If you are craving for something different from scenic spots of lush greenery and deep valleys, how about getting into the adventure of deep within? The Khewra Salt Mine is located in the city of Khewra, near Pind Dadan Khan, Punjab. Attracting thousands of visitors yearly, the Khewra Mines have become a popular tourist destination for locals and foreigners alike.The main tunnel of the mine was developed by a British mining engineer, Dr. H. Warth, in 1872, and this is also the spot most frequented by visitors. While it is the second largest salt mine in the world and the largest reserve of edible salt in Pakistan, you might be wondering why it’s famous as a tourist destination?One look inside the mine is all it takes to answer the question, but if you need the motivation to plan your visit, there’s actually a lot that can be explored here. Here’s what’s in store for you once you enter the Khewra Salt Mines:
A Train Ride into the Tunnel
If you’ve ever wanted to ride a mining train, this is it. The electric train that runs from the entrance of the mine to the main hall is said to be from the 1930s when mining first began at Khewra. It is in perfect working condition though, and a per-person ticket is charged to travel. A group of 12 individuals or more can pay per trip rather than per head for the ride. You can also enter the mine on foot if you want to explore it at your own pace. The train ride ends in a 75-metre-high assembly hall that is the central cavern for the mine. The wide expanse of space often leaves people in awe. There is also a natural carving in the wall here that resembles Allama Iqbal.
The main tunnel is also home to miniature replicas of famous monuments built and carved entirely from rock salt. Among these are ‘The Great Wall of China’ as well as Pakistan’s own ‘Minar-e-Pakistan,’ the ‘Shimla Hill of Lahore,’ and the ‘Mall Road of Murree.’ Each of these monuments has also been lit up brilliantly to increase the beauty of the multi-coloured salt.
Salt Ponds and Bridges
If you know about the Dead Sea and how it is so salty that everything just floats, you can understand what the ponds found inside the Khewra Mines look like. Although nobody is allowed to use them, there are several ponds of salt water located within the mines. Bridges have been built over the ponds to help you cross. Also known as Pul Saraat, there is a narrow 25-foot-long bridge built over a 100-foot-deep pond of salt water. What’s unique about this bridge is that it is made completely of salt and uses no columns or pillars for support.
A tunnel within the mines is known as the Palace of Mirrors or Sheesh Mahal, not because it contains the monument of a palace but because the salt roof of the tunnel shines like the dim lighting. The tunnel can be explored as part of the guided tour.
A Resort to Asthma Patients
The natural properties of rock salt alter the air inside the mines, and the resulting environment is said to be beneficial for people suffering from respiratory ailments. Thus, an Asthma Resort has been set up deep underground which has been attracting patients from all over the world. The entire area is lit softly with lamps while fans provide ventilation to maintain the ‘micro-climate’ said to be beneficial for patients.
The tour of the mine takes 1.5 hours, and comfortable walking shoes are recommended.The weather in Khewra Mines is pleasant all year round, with the chambers being cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Photography is allowed inside, and it is recommended to bring a camera that performs well in low lighting.While there are small tuck shops and eating areas built inside the mine, you should pack some snacks and a water bottle for personal use.