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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Himalayan Salt - Khewra Mines

Ironically, the salt from Khewra mines is markleted all over the world as Himalayan Salt.

Earlier we were discussing salt from the Dead Sea. I recalled visiting Khera Mines. Wonder how many of us know or have visited these mines. ~t

The salt at Khewra reaches the surface, it was discovered as early as the days of Alexander the Great. According to a legend there was a battle between Alexander the Great and Raja Poro in this area. After Alexander had won the battle, the soldiers were resing. They soon mentioned, that the horses were licking the ground in a certain area. Here the salt reached the surface and the ground contained more salt than in general, which the horses found out. Long ago the locals started to mine the salt on the surface, in small opencast mines. In 1872 Dr. Warth, a renowned British mining engineer, built the first tunnel at ground level to access the salt layers. He introduced room and pillar mining which is used until today. At the moment salt is mined in 19 different levels, producing about 325,000 tons per year. LINK

The tourist attractions inside the mine include:

(1) Assembly Hall: It is the name given to?a large chamber in the mine. It measures about 75m in height and fascinates tourists because stairs go circling around the hall to the top.
(2) pul-saraat: This is a Salt Bridge called the Pul-saraat. It?has no pillars whatsoever to support it. It is just a narrow strip of pure rock salt 20 to 25 feet in length and 5 feet thick with 80 feet deep ponds of brine (Saltish Water) on both sides. Those who know the meanings of real pul-saraat must be enjoying the creativity of people who thought about naming this salt bridge as such.
(3) Indoor Brine Ponds:
Inside the mine there are certain chambers filled with saturated brine solution. The salty water seeps through mine walls and roof and collects into these chambers overtime. There are several such water-filled chambers in the mine but they are very difficult to see in the dark. Only two such ponds have been illuminated for tourism purposes. One such pond is shown in the photo to the left.
(4) Badshahi Mosque: There is a mosque built inside the main tunnel of the mine. It is called the ‘badshahi masjid’. To beautify the mosque different colours of salt bricks have been used. Red, Pink and White are the major shades of salt bricks. Between the Bricks space has been provided for the electric bulbs to lit the mosque. [for more read Owais Mughal - Khewra Salt Mines of Pakistan]

Now for something new: Salt therapy - Amir

It is believed that Salt Rock Lamps are natural air ionizers, air purifiers and natural healers. They clean the air through negative ions, I guess something similar to lightning during a thunderstorm. Some also believe that the ions given off by the salt in the mines is a primary cause for curing asthma. How or why has not been scientifically determined. Even PMDC has built an allergy Asthma Resort at this site for this purpose. Before electricity, salt mines were lit with candles and torches, which illuminated the salts crystals. The miners, knowing the beauty of the salt, carved mosques from the salt. They made candle holders that gave off beautiful light. It was not long before people noticed that these lighted salt crystals, now called salt lamps, gave off ions and had effects somewhat similar those that one experienced in a salt mine.Treatment for asthma in underground salt mines is gaining popularity here and is called speleotherapy. LINK

This is marketed as Himalayan Salt all over the world. LINK

Himalayan salt is a marketing term for rock salt from Pakistan, which began being sold by various companies in Europe, North America, and Australia in the early 21st century. It is mined in the Khewra Salt Mines, the second largest salt mine in the world, located in Khewra, Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan, about 300 km from the Himalayas, about 160 kilometres from Islamabad, and 260 kilometres from Lahore, and in the foothills of the Salt Range.


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