Balochistan is the largest Province of Pakistan with an area of about 347056 sq km , which constitute approximately 44 % of the total land mass of Pakistan. The area is named after numerous (Baloch), Iranian peoples, who moved into the area from west around 1000AD. All natives are considered as Balochi’s even if they do not speak Balochi language. Balochistan is bounded by Iran to the west and Afghanistan, at north is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh to east and on south is Arabian Sea.
The Baloch are Iranian people closely related to Persian, the Medes, the Pashtuns and the Kurds are considered as Iran people that has absorbed some Semitic genes and cultural traits.
Before the birth of Christ it had commerce and trade with ancient civilization of Babylon through Iran and into valleys of Balochistan. Muhammad Bin Qasim and Mahmud Gaznavi also invade Balochistan resulting into development of Muslim character. Even today most tribal people of this Province resemble Arabs ant the inhabitants can be quite a fascinating subject of study by anthropologists.
A Baloch war song describes the Province of Balochistan thus “the mountains are the Balochi’s forts, the peaks are better than any army, the lofty heights are our crades, the pathless gorges our friends. Our drink is from the flowing springs, our bed the thorny bush, the ground we make pillow.”
Balochi’s in north western Iranian language spoken in Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India, the Arab Gulf States, Turkmenistan and East Africa and Balochi is closely related to Kurdish and Persian.
There are two main dialects, western and eastern. Most of the Balochi’s speaking western dialects. Western dialects mostly used in Balochi literature. Within western dialects, there are further two more dialects, Rakhshani( norther areas) and Makrani( south). The areas where western eastern dialects spoken ( north eastern of Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh) are les developed.
Other language which are spoken in Balochistan are Pshto, Hazaragi, Persian, Brauhi and Sindhi.
Balochistan’s culture is primarily tribal, deeply patriarchal and conservative. Society is dominated by tribal chieftains Mirs, Sardars and Nawabs. People of Balochistan are humble, open hearted, loving and respectful. Province represents numerous ethnic groups and different languages, yet there is a likeness in their beliefs, values and customs. Common religion is the binding factor among all these groups. Balochi people are very hospitable they consider their guests as a blessing of God.
Another feature of Balochistan culture is faithfulness and sincerity in all relationships. There is no place or respect for unfaithful people in prevalent moral order. If fidelity is reciprocated with disloyalty or betrayal it is never forgotten.
ARTS AND LITERATURE
People of Balochistan are very originative and hardworking. The most popular art and craft of this region is the Pishey art work, out of which variety of products like bags, shoes, hats, wall hangings and baskets are made. Embroidery of Balochistan is one of the most delicate forms of needle work which can be found no where. Balochi rugs are also illustrations wold wide for their finishing and tempting patterns.
Literature of Balochistan constituents of Ballads, folk epics and heroic poems. The historic Balochi poets are Mir Vhakar Khan Rind, Mir Biwragh Puzh Rind, Gwahram Lashari, Mir Shahdad, Mali Muhaamad Panah and many more have contributed immensely in Balochi literature.
Balochistan is an arid, mountainous region in the Iranian Plateau in south west Asia and forms the closest oceanic frontage for the land- locked countries of Central Asia.
It is the largest Province of Pakistan with an area of 347056 sq km and forming 44% of total land area of Pakisatn. The Suleiman Mountains dominates the north east corner and Bolan Pass is natural route for Afghanistan towards Kandahar. South of Quetta is sparse desert terrain with pockets of towns mostly near rivers and streams.
In upper highlands weather is characterized by very cold and hot summer. Winter of lower highlands vary from extremely cold in Quetta, Ziarat and Kalat. The northern districts Khanozai and Muslim Bagh mild conditions closer to Makran cost. In arid zones of Chagai and Kharan the summers are hot and dry. The plain areas are also hot with temperature raising as high as 50 degree Celsius, the highest record breaking temperature of 53 degree Celsius recorded in Sibi. Other hot areas include Turbat and Dalbadin. Winter are mild on the plains with the temperature never falling below freezing point. The desert climate is characterized by hot and very arid conditions, occasionally strong windstorms make these areas very inhospitable.
Balochistan had a population of about 8 million, representing approximately 5% of the Pakistan’s population. Balochi speakers represent 40%, Brahavi represent 20% and Pashtu speakers represent 25% and other language speakers include Sindhi, Punjabi and Siraiki 15%. Balochs are residing in north-west, west,east and south, Brahavi in centre of Province and majority of Pashtuns in the north. In Quetta has a pashtuns majority with Baloch, Hazaara and Punjabi minorities. Makrani baloch dominant on coast. Persian speaking Dehwars live in the Kalat region and further west to the border of Iran. In addition 769000 Afghan refugee be found in the Province.
For administrative purpose Province is divided into 30 districts
Awaran Barkhan Bolan Chagai Dera Bugti Gawadr Harnai Jafarabad Jhal Mgsi Kalat Kech Kharan Khuzdar Kohlu Killa Abdullah Killa Saifullah Lasbella Loralai Mastung Musakhel Nasirabad Nushki Panjgur Pishin Quetta Sherani Sibi Washuk Zhob Ziarat.
Balochistan’s share of the national economy ranges between 3.7% to 4.9%, economy of Province is based upon the production of coal, natural gas and minerals. Tourism remains limited but has increased due to the exotic appeal of the Province. Limited farming in east and fishing in east and fishing in coastline are also source of income. Baloch and Brahavi tribes man dependent on animal husbandry, as are trading bazaars found through out.
One of the world’s largest copper deposits have been found at Reko Diq in Chagai district. The deposits are hoped to be even bigger than those of Sarchesshmah in Iran and Escondido in Chile.
Several major projects are under construction, including the construction of new deep sea port, at strategically important town of Gawadar. The port is projected to be hub of energy and trade corridor to and from China and the Central Asian Republics.
Quetta is the capital city of Balochistan and is known as “FRUIT GARDEN OF PAKISTAN” due to diversity of fruits like Plums, Peaches, Pomegranates, Apricot, Apples, some unique varieties of melon like Garma and Cherries. Pistachios and Almonds are also grown in abundance.
Quetta is located at 1692 meters above the sea level at the mouth of Bolan Pass. It has three large craggy mountains Chiltan, Zarghoun and Koh-e-Murdar that seems to be based upon this pleasant town.
Quetta lies near Durand line border with Afghanistan and important trades and communication center between two countries. The city lies on Bolan Pass route which was once the only gateway to and from South Asia.
The name of Quetta is derived from the word “Kuwatta” meaning fort and no doubt it is a natural fort surrounded by hills on all sides.
TOURIST ATTRACTION OF QUETTA
MURDAR FEATURE (THE SLEEPING BEAUTY)
Perhaps few people would know and appreciate this feature as a sleeping human. But the army officers attending training and courses refer this feature as a sleeping beauty. Look this feature start looking from right where the head starts moving towards left you can find torso of beauty lying in peace since God knows.
It is 10 km from Quetta and one of the main attraction of the city. Constructed by British Empire in 1984 on main Urak road for depositing water into Hanna Lake coming from Zarghoun mountain ranges, of stream snow melting and rains through main channel.
Golden fish in the lake swimming right up to the edge of the lake. A little distance away, the water of lake become greenish- blue tint. The greenish-blue water of lake provide a rich contrast to the sandy brown of this hills in the background.
It means “Hill Light Quran” is a cave tunnel excavated in Quetta. It is an organization which collects and preserve the damaged Holy manuscripts of Quran with dignity from all across the country. It is situated on a hill top near western by pass in Quetta.
The archeological Musem located at Fifa road near Mizan chowk. The galleries exhibits collections from Moen-jo Daro of Sindh, pottery pieces of Balochistan, stone stage implements. It also has collection of rare antiques guns and swords. Other galleries within the complex exhibits Quran manuscripts and calligraphy. Some dusty old photos give a fascinating glimpse of Quetta before 1935 earth quake.
It is one of the largest theme park for families and children located at air port road Quetta. Its features are big play ground for children, an array of rides, dragon has been the main source of attraction for this park. There is a jogging track along with Gardenia Resort Hotel and Restaurant.
HAZARGANGJI CHILTAN NATIONAL PARK
It is situated 20 knm south of Quetta. Hazaganji literally means “of thousand treasure”. In the folds of these mountains, legends has it, that there are over a thousand treasures buried, reminders of the passage of great armies down the corridors of history.
It is another national park of Pakistan and popular among the tourists. The park also has a museum, rest house and picnic spot to entertain the visitors. This park was establish to refugee endangered chiltan wild goats or Markhor.
A variety of birds like bearded vultures, golden eagle, partridges, warbles, falcons, hawks, rhubarb bustard, cobra, python and other wild lizards, Afghan tortoise, Russell viper are the creatures from the reptile kingdom to be seen here.
The park is spread over 32,5000 acres at an altitude ranging from 2000 to 3200 meters.
It is a recreational park situated 10 km to the west of Quetta. It is a 16 km long narrow valley having a variety of flora like ephedrine, artimisia and sop-hora.
It is located 21 km from Quetta, the road is lined either side with roses and fruit orchards like peaches, plums, apricot and apples of many varieties are grown in this valley.
LIAQUAT BAZAAR AND SURAJ GANJ BAZZAR
It is located at Shahrah-e-Liaquat, 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 coat, sandals and other creations of traditional Balochi skills.
It is located at Shahrah-e-Iqbal and an ideal place for shoppers. Here you can find variety of clothes, shoes, jewelry, carpets, embroidery and handicrafts are also available in this bazaar. This bazaar is full of people all the time.
It is full of shops on both sides and it is consider to be of rich peoples bazaar.here you find variety of shops like garments, shoes, leather related items shop etc.Variety of food shops are also available here.
USMANIA TANDOORI RESTURANT
One of the Quetta’s luxurious restaurant, it has wide range of variety of tasty dishes at reasonable prices. More over liked dish is mutton tandori and green pashtun tea and variety of Chinese , continental and Pakistani dishes available.
LEHRI SAJJI HOUSE
It is located at Jinnah road and most popular sajji restaurant. This place could hardly be more basic with plastic tables and charis but the sajji is fantastic and of great taste along with the great hunks of lamb, spit roasted with crackly skin and sticky fat. There is also whole chicken cooked in the same delicious way.
ZIARAT COFFEE SHOP
It is more than a coffee shop. This is proper restaurant and an ideal place for splurge. High tea available with an array of sandwiches, salads, cakes and pastries. If you visit later the menu turns to Italian.
OTHER FAMOUS CAF’S
Baig Snack Bar
Sheraz Bar BQ
Pishin valley is located 50 km from Quetta, this valley consists of thousands of acres of fruit orchard. The artificial irrigation channels in the area made by boring holes into rocks to bring to surface the deep water called Karez and modern agriculture have done wonders in the area.
A wide range ducks providing enticing beauty during winters. The area of Bund Khusdil Khan is located near Torashah, Malik Yar, Batezai villages and land of these villagers. In Bund Khushdil Khan many of shooters come for duck hunting.
It is located 70km from Quetta towards Sibi. It is one of the heat touching picnic spot. Here a water fall cascade down rocky mountains side making its way through many streams and ponds among the shady palms trees.
A visit to Quetta incomplete without trip to Ziarat which is 133 km from Quetta. The word Ziarat means holy place and valley is famous for tourist point of view.
Ziarat is the location of the Ziarat residency where Jinnah lived and spent last days of life. The residency was constructed in 1982, wooden structure, beautifully designed and has a great architectural importance. It is now national monument, the residency catches the tourists attention due to its unique location and wonderful hilly surroundings. There is small dam and the valley is full of fruits in summer and winter. The honey of Ziarat is very famous.
Ziarat is also famous for juniper forests. Juniper species Junipers macropoda and it is 2nd largest juniper forest in the world. In ziarat a herb called ephedera sinic is found in abundance from which a chemical called ephedrine is extracted and important constituent of various medicine especially cough syp.
Shrine of Baba Kharwari is located 8 km from Ziarat town, a member of sarang zai, his name was Tahir. He became a disciple Nana Sahib and number of miracles are attributed to him. During Eid festival, the tribesmen gather around and hold wrestling and marksmanship competition.
CHUTAIR VALLEY/ TANGI
It is located about 13 km from Ziarat on way to Loralai, one of the beautiful valley. There are green picnic spot in the valley. There is also rest house, the crude and rustic huts made with the bark of juniper trees in which the inhabitants of the area live and strikingly different from dwellings in other villages. Near by is Chutair Tangi which is worth visiting.
THE MAKRAN COAST
The Makran Coast is Balochistan’s southern strip and is of 754 km. The coast-line is characterized by long sandy beaches, rugged promontories and tidal creeks. There ranges of hills, rising to over 1500 meters, run parallel to coast. Many of the Makrani people are dark skinned and have African features. They are probably descended from slaves brought by Arab merchants to the sub-continent.
Alexander the great marched half of his army along the inhospitable Makran coast in 325 BC and Muhammad Bin Qasim came from Baghdad to Sindh through Makran in 711AD.
PRINCESS OF HOPE
Princess of Hope is statue, it is best witness of natural artistry and a ultimate instance. It is located Hingol National Park near Buzzi Pass along with Makran coastal high way. This place attracts the tourists world wide. Hollywood actress Anglina Jolie given the name Princess of Hope to this statue when she visited Balochistan.
It is the newest discovery of ancient civilization, during recent decades a lot has been done to explore the ancient civilization. The most distinguishing is Mehergarh, which experts say remained the center of high development some 9,900 years ago. Researchers claim that this was civilized society of 7000 BC that is even older than Moen-jo-Daro and Harappa.
Research show that the people have lived in houses and were involved in hunting, domesticiation of animals and farming cerelas like barely 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. Subsequently they produces and wore ornaments of beads,sea shell and semi –precious stones like La-pis lazuli. A museum has been set up at Sibi where a wide range of rare finds from the site of Mehrgarh are on display.