Khewra Salt Mine

Khewra Salt Mines

The Khewra Salt Mine (also known as Mayo Salt Mine) is the second largest salt deposit in the world and largest in Pakistan. The mine is located in the Salt Range Khewra, an administrative subdivision of Jehlum District in Punjab Province of Pakistan. It is one of the largest sources of Pink Himalayan Salt and a major tourist attraction in the country with an estimated total of 220 million tons of rock salt deposits.

History

The salt mine at Khewra is believed to have originated about 800 million years ago as a result of evaporation of a shallow sea followed by a geological movement and stretched for about 300 km. But it remained a hidden treasure until 320 BC when Alexander the Great visited the region with his army and horses and camped here in a wait to fight Raja Porus. Apparently, his army horses were found licking the rocks on the surface of the ground and even ailing horses were said to have recovered after licking the rock salt stones. The Greeks came to know about the salt deposits in the area and later mining was started by the local Janjua tribes in the 13th century.

Mughal Era

During the Mughal rule in the subcontinent, the mine was taken over from the tribal chief. The salt during Mughal era was traded in various markets as far away as Central Asia.  However, following the downfall of the Mughal Empire, the mine was then taken over by Sikhs and the mine then came up to be known as ‘Khewra Salt Mine’.

Sikh Era

The salt mined during Sikh rule was both eaten and used as a source of revenue. Later the British ousted the Sikhs and annexed Punjab in 1849, and in 1872 the British developed the mine further by introducing a better mechanism for excavation of salt. A renowned British Mining Engineer Dr. H. Warth laid out the main tunnel at ground level and proposed that only 50% of salt be excavated from the working stratum while the remaining 50% is to be left as pillars. The method was called the ‘room and pillar’ method and is still being used in Khewra mining operation.

Location

The Khewra Salt Mines is located 945 feet (288 meters) above sea level. The total length of Salt Range is 300 kilometers, extending from Beganwala near River Jhelum to Kalabagh near River Indus. The width of the Salt Range varies between 8 kilometers to 30 kilometers.

The mine comprises nineteen stories, of which eleven are below ground. From the entrance, the mine extends about 730 meters (2440 ft) into the mountains, and the total length of its tunnels is about 40 km. The temperature inside the mine remains about 18–20 °C throughout the year.  The underground mine covers an area of 110 km2.

Tourists’ Attraction

The Salt Mine serves as a major tourist attraction receiving around 250,000 visitors a year earning it considerable revenues. The mines are accessible by a small electric trolley train. It takes about 2 hrs to explore the mines. Inside the mines, there are numerous pools of salty water.  There are a number of buildings and replicas of major landmarks carved by the local artists. One of these replicas include the world’s one and only Salt-Mosque called Badshahi Masjid built with salt bricks of different colors and its transparency allowing the light to penetrate through and spread thousands of beautiful shades of salt around when lit. Other artistic carvings in the mine include a replica of Minar-e-Pakistan, a statue of Allama Iqbal, a model of the Great Wall of China, the 75-meter-high Assembly Hall, Pul-e-Saraat – a salt bridge with no pillars over a 80-foot-deep brine pond – Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors where salt crystals are light pink), and the Mall Road of Murree. There is always interesting developments going on inside the mines and that makes the mines more attractive.

Health Benefits

Khewra Asthma Clinic is the first of its kind in Pakistan. This 20-bed clinic was established in 2007 for the treatment of asthma and other respiratory diseases using salt therapy.

Using antibacterial salt particles in a sterile environment, without the use of any medication, breathing in the clinic helps successfully clear out air passages in the lungs of those having respiratory problems, especially the asthma patients. Patients are required to spend around 110 hours in the clinic during ten days of treatment. There is a certain amount of meager fee for the treatment. Young patients can recover up to 80% and 40 or above have the chance of recovering 50%.

Major health benefits of the Himalayan pink salt are numerous, some are mentioned below:

  • It assists in detoxifying the body and regulates the water level in the body
  • It helps to clear up sinus and respiratory issues
  • Promotes naturally healthy sleep patterns and getting relaxed.
  • It helps both in maintaining and promoting healthy pH level.
  • It helps in encouraging healthy blood sugar level and decreases blood pressure.
  • It is a great anti-aging agent.
  • Promotes increased absorption capacities of food elements within the intestinal tract
  • It helps in cellular hydroelectric energy balance.
  • It helps in aiding vascular health and prevents muscle cramps.
  • Encouraging healthy libido.
  • It helps in promoting kidney and gallbladder health.
  • It helps in digestion and regulates metabolism
  • Enables the proper function of adrenal glands
  • Balances excess acidity from cells, particularly brain cells.
  • Vital for generation of hydroelectric energy in cells in the body
  • Increases bone strength
  • Acts as a strong anti stress element
  • Stops excess saliva production
  • Help treat emotional disorders
  • Prevents gouts, gouty arthritis, and goiters
  • Eliminates persistent dry coughs

Commercial products

Himalayan salt is Pakistan’s best-known rock salt used for cooking, as bath salt, as brine and as a raw material for many industries. Salt from Khewra mine is also used to create decorative items like lamps, vases, ashtrays, and statues, which are exported to the western countries. The use of rock salt to make artistic and decorative items started during the Mughal era when many craftsmen made tableware and decorations from it.

 Access

Khewra is about 160km from Rawalpindi/Islamabad (2-3 hrs) and about 260km (3-4 hrs) from Lahore. Khewra Salt Mines is always the best choice while traveling from Islamabad to Lahore or from Lahore to Islamabad.

Timings

The mines remain open for tourists from 9 am to 6 pm daily (including Sunday and gazette holidays).

 Fees

There is an entrance fee, trolley ride charges, and parking fees which are mentioned below.

 

Pakistani visitors (adults): Rs. 220 per person

Pakistani Children (2-12 years): Rs. 110 per child

Pakistani students: Rs. 110 per student

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Foreign visitors (adults): $ 20 per person

Foreign Children (2-12 years): $ 10 per child

Foreign students: Rs. 110 per student

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For further help:

Project Manager, Khewra Salt Mines, Khewra, District Jhelum. +92-544-231137

Author: m@lam

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