In this post
- Al Beruni Radius Heritage Trail
- Nandana Fort
- Shiva Temple
- Khewra Salt Mines
- Malot Fort
- Pakistan’s Tourism Sector
Prime Minister Imran Khan has inaugurated Al Beruni Radius, which is an initiative to revive and preserve heritage tourism in Pakistan. During the inauguration ceremony in Jhelum, the premier said the project aims to preserve it for future generations. Present at the occasion was Punjab’s Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry, as well as his aide overseas Pakistanis, Zulfi Bukhari. The ceremony marked the inauguration of the “Heritage Trail” at the ‘Al-Biruni’ point of Jhelum’s Nandana Qila.
Let’s now explore Al Beruni Radius and Pakistan government’s policies to revive heritage tourism in Pakistan.
Al Beruni Radius Heritage Trail—A Gateway To Archeological Sites in Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan at the ceremony also said that the tourism sector of Pakistan provides the most employment, and therefore, its promotion would provide more opportunities for Pakistan’s youth. He also mentioned that tourism is made successful by the locals, and vowed to develop this region and put it on the world map.
Jhelum has been decided as the pinnacle for heritage tourism because its archeological significance dates back to the 11th century when Al-Biruni quantified the circumference of the Earth during his stay there. The Persian scholar later wrote a famous book about the region and mentioned Nandana as a great center of learning. Nandana Fort is located in Jhelum’s Pind Dadan Khan tehsil.
The trail will be a gateway to seven rich archeological sites of Nandana Fort & Temple, Shiva Temple of Katas Raj, Khewra Salt Mines, Malot Fort & Temples, and Takht-e-Babri. This region also hosts the Soon Valley, which is cradled by magnificent mountains in their lush green bosoms.
Nandna Fort is located on the eastern flanks of Salt Range. It was a strategic fort ruled over by Mahmud of Ghazni. Its ruins, including those of a town and an observatory are present. The Persian astronomer Al-Biruni carried out measurements of earth’s radius by means of the observation of both the height of a mountain and the dip angle, with a plausible precision of 20 percent. During the course of his stay in India, he mentions a place where he stayed and it was a great center of learning. It was called Nandana and it was this Hill Fortress.
The Shri Katas Raj Temples also known as Qila Katas is a complex of several Hindu temples connected to each other by walkways. The temple complex surrounds a pond named Katas which is regarded as sacred by Hindus. The complex is located in the Potohar Plateau region of Punjab province. The temples are located near the town of Choa Saidanshah, and are easily accessible by the M2 Motorway.
The temples’ pond carries religious significance as the Hindus believe it was created from the teardrops of Shiva, after he wandered the Earth inconsolable after the death of his wife Sati. The pond spreads over two kanals and 15 marlas, and has a maximum depth of 20 feet in some places.
Khewra Salt Mines
The Khewra Salt Mine is located north of Pind Dadan Khan, an administrative subdivision of Jhelum District, Punjab Region, Pakistan. It’s the second-largest salt mine in the world. The mine sees an annual tourist footfall of up to 250,000 visitors a year, and is famous for its production of pink Khewra salt, often marketed as Himalayan salt.
This has historical significance as Alexander’s troops in 320 BC discovered the mine, however, it wasn’t until the Mughals came that formal salt trading began.
After 1947, the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation took over the mine, which still remains the largest source of salt in the country, producing more than 350,000 tons per annum of about 99% pure halite. Over the years, this mine has been properly developed as a tourist attraction. People can go deep into the mountain and explore the mine, unique carvings, and natural deposits of salt.
Malot Fort was built in the 10th century AD and has the synthesis of Kashmiri and Greek architecture. It is built of local red sandstones of Salt Range mountains and leads up to Malot village near Choi village.
Takht-e-Babri is a tourist destination in Kallar Kahar, Chakwal District of Punjab. It is located 25 kilometres southwest of Chakwal along the motorway. Takht-e-Babri is a flat stage and throne cut out of stone by the 1st Mughal Emperor King Babur to address his army while coming down from Kabul in the quest of the crown of Delhi.
Having a single trail that connects all these tourist hotspots which have religious significance as well will give tourists a unique opportunity to explore the region in terms of its rich heritage. It will also give people more options to explore a myriad of tourist attractions in Punjab.
Pakistan’s Tourism Push
All these initiatives are aimed at expanding Pakistan’s tourism and giving people more avenues to explore and learn about the country, and its rich history.
Pakistan won two accolades last year, firstly, it made it to the list of 10 under-the-radar tourist destinations for 2020 by Forbes, an international publication, and topped Conde Nast Traveller’s list for Best Holiday Destination for 2020. In order to further present itself as a hospitable destination, Pakistan Tourist Development Corporation (PTDC) has came up with the idea of “Brand Pakistan,” which will make use of local and international influencers’ voices as well as launch extensive advertising campaigns, which will use digital channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
To that end, a number of similar measures have been taken by the government. Of this, the most important in heritage tourism is the opening of Kartarpur Corridor which has been hailed as a significant development of strengthening regional ties, and embracing the region’s history.
Another initiative is the Safari Tourist Train, which will give the travellers a chance to explore the cultural heritage of Pakistan as well as many historic places and between Golra and Attock Khurd railway stations. Through this initiative, tourists will be able to look at the spectacular views of Margalla Hills and visit Sangjani Tunnel, and take in the scenic views of the galiyaat as it passes through Taxila, Hassanabdal and Attock railway stations. It will also cross the historic Chablal Bridge, Haro Bridge, Ghazi Barotha and Attock Khurd bridges. The newly launched train will only run for three days a week i.e. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Apart from this, the government is also working to inaugurate national parks. Chinji National Park is one such example. After the inauguration of Al Beruni Radius as well, PM Khan visited the Tilla Jogian National Park, where he planted an olive tree, and was briefed on measures related to wildlife and environmental protection in the Salt Range National Park.
Moreover, a number of tourist festivals throughout the year are boosted and marketed so tourists, both local and international, can plan their holidays accordingly.
The government envisages to make Pakistan’s tourism sustainable and a number of eco-friendly policies are being introduced to this effect. In fact, you should read our detailed blog on the government of Pakistan’s efforts for protecting and preserving the environment. Please make sure when you visit any of the pristine areas in Pakistan, or the heritage trail the Al Beruni Radius, abide by eco-friendly actions. Preserve the environment for heritage tourism to persevere for your future generations.