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History of Bluchistan

West of the Indus Plains is Baluchistan, the largest province in Pakistan with an area about 343,000 square km. But though it's bigger than the British Isles, it only has a population of about one million, due mainly to its daunting arid geography. 

In the south of the province, Makran is almost entirely desert with low, dry hills rising from 300 meters to 2500 meters in the north. In the west there is a large salt lake, Hammum-i-Maskhel, and more expansive desert plains. This is where the Chagai and Toba Kakar Mountain Ranges form the borders of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Baluchistan is outside the monsoon zone and has, with the exception of the hilly and arid mountainous regions, a pleasant climate. In winter the temperature falls to as low as - 30 C while in summer it ranges from 18 to 30 C. The province has been influenced by the civilizations in the Indus, Dir and Swat Valleys. One of the oldest Neolithic sites (6000 BC) is to be found at Mehr Ghar just south of Bolan Pass. This culture faded away in 3000 BC about the same time that the Indus Valley Civilization emerged.

Fiercely independent Baluchistan never really became part of the Mughal Empire, but effectively remained an autonomous frontier tributary. In India they fought the Hindus and gained some influence in the Punjab and Sindh. In order to survive they expediently changed their loyalty and allegiance when necessary; at one time with the Moghuls, then the Persians and the Afghans, but their constant was the fight for Islam. When the Mughal power declined they took on the Sikhs, the Marathis and finally the British, who arrived in 1841. 

Makran, once a thriving region with its capital in Panjgur and commercial entrepot in Tiz with 'great warehouses, palm groves and a beautiful mosque, with people of all nations', simply dried up. 

Baluchistan is where the alternative rout of the Euro-Asian Highway passes from Zahedan in Iran to Taftan in Baluchistan and on to Quetta. Another alternative road turns south from Kandahar in Afghanistan into Chaman in Baluchistan - this was the route for freight bound for Afghanistan arriving through Karachi harbour. Apart from its importance as a transit area, there are mineral resources which are just beginning to be tapped. The Sui district has one of the largest gas deposits in the world.

Baluchistan is a province of contrasts. It has some of the bleakest landscape in the country with grim, jagged mountains, barren and arid land where the sparse greenery shrivels and wilts, but hidden away are some stunningly beautiful places. 

Quetta

Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, is linked by air, rail and road with all the major cities of Pakistan, particularly Karachi which has an international airport. Ziarat is connected by 133 km road from Quetta. Regular coach, bus and wagon services ply between Quetta and Ziarat, particularly during the tourist season.

Quetta is situated at elevation of 1677 meters (5500 ft). Quetta is one of the best known tourist resort and also provincial capital of Baluchistan. The name Quetta is derived from the world ' Kuwatta' which means a fort. The city is surrounded by imposing hills like Chiltan, Takatoo, Murdar and Zarghun. It lies 1692 meters above sea level at the mouth of Bolan Pass. The inhabitants are mainly Pathans, Baluch and Brahuis. Nomadic tribes- man pass through Quetta valley during spring and autumn with their herds of sheep and camels. 

Hana Lake

A little short of the place where the Urak valley begins and ten kms from Quetta is the Hinna Lake. The greenish- blue water of the lake provides a rich contrast to the sandy brown of the hills in the back ground.

The Urak valley is 21 km from Quetta city. The road is lying on both sides with wild roses and fruit orchards. Peaches, palms, apricots and apples of many varieties are grown in this valley. 








Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, 20 km south-west of Quetta, rare animals like' Markhors' have been declared a protected species. The park is spread over 38,429 acres with altitude ranging from 2021 to 3264 meters. 








It has a variety of wildlife specially Markhor of which there are five distinct kinds. The kind that is encountered most often is the Chiltan Markhor. The other animals include straight-horned Markhor, 'gad' (wild sheep) and leopards which occasionally migrate to the park from other areas, wolves stripped hyaena, hares, wild cats and porcupines.








The coastline of Baluchistan extends over 750 kms from Hub near Karachi, to the Gawadar Bay on Pakistan-Iran border. The whole area is rich with a variety of marine life and has long sunny beaches. Coastal towns of Pasni, Jiwani and Gawadar are linked by air with Karachi. The coastal tribes are as colorful as those of central and upper Baluchistan. Their colorful costumes, songs and dances are fascinating.






Bolan Pass


Along Bolan Pass, where the road winds through the picturesque mountains one is reminded of the huge odds that the armies from Central Asia and north must have faced when swooping down the plains of he present day Pakistan. 
Khojak Pass


The Khojak Pass leads directly to the border of Afghanistan which is 153 kms away from Quetta. The scenery is as breath-taking here as it is at Bolan Pass. The journey to the border town of Chaman passes through a 4 kms tunnel, more than 1945 meters above sea level. 
Lak Pass


Lak Pass is located between Kalat and Quetta. Here the highway takes a turn for Koh-e-Taftan, Saindak copper mines and Zahidan in Iran. On the hills, oblivious to the presence of the traffic and humans, hundreds of sheep browse upon the scant grass available.








Pakistan has a number of beautiful valleys, enchanting their spectators with enthralling beauty but Ziarat's is importance and an archaic treasure of Junipers forests. Situated about 122 km in the north of metropolis city of Quetta in Baluchistan, this popular picnic resort is at the elevation of 8,200 feet from the sea level. The summers in the valley are always pleasant, attracting a number of tourists, and the winters extremely harsh. Junipers forests, which are one of the world oldest, are the main source of lush green vista of the Ziarat valley. some of the trees in Junipers forests had been sowed as long as 5000 years ago, making Ziarat as the second biggest Junipers valley in the world. 








The word Ziarat means a 'shrine' (grave of a holy man). A folklore tells a saint, Kharwari Baba, who is believed to have stayed in the valley and blessed it. He was a member of Sarangzai tribe and his original name was Mulla Tahir. Later he became a disciple of Nana Sahib. A number of miracles are attributed to Khurwari Baba. The shrine of Khurwari Baba, after which Ziarat was named, is located 8 km away from Ziarat and is visited by a large number of people to pay attribute to the divine soul.


Ziarat takes pride in hosting Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan on a number of occasions. He also spent the last days of his life in a government residency there.


This monumental residency was built in 1882 by the British government and till independence was in the use of the agents of the British governor general for India as their summer headquarters.


The residency is embellished with beautiful lawns, covered with grassy carpets and with roses, dancing at the rhythmic tunes of wind, all around the garden. From there one can have a striking view of the picturesque valley. 
The Gorges


Baluchistan is an arid land which receives very low rainfall annually. But innumerable natural springs known as 'Karez' and streams provide enough water for drinking and cultivation of fruits and crops in most o the areas. There are more than half a dozen gorges around Ziarat formed by natural 'Karez' - spring water falling through narrow openings 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, Kahn Tangi, Kawas Tangi, Fern Tangi and Sandeman Tangi. One can approach easily to these gorges by diverting from the main road to have a picnic, adventure and fun.




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