"Khewra's Salt Mines" Khewra by besal
Khewra Travel Guide: 24 reviews and 72 photos
On his usual Sunday morning stroll, Alexander the Great and his merry men visited this region in 320 BC. In one of his annals, a General in Alexander’s army wrote about an existence of a salt mine in Kalar Kahar region. This mining process has been going on since that time in an underground area of 110 sq.km.
It was during the British rule, in 1872, when scientific mining operations started. Present consumption/production is around 500,000 tons, with reserves of over 500 million tons. So there are reserves for over 500 years. Methodology for mining laid down by Dr. Warth in 1872 is still followed, which entails that only 50% of salt is excavated while the remaining 50% is left as pillars (so the mine doesn’t cave in?). There are 19 levels (5-7 on top and 11 below). The salt-mine is 350m above sea level and extends 730m into the mountain. In addition to salt mining, brine water is collected in various ponds inside the mine (25-100 ft deep), and pumped to a nearby ICI plant who converts this into soda ash, used in paints. Salt is transparent, white, pink, reddish to beef-color red. The Geological horizon is Pre-Cambrian (4,500 million years ago to 540 million years).
Khewra Salt Mines is situated at the distance of 160 km from Islamabad and 260 km from Lahore, and easily accessible from Pindi-Lahore motorway. Through Lila interchange, take the Pind Dadan Khan exit and follow the sign. Khewra is approx. 30 km from this exit. Another route is from the old GT Road, where you exit for Chakwal and keep going straight. This is a more scenic route taking you through various plains and fields of wheat and other crops, and through the heartland of Chakwal/Jehlum.
The main tunnel which was developed by Dr. Warth has been opened for tourists. Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) opened up the Khewra Salt mines resort in 2002, and annually over 50,000 visitors, mostly school children visits this place. The mine is opened from 0900 am to 0600 pm - 24/7, including gazetted holidays. The Salt mine is only accessible by road, though there is an old railway station which I am not sure is functional for passengers/visitors.
After parking your car, the first step is to get your entrance tickets. From there you walk over a bridge towards the mine shaft/entrance. When we went to Khewra, the outside temperature was 40 C. AS we approached the mine entrance, blast of cold air from inside cooled our body. There was a mark difference in outside and inside temperature. A narrow entrance takes you straight into the main chamber, from where you veer right to view the various rock formations, ponds, mine shafts, brine dripping and crystallized salts, some man made structures like a mosque, Minar-e-Pakistan, stage, post office, etc. I wish they leave the mine as it is i.e. natural and avoid building such grotesque copies. And instead of lighting these man made structures, emphasize by more lights the salts deposits around.
The entrance fees structure as follows:
Locals Rs. 60.00
Children/Students: Rs. 30.00
Foreigners: USD 6.00 or equivalent (Rs. 360.00)
Foreigner’s Children/Students: USD 3.00 or equivalent (Rs. 180.00)
Though you can walk to the main shaft, you may also take the electric mine train (0.5 km). Then you have to walk. If you have elderly or little children, then this is the best option.
But the price is Rs. 400 upto 12 people. (So if you have less then 12, you still pay Rs. 400). Now this costing is confusing.
Both male and female mine guides are available at the entrance to conduct tours.
It is believed that Salt Rock Lamps are natural air ionizers, air purifiers and natural healers. They clean the air through negative ions, I guess something similar to lightning during a thunderstorm. Some also believe that the ions given off by the salt in the mines is a primary cause for curing asthma. How or why has not been scientifically determined. Even PMDC has built an allergy Asthma Resort at this site for this purpose.
Before electricity, salt mines were lit with candles and torches, which illuminated the salts crystals. The miners, knowing the beauty of the salt, carved mosques from the salt. They made candle holders that gave off beautiful light. It was not long before people noticed that these lighted salt crystals, now called salt lamps, gave off ions and had effects somewhat similar those that one experienced in a salt mine.
Treatment for asthma in underground salt mines is gaining popularity here and is called speleotherapy.
Some major benefits of salt lamps are:
Relieves Migraine headaches.
Reduces the severity of asthma attacks.
Boosts Serotonin levels in the bloodstream.
Speeds recovery in burn patients.
Enhances the immune system.
Aids relief from sinus problems.
Improves learning and alertness.
Increase work productivity and concentration.
Reduces susceptibility to colds and flu.
Some guest houses/rooms have been built by PMDC on site for visitors to come and stay, enjoy the mine, and if sufferring... more travel advice
There are two ways to reach the main chamber inside the mine. Walk! Walk is about 20 minutes, depending on your speed,... more travel advice
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