benches and pavilions on terraces have been provided. Golden fish in the lake comes swimming right upto the edge of the lake. A little distance away, the waters of the lake take on a greenish blue tint. Right where the water ends, pine trees have been planted on the grass filled slopes...
The greenish-blue waters of the lake provide a rich contrast to the sandy brown of the hills in the background. One can promenade on the terraces. Wagon service to the lake operates from city bus station at Circular Road.
Area (Balochistan): 347,056 sq.km.
Population of Balochistan: 6,511,358 (1998 census)
Population (Quetta city): 560,307 (1998 census)
Average Elevation: 1676 metres (5,500 ft)
For further information, local assistance and sightseeing tours, please contact any of the following Tourist Information Centres located in Balochistan:
(i) PTDC Tourist Information Centre, Muslim Hotel, Jinnah Road, Quetta.Tel: (081) 825826
(ii) PTDC Motel, Ziarat. Tel: (0833) 410356, 410331 Fax: 410320
(iii) PTDC Motel, Pak Iran Border, Taftan Tel: (0886) 510248 Fax: (0886) 510302
A visit to Quetta is incomplete without a trip to Ziarat. Situated 133 kms (3 hours by car) from Quetta at an altitude of 2449 metres above sea level, Ziarat is a holiday resort amidst one of the largest and oldest Juniper forests in the world. It is said that some of the Juniper trees are as old as 5000 years.The name Ziarat means, "Shrine". A local saint, Kharwari Baba, is believed to have rested in the valley and blessed it. After his death he was buried here. People frequently visit the saint's shrine, which is 10 kms from Ziarat.
Extensive research is being made in the forest nurseries to replace the forest with other fast growing trees as the regeneration of the juniper is very slow. But that is also persured with great care.
Tourist season: All the year round, particularly from May to October.
Climate and Clothing
Ziarat is a hill station in the Sibi district of the province of Baluchistan. It remains quite cool during summer and receives enough snowfall during the winter. Light woolen clothing for summer and heavy for the winter are recommended.
The inhabitants are mainly Muslim. There are Pathans, Baluchis and Brahuis. Nomadic tribesmen also pass through the valleys around during spring and autumn with their families, herd of sleep and camels.
Pushto, Persian, Baluchi and Brahui are the local languages. Urdu and English are also spoken.
The women wear shalwar (baggy trouser) and long skirted shirts with a chadar ao Dopatta having embroidered and mirror work. The men wear shalwar, long shirts and waist coat with a turban on the head.
Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation has a Motel Complex with 18 comfortable rooms and cottages. Accommodation can be booked from the PTDC Offices in Quetta, Karachi and Islamabad. There are other comparatively inexpensive hotels in the town's centre.
Forest And Orchards
Extensive research is being done in the forest nurseries to replace the juniper forest with fast growing trees, as the regeneration of the juniper is very slow.
The magic of Ziarat is its honey, its flowers which attain large size here, its lush green grass and cool weather even in the hottest months of summer, "Shinshoab", a lavender like wild bush looks lovely in twilights. Over 4400 acres in an around Ziarat are under apple orchards. The apple grown in the orchards, particularly the black and red kulu variety are delicious. A fair amount of black cherry is also grown in Ziarat. The cherry season lasts from the 1st to 15th of June.
What to do?
Ziarat and the juniper valleys around offer good opportunity hiking and trekking. Various gorges also offer adventure and fun during the summer. It is also becoming popular for a taste of snow fall during the winter. Besides, the town itself offers hiking and trekking opportunities.
Between the ever-ascending hills and the deep ravine, there is a mile-long stretch of flat land ideal for a peaceful walk. This is the "Chashma Walk" which leads to the spring or a “Chashma" that provide water for the town. It is only 2 kms from the PTDC Motel Complex.
The view from Prospect Point is rewarding. It lies at a height of 2713 metres above sea level and is 6 kms from Ziarat. The road is metalled, but a walk is recommended. Once at the peak with wind whistling through the forest one can see the valley stretch out in undulating slopes in front. From a nearby cliff, one can clearly see the highest peak of these hills known as Khalefat, which rises to a height of 3487 metres. There is a small rest house situated nearby. Advance booking can be made through the office of Deputy Commissioner of Ziarat.
Shrine Of Baba Kharwari
The shrine of Baba Kharwari is 8 kms from Ziarat town. A member of Sarang Zai, his real name was Tahir. He became a disciple of Nana Sahib and a number of miracles are attributed to him. He is buried in a valley about 8 kms from Ziarat. A large number of people visit his shrine and offer sacrifices in his memory. During Eid festival, the tribesmen gather around the shrine and hold wrestling and marksmanship competitions.
Fourteen kms from Ziarat is the picturesque Zindra. Zindra derives its name from the Pushto word "Zindra" meaning "four grinding mills". Zizree (16 kms) and Nauna Dam (20 kms) are also interesting places for an outing near Ziarat.
Balochistan is an arid land, which receives very low rainfall annually. But innumerable natural springs known as "Karez" and streams are found in most of areas. There are more than half a dozen gorges around Ziarat formed by natural "Karez" spring water falling through narrow opening amongst the mountain rocks producing a dramatic effect. The sound of waterfalls singing to the tune of solid rocks while passing through narrow gorges creates a mystic atmosphere. The famous gorges along the road to Ziarat are Chutair Tangi, Khan Tangi, Kawas Tangi, Fern Tangi and the Sandeman Tangi.
It lies 10 kms from Ziarat, off the main road to Quetta. A small waterfall formed by the mountain spring flows down. It is a 2 kms walk from the main road to the waterfall and is an ideal place for picnic.
It is just 4 kms from Ziarat. It is a dramatic waterfall cascading down the rocks and provides fun to the visitors.
Chutair Valley/Tangi After 13 kms from Ziarat on way to Loralai is the beautiful Chutair valley. It is a 30 minutes drive to Chutair from Ziarat. There are green picnic spots in the valley. There is also a rest house in case one wants to stay longer. The crude and rustic huts made with the bark of juniper trees in which the inhabitants of the area live, are strikingly different from dwellings in other villages. Nearby is Chutair Tangi which is worth visiting.
For many centuries, the Bolan Pass has been the main entrance to Quetta District. It is historically significant, used as the gateway by most of the immigrants from Central Asia in their drive to discover new homelands in South Asia. The two other important passes are the Lak Pass between Kalat and Quetta and the Khojak Pass near the border with Afghanistan at Chaman.
Lak Pass is located between Kalat and Quetta at a point where the highway makes a turn for Koh-e-Taftan, Saindak copper mines and Zahidan in Iran and the other section links Karachi via Kalat, Khuzdar and Bela. PTDC Motel at Khuzdar and Taftan caters for motorists. The view from the top of the pass is interesting. Trucks, trailers and lorries laden to their brim with merchandise and passengers move along at great speeds. Down below these kiosks sell beverages. On the hill, unmindful of the presence of the motorized transport and the human beings, hundreds of sheep browse upon the scant herbage available there.
Along Bolan Pass where the road winds through picturesque mountains one is reminded of the hugs odds that the armies from Central Asia and the north must have faced in their raids on the plains of the present day Pakistan. In winters, trains of camels, as they slowly plod their way through to the top, look fascinating. The Bolan links Quetta with the plains of the Punjab and the upper Sindh through the town of Sibi by road and train. The train passes through 21 tunnels.
The Khojak Pass is 7575 ft. above sea level. It leads directly to the border of Afghanistan at Chaman which is 153 kms away from Quetta. The train passes through the longest tunnel of the sub-continent. The scenery is breath-taking as here as it is at Bolan Pass.
The entire population of Kharwari Baba and for that matter of the entire Ziarat, migrates to Harnai in extreme winter. Harnai Pass, about hours drive from Loralai, is just as spectacular as the Khyber Pass near Peshawar.
Sibi is 163 kms from Quetta. It has great historical importance. It derives its name from Sewi, a Hindu Princess of Sewa race. The name of Alexander and the Muslim conquers like Muhammad Bin Qasim, Mehmood Ghaznavi and Nasir-ud-Din Kabacha are associated with this place. Mir Chaker Khan Rind, the legendary Baloch hero, built a massive fort in the 15th century near Sibi, the remains of which are found near the town.
During the British rule a Residency and Victoria Memorial Hall known as Jirga Hall were built where annual Jirgas were held until Pakistan came into being. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah also presided over the annual Darbar at Sibi as the first Governor General of Pakistan. The Jirga Hall is now converted into a museum. It has a collection of pieces found at the archaeological sites of Mehrgarh, Nasshero and Pirak. The annual Sibi Festival marks the famous Horse and Cattle Show with other festivities held in the month of February.
Neolithic Mehrgarh is a 9,000 years old site of settlement of Katchi district at the foot of Bolan Pass near Sibi. Supported by Pakistan's Department of Archaeology, French archaeologists are carrying out extensive excavations here for some years. The excavations, studies and research have led to pushing back these settlements to some 9,000 years. Thus the chronology of civilization in Pakistan established through the study of Meonjodaro and Harappa has been pushed back by over 4,000 years.
Research shows that the people here had lived in houses and were involved in hunting, domestication of animals and farming cereals like barley and wheat and later cotton too. This hunting-farming society developed gradually and their pursuits were creative. During the early period these people used stone and bone tools i.e. polished stone-axes, flint blades and bone-pointers. By the 6,000 BC, the hand-made pottery appeared and in 5th millennium BC, metallurgy and potter-wheel were introduced and they produced some fine terra-cotta figurine and pottery with geometric designs.
Subsequently they produced and wore ornaments of beads, seashells and semi-precious stones like Lapis Lazuli. A museum has been set up at Sibi where a wide range of rare finds from the site of Mehrgarh is on display.
The Balochistan coastline
The Balochistan coastline extends over 750 kms. From Hub near Karachi to the Gwadar Bay on Pakistan-Iran border.The coastal tribes are as colourful as that of central and upper Balochistan. Their colourful costumes, songs and dances are equally fascinating. The whole area is rich with long unspoilt golden sunny beaches and a variety of sea fish. Because of the importance of this coast Pasni, Jiwani and Gwadar, the three important coastal towns, have been linked by air with Karachi and Quetta. Gaddani Beach near Karachi is an excellent seaside spot for picnic.
Gawadar derives its name from two Balochi words “GWAT” wind and “DAR” door. Gwadar district was created on 1st July 1977. It consists of two sub divisions viz Gwadar and Pasni. It is bounded on the north by Turbat (KECH) and Awaran districts, on the east by Awaran and Lasbela districts, on the south by Arabian Sea and on the west by Iran. Total area of the district is 15,216 sq.km and population is 172,948. The coast line of Gwadar is about 600 kms long. The climate of Gwadar is dry, arid and hot.Maximum temperature in June remains between 31C and 40C and coolest month of January varies form 18C to 19 C. Humidity prevails all over the district and average annual rainfalls is below 250 mm.
The area is fast developing into an industrial zone based on fisheries. Three mega projects, Gawadar deep sea port, costal highway and 132 kv electricity line will be completed by December 2003. There are four airports: Gawadar, Jiwani, Pasni and Ormara. There are daily flights between Karachi and these places. Gwadar has two motels, two local hotels and restaurants with basic facilities.
Makran Coastal Highway
The Makran Coastal Highway is located primarily in Balochistan, Pakistan. It follows the Arabian Sea coast from Karachi to Gwadar.
Previously there was a muddy track linking Karachi with the town of Gwadar. Journeys between the two could take several days as the safest route was to travel via Quetta. The journey time has now been reduced to six or seven hours with the construction of the new Makran Coastal Highway (National Highway N10). The highway was built as part of an overall plan to improve transport facilities in southern Balochistan; other parts of the plan include the new seaport and international airport at Gwadar and the construction of a road linking Gwadar to Khuzdar.
In the coastal areas of Balochistan, the main livelihood is fishing. The catch could not be sold in Karachi because the fish would rot by the time they reached Karachi. However, the new highway has improved people's livelihoods by giving them the opportunity to sell fish in major markets in Karachi.
Completion of this highway has open up the area exposing all business opportunities in Gawadar and on Makran coast to the international investors. It is certainly going to attract new townships and settlements of international investors, tourists, and workforce coming from distant lands. The Makran coastal highway also links Karachi with Iran and, thus, opens a new and shorter trade route between the two countries. Gaining access to the more lucrative but landlocked central Asian markets via Iran and Afghanistan is also on the cards.