Khewra city, famous for having world’s second largest salt mines (Khewra Salt Mines), is located in District Jhelum of province Punjab, Pakistan. Khewra Salt Mines has located at the distance of 160 km from Islamabad and 260 km from Lahore in Pind Dadan Khan District Jhelum.
It has easy approach via Lahore to Islamabad Motorway through Lilla Interchange. Discovery of Rock Salt dates back to days of Alexander the great.
There is a tourist resort at Khewra.
Khewra Salt Mine is a very popular tourist attraction with nearly 250,000 visitors each year. There are several artistic carvings of salt stones placed in different areas of Khewra Salt Mines for the amusement of tourists.
There is an electric train available to take visitors inside the mine. It is told that engine of this train belongs to 1930. Male and female guides are available to guide tourists about the Khewra Salt Mines.
There are several small ponds of thick salty water in different areas of the mine.
When light is projected on the liquid in these pools, it is refracted and produces different colours that look breathtaking.
Most beautiful carvings of salt stone among tourists are a replica of Minar-e-Pakistan made with colourful salt bricks. A model of the Great Wall of China, a statue of national poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal.
A beautiful mosque made up of bright bricks of salt stone, a model of Sheesh Mahal made up of pink salt blocks, and a model of Mall Road of Murree.
There are two ways to reach the main chamber inside the mine. Walk! Walk is about 20 minutes, depending on your speed, and the other is by mine train. This train starts from the entrance gate and will take you to the main chamber. From there you walk.
Cost is high, Rs. 400 up to 12 people (if you are 1 or 2, it is still Rs. 400). If you have elderly or little children, then the train is a better option.
One can also reach the Khewra Railway station, the main purpose of this station was to move the salt from khewra mines.
There are also some souvenir shops too.
History timeline of Khewra mines:
- 326 BC: It was in 326 BC. when khewra salt mine was discovered by licking of outcrop salt by the soldiers of Alexander the Great, who fought the battle with Raja Porus.
- 1500 AD: ASP Khan local leader of khewra informed the king Akbar the extensive amount of salt deposits in khewra. Initial mining got started.
- 1809: Sikhs took over the mines from the Mughals and made use of the salt present.
- 1849: British government took over the khewra mines from the Sikhs and continued its rule over it.
- 1853: A spring of drinkable water was discovered and conveyed through khewra through a wooden tunnel.
- 1856: Motorable road was built between khewra and P.D Khan
- 1872: Dr Warth first chief mining engineer who surveyed the complete mines. He introduced the advanced scientific drilling system. He laid out the main tunnel at the ground level.
- 1886: Railway Bridge ( Victoria) was constructed over the river Jhelum between the railway junction Malikwal and khewra.
- 1889-90: Salt production crossed 50,000 metric tonnes.
- 1902: Hospital established to provide medical facilities to the miners and workers working in the salt mine.
- 1914: Production reached to 80,000 metric tonnes.
- 1918: For the very first time two steam engines were used in the mines to extract rock salt.
- 1924-25: Powerhouse with two electric diesel generating sets of 500 Hp were installed.
- 1932: Chain cutter machines were improved further.
- 1933: Automatic loading plant was installed in the mine.
- 1971: Mines were switched over to Wapda electricity.
- 1974: Mines took over from P.I.D.C
- 1998: Mining tub system switched over to tractor trolley system.
- 2002: Khewra Salt mines tourist resort was established.
- 2006: Extraction of salt halted and this is now being used as a tourist visiting the place. No more mining is done in khewra mines.