A Cultural Journal

    Silk Road: Salt Range and the KatasRaj Temple-IX

    Written by: Amna javed - Posted on: May 07, 2015 | Post your comment here Comments

    Google Translation: اُردو | 中文

    Silk Road: Salt Range and the KatasRaj Temple

    KatasRaj Temple

    While travelling south along the Motorway, from the Rawalpindi region, the route passes through the Salt Range. Exiting the Motorway from the Kallar Kahar interchange, the road reaches the ancient KatasRaj Temple. Near Choa Saidanshah in the Chakwal District, the Hindu Temple Complex, popularly known as the ‘KatasRaj Mandir’, is located in Katas village. According to Hindu legend the temple dedicated to Shiva has existed since the days of Mahabharata, and later on, Krishna himself laid the foundation of the temple and installed a handmade Shiv ling in it. It is also said that the pond near the temple site was formed from Shiva’s tears when he was overtaken by the grief from Sati’s death.

    The Katas site houses the ‘Satgraha’ – a group of seven ancient temples – remains of a Buddhist stupa, a few medieval temples and havelis, all scattered around the pond that is considered sacred by Hindus. Hindu temples located in the Potohar region are famous worldwide and a huge number of Hindu visitors travel to these areas in order to pay their homage. Tourists visiting these sites can also make their way to the nearby Kallar Kahar Lake for boat riding.

    Silk Road: Salt Range and the KatasRaj Temple

    The 'Badshahi Mosque' & 'Minar-e-Pakistan at Khewra

    Moving ahead on the Motorway, we then reach the Khewra Salt Mine. This mine is part of an 800-year-old salt range that stretches over about 300 kilometers of land (185 miles) and is situated in the Pind Dadan Khan area of District Jhelum and is accessible only through the Motorway. These Salt Mines were discovered in 326 BC as Alexander was making his way across Pakistan. He stopped his army near Khewra, where their horses began licking the rocks on the ground. Taking cue from the horses, one of the soldiers also licked the stone and discovered that they were salty.

    Today, these salt mines are the second largest in the world – turning out 325,000 tones of salt per year. The mine is a popular tourist attraction and draws a large number of visitors each day. Keeping this in mind the underground mine has been beautifully developed and contains various structures that capture the visitors’ attention. Among the earliest structures built in the mine is the miniature Badshahi Mosque. More recently the Great Wall of China, Lahore’s Shimla hill and the Minar-e-Pakistan have also been added. These structures have been built from solid salt bricks that vary in color from pink to white, and have been lit to emit a bright, yellow glow. The Khewra Salt mine also has its own fully functional post office made entirely out of salt bricks.  This is the first and only post office in the world that is made entirely out of salt.

    Silk Road: Salt Range and the KatasRaj Temple

    Colors of Khewra Salt Mines

    Tearing through the Salt Range, the Motorway then reaches the city of Gujranwala while the G.T Road passes through Kharian and Gujrat to finally makes its way to Gujranwala.

    Gujrat is an ancient city of Punjab and is located between River Jhelum and River Chenab. Due to the area’s proximity to these two rivers, the land is good for cultivation of rice and sugarcane crops, which are the main crops of the region. The city is also known for its production of pottery and ceramic goods, fans and fine furniture. Gujrat also has the highest percentage of population that resides abroad and is known as the highest contributor towards foreign currency remittances in the country.

    Silk Road: Salt Range and the KatasRaj Temple

    The 'Crystal Valley' located in Khewra

    The route then reaches Gujranwala, also known as the city of wrestlers. An industrial city, it is the seventh most populous city of the country and is also among the fastest growing cities of Pakistan. The city’s agriculture and manufacturing sector has flourished tremendously due to the extensive rail and road linkages that have been provided. The city is primarily known for its export of fine quality rice. With numerous textile factories, cutlery factories and large agricultural processing plants, the city of Gujranwala is a commercial center and is playing a vital role in uplifting the economy of Pakistan.

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