No life on earth is possible without consuming food, and when it comes to Pakistan, then all of us are well aware that people belonging to this land can’t survive without quality food. When we talk about food, we know that there are some essentials without which any eatable would be like a walk in the desert. The most important of these essentials is for sure… Salt! Hmmm…. It makes our food so yummy. It acts like the color filler to the foodstuff. One day… when I was munching on my lunch, a thought just ringed in my mind that if we have to eat everything without adding salt in it, the food would have been so much tasteless. But salt?…. Oh!! From where we get the salt.?? I paused for a second and leaving my food there ran to my mom, asked her that from where we get the salt? She was in a humorous mood and answered, “From the shop obviously!” I laughed out and repeated my question with an amendment that, “From where this salt actually comes? Is it a chemical made in industries or what??” Now getting my question correctly, she told me that we get it from salt mines. And my next question was, “Where are these salt mines?” She got stuck in some house hold work and my question remain hanged in the air. Now curiosity made me explore about salt mines and I opened my laptop to search about it.
The first thing I got to see on the Google was a strip of colorful images with tag line “Khewra Mines”. I clicked it and then… I don’t know where my thoughts were travelling…!!! It was something astonishing!!!! The info I got, revealed that Khewra city is very famous for having world’s second largest salt mines which is located in District Jhelum of province Punjab, Pakistan. Just to add on a little about the geographical location of this city, it is situated about 200 kilometers away from Islamabad and 245 kilometers away from Lahore. Khewra salt mines are located 945 feet above sea level. The total length of salt range is 300 kilometers which extends from Beganwala near River Jhelum to Kalabagh near river Sindh.
After reading it, I became so much anxious to visit this treasury of Pakistan and so made a plan with my friends during the month of October, 2012. We decided to go by road for our own comfort as well as for having fun. I was too much excited and was continuously thinking that why I have wasted a lot of time to know about this place. The weather during this month is moderately inclined towards warmth i.e. about 30⁰ to 32⁰.
As soon as we reached there, I saw a beautiful scenery portraying very huge mountains which were the Salt ranges.
We parked our car and stepped out. I was speechless to see such a beauty. My friend got hold of my hand and dragged me along to the gate of Salt mines.
There was a small train there too which could take us for a guided tour but we opted for walking along the mine. A guide accompanied us to make our visit informative one. As we entered the mine, all I could have a glance of was salt and salt all around but there was some water flowing through the narrow canals with the walls. Water? I wondered why water is flowing through this salt mine. It would have been dissolving all the salt then. When I asked the guide for the reason, I was astounded to learn that it was the salt as well which is in the liquid form. This liquid gets deposited to these walls in the form of white salt. Quite an interesting information it was! Just then we entered a place wider than the way which was a bridge like and from both sides we can see a big pool of water which was also of salt. The guide told us that if any one fells inside this pool he can never be drowned because liquid salt has high density.
While I was discussing with my friends about the beauty of this gift of nature, I felt like I was inhaling salt and got the salty taste on my tongue. The guide then told us that there is a hospital here especially made for the TB patients because doctors claim that breathing inside the salt mines is healthy for them. He took us there for the visit as well. Here is the outer view of the hospital. It was made with the salt bricks perfectly cut into the shape with lights inside to make the building glow.
Now we were heading towards the mosque made of salt. I had seen it on the net but to see it in reality was not less than a wonderment to me. And then… my eyes were seeing a spot so much glowing with beautiful colors, I paced up my walk and reached there. It was such a beautiful mosque. It had a cabinet as well to keep Quran and Islamic books for the people who used to offer prayers there. Simply startling!!
I know it wasn’t possible for me to move away from such a charming mosque view but there was still a lot more to see. So we moved on and the guide shown us the monument of Minar-e- Pakistan there which was carved with more than perfection. Though this Minar-e-Pakistan was so smaller than the real one but it was presenting the art of the workers who devote their lives for digging out salt to add taste in our food. I wished I could salute them for their services there.
Another great place we visited there was a post office which was specially made for the ones who are working inside the mines without having the trust of their lives for years and years and so, when they want to get in contact with their families, they can write letters and post them away from this post office.
Each and every part of the salt mines was continuously increasing my level of amazement and if we had much of the time, I wanted to stay there and observe, how the workers dug out the salt and above all, this creation of Allah needs an unlimited time to realize the intensity of it being so much spectacular.
There was also a cafeteria inside for the visitors who could enjoy snacks and relax by sitting there. We sat there not to eat something but to make those moments precious with the views of different forms of salty walls all around. The path to the cafeteria was all red with multi shaded lights inside the floor.
After resting for a while we moved on to a section where there was very little light and the ceiling was full of frozen driblets and it looked like small decorative hangings which were also obviously of salt.
Another incredible thing was the deposited white salt extending from the ceiling to the ground just the like bunches of grapes.
This was the last spot of the salt mine which visited and then went out of the mine. Outside the mine, there were two to three shops which were having creatively carved salt in the form of vases, lamps, flowers, pots and in many different shapes as decorative items. I bought one big block of salt and a vase for my mom.
My tour was however finished there, but the bundles of informative memories I took along with me to my home are still with me and when it comes to such a place which is not less than a miracle, then who can stop oneself to thank all the time Allah Almighty for it. I consider myself to be the blessed one as I belong to Pakistan which is the land of wonders and for sure a gift from Him.