Rising abruptly from the Punjab plains west of the River Jhelum and ending equally precipitously on the Indus River, one hundred and eighty kilometres in the west, the Salt Range is a long linear formation of sheer escarpments, jagged peaks, rolling hills and desolate ravines. Nestling between these hills, are fertile valleys scattered with lakes and irrigated by spring fed streams. The Salt Range originated 800 million years ago when evaporation of a shallow sea followed by under thrusting of the Indian Plate formed a range that stretched for about 300 kilometres. The range derives its name from the occurrence of the thickest seams of rock salt in the world embedded in the Precambrian bright red marls of the Salt Range Formation. The Salt Range constitutes a narrow zone of localized strong folding, faulting and uplift, in contrast to the open folds of low structural relief in the Potwar Plateau and no deformation at all in the immediately adjacent Punjab Plain.
A Geology wonder
It represents an open book of geology with richly fossiliferous stratified rocks that include Cambrian stratigraphy, a Permian carbonate succession with brachiopods, the Permian-Triassic boundary, Lower Triassic ammonite bearing beds (the Mianwali Formation, formerly known as “Ceratite Beds”) and Lower Tertiary marine strata composed of age diagnostic foraminifera. All the strata are excellently exposed due to lack of vegetation. The quality of the exposure also provides excellent opportunities to appreciate tectonic features in the field and attracts geologists from all over the world to study Cambrian stratigraphy, the Permian-Triassic boundary, and Lower Tertiary foraminiferal biostratigraphy.
The area is rich in paleontological finds: large and small land mammals dating to some 18 million years ago when the climate of this area was wet and humid; ichno-fossil dinosaur trackways, which were imprinted in the limestone in the upper most part of the Middle Jurassic ; a wealth of Cretaceous belemnites in the form of a “graveyard”; the 14 million year old fossil remains of Deinotherium discovered at Choa Saidan Shah; 12.3 million year old fossilised hipbone from a prehistoric ape named Sivapithecus indicus and the 10 million year old Gigantopithecus
The first evidence of human presence in the Salt Range is found in the Soan River valley where hundreds of edged pebble tools were discovered dated to the Lower Palaeolithc (500,000 – 125,000 bp). Nearby at Khaur a complete lower jaw is evidence of Rampithicus punjabicus living in the Potwar just north of the Salt Range as recently as 8 million years ago.
In 326 BC, Alexander the Great, the Greek King famous for conquering an empire ranging from Asia into Africa and Europe, was making his way across Pakistan. Stopping his army for a rest in the area now known as Khewra, Alexander’s horse began licking the stones on the ground. Seeing that all the horses were doing so and taking note, a soldier himself tried one and found that the rocks were quite salty. The Khewra salt deposits had been discovered
Within the Salt Range there is a dense clustering of historical sites and places ranging in date from the 4th c. when Alexander the Great fought his last battle with Raja Porus at the bank of Jehlum River, through the Hindu Shahi period, the Mughal Empire to the era of Sikh rule and the British Colonial occupation.
Today, some 2330 years later, the Khewra salt mines are the second largest in the world and is known for famous Pink Salt turning out 325,000 tons of salt per year, and an estimated 220 million tons over its lifetime. This is barely even a dent in the massive salt stores here, which are said to be 6.687 billion tons. Officially, salt mining wasn’t recorded until the 1200s under the Janjua-Raja’ tribe, but salt has probably been mined and traded here since Alexander’s time.
Every two hours, Electric train ride has been made available for tourists to have a joy ride upto main juncture for a distance of 3KM inside the Mines.
The mines have been illuminated at a grand scale with fancy and reflector type lights to magnify intrinsic beauty of the salient features of the mine, its interior look and texture of rock salt. Seating arrangements have been made in side the mine. Refreshments have been provided inside the mine, where kiosks have been fitted, having sufficient capacity for tourists to relax and enjoy light refreshments.
Mine is open for tourist from 09:00 A.M. to 06:00 P.M. every day including Sunday and gazetted holidays.
For me the mines were an incredible experience. I have never seen such beautiful monuments made just from salt before. We get Himalayan rock salt in the UK, so to go and visit where it’s made was so much fun and I think this is particularly true for international visitorsAlex Outhwaite
Beside the landscapes
The Altit Fort is the oldest fort in northern areas which is located in the Altit village. It is built with great architectural design on a rock of a mountain where the Hunza River flows at its back.
Baltit Fort is another beautiful fort in the Hunza valley which is built at the top of Karimabad. It has won numerous awards including Tourism of Tomorrow Award, Asia-Pacific Heritage for Cultural Conservation- Award of Excellence (UNESCO). The Time Magazine of Asia awarded Best of Asia Award in 2005.
What to buy
The famous types of musical tunes in Gilgit-Baltistan are Dhani, Bazmi, Tajwar, Alghani, Saus, Lolo, Tambal, Bulla, Razm, Yudaani and Danyal/Bitan. Each of these tunes is associated with a special occasion. On the other hand, they also provide cue to eras when shamanism and magic was widely believed and practiced in the region. During the initiation ceremony or in ecstatic state, the shaman is said to interact with fairies and sings a melodious ballad. The music played at that time is produced extempore by following rhythm in shamanic songs. Similarly, Yudaani is the music of battle field, but it is played in reverse order to cast magical spell on the enemy and invigorate fellow soldiers with frenzy typical of wild animal
How to get there
A reception/briefing hall has been constructed to serve as reception center for tourists. WALKWAY: The walkway from receipt/briefing hall to the Mine Mouth has been constructed by fixing pavers for the smooth walk of tourist. SOUVENIR SHOP: For the convenience of tourist, a souvenir shop has been established in the reception/briefing hall area where tourists can find model lamps and other articles made of salt.
- Customizable for Group tourists
- Participants: 2~20
- Elevation: 1,522 m (4,993 ft)
- Location: Khewra
- average activity time: 2~3 hours
- 09:00 A.M. to 06:00 P.M (every day including Sunday and gazetted holidays)
For queries and reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org