Quetta, the fruit garden of Pakistan and the capital of
Baluchistan is the legendary stronghold of the western frontier. It sits
at 1,680 metres (5,500 feet) above sea level. Quetta is one of the most important military stations
of the country, occupying a vital and strategic position on account of the
fact that the boundaries of Iran and Afghanistan meet here, and the Bolan
Pass lies on important lines of communications. It is connected by rail
with Lahore, (727 miles) away, with Peshawar (986 miles), and Karachi (536
miles). A new road connects it with Karachi through Khuzdar, Makran and
Las Bela. It is also connected with Zahidan (Duzdab), Iran, by railway.
Quetta tribesman are strong and silent in their bearing, they are known
for their friendliness and hospitality. To make a visitor comfortable is
part of their tradition.
About 50 km, from Quetta is the valley of
is surrounded by thousands of acres of vineyards and orchads, made by
boring holes into rocks to bring to the surface the deep water. The rich
harvest of apples, grapes, plums, peaches and apricots is loaded at Yaru
railway station, seven miles from Pishin.
It nestles in the hills ten kilometres (six miles) east
of Quetta, a startling turquoise pool within bare brown surroundings.
There is a lakeside restaurant with picnic tables shaded by pine trees. At
one end, the irrigation dam rises out of the depths like battlements of a
fort. It is very attractive for holiday makers, are crowded with hikers and campers in holidays. You
can hire a boat and paddle on the lake and round the island in the middle.
URAK TANDI VALLEY
To the left of the Hanna Lake for two kilometres (one
mile) away, and right for the eight-kilometre (five-mile), there is
another picnic spot- the environs of Urak Tandi Valley, which is known as
the fruit garden of Quetta which is full of orchards in April. Cherry,
apricot, apple and peach trees form a tunnel of blossom over the road.
Urak, at the top end of the valley, is a village of square, mud houses
roofed with roots and mud laid across wooden beams. The village is
surrounded on three sides by the Zarghun range of hills. A stream rushes
down from Urak Tangi, a narrow gorge in the hills; a short walk will take
you up onto the lower slopes where partridge call among the rocks and you
can look down on the whole valley. In the little water mill beside the
stream two round stones grind wheat into flour.
BUND KHSHDIL KHAN
After 16 km from Pishin is the man made lake Bund
Khsdil Khan. Its cool gently rippling water attract many visitors for duck
shooting in early winters.
The main bazaar on Jinnah Road is full of Pathan
traders wearing huge turbans, Baluchi hawkers with red embroidered caps,
and full-skirted nomad women carrying bundles of imported cloth for sale.
It is always crowded and colourful. Baluchi mirror-work embroidery,
jackets, fur coats, sandals, Afghan carpets onyx, semiprecious stones,
dried fruit and nuts are the best buys in the bazaar. The Kandahari Bazaar
on Iqbal Road, which crosses Jinnah Road at right angles, and the Liaquat
Bazaar on Liauqat Road, are also good hunting grounds for Baluchi souvenirs.
Junction Mafiking Road,
Tahir Khan Road, Liaquat Bazar,
Shahrah-e-Zarghun (Lytton Road),
Ali Bhoy Road,near Jinnah Road,
Prince road in Quetta
The Bolan Pass, dark grim rocks bring home even more
vividly than the more famous Khyber the natural obstacles to be faced by
any army seeking to cross the mountains of Pakistan's western frontier.
The steepness of the Pass is best appreciated on the return rail journey
with its alarming sequence of slip lines built to catch runaway trains.
Sibi is 163 km from
Quetta, particularly famous for
Horse and Cattle Show, the national festival, held in February from April
every year. Thousands of the best camels, horses and cattle in the country
are brought to the show and tended by Pakistan' most colourful tribal
people. Since the 15th century Sibi has been a meeting place for tribal
chiefs, and since the 17th century the annual durbar (meeting) has been
combined with a mela (Agricultural fair). Sibi is a town with distinction and great historical
importance. It used to be the seat of a number of rulers of area in the
olden times. Sibi is a very ancient town. According to local tradition, it
derives its name from Sewi, a Hindu Princess of Sewa race, who ruled over
the area for a long time before the advent of Islam. The present town of Sibi was built after the 2nd
British invasion of 1878. In the days of British rule, Sibi was known as
Sandemanabad. It was named after the name of Captain Sir Robert Sandeman
under whose command British troops were sent to repel the internal feuds
and external aggressions. Sibi has figured prominently in the annals of history
due to its position lying on the mouth of Bolan Mula and Harnai Passes.
The towering and intervening hills kept it cut off from the rest of
Baluchistan and it appeared to have followed the fortunes of Multan and
Karachi instead of Khorasan in the north. The area between Bolan Pass and Derajat is marked in the olden
maps as Sewistan.
According to the local traditions the area was ruled at
that time by Hindus known as Sewas. These Sewas are stated to be connected
with the Rai dynasty of Sindh. In the history of Alexanders invasions of
India, the name of Sibi or Sibia tribe is mentioned. Prior to the advent
of the Muslim rule in the area in the seventh century, Sibi seems to have
formed part of extensive Hindu Kingdom on the Indus with their capital in
The first Muslim invasion is said to have been made
under Mohammad Bin Qasim, an Arab general of Caliph Walid who took over
the place during the reign of Dahir. Sibi formed part of Ghaznavid Empire
under in the beginning of eleventh century. It was one of the seven
Kingdoms of Sindh during the time of Nasiruddin Kabacha.
Balochs and Pathans are the two main races which have
lived in this historic town for centuries. Among the Balochs are the
tribes of Rind, Jamalis, Khosas, Golas, Umranis and Khiloanis while among
the Pathan tribes are Kakars, Pannis, Tarins, Sanatia, Spin Tarins, Tor
Tarins, Khetrans, Zarkhuns and Bolhari, Syed, Tarans, Chishtis and Ahmaduzai
The most important buildings, constructed during the
British period, are the Residency, the Victoria Memorial Hall, which is
presently known as the Jirga Hall built by public subscription in 1303,
government offices and residential quarters for officials, including those
of railways, municipal buildings and dispensary. Barness School for boys
and Girls School, Gaisford Library, Ladies Hospital and Victoria Sarai,
constructed by Sardar Sohbat Khan Gola, and is known presently after his
name and two masjids and two dharamshala.
The 15th century Chakkar Fort, built by the legendary
Mir Chakar Khan Rind. It is on the road to Sibi Airport. Crumbling mud
walls with round bastions enclose the inner fort, which contains two
beehive-shaped stores for food and ammunition.
No trip to Quetta is complete without a visit to the
mountain resort of Ziarat. This beautiful town is 122 kilometres (7miles)
away to the northeast of Quetta. At 2,460 metres (8,200 feet), above the
sea level, Ziarat is a holiday resort amidst one of the Largest and oldest
juniper forest in the world. It is said that some of the juniper are as
old as 5000 years. Juniper berries are used for flavouring and oil is
extracted.Apart from the Juniper, the valley has an abundant growth of
medicinal herbs such ephedra, artimesia, mint etc. The climate is
generally dry. It is severely cold during the winter and peasantly cool in
There is snow between the months of December to April.
It was developed by the British as a summer retreat. Ziarat offers
colonial-style accommodation and pleasant walks through the surrounding
juniper forest. Ziarat has retained the air of a peaceful British hill
Quaid-e-Azam's residency with its lush green lawns,
chinar trees and flower garden commands a striking view of the whole
valley. It is a two storey building with a modern super structure and some
of the loveliest lawn in the country. It is of historical importance, as
the Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, stayed
here during his last illness. The furniture used by the Father of the
Nation is Are laying at their original palces. The Residency is to be
converted into a National Museum.
Barren hills of
multi-coloured rocks hide one of the
most beautiful and spectacular valleys of Pakistan. Situated some 60 miles
north-cast of Quetta, Zhob Valley is not much known despite its beauty and
the ancient culture that once flourished here.
The original name of the town was
Apazai. During the
British period it was named Fort Sandeman after Sir Robert Sandeman. It
has now been renamed as Zhob.
This 200 miles long and, on an average 15 miles wide
Valley, is probably natures biggest gift to Pakistan. Starting at Kan
Mehtarzai, which is 7,500 feet above sea level, 60 miles from Quetta, Zhob
Valley continues through Muslim Bagh, Qilla Saifullah and Fort Sandeman to
Being not less than 4,500 feet above sea level at any
point and surrounded by hills which are over 10,000 feet high, this Valley
to boasts of scenery of the loveliest spots, unspoiled by human hands. One
can enjoy a snowfall or a very bracing winter, or a cool summer in this
Valley. The Valley abounds in fruits: the nicest peaches, apples, grapes,
apricots, pomegranates, plums, almonds and walnuts.
For wild flower collectors, the Zhob Valley is a
paradise. Wild lovely flowers bloom from February to May, especially
lavender, tulips, hyacinths, poppies, iris, ephedra and others.
The resemblance of the Zhob Valley pottery with that
discovered at various cities in the Indus Valley also suggest links with
these cultures. Also, the grey-ware, bowls found in the Zhob Valley sites
are similar to a group of early pottery from sites in the Fars province of
The climate of Zhob Valley is very healthy. Winter is a
bit long and severe but spring and autumn are beautiful. In some winters,
Kan Mehlariai and Muslim Bagh experience several feet of snow, though
normal temperature is about 19-50 'F. But in summer the maximum
temperature shoots to about 100 'F but due to very dry climate it is not uncomfortable and
evenings are invariably cool. Scorpions are abundant here. The best months
to visit this area are February to March when one can see snow and spring
together, April when wild flowers bloom and August to October when there
is an abundance of fruits and the weather is pleasant.
Some people still lead a nomadic life and are on the
road for the greater part of the year.
The migration to the plains start from October and some
caravans go as far as Multan or Hyderabad with sheep, camels and donkeys.
It is common to see small babies and newly bom lambs tied together in nets
on camel backs. These caravans return to their native land in March or
Due to extremely severe winter, food has to be stocked
and the common practice is to slaughter a few, specially fattened sheep
and dry their meat by hanging it on poles. This salted and dried meat
called Landhi, is considered a local delicacy. Another popular dish is
Shorba, a thin meat soup in wooden basins in which pieces of bread are soaked. This is
eaten from the basin iteslf, five to six persons sharing each basin.
Barbecued lamb, rice with boiled meat, meat curries with only salt and
pepper are the common dishes. Green tea is the favourite drink.
Most of the work is usually done by women, who work a
great deal in the field as well. Water being scarce, it has sometimes to
be brought from long distances usually by little girls or the female
members of the family.
The common dress of men is
Shalwar, Shirt and long coat
while women wear flowing frocks which touch the ground. They wrap
themselves up in red shawls and very seldom can one see a woman not
dressed in red. This is a legacy of the past when various tribes spent
their time shooting at each other. Since women did not take part in
shooting they dressed themselves in red so that they were not shot at by
mistake. Women wear silver jewellery and waistcoats or dresses with small
mirrors are worn on festive occasions.
Women also like to have their hand and faces tattooed
in various designs. Henna is extensively used by men as well as women, not
only on their beards but on hands and feet.