Ever since the eye opening visit to Balochistan I always wanted to write about the things people don’t really write about. More than target killings, more than terrorism the biggest province of Pakistan is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and amazing places ever visited. A province that has a rich history, rich traditions, people who will welcome you, places that will excite you, it has everything. In the continuation of Peaceful Pakistan Project here are the worth visiting places to visit in Balochistan.
In the first part of Balochitan we look at the places only, the food and the people will be in focus next time.
Oh wait! There are many more beautiful and undiscovered places in the province, sadly due to the security situation and the problems you can’t just travel through the places on your own otherwise people would have been able to know about them.
The Bolān Pass is a mountain pass through the Toba Kakar Range of Balochistan province in western Pakistan, 120 kilometres from the Afghanistan border.
Strategically located, traders, invaders, and nomadic tribes have also used it as a gateway to and from South Asia. The Bolān Pass is an important pass on the Baluch frontier, connecting Jacobabad and Sibi with Quetta, which has always occupied an important place in the history of British campaigns in Afghanistan.
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. Along Bolan Pass where the road winds through picturesque mountains one is reminded of the huge odds that the armies from Central Asia and the north must have faced in their raids on the plains of the present day Pakistan.
Traditionally, the Brahui of the Baluchi ethnic group are in charge of the law and order situation through the Pass area. This tribe is still living in present day Balochistan in Pakistan, and they still preserve their Dravidian Language.
In 1837, threatened by a possible Russian invasion of South Asia via the Khyber and Bolān Passes, a British envoy was sent to Kabul to gain support of the Emir, Dost Mohammed. In February 1839, the British Army under Sir John Keane took 12,000 men through the Bolān Pass and entered Kandahar, which the Afghan Princes had abandoned; from there they would go on to attack and overthrow Ghazni.
In 1883, Sir Robert Groves Sandeman negotiated with the Khan of Kalat, Khudadad Khan, and secured British control over the pass in exchange for an annual fee. In winter, 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.
Makran Costal Highway.
The Makran coast is Balochistan’s southern strip and stretches for 754 kms. Long sandy beaches, rugged promontories and tidal creeks characterize the coast-line. There ranges of hills, rising to over 1500 meters (5000feet), run parallel to the coast: the Coastal Makran Range, 30 kms inland; the Central Makran Range, 130 kms inland; and the Siahan Range, 200 kms away from the sea. There is very little rain in the Makran region; the few villages and towns along the coast and between the hills are sustained by spring water.
Many of the Makran people are dark-skinned and have African features. They are probably descended from slaves brought by Arab merchants to the subcontinent. They subsist on fishing, date farming and camel breeding. Most of the men work part-time in the gulf state and Oman, and send money home to their families.
Alexander the great marched half his army home along the inhospitable Makran coast in 325 BC, and Muhammad bin Qasim came from Baghdad to Sindh through Makran in 711 AD. The Makranis stood firm against the Mughals, but bowed nominally to the British Raj. It is only since 1971 that some effort has been made to develop the region.
There is no road along the coast, but daily flights connect the four main coastal towns of Ormara, Pasni, Gwadar and Jiwani with Karachi, and there are flights to Quetta three times a week, Gwadar and Jiwani, both picturesque towns flanked by cliffs and beeches, belonged t o Oman for about 200 years. The Khan of Kallat gave them as a present to the sultan in the 18th century, and in 1958 they were sold back to Pakistan. Ormara is currently being developed as a major port.
Turbat, the divisional headquarters for Makran, is a small inland town near the hills, with little to recommend it but its 300 varieties of dates. Turbat is accessible by a rough road from Lasbela, and by daily flights from Karachi and Quetta. Panjgur, the principal date-growing area further north, can also be reached by air. The track from Khuzdar to Panjgur is very rough.
Ziarat is the location of the Ziarat residency where Jinnah lived and spent his last days of life, Ziarat is a famous tourist site. The Residency was constructed in 1892. It is an important building, the whole building is actually a wooden structure beautifully designed and has great architectural importance. It was originally meant to be a sanatorium, and it was converted into the summer residence of the Agent of the Governor General. It is now a national monument. The residency catches the tourists’ attention due to its unique location and the wonderful hilly surroundings. The weather is really pleasant during summer time and the local people are hospitable, but in winter the weather is severe and it is more difficult to survive. During summer time the apple and cherry gardens provide a pleasant view for tourists.
Ziarat is also very famous for its juniper forest. Junipers are found in Ziarat districts and Zarghoon mount and some other mounted areas of Balochistan known as the second largest Juniper forest in the world, which covers an area of about 247,000 acres (1,000 km2). There are many important species found in this ecosystem including animal and birds, the Chakor partridge, bushes and ground flora which local people use these plants as indigenous treatments for a variety of diseases.The junipers are considered to be the real treasure of Ziarat. There are trees in the valley which are more than 5000 to 7000 years old. In Ziarat a herb called Ephedra sinica is found in abundance from which a chemical called ephedrine is extracted, an important constituent of various medicines, especially cough syrups. When the snow falls in Ziarat’s winter the juniper valley is at its most beautiful.Chiltan Adventurers Association Balochistan is raising voice on National & International level as Juniper Defenders for the conservation of this world heritage since 1984.
Gwadar Port is a warm-water, deep-sea port situated on the Arabian Sea at Gwadar in Balochistan province of Pakistan.
Gwadar Port is situated near the strategic Strait of Hormuz and its busy trading and oil shipping lanes. The surrounding region is home to around two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves. It is also the nearest warm-water seaport to the landlocked, but energy rich, Central Asian Republics and landlocked Afghanistan.
Although construction of Gwadar Port did not commence until 2002, Pakistan identified Gwadar as a port site as far back as 1954 when Gwadar was still under Omani rule. Pakistan’s interest in Gwadar started when, in 1954, it engaged the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct a survey of its coastline. The USGS deputed the surveyor, Worth Condrick, for the survey, who identified Gwadar as a suitable site for a seaport. After four years of negotiations, Pakistan purchased the Gwadar enclave from Oman for $3 million on 8 September 1958 and Gwadar officially became part of Pakistan on 8 December 1958, after 200 years of Omani rule. At the time, Gwadar was a small and underdeveloped fishing village with a population of a few thousand. A small port was constructed at Gwadar by the Government of Pakistan between 1988 and 1992 at a cost of Rs. 1,623 million, including the foreign exchange component of Belgian Francs 1,427 million, equivalent to Rs. 749 million, which was arranged by the contractor.
However, technical and financial feasibility studies for a major deep-sea port at Gwadar were not initiated until 1993 under the Government of Pakistan’s 8th Five Year Plan (1993-1997). Gifford & Partners & Technecon of Southampton, United Kingdom, in association with the Karachi-based Pakistani firm, Techno-Consult International, were engaged by the Government of Pakistan to carry out the feasibility study.
Gwadar Port was developed by the Government of Pakistan at a cost of USD $248 million. The construction contract was awarded to a Chinese firm and construction began on 22 March 2002 and Phase I (see below) of the Port was completed in December 2006 and inaugurated by the President of Pakistan on 20 March 2007.