The Balochistan Province:



History Of Balochistan:

Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan, which makes 44% of the country's land mass. It traces its history from times immemorial when it was inhabited by Stone Age hunters. According to French Archaeologist Professor Jarrige, by 6,000 BC farmers on the Bolan River were cultivating barley, wheat and dates using floodwater and storing their surplus in large mud bins. The people here were growing cotton and making pottery.


Before the birth of Christ, it had commerce and trade links with ancient civilization of Babylon through Iran and into the valleys of Tigris and Euphrates. Alexander the reat (326 BC) had an encounter with the Sibia tribe of Balochistan. Muhammad Bin Qasim (711 AD) and Mehmood Ghaznavi (11th century AD) also invaded Balochistan resulting in the development of Muslim character. Even today most tribal people of this province resemble Arabs and the inhabitants can be quite a fascinating subject of study by anthropologists.


During 15th century, the Great Baloch Sardar Mir Chakkar Rind united the main Balochi tribes and also ruled over southern Afghanistan and parts of Punjab and Sindh. After this, Balochistan was governed by Safvids, Mughals and Ghilzais for three centuries. The Khans of Kalat united the Brahui tribes and rose to power with support of Nadir Shah of Iran. The British first came to Balochistan during the first Afghan War (1939-42), on their way to Kandhar. In 1876, Robert Sandeman was appointed as the British Agent in Balochistan and by 1887 most of the area was in British hands. Ultimately, in 1947, Balochistan became part of Pakistan.


Quetta City:

Excursions From Quetta:

Pishin Valley And Bund Khushdil Khan:


Urak Valley:

The Urak Valley is 21 kms from Quetta City. The road is lined on either side with wild roses and fruit orchards, peaches, plums, apricots and apples of many varieties are grown in this valley.


Hanna Lake:

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 upto the edge of the lake. A little distance away, the waters of 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 to the lake operates from city bus station at Circular Road.
General Information:
Area (Balochistan): 347,056 sq.km.
Population of Balochistan: 6,511,358 (1998 census)
Population (Quetta city): 560,307 (1998 census)
Average Elevation: 1676 metres (5,500 ft).
About Ziarat:
A visit to Quetta is incomplete without a trip to Ziarat. Situated 133 kms (3 hours by car) from Quetta at an altitude of 2449 metres above sea level, Ziarat is a holiday resort amidst one of the largest and oldest Juniper forests in the world. It is said that some of the Juniper trees are as old as 5000 years.The name Ziarat means, "Shrine". A local saint, Kharwari Baba, is believed to have rested in the valley and blessed it. After his death he was buried here. People frequently visit the saint's shrine, which is 10 kms from Ziarat.
Extensive research is being made in the forest nurseries to replace the forest with other fast growing trees as the regeneration of the juniper is very slow. But that is also persured with great care.
Tourist season:
All the year round, particularly from May to October.
Climate and Clothing:
Ziarat is a hill station in the Sibi district of the province of Baluchistan. It remains quite cool during summer and receives enough snowfall during the winter. Light woolen clothing for summer and heavy for the winter are recommended.
People
The inhabitants are mainly Muslim. There are Pathans, Baluchis and Brahuis. Nomadic tribesmen also pass through the valleys around during spring and autumn with their families, herd of sleep and camels.
Languages
Pushto, Persian, Baluchi and Brahui are the local languages. Urdu and English are also spoken.
Costumes:
The women wear shalwar (baggy trouser) and long skirted shirts with a chadar ao Dopatta having embroidered and mirror work. The men wear shalwar, long shirts and waist coat with a turban on the head.


Forest And Orchards:
Extensive research is being done in the forest nurseries to replace the juniper forest with fast growing trees, as the regeneration of the juniper is very slow.


The magic of Ziarat is its honey, its flowers which attain large size here, its lush green grass and cool weather even in the hottest months of summer, "Shinshoab", a lavender like wild bush looks lovely in twilights. Over 4400 acres in an around Ziarat are under apple orchards. The apple grown in the orchards, particularly the black and red kulu variety are delicious. A fair amount of black cherry is also grown in Ziarat. The cherry season lasts from the 1st to 15th of June.


Passes:
For many centuries, the Bolan Pass has been the main entrance to Quetta District. It is historically significant, used as the gateway by most of the immigrants from Central Asia in their drive to discover new homelands in South Asia. The two other important passes are the Lak Pass between Kalat and Quetta and the Khojak Pass near the border with Afghanistan at Chaman.
Lak Pass,
Lak Pass is located between Kalat and Quetta at a point where the highway makes a turn for Koh-e-Taftan, Saindak copper mines and Zahidan in Iran and the other section links Karachi via Kalat, Khuzdar and Bela. PTDC Motel at Khuzdar and Taftan caters for motorists. The view from the top of the pass is interesting. Trucks, trailers and lorries laden to their brim with merchandise and passengers move along at great speeds. Down below these kiosks sell beverages. On the hill, unmindful of the presence of the motorized transport and the human beings, hundreds of sheep browse upon the scant herbage available there.
Bolan Pass,
Along Bolan Pass where the road winds through picturesque mountains one is reminded of the hugs odds that the armies from Central Asia and the north must have faced in their raids on the plains of the present day Pakistan. In winters, trains of camels, as they slowly plod their way through to the top, look fascinating. The Bolan links Quetta with the plains of the Punjab and the upper Sindh through the town of Sibi by road and train. The train passes through 21 tunnels.
Khojak Pass,
The Khojak Pass is 7575 ft. above sea level. It leads directly to the border of Afghanistan at Chaman which is 153 kms away from Quetta. The train passes through the longest tunnel of the sub-continent. The scenery is breath-taking as here as it is at Bolan Pass.
Harnai Pass,
The entire population of Kharwari Baba and for that matter of the entire Ziarat, migrates to Harnai in extreme winter. Harnai Pass, about hours drive from Loralai, is just as spectacular as the Khyber Pass near Peshawar.


Sibi:
Sibi is 163 kms from Quetta. It has great historical importance. It derives its name from Sewi, a Hindu Princess of Sewa race. The name of Alexander and the Muslim conquers like Muhammad Bin Qasim, Mehmood Ghaznavi and Nasir-ud-Din Kabacha are associated with this place. Mir Chaker Khan Rind, the legendary Baloch hero, built a massive fort in the 15th century near Sibi, the remains of which are found near the town.


During the British rule a Residency and Victoria Memorial Hall known as Jirga Hall were built where annual Jirgas were held until Pakistan came into being. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah also presided over the annual Darbar at Sibi as the first Governor General of Pakistan. The Jirga Hall is now converted into a museum. It has a collection of pieces found at the archaeological sites of Mehrgarh, Nasshero and Pirak. The annual Sibi Festival marks the famous Horse and Cattle Show with other festivities held in the month of February.


MeMehrgarh:
Neolithic Mehrgarh is a 9,000 years old site of settlement of Katchi district at the foot of Bolan Pass near Sibi. Supported by Pakistan's Department of Archaeology, French archaeologists are carrying out extensive excavations here for some years. The excavations, studies and research have led to pushing back these settlements to some 9,000 years. Thus the chronology of civilization in Pakistan established through the study of Meonjodaro and Harappa has been pushed back by over 4,000 years.


Research shows that the people here had lived in houses and were involved in hunting, domestication of animals and farming cereals like barley and wheat and later cotton too. This hunting-farming society developed gradually and their pursuits were creative. During the early period these people used stone and bone tools i.e. polished stone-axes, flint blades and bone-pointers. By the 6,000 BC, the hand-made pottery appeared and in 5th millennium BC, metallurgy and potter-wheel were introduced and they produced some fine terra-cotta figurine and pottery with geometric designs.
Subsequently they produced and wore ornaments of beads, seashells and semi-precious stones like Lapis Lazuli. A museum has been set up at Sibi where a wide range of rare finds from the site of Mehrgarh is on display.
Balochistan Coastline:
The Balochistan coastline extends over 750 kms. From Hub near Karachi to the Gwadar Bay on Pakistan-Iran border.The coastal tribes are as colourful as that of central and upper Balochistan. Their colourful costumes, songs and dances are equally fascinating. The whole area is rich with long unspoilt golden sunny beaches and a variety of sea fish. Because of the importance of this coast Pasni, Jiwani and Gwadar, the three important coastal towns, have been linked by air with Karachi and Quetta. Gaddani Beach near Karachi is an excellent seaside spot for picnic.