Story by: Sadia Rafay, a visiting journalist who’s on assignment in the KARK newsroom this month.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Pakistan is the land of people who have big hearts and beautiful souls. This country is so versatile in terms of its culture and traditional values.
Pakistan has the world’s second-largest salt mine (The Khewra Mine). This mine is situated north of Pind Dadan Khan, a subdivision of Jhelum District, in the Punjab Province of Pakistan.
History says that this mine was first discovered by Alexandar the Great’s troops in 320 B.C. The locals tell a story about the discovery of the salt mine that when Alexander was passing through this way he stayed here for some rest and his horses, who were thirsty, started licking some stones. The troops wondered why and tried to find out that what is there in the stones. They found that it is actually salt which the horses were licking and in return, they discovered the great salt mine.
This mine is a great source of salt and produces 350,000 tons per year. There are lot of tourist attractions in this mine. There is a famous mosque in Pakistan known as Badshahi Mosque. It is actually in Lahore, a big city in the Punjab Province, but artists have made a model of that mosque in the Khewra mine that is made up of colorful salt bricks. When the mine guide moves his torch on the bricks they illuminate so beautifully that one can forget to take breath for a second.
The journey to the mine starts from a long tunnel and an electric train takes you inside. During your train ride you see the walls of the tunnel, which are all made up of salt. The mine has numerous attractions, including a replica of Minar-e-Pakistan (a national monument located in Lahore). There is a statue of the national poet Allama Iqbal (1877-1938), an accumulation of crystals that form the name of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad in Urdu script, as well as replicas of the Great Wall of China and the Mall Road of Murree.
Also inside the mine, there is a clinic for asthmatic patients (the mine remains cool, even in summer), a model of Sheesh Mahal, a famous attraction in India and a Palace of Mirrors. The Palace of Mirrors is a model made up of crystal pieces of salt which have a light pink color. When you see the natural colors in the crystal pieces of salt you cannot control yourself to appreciate the beauty which lies in nature.
These models do not only depict famous places or personalities but are also reflecting the natural talent in the artist’s hands. It shows their hard work toward the art and the colorful models depict the colors in the dreams and imaginations of the artists.
This mine is open year-round and tourists come to visit it not only from Pakistan but from all over the world. There are many small ponds of thick salty water in the mine and when the light is projected on these pools, it produces different colors which take you to another world, the world of dreams and the world where fairies leave colors in the air when flying with their colorful wings.
In short, when you are in the mine you find yourself in an artistic place where you can feel nature and can breathe in the beauty. You can buy some small gifts for your friends and family that are made of salt and these little models and things can reveal to you more about the culture of that area and Pakistan.
Sadia Rafay, along with Omaima Malik, are journalists from Pakistan who are visiting the KARK 4 newsroom this summer as part of a special program.
More about them:
Sadia Rafay (BLOG: Proud Pakistani Journalist) She has worked as a politics reporter at Dawn News TV since 2014. Rafay also produces reports on cultural events and short documentaries on social issues. She often hosts special transmissions and programs for cultural events, weather, festivals, and other important occasions. Rafay has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and previously worked with Geo News. She is attracted to political journalism as female journalists in Pakistan typically do not cover “hard news” and also likes to cover cultural news to highlight the geographical and cultural diversity of Pakistan and the world. Rafay is determined to show her family that daughters are no less than sons.