According to many authors Quetta is a historical city, derived from a Balochi name Koh e Ta (surrounded as it is by imposing hills on all sides) is the heart of Balochistan. History tells us it was first mentioned in the 11th century when it was captured by Mahmood of Ghazni on one of his invasions of the subcontinent. In 1543 the Mughal emperor Humayun rested here on his retreat to Persia, leaving his one year old son Akbar until he returned two years later. The Mughal ruled Quetta until 1556, when it was taken by the Persians, only to be retaken by Akbar in 1595. Gul Khan Naseer further thrown some lights on in it, where he writes in his book “History of Balochistan” When Khan of Kalat Noori Naseer Khan came into power in 1749 Ameer e Afghanistan Ahmed Shah Abdali brought a war against him thus a battle has occurred and both rivals face each other in Quetta valley and then surroundings which lasted for 15 days and then a peace treaty was signed between Ahmed Shah Abdali and Noori Naseer Khan Baloch where Quetta valley was merged and named as “Shaal” with Khanate of Kalat until Britain occupation.
Moreover, Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, remains the country’s most distinctive city, but least visited because of its geographic isolation. Surrounded by hills, Quetta is a natural fort that lies along the travel route between Iran’s capital city of Tehran and the Punjab region of Pakistan. Valley of Quetta lies in center between Afghanistan and Pakistan and also known as a trade and communication hub. Quetta is at an average elevation of 1,680 meters (5,510 feet) above sea level, making it high-altitude major city of Balochistan. Due to its high-altitude its weather is pleasant during summer and very cold during winter. Quetta faces snowfall almost every year.
Famous fruits, places and dishes
However, Quetta is also known as the Fruit Garden, due to the numerous fruit orchards in and around it and the large variety of fruits and dry fruits produced there. The immediate area has long been one of pastures and mountains with varied plants and animals relative to the dry plains to the west.
Quetta is home to three famous traditional bazaars, or markets, for shoppers who enjoy bargaining for local goods. Kandahari Bazaar is located on Shahrah-e-Iqbal. Liaqat Bazaar and Suraj Gang Bazaar are located on Shahrah-e-Liaqat. The bazaars offer local handicrafts, especially world-famous Balochi mirror embroidery found on carpets and clothing. Additionally, you can find fur coats, jackets, vests, jewelry and sandals at the bazaars.
The Museum of Earth Sciences, Geological Survey of Pakistan located at the main Sariab Road houses the largest collection of Rocks, Minerals, Precious stones, Building and decorative stones in the country. Its paleontological galleries display unique fossil finds from Pakistan such as 500 million years old marine invertebrates, country’s first ever discovered dinosaur fossils from Barkhan, largest land mammal-Balochitheirum from Bugti hills, longest tusk of an extinct elephant from AJK, walking whale from Kohlu and many more interesting fossils.
Hazargangi National Park
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park is a wild life park located at distance of 20 km from Quetta city. The name of the park, “Hazarganji” literally means “Of a thousand treasures”. It was built to protect the Chiltan Markhor (Wild Goats) along with exotic plant species such as pistachio, juniper and almond trees. Besides the Chiltan National Park, there are several beautiful spots around Quetta, including the Karkhasa Recreational Park just 10Km away.
(Hazarganji National Park)
There are many points of attraction for visitors in Quetta and its nearby areas. Hanna Lake is one of them. It is located 10km away from Quetta city which is surrounded by hills. It is an attraction for visitors for picnic and bonfire and other activities like boating. At one side of the lake there is a dam and its water is used for irrigation. Furthermore, the approach road to the valley is lined with fruit orchards and wild rose bushes. At the end of the valley the visitor is greeted with a waterfall crashing down amidst apricot and apple orchards.
Pir Ghaib is a waterfall and a picnic point located at 70 km distance from Quetta in Bolan Valley. The Chiltan Hill Viewpoint in the park provides a panoramic view of the city. A visit to the nearby cities of Kirani and Ziarat are popular scenic places for tourists travelling to and from Quetta.
Moreover, traditional dishes such as Khadi kabab, Roash and Balochi Sajji and other traditional dishes are being served around the city particularly at Prince Road, Jinnah Road, and Serena Hotel. The famous restaurants are Lehri Sajji house, Dubai Hotel, Balana, Afzal Karhai, Hot and Chilly, Hot and Spicy and some others. The tribal cuisine such as “Roash’s served in city restaurants as well as in the outlying areas. Tribal dish, “Khadeed or Laandi”, is made of a whole lamb which is dried and kept fresh during the cold winter. Different tribal food items are also served at restaurants include Usmania, Tabaq, Green Hotel, Gulab Hotel, Lal Kabab, and food point Jinnah Town.
However, Quetta was once known “Little Paris” because of its astonishing natural beauty, jolted from a horrific earth-quake which devastated its beauty in 1935 and simultaneously the instability in Balochistan particularly in Quetta valley could not get any effective measures regarding her restoration of beauty and peace yet. Government of Balochistan must take some measures to restore her beauty and peace in order to attract the visitors across Pakistan and foreign tourists.
Written by: Misri Khan Khetran & Saadullah Baloch.
Photographed: Misri Khan Khetran’s PhotographyShare