Quetta, the capital of Balochistan,
1692 meters above sea level, lies at the mouth of Bolan Pass. It has
three large craggy mountains. Chiltan, Zarghun and Koh-e-Murdar, that
seem to brood upon this pleasant town. there are other mountains that
form a ring around it. Their copper red and russet rocks and crests that
are powdered with snow in winters add immense charm to the town.
Quetta is an excellent base for further exploration
of Balochistan. Loralai, the almond bowl of the country, is 265 kms
away. Besides, there are numerous other valleys that are fascinating
places to be in for explorers.
Quetta can rightly be called the fruit basket of
Pakistan. Plums, peaches, pomegranates, apricots, apples, some unique
varieties of melon like "Garma" and cherries, pistachios and almonds are
all grown in abundance. Some pistachios also grow in Qila Saif ullah.
Saffron grows very well on mountains around 5000 ft
(1524 meters) high. It is being cultivated on a commercial scale here.
The yellow and red varieties of tulip grow wild around Quetta.
The inhabitants are mainly Pathan, Baluch and Brahui. You can also find
Uzbeks, Tajiks and Turkamen rubbing shoulders with the other
inhabitants. Nomadic tribesmen pass through Quetta Valley during spring
and autumn with their herds of sheep and camels and their assorted wares
for sale. This seasonal movement adds color to the life of the city.
The rugged terrain has made the people of the area
hardy and resilient. They are known for their friendly and hospitable
nature. To make a visitor comfortable is part of their tradition, like
the rest of the people of Pakistan.
The name Quetta is derived from the word "Kuwatta" which means a fort
and, no doubt, it is a natural fort surrounded as it is by imposing
hills on all sides. The encircling hills have the resounding names of
Chiltan, Takatoo, Mordar and Zarghun.
The main thoroughfare and the commercial Center of
Quetta is Jinnah road. It is a long boulevard lined with trees. Many
important buildings like the Governor's House, Post and
Telecommunication Offices are located along Jinnah Road.
Prominent bazaars of Quetta are located on Shahrah-e-Iqbal (Kandahari
Bazaar) and Shahrah-e-Liaqat (Liaqat Bazaar and Suraj Gang Bazaar). Here
you can find colorful handicrafts, particularly Balochi mirror work
embroidery which is admired all over the world, carpets, with their
pleasing and intricate designs, fur coats, jackets, waist-coats, sandals
and other creations of traditional Balochi skills.
In the old bazaars one comes across quaint old tea-shops. These are the
local "clubs". There are also many popular eating houses offering
different types of delicacies. Among the delicacies you must try "Sajji"
(Leg of lamb), which is roasted to a delightful degree of tenderness and
is not very spicy. The tribesmen of the valley also enjoy "Landhi"
(whole lamb), which is dried in shade and kept for the winters. "Kabab"
shops are very popular.
Some of the finest mutton in the country is raised
around Quetta. It has a delicious smell which can be sampled in the "Pulao"
that most of the restaurants offer.
The archaeological Museum at Fifa road has a collection of rare antique
guns, swords and manuscripts. Geological Survey Department on Sariab
road (6 kms) has a collection of rocks and fossils. Only six kms from
the city is the campus of the university of Balochistan.
Askari Park at the airport road offers amusement and recreational
HAZARGANJI CHILTAN NATIONAL PARK:
In the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, 20 kms south-west of Quetta,
Markhors have been given protection. The park is spread over 32500
acres, altitude ranging from 2021 to 3264 meters.
Hazarganji literally means "Of a thousand treasures".
In the folds of these mountains, legend has it, there are over a
thousand treasures buried, reminders of the passage of great armies down
the corridors of history. The Bactrains, Scything, Mongols and then the
great migrating hordes of Baluch, all passed this way.
Markhor of which there are five distinct kinds, is the national animal
of Pakistan. The kind that is photographed the most often is the Chiltan
Markhor which, because of its long horns looks very conspicuous. Ever
since the markhor has been given protection its number has multiplied.
Other animals in the park are straight horned markhors, "Gad" wild
sheep) and leopards which occasionally migrate to the park from other
areas, wolves, striped hyena, hares, wild cats and porcupines.
Many birds like partridge, warblers, shikras, blue rock pigeon, rock
nuthatch, red gilled choughs, golden eagle, sparrow, hawlks, falcons and
bearded vultures are either found here or visit the park in different
Reptiles like monitor and other wild lizards, eckos, Afghan tortoise,
python, cobra, horned viper and Levantine may also be seen in the park.
EXCURSIONS FROM QUETTA
Karkhasa is a recreation Park situated at distance of 10 kms to the west
of Quetta. It is a 16 kms long narrow valley having a variety of flora
like Ephedrine, Artimisia and Sophora.
The Urak valley is 21 kms from Quetta City. The road is lined on either
side with wild roses and fruit orchards. Peaches, plums, apricot and
apples of many varieties are grown in this valley.
The waterfall at the end of the Urak valley, which is full of apple and
apricot orchards, makes an interesting picnic spot.
A little short of the place where the Urak valley begins and 10 kms from
Quetta is the Hanna Lake, where benches and pavilions on terraces have
been provided. Golden fish in the lake comes swimming right up to the
edge of the lake. A little distance away, the waters f the lake take on
a greenish blue tint. Right where the water ends, pine trees have been
planted on the grass filled slopes.
The greenish-blue waters of the lake provide a rich contrast to the
sandy brown of the hills in the background. One can promenade on the
terraces. Wagon service operates form city bus station at Circular road.
Some 50kms from Quetta is the valley of Pishin with its numerous fruit
orchards, which are irrigated by "Karaz", a kind of artificial spring
made by boring holes into rocks to bring to the surface the subterranean
water. Sixteen kms from Pishin is the man-made lake Bund Khushdil Khan.
Its cool gentle waters attract many visitors for duck shooting in early
At a distance of 70 kms from Quetta on Sibi road is situated a popular
picnic spot known as Pir Ghaib. Here a waterfall cascades down rocky
mountain side making its way through many streams and ponds among the
shady palm trees. You need a 4-wheal-drive vehicle to reach the spot
from the main road.