The Hidden Gem
The Exotic Salt Wonder of the World
Salt, the most essential ingredient of our cuisine has many stories to its credit. Nevertheless, to mention, these stories are enough to blow up one’s mind. Let us have a look at one such story of the salt world, the story of "Khewra Salt Mines".
This is a beautiful place for all the nature lovers out there!
The second largest mines of the world, are located in the Jhelum district of Punjab region in Pakistan, approximately 160 km from the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad. The famous ‘Khewra Salt Mines’, are said to have been discovered by Alexander around 326 B.C. Alexander stopped here with his troops for some time to take some rest. At that time, one of his troops observed the horses licking the rocks near their resting place. Surprisingly, one soldier went to that place, tried the rocks and discovered their salty taste. This was how Himalayan Salt was discovered. The salt was first mined in the 13th century and then, later in 1872 when a British engineer, Dr. H. Warth, started excavating the big tunnel. The main tunnel at ground level was built by Mr. Warth. It is believed that the salt crystals of the dried sea beds were submerged by lava eruptions and the salt was formed around 200 million years ago (that’s surprising!).
The mine extends around 730 meters into the mountain and has tunnels of 40 km from the entrance to the place of salt deposits in the mountains. There was a dedicated railway line inside the mines, which has now been stopped by the government due to some issues. Local guides assert that there are 17 levels of mines, with five being above the ground and the rest beneath the ground floor. The excavation, however, is limited to certain levels only so that the existing structures of the mines are not disturbed.
The temperature of the Khewra Mines remains steady at 18 degrees Celsius throughout the year!
There are many monuments and prominent places inside the mine. To name a few Sheesh Mahal, Chandni Chawk, Badshahi Mosque, Replica of the Great Wall of China and Minar-e-Pakistan, along with others. There is also a 75-meter-tall ‘Assembly Hall Chamber’ with stairs spiralling up to the wall. There is also a 25-meter bridge called Pul-E-Saraat. The mesmerising fact is that the monuments are made up of salt, including the mosque. These monuments, illuminated with lights, give out a magical effect and add to the historic charm of the mines. There are around a hundred ponds as well as brines in the mountains, ranging from 10 to 100 feet. One can also catch a glimpse of the astonishing Crystal Valley inside the mine, which has pink salt crystals on the roof.
The mine has a mix of red, pink and white salt formations. The salt crystals give illusions of sparkling diamonds that one can’t miss. One can even witness naturally formed stalactites and stalagmites in the mines. With time, the extraction methods have witnessed a change, but one can still have a look at the cannon placed in the mine, used for excavation in previous times. The mines also host a dispensary and a hospital for people suffering from Asthma.
Once again, Nature has turned us speechless with its beauty!
Let us know your views about the article in the comments section and don’t forget to check out the Natural Himalayan Pink Salt of YOM International.