The Khewra Salt Mine is located in the city of Khewra, near Pind Dadan Khan, Punjab. Discovered in 320 BC by the troops of Alexander the Great while they were resting nearby, the mines began commercial production during the Mughal rule. The Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) has overseen the mine after the partition of the Indian sub-continent.
Exploring the Khewra Salt Mines
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. The Khewra Mines consist of more than 40 kilometres of tunnels and 19 levels, with 7 above and 12 below the ground.
Want to know more? Here’s what’s in store for you once you enter the Khewra Salt Mines:
Taking the Train
Yes, that’s right. If you’ve ever wanted to ride a mining train, your wish can come true here. 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 Assembly Hall
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.
After saying goodbye to the train, the first thing you’ll probably set your eyes on is the Badshahi Mosque built within the central chamber. What’s unique about the mosque is that it is made entirely of rock salt, with salt bricks of varying colours. As the mine is famous for having salt deposits of white, pink and red salt, you can imagine the marvel that this structure is, especially when it is illuminated by lights hidden in recesses along the walls. The mosque even has two minarets carved out of rock salt.
Miniature Replicas of World-Famous Monuments
If you think the mosque was grand, the next few sights will impress you like nothing else. 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.
The Post Office
The Khewra Salt Mine is also home to the only post office in the world built entirely from salt bricks. It is a fully functional post office used mainly by mine workers.
While no salt actually flows out of this fountain, it is named so because of the natural shape this salt formation has taken over the years, making it look like a flowing water fountain.
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 are 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, this 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 mirrors the dim lighting. The tunnel can be explored as part of the guided tour.
PMDC’s Asthma Resort
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 by the PMDC, which has been attracting patients from all over the world. The reception area of the resort contains a fountain, sofas, and a television, giving a welcoming vibe. The clinic itself consists of 12 beds, set up in 6 cabins made from salt bricks. The entire area is lit softly with lamps while fans provide ventilation to maintain the ‘micro-climate’ said to be beneficial for patients.
If you’ve already started planning your trip to the mines, then how to get there must be your next question. Khewra is a 3-hour drive from Lahore via the M-2 Lahore to Islamabad Motorway. It is at a drive of 2.5 hours via the same route from Islamabad. The railway station at Khewra is also operational with special trains from Lahore and Rawalpindi running at regular intervals.
- Since you’re planning your visit, it is important to note that the mine is open daily, even on public holidays and Sundays between 9 am and 6 pm.
- Minimal entry charges will be applicable for both locals and foreigners with student discounts also being offered.
- Both male and female mine guides are available for the tour.
- 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 tuckshops and eating areas built inside the mine, you should pack some snacks and a water bottle for personal use.
- If you are travelling a long distance to get here and do not want to head back the same day, you can book a night’s stay at the Khewra Salt Mines Tourist Resort run by the PMDC.
The structure of the Khewra Mines is quite stable and offers a chance to explore a different world underground, so pack for a day trip to explore the wonders of this tourist destination to your heart’s content. Do not forget to bring back a salt lamp as a souvenir. They not only have healing properties but also make great gifts for loved ones!