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Travel Unseen beauty of Balochistan

Unseen beauty of Balochistan

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Pakistan, my beautiful homeland is created with best of natural beauty. From towering mountains to mysterious hill stories, laden gardens to crystal-clear water bodies and magnificent beaches to historic landmarks we have every inch of natural and man-made endeavors. Our Northern Areas are at the top charts of tourism all around the world but how many of us know about the unbelievable beauty that Southern region of Pakistan unfolds. This document reveals many unseen and remote areas of Balochistan that definitely make us the best country for tourism in this whole-wide world.

Balochistan, the biggest Pakistani province is often associated with rough mountains and dry weather. But local travelers and some V-loggers have now shown the hidden charm of this land.  Balochistan is much more than a barren land. It is bestowed with gardens, lakes, beaches and waterfalls that can be transformed into state-sponsored spots for growth in our tourism industry and better employment opportunities for the Balochis.

It is ironical how under-appreciated is Balochistan yet it is difficult to cover each and every remarkable area that can fall in the category of “unseen” or “unpopular”. The purpose of my blog is to share the star struck level of beauty in Balochistan.

Here is a list of some worthy yet unpopular areas of Balochistan:

MOUNTAINS:

KOH-I-CHILTAN:

Chiltan or Chehel Tan literally means “Forty Bodies/Souls”. A legend goes by in the area that once a poor couple was unable to conceive and prayed for children. A saint assured them that his prayers will bless them with children and nature actually did. According to the tale, the couple had 40 children, consecutively. Baffled by the amount the couple decided to abandon 39 of them at the top of Chiltan mountain.

The mountain of 40 souls in Balochistan

The valley and jungle near Chiltan was abundant of natural treasures and was called “Hazarganji” i.e. Possessor of a thousand treasures. For which, the parents had abandoned them at the sake of Hazarganji.. So, the parents left them to survive on their own. But for many days, people heard children shriek at the mountain. Filled with guilt, one day their parents went back to see the children when a group of them stole their 40th sibling and took him/her away forever.

Koh i Chiltan

It is said since then those children mess with the travelers and misguide them. No one could catch them and nobody either returned from the jungle. They have become haunted souls and made the place somewhat scary. It is not dangerous to be in Chiltan at daytime but locals warn tourists to stay away at night because people still hear children cry from the top of the mountain. This is how the mountain was named Koh-i-Chiltan; The mountain of 40 souls.

TOBA KARAR RANGE, BOLAN PASS:

Bolan Pass Railway Track

Bolan Pass, a natural gateway in and out from South Asia, is located in eye gazing hills of Toba Kakar range in Balochistan. It comprises number of narrow gorges. This is situated 120km away from Afghanistan border and connects Jacobabad and Sibi with Quetta in Pakistan. Many traders, early settlers, merchants and even invaders entered the subcontinent region through this area.

In addition to it, Bolan Pass Railway consists of 20 tunnels and over 368 bridges making it one of the longest railway gradient of the world and among the most scenic railway rides of Asia. Blue water flowing in between long stretch of mountain gorge makes the experience a whole lot better!

This gateway provides both rail and road routes and is administered by Balochi tribes. Its protection has been their authority for ages as early as 682 A.D.

WATERFALLS:

MOOLA CHOTOK, KHUZDAR DISTRICT:

Moola Chotok aka Pakistani Grand Canyon

A cascade of waterfall flowing down from the hills of Moola Chotok are one of the hidden waterfalls of Balochistan. This is a unique place and feels like a narrow Grand Canyon to me. Narrow passages filled with water give the essence of natural swim lanes in the bed of magnificent hills.

Waterfalls of Moola Chotok

Though lack of rest rooms, huts and other facilities make the journey unpleasant but destination is worth it. Travelers have called it a “physical therapy” after a long-tiring road trip and another name has also been associated to the splendor of Moola Chotok; “hidden paradise”.

PIR GHAIB, BOLAN DISTRICT:

There is a mesmerizing waterfall in Balochistan called “Pir Ghaib” that has been very spooky for decades now. The legend says the area of Sibi and Quetta was once ruled by an immoral king who was far away from Islamic principles. Locals of the area were quite disturbed from the king.

Pir Ghaib Waterfall

A pious brother and sister (saints) known as Pir and Bibi Naani thought of inviting the King to Islam which he took as an insult. King ordered his evil men to kill both brother and sister but somehow the sister ran ahead of him and escaped. Unfortunately, Pir got stuck in a deep area where he was surrounded by hills and his escape was blocked. Legend says he prayed to Allah Almighty and struck the hill with a shovel shaped tool on the ground. Water started flowing from that point and the saint vanished behind the waterfall. Since then this miraculous event has become a tale for generations of Balochi people. Therefore, the waterfall is called Pir Ghaib; “ghaib” means “absent/vanished”.

NATIONAL PARK:

HINGOL NATIONAL PARK, ALONG MAKRAN COASTAL HIGHWAY:

Wildlife Habitat:

Largest national park of Pakistan is located along the Makran Coastal Highway. Hingol is spread over Lasebela, Gwadar and Awaran districts comprising large lands for vegetation, a wide range of wildlife and variety of bird species. This appears as home to threatened species such as the Marsh Crocodile, Green marine Turtles, Ibexes, Dolphins as well as migratory birds; Dalmatian and Spot-billed Pelican etc. Some mammals are also found; Sindh leopard, Porcupine, Cairo Spiny mouse and the Rock mouse.

Singh leopard in Hingol National Park Balochistan

Although the main attractions are ibexes, dolphins as well as sphinx of Balochsitan and Statue of Hope in the park. Ibexes are usually spotted at towering hills of the area. Whereas, statue of hope and sphinx accompany each other in thrashing winds.

Sphinx of Balochistan:

Sphinx of Balochistan

The sphinx in Balochistan resembles the sphinx in Giza, Egypt. Sphinx is a rock formation; a human head over an animal’s body which were deployed in front of temples for protection in ancient times. Greek mythology symbolizes sphinx with strength and protection. So, as Egyptian sphinx and our sphinx are found similar there is a chance with some added assumptions that there might have been a temple here too. Only excavations and research can prove a side.

Princess of Hope:

Moving on, as sphinx are not manmade and are supposed to be natural wonders similarly another statue in Balochistan trembles its viewer. A statue of a woman draped in a robe was named “Princess of Hope” by Angelina Jolie during her visit to Pakistan. There has been no correct source of this rocky formation, that resembles a woman. Some professionals take a guess for it to be the charismatic art of thrashing winds that pierced the rock with style and created a craft.

Princess of Hope statue in Balochistan

BEACHES:

ASTOLA ISLAND, 25KM OFFSHORE PASNI:

Astola Island

Astola Island, hailed for its crystal-clear and turquoise-water is also known as “Island of the Seven Hills”. It lies in Arabian Sea, around 25km south of Pakistan’s nearest coastline. After a 5-hour boat drive anyone can reach the island. It is small and home to several-unique birds and turtles. Government of Pakistan has added a few man-made features such as a lighthouse and a mosque.

Astola island

Astola is also important for fecundity of fish; multi-colored fish. The island is yet under developed but the scenic beauty is breathtaking. Only passionate travelers can have the patience for a long ride from Karachi to Pasni and then to the island to enjoy its hills, the water and take in the natural blessings from the scene.

KUND MALIR BEACH, ALONG MAKRAN COASTAL HIGHWAY:

Kund Malir Beach

Another fantastic tourist spot in Balochistan lies along Makran Coastal Highway known as “Kund Malir” beach. This beach is also called “Golden beach” for the golden sand and yellow rocks it has. Though it receives some visitors in some parts of the year but due to lack of facilities this place remains under-appreciated. These beaches require necessary funds and attention for our tourism industry to grow in Balochistan.

LANDMARKS:

KOJAK TUNNEL, QILLA ABDULLAH DISTRICT:

One of the historic railway stations in the subcontinent was of Sheela Bagh in Balochistan. During British rule, Russian expansion movements were blazing high. The tunnel known as “Kojak” connected Quetta to Pak-Afghan border town of Chaman which was built from 1888 to 1891 to prevent Russian accession from Afghanistan into the land that forms Pakistan today. The idea was to send British troops via this tunnel to fight incoming Russian force.

Kojak Tunnel

The strategic importance, sturdy architecture and spicy tales gained much attention to the tunnel. One legend goes by that a woman named “Sheela” used to dance for the laborers during construction of this tunnel. That is why this beautiful place was named after her, Sheela Bagh. Another legend states that chief engineer of the project killed himself before completion of his masterpiece and the reason remains a mystery.

Kojak Tunnel at 5 Rupee note of Pakistan (1976-2005)

Anyhow, this 3.9km long tunnel lost its entrance towers in an earthquake of 1935. Additionally, Kojak Tunnel was also printed on Rs. 5 note of Pakistan in 1976 which stayed till 2005 at the orders of State Bank of Pakistan. This was a gesture to recognize the marvel of engineering.

KHARAN FORT, KHARAN DISTRICT:

Kharan Fort is one of the oldest and significant forts of Balochistan. It was built by Azad khan Nosherwani in 15th century for defense against Afghanistan, State of Kalat and foreign traders of that time. Eleven fortresses were built but Kharan served as the main fort as it gave full view of the city.

Kharan Fort

Legend says the construction of Kharan was obstructed due to shortage of water supply. So, some famous-spiritual personality of the era was approached for help. The chief accompanied him to a famous point north of fort called “Dilkasha” where he struck his wand on the ground. The water was erupted and it still flows from that place, today that place is called “Water of Karez”. Karez remains a mystery for people in agriculture because the source of these water channels knows as “Karez” are undetermined.

Karez, water channels of Balochistan

Conclusively, that is how, construction of fort was soon resumed and it served as military camp and a trading center for locals. After several hundred years, remnants of the fort are still intact and tell the tale of its rise and fall.

These pictures make me yearn to live life and ace it while I have the chance; time, resources and health.

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Maryam Iftikhar
Maryam Iftikharhttps://siffar.com/
In the journey of tears and traumas, hope and joy I have become a woman who worked on herself, broke the shackles and is trying to own her life.

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