Located in the north of Jhelum city in Punjab province, the Khewera salt mine is the second-largest salt mine in the world. The Khewra salt range in Pakistan outshines the rest of the six Himalayan salt mines, with maximum mining and extraction of Himalayan salt.
Moreover, besides being the precious pink Himalayan salt source, the Khewra mines serve as a tourist attraction for locals and international travelers.
History of Himalayan Mountain of Salt
Interestingly, the horses of Alexander the Great were responsible for making such a marvelous discovery. Somewhere back in 326 B.C, Alexander stopped by the Jhelum and Mianwali region during his Indian campaign. His soldiers observed that the troop horses were licking the rocks. Later, the soldiers tried those rocks themselves and found them to be salty. And that’s how salt deposits were discovered in the region, now known as Khewra city.
However, the salt range geology dates back to 600 million years ago. The formation of salt deposits took place due to the evaporation of seawater from the ocean.
The salt mining record-keeping was started in the 13th century by the Janjua Raja tribe. Later, the Mughals took over the salt mines; however, the Sikhs took control of the mines in 1809. The Sikhs are the ones who gave these salt mines the name “Khewra.” After 40 years, the British got hold of the salt mines and started proper salt mining and extraction.
During British rule, Dr.H Wrathin, a mining engineer, constructed the main tunnel of the Khewra salt mines. Later, after the partition, the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) took over the mining operation.
Interesting Facts about Khewra Salt Mines Map
Located about 160 kilometers south of Islamabad, the Khewra salt mines produce around 325,000 tons of salt per annum. However, according to an estimate, these mines can produce 220 million tons during a lifespan. Interestingly, the overall salt in the mine is calculated to be around 6.687 billion tons.
Moreover, the salt mines cover 110 square kilometers, with a total depth of 228 meters or 758 feet. There are 12 stories inside the mines, out of which six are below the surface.
Additionally, the mine has a network of more tunnels running around 730 meters into the salt mountains. By the way, the salt mine is 40 kilometers deep. The temperature inside the salt mines remains consistent, around 18°C to 20°C throughout the year.
The miners use the “Pillar and a room” model to prevent the salt rooms and stories from collapsing. That involves extracting only 50 percent of the salt outside the mines. The rest of the salt serves as pillars to offer desired support to the mines.
Tourism Attraction in Khewra Salt Mountains
The good news is that a small area of Khewra salt mines serves as a tourist attraction. More than 40,000 tourists visit this natural wonder every month.
A single gauge electric train takes the visitors inside the Khewra mines via the main tunnel, built more than 150 years ago. You can feel low humidity and salt-laden air inside the mines, which is beneficial for your lungs.
You can also find different saltwater pools, which exhibit different colors upon light projection. In addition to that, you can see different models made of salt bricks of historical places of Pakistan, including Minar-e-Pakistan, and the famous Badshahi mosque. The salt bricks vary in color, such as red, pink, and white, and are further lightened electrically to radiate a warm glow.
Moreover, there is a tunnel in the mines which is known as the crystal valley having rock salt crystals on the roof and walls. The crystals shine when the light falls upon them and provide a stunning view.
The Khewra salt mines have a 75-meter tall assembly hall chamber with well-built stairs leading up the wall. Moreover, there is also a 25 feet long salt bridge known as Pul-Siraat that has a deep salt lake underneath. You can only marvel at the naturally occurring magnificence of the salt crystal formations.
At the end of the salt range tour, you can simply sit at the restaurant outside the salt mines and buy rock salt lamps from the souvenir shop. Not only that, Khewra salt mines have a post office inside for the workers and miners.
In 2007, a clinic of 20 beds was established at level five to treat Asthma and other allergies using salt therapy. Many people believe that inhaling salt particles may aid the treatment of respiratory ailments.
Pink Himalayan Salt Mining
Due to the presence of additional minerals, Himalayan salt is considered a great substitute for regular table salt in the West. Currently, more than 400 workers work inside the salt mines to extract rock salt. Around 70% of the extracted rock salt is used in industries, while the rest 30% is used for edible purposes.
The miners use different tools, such as hand drills and pickaxes, to drill and mine the salt rocks. Every day, miners extract more than 1,000 tons of salt in the form of huge blocks.
Later, these blocks are loaded on the trucks for further distribution to different manufacturing companies nationwide.
Due to its unique characteristics and compact structure, this salt is used to make some amazing products. Some companies make natural salt lamps and other decorative items from the Himalayan salt that are getting very famous in the wellness industry. While other manufacturers grind the salt blocks into fine grains to be used for seasoning meals.
Large salt plates are also used for cooking and grilling various kinds of meat and vegetables. Also, due to its healing properties, Himalayan salt is used for salt therapy worldwide. You will find salt rooms and salt walls in many spas and wellness centers for this purpose.