|— City District —|
A night time aerial view of the city
|- Nazim||Mir Maqbool Ahmed Lehri|
|- Naib nazim||Mohammad Naseem Lehri|
|- Total||2,653 km2 (1,024.3 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,900 m (6,230 ft)|
|- Density||213/km2 (551.7/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC+5)|
|- Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC+6)|
Quetta (help·info) (Pashto: کوټه Urdu: کوئٹہ) is the largest city and the provincial capital of the Balochistan Province of Pakistan. It is known as the "Fruit Garden of Pakistan", due to its diversity in plant and animals wildlife. The city has been a major stronghold along the western frontier of the country. It is situated at an average elevation of 1,654 metres (5,429 feet) metres above sea level. The city is also home to the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, a national park containing some of the rarest species of wildlife in the world. The city is also home to the research institute, Geological Survey of Pakistan.
Quetta sits near the Durand Line border with Afganistan which makes the city an important marketing and communications centre for Pakistan with the neighbouring country. The city is an important military installation within the country occupying a vital and strategic position for the Pakistan Armed Forces. The city also lies on the Bolan Pass route which was once the only gateway to and from South Asia. The city was also the closest city to the 1935 and the 2008 earthquakes which had left a great deal of damage to the city on both instances.
Quetta is also spelled Kuwatah which is a variation of Kuatta, a Pashto word meaning "fort". It is believed the city received its name due to imposing hills on all sides of the city. The hills which act as a natural fort are called Chiltan, Takatu, Mehrdar.
The area was inhabited by the Kasi (Pashtun) Tribe. Being on the outskirts of Kandahar, it was not mush developed. With the arrival of British troops, doors of development were opened. Very soon people saw roads, trains and Schools in the area. The British made the largely Pashtun area part of British Balochistan - which was resented by many of the Pashtun tribes. It remained part of the Umayyadand Abassid Empires. However, the first detailed account of Quetta was in the 11th century when it was captured by Mahmud of Ghazni during one of his invasions of the Indian subcontinent. In 1543 the Mughal emperor Humayun rested in Quetta on his retreat to Persia, leaving his one-year-old son Akbar in the city until his return two years later. The Mughals ruled Quetta until 1556, when the Persians conquered the city, only to have it retaken by Akbar in 1595.. In April 1883 it was combined with Pishin into a single administrative unit. In 1828 the first westerner to visit Quetta described it as a mud-walled fort surrounded by three hundred mud houses. Although occupied briefly by the British during the First Afghan War in 1839, it was not until 1876 that Quetta came under the British Empire with Robert Sandeman being made the political leader within Baluchistan. Before the devastating 1935 earthquake on 31 May, Quetta was a bright and bustling city with multi-storey buildings. The British were building the city due to its importance and beauty over the years. However, due to the close proximity of the earthquake it completely destroyed most of the city infrastructure. The earthquake virtually razed the city to the ground in the early hours of the morning, when about 40,000 people also perished. Even with limited funds and lack of government support the houses were rebuilt over the years and the city once again started to rebuild. Today, houses are generally single storey and quake proof, built with bricks and reinforced concrete. The preferred structure is generally of lighter material In 1947 the grand Jirga of Trible leaders of Pashtoon in the leadership of Nawab Muhammad Khan Jogizai, Malak Wazeer Khan Kasi and Malak Umar khan Kasi calls Jirga meeting in Quetta Municipal Committee Hall and decided to be remain as a separate state but the English Government did allowed the to be separate state, British give them to choice either join Pakistan or India. So in this way the British government announced the affiliation of chief commissioner’s province with Pakistan.Quetta was made as the capital city of newly created province of Balochistan.before combining with Balochi states (Kalat, Makran, Lasbela and Kharan), Quetta was the capital of chief commissioner’s province(Pashtoon province) till 1971.The population was 90% Pashtoon in the chief commissioner’s province.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Quetta has a continental arid climate with high variations between summer and winter temperatures. Summer highs can reach 46°C (115°F) while winter temperatures can drop to -26°C (-15°F). Summers start in late May and go on till early September with average temperatures ranging from 24-26°C (75-78°F). Autumn starts in late September and goes on till mid-November with average temperatures in the 12-18°C (55-65°F) range. Winters start in late November and end in late March, with average temperatures near 4-5°C (39-42°F) and snowfall in the months of January and February. Spring starts in early April and ends in late May, with average temperatures close to 15°C (60°F). Unlike most of Pakistan, Quetta does not have a monsoon season of sustained, heavy rainfall. The snowfall in the winter months is the principle mode of precipitation.
The city of Quetta consists of valleys which act as a natural fort surrounded by imposing hills on all sides. The encircling hills have the resounding names of Chiltan, Takatoo, Murdar and Zarghun. It is surrounded by three different mountain ranges. The area of city is approximately 2653 km2. There are no natural boundaries between Quetta and its adjoining districts. Quetta is bounded by Dera Ismail Khan to the northeast, Dera Ghazi Khan and Sibi to the east. Sukkur and Jacobabad to the southeast, Karachi and Gawadar to the east and Ziarat to the southwest. However the closest major city to Quetta would be Kandahar in Afganistan toward the west.
Under the latest revision of Pakistan's administrative structure, promulgated in 2001, Quetta was restructed as a City District, and divided into two towns Each town in turn consists of a group of union councils (U.C.'s).:
Quetta is on the western edge of Pakistan and is well connected with the country by a wide network of roads, railways and airways.
At an altitude of 1605 meters above sea level, Quetta Airport is the second highest airport of Pakistan. Pakistan International Airlines, Shaheen Air International and Airblue all have regular flights between Quetta and the other major cities of Pakistan including Islamabad, Gwadar, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. Pakistan International Airlines operates direct flights to Manchester, Dubai, New York and other major international airports from Quetta.
Quetta Railway Station is one of the highest railway station of Pakistan, at the height of 1676 meters above sea level. The railway track was lined in 1890s during the British era to link Quetta with rest of the country. The extensive network of Pakistan Railways connects Quetta to Karachi in south, by a 863 km (536 miles) track, Lahore in northeast (1,170 km or 727 miles) and Peshawar further northeast (1587 km or 986 miles). A metalled road is also present along the railroad that connects Quetta to Karachi via Sibi, Jacobabad and Rohri. A track from the Iranian city of Zahedan links to Quetta via Taftan, but the train service was temporarily disabled in 2006 due to unrest in Balochistan.
Recently a new project has been proposed for constructing a railway track that will link Gawadar to China, this will also link Gawadar with Quetta via Kalat. Even though the linear distance from Quetta to Lahore is merely 700 km, there is no direct railroad track on this route because of the Sulaiman Range that lies in the east of Quetta. So all northeast-bound trains for Punjab or the North-West Frontier Province must go 350+ km south down to Rohri, Sindh (near Sukkur) first, before continuing north to Punjab and/or North-West Frontier Province. Recently Railway is under attack by the Balochs specially in the Bolan Pass area. Some innocent passengers have been killed and wounded. This has created a great sense of insecurity amongst the travellers.
Quetta is connected by roads to the rest of the country. A recently built road connects it with Karachi through Mastung, Kalat, Khuzdar and Lasbela. Another road connecting Quetta to Karachi follows the Sibi, Jacobabad, Sukkur and Hyderabad route. Quetta and Lahore are also connected through two routes. The older route is the Sibi, Sukkur, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur and Multan route. Another route is via Khanozai, muslimbagh Loralai, Fort Mondro, Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan. Quetta is also connected with Afghanistan through Chaman and to Iran through the Mastung, Nushki, Dalbandin and Taftan route.
Quetta has many higher education institutions. The prestigious military Command and Staff College, which was founded by the British, recently celebrated its hundredth anniversary. University of Balochistan was established in 1974. The Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences is also located in Quetta. The city is the home of a geophysical institute, the Geological Survey of Pakistan, Sandeman Library, and two government colleges affiliated with the University of Peshawar. In 1970, with the creation of the University of Balochistan.
A wide variety of Mammals like Markhor, "Gad" (wild sheep), leopards, wolves, hyena, rabbits, wild cats and porcupines can be found in the Quetta region. While Birds may contain species of partridge, warblers, shikra, blue rock pigeon, rock nuthatch, golden eagle, sparrows, hawks, falcons and bearded vultures. For Flora of Quetta, one may find about 225 species of some pretty exotic plants like; pistachios, juniper, wild olives, wild ash and wild almonds. Also found amongst such Flora are wide range of shrubs like; wild fig, barbery, wild cherry, makhi and herbs like; Ephedra intermadia, as well as gerardiana.
Quetta is a tourist attraction for foreigners from abroad. It is advertised as a thrilling location, full of adventure and enjoyment. Some prominent bazaars of Quetta are located on the roads Shahrah-e-Iqbal (Kandahari Bazaar) and Shahrah-e-Liaquat (Liaquat Bazaar and Suraj Gang Bazaar). Here, tourists can find colourful handicrafts, particularly Balochi mirror work and Pashtun embroidery which is admired all over the world. The Pashtun workers are prominently expert in making fine Afghan rugs, with their pleasing and intricate designs, fur coats, embroidered jackets, waist-coats, sandals and other creations of traditional Pashtun skills.
Balochi carpets are made by the nomadic tribes of this area. They are generally not nearly as fine or expensive as the Persian city products, or even the Turkoman tribal rugs from further North, but they are generally more authentic than the inferior copies of Turkoman and Persian designs sometimes found in the major cities of Pakistan. The rugs can range in price, starting from relatively crude rugs that can, with some bargaining, be had at very reasonable prices to quite fine and valuable pieces. Many are small enough to be fairly portable.
For those interested in local cuisine, there are many sumptuous dishes to feast upon. The famous Pashtun tribal cuisine “Roash” whch non-locals call “Namkin” is very famous in the city restaurants as well as in the interior areas. Another Pashtun tribal dish is “Landhi” which is made of a whole lamb, which is dried and kept fresh during the cold winters. "Khadi Kebab" is a lamb BBQ. The "Sajji" (leg of lamb) is said to be very good by locals. The best restaurants are Green Hotel, Gulab Hotel, Lal Kabab, Tabaq, Usmania and Abasin Hotel. They serve Pakistani and Continental food, while Cafe China is one of the oldest and most reputable Chinese restaurant that specializes in Chinese cuisine. 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 eating houses offer. Small and clean hotels in Alamdar road provide real comfort for tourists in peaceful environments.
Hanna Lake nestles in the hills ten kilometres (six miles) east of Quetta, a startling turquoise pool within bare brown surroundings. There is a lakeside restaurant with picnic tables shaded by pine trees. At one end, the irrigation dam rises out of the depths like battlements of a fort, and on the eastern part the well known Hayat Durrani Water Sports Academy (HDWSA) is the only rowing, canoing, kayaking and sailing training center in the Balochistan Province. Hanna Lake is very attractive for holidaymakers, and is crowded with hikers and campers in holidays. You can hire a boat and paddle on the lake and round the island. The Hana Lake Development Authority,Hayat Durrani Water Sports Academy and Merck Marker (Pvt.) Ltd has planted various trees for the beautification and protection of the environment in Hanna Lake Mountains. Askari Park is the biggest park of Quetta with a children's playground, toys and entertainment. It is located on Airport Road near Custom House Quetta. It is administered by the Army. Built in mid 1990s, Askari Park is equipped with modern rides with "Dragon" being the main attraction.
The Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, 20 km south-west of Quetta, Markhors have been given protection. The park is spread over 32500 acres, altitude ranging from 2021 to 3264 meters. 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, Scythians, Muslims, Mongols passed this way. Pir Ghaib is a waterfall and picnic point located 70 km from the City Center on Sibi Road. Kharkhasa is located 10 km west of Quetta which 16 km long narrow valley which shows a variety of flora and fauna species of the region. The Chiltan Hill Viewpoint is a spot to get a panoramic view of the city. A visit to the nearby cities of Kirani and Ziarat have always been a popular stop travelling to and from Quetta.
The Quetta Geological Museum, Sariab Road (near Balochistan University) has a collection of rocks and fossils found in Balochistan. The Command and Staff College Museum is a museum dedicated to the British military history. It is housed in the former bungalow of Field Marshal Montgomery. The Quetta Archaeological Museum, Fifa Road has a collection of rare antique guns, swords and manuscripts. It has a display of Stone Age tools, prehistoric pottery and articles found from Mehrgarh. There are also coins, manuscripts and photos of Quetta before 1935 earthquake. The Balochistan Arts Council Library is a newly inaugurated library that houses a variety of arts and carts of the Balochistan province.
There are also cultural and religious festivals held in the city every year. The two Eid festivals which mark the end of fasting and the end of the Hajj allow the majority Muslim community to put on musical shows, distribute sweets and presents. The Sibi festival is a cultural festival celebrating the history of the Balochi people with folk music performance, cultural dances, handicrafts stalls and cattle and horse shows. Buzkashi is a peculiar festival celebrated by the Pashtun people. It is celebrated on horse-back by two teams that use their skills to snatch a goat from each other.
Quetta has been historically at the outskirts of the Pashtun-dominated Hotaki and Durrani (Afghan empires) until captured by the British in the mid-19th century, during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. The city in general is dominated by Pashtun people followed by Baloch people, with Brahuis, Hazaras, Punjabi and others as the minority groups. Most of the Baloch people in Quetta arrived after 1970, when a new province with the name of Balochistan was created. The notable Pashtun tribes which live in Quetta are Gharghasht, Kakar, Daavi, and others.
Pashto is the main language spoken throughout the city. Other languages include Urdu, Balochi, Hazaragi, Brahui, Sindhi, and Punjabi. Quetta has expanded at a very slow pace it population was recorded to be 11,000 in 1891. According to the 1998 census Quetta was the ninth biggest city of Pakistan with a population between 565,137 to 676,941. Although majority of them were repatriated back to Afghanistan through the UNHCR, a small number of registered Afghan refugees may still be found in and around the city but are not counted in the national census of Pakistan because they are citizens of Afghanistan remaining in the country temporarily.
About 99% of the people are Muslims, which include the majority Sunni sect and the minority Shias most of whom are the Hazaras. There is also a Christian, Hindu, and Sikh population living in the city.
The city is mad about the different types of sports. Unlike in most of Pakistan, cricket is not the most popular sport of the city. Football is the most popular sport in Quetta. Teams in Quetta include Quetta Zorawar, Afghan Football, Hazara Green Football, Baluch Football and Quetta Bazigars Club. Among the famous footballers of Quetta are Abdul Wahid Durrani (Wahido) Taj Senior; Taj Junior, Qayyum Changezi, Agha Gul, Mohammad Younas Changezi; Mohammad Ismaeel Durrani (famous goal keeper) in the Indian subcontinent and his son Dawood Durrani of PIA football team, and Kazim Ali Sheralyat, the former captain of Pakistan. in Body building Shoukat Ali Changezi - Mr.Norway; Din Mohammad Brohvi - Mr. Pakistan; and Noorullah Khan Durrani,(Mr. Pakistan Runner-up). The city has also produced minor cricket players for the national team such as Shoaib Khan who played for the Pakistan national cricket team. The Ayub National Stadium is the prime stadium which hosts many international cricket and football matches.
In field hockey, Quetta has produced Zeeshan Ashraf and Shakeel Abbasi who are still representing the Pakistan national field hockey team. In Mountain climbing and caving, Hayatullah Khan Durrani (Pride of Performance), chief executive of Hayat Durrani Water Sports Academy (HDWSA) at Hanna Lake Quetta. In Kayaking, Muhammad Abubakar Durrani, National Junior Champion selected for world Junior Canoeing Championship 2009 Moscow (Russia). In Boxing Olympians from Quetta include: Abdul Salam Khan Kakar; Syed Ibrar Ali Shah; Asghar Ali Changezi; and Haider Ali Changezi.
In squash Hiddy Jahan Khan was ranked among the top-6 players in the world from 1970 through to 1986. British Open champion Qamer Zaman also hails from Quetta. Other famous squash players include: Zarak Jahan Khan; Abdul Wali Khan Khilji; Hamayoon Khan Khilji; Zubair Jahan Khan; Shams ul Islam Khan Kakar; Tariq Rahim Khan Kakar; and Shaied Zaman Khan.
Hanna Lake In winter
Snow Covered Hill Near Hanna Urak
A hill from Koh-Murdar mountain range, night view from Marriabad
Quetta is an excellent base for exploration of Balochistan. Kan Mehtarzai (224 meters), the highest railway station in Asia, is a two-hour drive away. Loralai, the almond bowl of the country, is 265 km away. Besides, there are numerous other valleys that are fascinating places for explorers.
The name Quetta is derived from the Pashto word "Kwatta" which means a fort possibly because it is a natural fort surrounded by imposing hills on all sides. Three large craggy mountains — Chiltan, Zarghun and Koh-e-Murdar — seem to brood upon this town, and there are other mountains that form a ring around it. Their copper red and russet rocks and crests are powdered with snow in winters add immense charm to the town. Pashto Is An Origin Language of Afghanistan.
Strategically, Quetta is an important city due to its proximity to borders with Iran and Afghanistan. There is a huge military base just outside the city. Historically, Quetta owes much of its importance to the Bolan Pass which links it to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Excavations in the Quetta valley have proved that humans have lived there since pre-history. Modern day Quetta is a growing centre of excellence.
The population is approximately 670.000, and it has an area of 2653 sq. km.
Quetta is 1,680 meters (5,500 feet) above sea level and enjoys a healthy climate. The temperature drops a few degrees below the freezing point in winter following a typical autumn when the leaves turn golden and then a wild red.
Quetta can rightly be called the fruit basket of Pakistan. Plums, peaches, pomegranates, apricots, apples, guavas (locally called zaitoon), some unique varieties of melon like "Garma" and "Sarda" and cherries, pistachios and almonds are all grown in abundance. Some pistachios also grow in Qila Saif Ullah. Saffron grows very well and is being cultivated on a commercial scale. Tulips are an indigenous flower of Pakistan. The yellow and red varieties of tulip grow wild around Quetta.
The inhabitants of Quetta are mainly Pashtuns. The tribes include Kakar, Ghilzai Tareen, Mandokhel, Sherani, Looni, Kasi and Achakzai. Since Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan one might think the Balochs would be in the majority, but the Pashtuns are actually the largest group and the Pashto language is widely spoken. Besides Pashtuns and Balochis you can also find Punjabis, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Tajiks and Turkomen rubbing shoulders with the other inhabitants. They are known to be hospitable to visitors because hospitality is an important element of their cultures. Nomadic tribesmen, mainly Balouchi, 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 Pashtuns pride themselves on their tradition of hospitality to guests (milmastia in Pashto). Just a greeting of Salaam Alaykum will get you far in endearing yourself to people. The rugged terrain has made the people of the area hardy and resilient. They are known for their friendliness and hospitality. To make a visitor comfortable is part of their tradition. The people inhabiting this land are proud, robust and fiercely independent. They harbor no domination and the British who came here in the late nineteenth century learned to respect and honor their ways.
Quetta is connected to the rest of the country by road, rail and air.
There is an international airport about 15 minutes by taxi from the city center. Flights with PIA will take you to most major cities in Pakistan, such as, Karachi , Lahore and Islamabad. The only international destination of Pakistan International Airlines to and from Quetta is Dubai.
The highway connects eastward to Karachi and westward via Koh-e-Taftan to Tehran, Iran, 1435 km away. The road to Sibi connects it with Punjab and upper Sindh. The road via Loralai - Fort Monro -D.G. Khan and Multan is a shorter route for Punjab. The Chaman Road is a link between the country and the Afghan border.
The city center is small enough that a traveler can reach most places by foot. It is a place of ancient monuments, wide tree-lined boulevards and sterling British architecture. Even more compelling, Quetta has a dramatic setting, with a mountainous backdrop on all sides. Most sights can be easily seen in a day: the impressive Archaeological Museum of Baluchistan, the fort or the city’s many colorful bazaars—great places to pick marble, onyx, and some of the finest carpets in Pakistan.
The main thoroughfare and the commercial centre of Quetta is Jinnah Road, where the Tourist Information Centre of Pakistan's Tourism Development Corporation is located as well as the banks, restaurants and handicraft shops. Shahrah-e-Zarghun, a tree-lined boulevard, runs parallel to Jinnah Road, here many important buildings like the Governor's House, Post and Telecommunication Offices are located.
Auto-rickshaws give Quetta polluted air, and are the most popular and the cheapest way to get around the city but they are rapidly being replaced by more environmentally friendly 4-stroke CNG rickshaws.
From the airport - When you arrive at the airport you will likely be besieged with touts offering you taxis and rooms. It's wise not to book anything through them and arrange a taxi yourself to the hotel of your choice. Some of the mid-range and most top-end hotels offer a courtesy shuttle from the airport.
If you want to enjoy an excursion near the city, you can visit to Hanna Lake. It is in the hills overlooking Quetta, approximately 10 km from the city and very close to the Urak, where benches and pavilions on terraces have been provided. Golden fish in the lake come swimming right up to the edge. A little distance away, the waters of the lake take on a greenish blue tint. Right where the water ends, pine trees have been planted on the grass filled slopes. The turquoise water of lake is a stark contrast to the brownish-green hills that surround the area.
Wagon service operates from city bus station at Circular Road. The transport can be hired through the PTDC Tourist Information Centre, Muslim Hotel, Jinnah Road Quetta.
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 Bactrian, Scythians, Mongols and then the great migrating hordes of Pashtuns, all passed this way.
In the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, 20 km southwest of Quetta, Markhors have been given protection. The park is spread over 32, 5000 acres, altitude ranging from 2000 to 3200 meters.
Nature lovers, students, scientists and researchers are welcome to visit the park at any time of the year. For overnight stay, accommodation is available at the Forest Department Rest House located five kilometers inside the Park.
Park Rangers help the visitors to see animals. Access trails have been developed in the park for visitors. A small museum of natural history is located near the Park entrance.
It is a waterfall and picnic point located 70kms from the City Center on Sibi road
Located 10kms west of Quetta
Has a collection of rare antique guns, swords and manuscripts. It has a display of Stone Age tools, prehistoric pottery and articles found from Mehrgarh. There are also coins, manuscripts and photos of Quetta before 1935 earthquake.
The Askari Park at the Airport Road and Liaquat Park on Shahrah-e-Iqbal offer amusement and recreational facilities. Balochistan Arts Council Library is located on Jinnah Road. The Chiltan Hill viewpoint on Brewery Road offers a panoramic view of Quetta. Karkhasa is a recreation Park situated at distance of 10 km to the west of Quetta. It is a 16 km long narrow valley having a variety of flora like Ephedra, Artemisia and Sophora. One can see birds like partridges and other wild birds in the park. Limited recreational facilities are provided to the visitors through the Forest Department, Spinney Road, Quetta.
There are religious and social festivals celebrated by the people of Quetta. Two major religious festivals are Eid-ul-Azha and Eid-ul-Fiter. On these festivals people adorn their houses, wear new dresses, cook special dishes and visit each other. Eid-Meladun-Nabi is another religious festival. It is a celebration of the Holy Prophet’s birthday. Numerous colorful social festivals are also source of jubilation. Sibi festival that traces its roots to Mehergarh, an archeological site of ancient human civilization, attracts people from across the country. It is attended by common folks, ministers and other government officials. Folk music performance, cultural dances, handicrafts stalls, cattle shows and a number of other amusing activities present a perfect riot of color. Buzkashi is a peculiar festival showing valor of Pashtun people. It is celebrated on horse-back by two teams that use their skills to snatch a goat from each other.
Local handicrafts, specially green marble products, mirror work and embroidered jackets, shirts, and hand bags, pillow covers, bed sheets, dry fruits, etc.
The main bazaar is on 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 and Pashtun embroidery which is admired all over the world. The Pashtun workers are prominently expert in making fine Afghani carpets, with their pleasing and intricate designs, fur coats, jackets, waist-coats, sandals and other creations of traditional Pashtun skills.
Balochi carpets are made by the nomadic tribes of this area. They are generally not nearly as fine or expensive as the Persian city products, or even the Turkoman tribal rugs from further North, but they are generally better than Afghan carpets and more authentic than the bad copies of Turkoman and Persian designs that the cites of Pakistan produce. They definitely have a charm of their own. They range from relatively crude rugs that can, with some bargaining, be had at very reasonable prices to quite fine and valuable pieces. Many are small enough to be fairly portable.
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 is Sajji (leg of lamb), which is roasted to a delightful degree of tenderness and is not very spicy. It is a whole leg of lamb deliciously marinated in local herbs and spices and barbecued beside an open fire. It is very popular among the locals and is offered with great insistence to the guests. The Pathan tribesmen of the valley also enjoy Landhi (whole lamb) and Khadi Kebab. “Landhi” is a whole lamb which is dried in shade and kept for the winters. "Kebab" shops are very popular, the best being Lal Kebab, Tabaq, Cafe Farah and Cafe Baldia. They serve Pakistani and Continental food. The Chinese restaurant that is one of the oldest in town is CAFE CHINA. 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 eating houses offer.
There is famous Lehri Sajji house and Mir Afzal Karahi at Jinnah Road. The most famous is the Khadi kebab which is just behind the street at Liaquat Bazaar
The Pashtun people are also very famous for their refreshing green tea and Dood Pati shops
Very few places can compete with Quetta valley in having wide range of tasteful fruits, exported to all parts of the country as well as abroad. There you can find plums, peaches, pomegranates, apricots, apples, olives, different types of melon, water-melon, cherries, pistachios, almonds and other dry fruits. Saffron and tulip are also grown and cultivated on a commercial scale. The fruits heaven is Urak, called SAMARISTAN meaning the land of fruits in Persian.
There is a liquor store on the main street though it's difficult to find (it's best to ask your hotel, which should be able to provide directions).
FM 105: A new private radio channel which in a short time have captured the young audience of Quetta valley due to its modern and open approach to songs and current affairs.
Quetta is firmly planted on the overland to/from Iran route and sees its fair share of travelers, and most don't run into problems. Balochistan gained some media attention as a hideout and winter home for the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and some high-profile wanted men have been captured here. While this may invoke fear in some, you're unlikely to be bothered here, as they're more in hiding and trying to blend in than out starting trouble.
Currently the general level of safety for foreigners deteriorated as the Head of the UNHCR office in Quetta was kidnapped and taken to Afghanistan. If you are on a offical mission or high-profile business some caution should be excersised.
All in all the people of Quetta are friendly but don't question their religion, culture and tradition. The Pashtuns pride themselves on their tradition of hospitality (milmastia in Pashto) to guests. Just a greeting of Salaam Alaykum will get you far in endearing yourself to people.
Driving through wild roses and fruit orchards, you may reach the Urak Valley at a distance of 21 km. The abundance of delicious fruits makes it a real fruit land or SAMARISTAN.
Filled with numerous fruit orchards, the Pishin Valley is 50 km away from Quetta. These orchards are irrigated by ‘karez’. There is yet another attraction of cool waters, i.e. man-made lake with Bund Khushdil Khan (Tareenan). A wide range of ducks provides enticing beauty during winters. The area of Bund Khushdil Khan is located near Torashah, Malik Yar, Batezai villages and Land of these villages.In Bund Khushdil Khan many of Shooters come for the shooting Ducks. A great Duck Shooters (Shikari) of these villages play a shoot every day. The best duck shooters are Malak Mohammad Ali, Asad Khan Tareen, Qurban Ali, Asmatullah Tareen, Inayat ullah Tareen, Sana Mamo, Bore Mohammad Saab, Jaan etc.
A visit to Quetta will however, be incomplete without a trip to Ziarat (133 km from Quetta, 3 hours by car), a hill town 8000 feet above sea-level Air-conditioned coach and taxis take anything between an hour or two from Quetta an ideal and relaxing summer retreat with rows of juniper trees and ever green slopes.
The word Ziarat means holy place to be visited and the valley is known by that name because of a shrine of a holy saint, Tahir Baba Kharwari. There are other graves as well. However, the world knows it more because of the oldest and tallest juniper jungle, which needs to be looked after properly for future survival.
Extremely delicious species of apple, black cherry and almond trees are abundant in Ziarat, covering about 4416 acres in the lap of mountains.
While Ziarat abounds in tall chinar trees and juniper grows wild as does walnut and a variety of other trees, the area west of this hill station leading up to the Afghan border is rocky and barren. The drive through this unfriendly terrain provides one the grim reminder of the fierce tribes who roamed free in the region and kept the British weary and fearful. The border village of Chaman is also a major trading centre for a variety of fruit, a large quantity of which is still brought in from Afghanistan.
This Pass will lead you directly to the Chaman Border of Afghanistan, 153 km from Quetta. The scenic beauty is simply enthralling. The border journey is to be materialized through Khojak Sheela, a 4 km long tunnel, at an elevation of more than 1945 meters above sea level.
If you have a passion for smelling history through places, you must visit the Bolan Pass, where several armies from Central Asia and north intruded into the lands of un-divided India through centuries. The picturesque hilly road welcomes you with cool breeze, although you may be likely to run into Al-Qaeda.
While cruising through the hilly tract between Quetta and Kalat, you would come to see the route to Zahidan, Iran. Koh-e-Taftan and Saindak copper mines are en-route.
The entire population of Kharwari Baba and for that matter of the entire Ziarat, migrates to Harnai in extreme winter. Harnai Pass, about hours drive from Loralai, is just as spectacular as the Khyber Pass near Peshawar.
During recent decades, a lot has been done to explore the culture and civilization of ancient people. The most distinguishing one is Mehergarh, which experts say remained the centre of high development some 9,900 years ago. Researchers claim that this was a civilized society of 7000 B.C that is even older than Moenjodaro and Harappa.
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