Ziarat is a District of Balochistan Province, Pakistan and it is 124 kilometres away from Quetta. Its altitude is 2,543 metres (8,346 feet) above sea level. The District is famous for its ancient and magnificent Juniper Forests which spreads over 126,000 acres, whereas some trees are 7000 years old. It is a famous tourist resort. Once it was the summer headquarters of the British Government in pre-partition time of sub-continent. The climate of Ziarat is cool, even in the summers. There exists a small building of Ziarat Residency, which is now declared as a National Monument.
Significance of the Place:
Ziarat means ‘a place for the pilgrimage’. Its old name was Gwuskhi or Kowashki. It was being replaced by the present name Ziarat, in 1886, because of the nearby Shrine of a famous Muslim Saint Mian Abdul Hakim (Mulla Tahir or Kharwari Baba). The Shrine is in the South of Ziarat town.
Ziarat is a majestic valley with all its charm and splendour, which lies in its flowery atmosphere, its green grassy slopes and its cool weather. The apples, black and red cherry of Ziarat valley, are famous for their unique taste and aroma.
There are two routes leading to Ziarat from Quetta. The first one is through a single-lane shingle road. This route is somewhat difficult to travel on yet it is full of adventure. The second one is a metal road from Karachi to Quetta and leads up to Ziarat.
The highest point that is reachable by vehicles is Prospect Point. It is on the height of 7,129 feet above sea level and offers a broader view of the valley. It is about 6 miles away from Ziarat and is an excellent picnic spot in the South of the town. A track is available to reach there but those who want to enjoy the scenic beauty in leisure, can opt hiking on a wonderful trek.
Ziarat valley is approachable by trekking as well. The first trek starts to Kachh. It is on a distance of 43 miles from Kachh. There is a Rest House and a few shops. The second trek is 33 miles long, hilly trek. Juniper forests, patches of green fields and springs of clear water are visible, all along the trek. Juniper forest consists of species of the different trees like Wild Ash, Wild Almond, Olea and Khujak etc.
People and Culture:
Sarabgzai, Tarin, Syed, Doomar and lssakhel are the famous tribes of the valley. They are all of Pashtun Origin. The people are very hospitable.
The road which passes through the lofty hills and deep ravines overlooks the valley. The valley lies below, about 1,000 feet and on the top of it are ever-green Juniper jungle. There is a Rest House, from where a wonderful view of the valley is visible, particularly during the rainy season. The Shrine of Kharwari Baba lies below, in the foothill of the nearby mountains.
Quaid-e-Azam Residency with its wonderful architecture and historical background stands glorifyingly. Its lush green lawns, Chinar trees and flower gardens provide a spectacular look of the whole valley. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah stayed there, during his illness, in the last days of his life. The building was constructed in 1892 as a sanatorium. But later on, it was converted into the summer residence of the Agent to the Governor General (AGG). It serves as a national monument now-a-days.
Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan