Trip to Katas and Khewra Mines
Photography & Film-Making Club (UMT)
Photo Credits: Faraz Shahid
© Copyright 2012 Aks UMT
The Khewra Salt Mine (or Mayo Salt Mine) is located in Khewra, north of Pind Dadan Khan, an administrative subdivision of Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan. It is Pakistan's largest and oldest salt mine and the world's second largest. It is a major tourist attaction, drawing up to 250,000 visitors a year. Its history dates back to its discovery by Alexander's troops in 320 BC, but it started trading in the Mughal era. The main tunnel at ground level was developed by Dr. H. Warth, a mining engineer, in 1872, during British rule. After partition 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. Estimates of the reserves of salt in the mine vary from 82 million tons to 600 million tons.
Katasraj Mandir is a Hindu mandir or temple complex situated in Katas village in the Chakwal district of Punjab in Pakistan. Dedicated to Shiva, the temple has existed since the days of Mahābhārata and the Pandava brothers spent a substantial part of their exile at the site. The Pakistan Government is considering nominating the temple complex for World Heritage Site status. In 2007, it also proposed to restore the temple complex. In 2012, the temple pond is drying up due to heavy use of ground water for industrial purposes.
Most of these temples, were built around 900 years or so ago, although the earliest of the Katasraj temples dates back to the latter half of the 6th century AD.
The temple complex was not abandoned by Hindus when they migrated to East Punjab in 1947. It has always been the site of holy pilgrimage for people of various faiths. Even nowadays, worshippers of all faiths perform pilgrimage to the mandir. The pilgrims bathe in the sacred pool and seek forgiveness as Hindu belief holds that bathing in the pond (especially on certain occasions) leads to the forgiveness of sins and helps attain salvation. Until recently, it was believed that the pond had unlimited depth.
The two semi-ruined temples of the Hindushahiya period (650–950 AD) have been frequently photographed by newspapers and history journals.