Balochistan the largest among Pakistan’s Provinces in terms of area. It is a land of contrast. It has places with lofty and rugged mountains under Chiltan, Sulaiman, Sultan etc. and plains, stretching to hundred of kilometers. It has a fascinating history and is typified by the warm heartedness of its people. The Balochistan coast line extends over 750 Km from Karachi at Hub River to the Gwadar Bay on Pak-Iran border. The area is rich in fish and marine resources. Balochistan has great potential appeal as a travel destination, particularly now that access to neighbouring Iran has become so much easier. Balochistan is known for its apple produce, and the Gwadar Port promises a new era of maritime activity making it, in not too distant a future, a great seaport and the hub of economic activity in the region.
Quaid-e-Azam residency with its lush green lawns, chinar trees and flower gardens commands a striking view of the whole valley. It is of historical importance, as the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, stayed there during his last illness. It houses the relics of the Father of the Nation. The Residency was built in 1882 by the British and used by the Agent to the Governor General as his summer headquarters.
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park
In the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, 20 kilometers South-West of Quetta, Maarkhors have been given protection. The park is spread over 32,500 acres, altitude ranging from 2021 to 3264 meters. Hazarganji literally means “of a thousand treasures”. In the folds of these mountains, legend has it, that, there are over a thousand treasures buried, reminders of the passage of great armies down the corridors of history. The Bactrains, Scythians, Mongols and then the great migrating hordes of Baloch all passed this way.
A little short of the place where the Urak Valley begins and 10 kilometers from Quetta is the Hanna Lake, where suitable rest rooms 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, have been planted pine trees 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 operates from city bus station at Circular Road. The transport can be hired through the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Tourist Information Centre, Muslim Hotel, Jinnah Road Quetta.
Quetta – The Capital City
Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, 1692 meters above sea level, lies at the mouth of Bolan Pass. It has three large craggy mountains. The name Quetta is derived from the word “Kwatta” which means a fort and, no doubt, it is a natural fort surrounded as it is by imposing hills on all sides. The encircling hills have the re-sounding names of Chiltan, Takatoo, Murdaar and Zarghoon, that seem to brood upon this pleasant town. There are other mountains that form a ring around it. Their copper red and russet rocks and crests that are powdered with snow in winters add immense charm to the town. The main thoroughfare and the commercial centre of Quetta is Jinnah Road, where the Tourist Information centre of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, as the banks restaurants and handicraft shops are located.
Quetta – Ziarat
A visit to Quetta is incomplete without a trip to Ziarat. Situated 133 kilometers (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 kilometers from Ziarat. Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation has a Motel Complex with 18 comfortable rooms and cottages. Accommodation can be booked from the PTDC Offices in Quetta.The apple grown in the orchards, particularly the black and red kulu variety are delicious.