The Khewra Salt Mine is located in Punjab, Pakistan. This salt mine could easily qualify for the list of wonders of the world. Visiting this mine also known as the city of khewra is a treat for anyone who loves to explore nature.
The Khewra Salt Mine is one of six Himalayan Salt Mines located in the foothills of the Himalayan Salt Mountains . All these mines occupy a distinct place in the world of salt mining, but the Khewra Salt Mine trumps them all.
Currently, Khewra Salt Mine is the only salt mine where salt extraction is taking place.
A quick look at history
Himalayan salt history is very rich. Remember Alexander, the great ruler who is famous for having conquered half the world? Well, supposedly he is responsible for discovering the Himalayan salt range in Pakistan .
It is said that around 326 BC, Alexander was passing through this region and stopped to rest a bit. One of the soldiers noticed that the troop’s horses were licking the stones near the resting place. He tried it for himself and found that the stones were salty. This is how Himalayan salt was discovered.
Over the years, salt extraction and its uses have undergone many changes and have been passed from ruler to ruler.
The last notable advance in the salt extraction method was made under British rule, when a scientist devised the shredding and pillar technique. This ensures that the structure and stability of salt mines is not compromised with unhindered salt extraction.
The salt mines have gone through very dark days of oppression. Poor laborers in the days of British rule were locked inside the tunnels until they reached their allotted quota of salt production per day. The rules were applied to everyone, regardless of age, gender and health conditions. 12 protesting miners were brutally killed near the entrance to the salt mine. Their graves can be seen in the middle of the mine gate.
One of the interesting facts is that Himalayan mountain salt was used as currency in ancient times.
Know your way
There are two routes to reach this mountain of salt . A wise approach would be to use one route to get to the mines and the other on the way home. You can use the khewra salt mines map for help.
The GT road (big trunk) route is slower but scenic.
The other route via the M2 motorway is safer and faster.
As the Khewra salt mine is a major tourist attraction that receives around 250,000 tourists a year, the road signs leading to the mines are quite visible.
Salt mine facts in numbers
The geology of the salt belt is a very vast subject. According to the numbers, the pink rock salt extracted from the Khewra salt mine contains 98% halite and is considered as old as Precambrian times.
The salt mine contains approximately 82 million metric tons of Himalayan rock salt, of which 0.35 million tons are mined each year.
The salt mine has a total of 12 levels where extraction takes place, of which 6 are below the surface.
The Khewra salt mine tunnel alone is 40 km deep. There is, however, a small area specially designed for tourists that was developed in 1914.
One of the most interesting things about the Khewra salt mine is that it houses a 6-bed hospital for people suffering from asthma. People can spend 8 to 10 hours a day in the hospital while staying there for 10 days. This hospital is located on level 5.
There are 25-30 salt processing units near the salt mines. Typically, people who have leased salt mine areas own these units. Pink Himalayan salt, mined by hand, is processed and graded here.
About 70 percent of mined rock salt goes to industrial use. The remaining 30% qualifies as edible.
Himalayan rock salt crystals come in different colors ranging from beetroot to subtle shades of orange to clear. Pink rock salt is the one that makes it to the premium natural rock salt list and fetches the highest price.
The temperature in the salt mines of Khewra remains a constant 18 degrees Celsius throughout the year.
A Peek at the Khewra Salt Mine
The magnificent views that await inside the salt mines of Khewra are enough to attract visitors again and again.
There is a single gauge electric train that runs visitors inside the khewra mine. The train is old but works well.
The salt mine has several saltwater pools that emit beautiful colors when projected with light. The view is jaw-dropping.
There is a tunnel inside the salt mine which is called the crystal valley. It has pink salt crystals on the roof and walls and they sparkle when the light hits them.
Khewra Salt Mine Development
Over the years, much has been developed within the Khewra salt mine to attract tourists visiting the site. There are replicas of Badshahi Masjid, the Great Wall of China, and a model of the Mall Road of Lahore and Minar-e-Pakistan. These replicated monuments are backlit, which gives off a nice warm glow.
The salt mine houses a 75 meter high assembly chamber with suitable stairs leading up to the wall. It also has a 25 meter bridge called Pul-E-Saraat.
There are beautiful formations of naturally occurring salt crystals. These are the results of stalactites and stalagmites.
If you feel tired after a walk through the Khewra salt mine, you can rest in the restaurant and buy a rock salt lamp from the souvenir shop.
Last but not least, the khewra salt mine has its own post office. This post office is used by workers working inside the mine.
Currently, there are more than 400 workers working inside the Khewra salt mine.
some health facts
Rock salt from Pakistan has also entered medicine. Many studies have proved that Himalayan rock salt is extremely beneficial for different health problems.
The crystal stone lamp removes impurities from the air, making it free of pollutants.
Natural rock salt contains 84 minerals that are vital for the functioning of the human body.
The khewra salt mines are a must visit place in Pakistan.