capital of Balochistan, 1692 meters above sea level, lies at
the mouth of Bolan Pass. It has three large craggy mountains.
Chiltan, Zarghun and Koh-e-Murdar, 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
Quetta is an excellent base for further exploration of
Balochistan. Loralai, the almond bowl of the country, is 265
kms away. Besides, there are numerous other valleys that are
fascinating places to be in for explorers.
Quetta can rightly be called the fruit basket of Pakistan.
Plums, peaches, pomegranates, apricots, apples, some unique
varieties of melon like "Garma" and cherries, pistachios and
almonds are all grown in abundance. Some pistachios also grow
in Qila Saif ullah.
Saffron grows very well on mountains around 5000 ft (1524
meters) high. It is being cultivated on a commercial scale
here. The yellow and red varieties of tulip grow wild around
The inhabitants are mainly Pathan, Baluch and Brahui. You can
also find Uzbeks, Tajiks and Turkamen rubbing shoulders with
the other inhabitants. Nomadic tribesmen pass through Quetta
Valley during spring and autumn with their herds of sheep and
camels and their assorted wares for sale. This seasonal
movement adds color to the life of the city.
The rugged terrain has made the people of the area hardy
and resilient. They are known for their friendly and
hospitable nature. To make a visitor comfortable is part of
their tradition, like the rest of the people of Pakistan.
The name Quetta is derived from the word "Kuwatta" 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
resounding names of Chiltan, Takatoo, Mordar and Zarghun.
The main thoroughfare and the commercial Center of Quetta
is Jinnah road. It is a long boulevard lined with trees. Many
important buildings like the Governor's House, Post and
Telecommunication Offices are located along Jinnah Road.
Prominent bazaars of Quetta are located on Shahrah-e-Iqbal (Kandahari
Bazaar) and Shahrah-e-Liaqat (Liaqat Bazaar and Suraj Gang
Bazaar). 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-coats, sandals and other creations of
traditional Balochi skills.
In the old bazaars one comes across quaint old tea-shops.
These are the local "clubs". There are also many popular
eating houses offering different types of delicacies. Among
the delicacies you must try "Sajji" (Leg of lamb), which is
roasted to a delightful degree of tenderness and is not very
spicy. The tribesmen of the valley also enjoy "Landhi" (whole
lamb), which is dried in shade and kept for the winters. "Kabab"
shops are very popular.
Some of the finest mutton in the country is raised around
Quetta. It has a delicious smell which can be sampled in the "Pulao"
that most of the restaurants offer.
The archaeological Museum at Fifa road has a collection of
rare antique guns, swords and manuscripts. Geological Survey
Department on Sariab road (6 kms) has a collection of rocks
and fossils. Only six kms from the city is the campus of the
university of Balochistan.
Askari Park at the airport road offers amusement and
HAZARGANJI CHILTAN NATIONAL PARK:
In the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, 20 kms south-west of
Quetta, Markhors have been given protection. The park is
spread over 32500 acres, altitude ranging from 2021 to 3264
Hazarganji literally means "Of a thousand treasures". In
the folds of these mountains, legend has it, there are over a
thousand treasures buried, reminders of the passage of great
armies down the corridors of history. The Bactrains, Scything,
Mongols and then the great migrating hordes of Baluch, all
passed this way.
Markhor of which there are five distinct kinds, is the
national animal of Pakistan. The kind that is photographed the
most often is the Chiltan Markhor which, because of its long
horns looks very conspicuous. Ever since the markhor has been
given protection its number has multiplied.
Other animals in the park are straight horned markhors, "Gad"
wild sheep) and leopards which occasionally migrate to the
park from other areas, wolves, striped hyena, hares, wild cats
Many birds like partridge, warblers, shikras, blue rock
pigeon, rock nuthatch, red gilled choughs, golden eagle,
sparrow, hawlks, falcons and bearded vultures are either found
here or visit the park in different seasons.
Reptiles like monitor and other wild lizards, eckos, Afghan
tortoise, python, cobra, horned viper and Levantine may also
be seen in the park.
EXCURSIONS FROM QUETTA
Karkhasa is a recreation Park situated at distance of 10 kms
to the west of Quetta. It is a 16 kms long narrow valley
having a variety of flora like Ephedrine, Artimisia and
The Urak valley is 21 kms from Quetta City. The road is lined
on either side with wild roses and fruit orchards. Peaches,
plums, apricot and apples of many varieties are grown in this
The waterfall at the end of the Urak valley, which is full of
apple and apricot orchards, makes an interesting picnic spot.
A little short of the place where the Urak valley begins and
10 kms from Quetta is the Hanna Lake, where benches and
pavilions on terraces have been provided. Golden fish in the
lake comes swimming right up to the edge of the lake. A little
distance away, the waters f the lake take on a greenish blue
tint. Right where the water ends, pine trees have been planted
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 form city
bus station at Circular road.
Some 50kms from Quetta is the valley of Pishin with its
numerous fruit orchards, which are irrigated by "Karaz", a
kind of artificial spring made by boring holes into rocks to
bring to the surface the subterranean water. Sixteen kms from
Pishin is the man-made lake Bund Khushdil Khan. Its cool
gentle waters attract many visitors for duck shooting in early
At a distance of 70 kms from Quetta on Sibi road is situated a
popular picnic spot known as Pir Ghaib. Here a waterfall
cascades down rocky mountain side making its way through many
streams and ponds among the shady palm trees. You need a
4-wheal-drive vehicle to reach the spot from the main road