Khewra Salt Mines & Katasraj Temples
Khewra Salt Mines
The Khewra Salt Mines (or Mayo Salt Mines) rise from the Indo-Gangetic Plain and are Pakistan’s largest and oldest salt mines and the world’s second largest. It is a major tourist attraction, drawing up to 250,000 visitors a year. Its history dates back to its discovery by Alexander the Great’s troops in 320 BC, but it only first 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 independence, the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation took over the mines, which still remain 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 to 600 million tons.
The Katasraj Temples
Legend has it that the pond at the Katasraj temples was formed by the tears that Lord Shiva shed after the death of his wife Sati. Hindu pilgrims from across the world visit the temples during the Maha Shivratri festival and bathe in the sacred pool to seek forgiveness, while some even believe that the waters possess healing powers. Dedicated to the Lord Shiva, the Katasraj temples are situated in Punjab near Choa Saidanshah, in Chakwal district. The site originally housed the Satgraha, a cluster of seven ancient temples, along with a Buddhist stupa and the home of a warrior. However, only four of the seven temples and the warrior’s residence remain intact today. Although the smaller temples were built around 900 years ago, the earlier ones date back to the latter half of the sixth Century AD.