Khewra is a town in the district Jhelum, about five kilometers north of Pind Dadan Khan at the foot of the Salt Range or Kohistan-e-Namak as it is called in Urdu i.e, Land of Salt Mountains. Whoever named it as thus, could not have thought of a better name. Because salt is found at dozens perhaps hundreds of places in these mountains. The most famous of all these are the mines are at Khewra. These are so huge that they are considered the second biggest in the world after Sifto Salt Mines in Canada.
Khewra is just 35 kilometers from my ancestral village Lilla and my father sometimes shares his fond memories of Khewra where his uncle and aunt lived and he often visited them in the 1950s for extended time periods and he still visits Khewra to meet his cousin. This time I went to Khewra after several years and took my children with me to see our relatives and the world-famous mine as well, which they have read about in their textbooks.
Needless to say, the weather on 21 July 2019, was scorching and perhaps not a good time for such kind of excursions. But to our surprise, there were hundreds of people at the resort, which shows that the place is quite popular among the people who had thronged it from far away places. It was clear that thousands of people visit this place every day.
Some official buildings, souvenir shops and a restaurant are located at the first stop near the parking area and from here one has to cross a bridge over a seasonal stream to reach the main entrance of the mine. Which can be done on foot or by a small tram and takes just a few minutes.
کھیوڑہ کوہستان نمک کا تاریخی پس منظر
کھیوڑہ میں نمک کی دریافت 326 قبل از مسیح میں اُس وقت ہوئی جب دریائے جہلم کے کنارے سکندراعظم اور راجہ پورس کے مابین جنگ لڑی گئی۔ سکندراعظم کے فوجیوں کے گھوڑے اس علاقے میں چرنے کے دوران پتھروں کو چاٹتے پائے گئے جس سے یہ نمک کی موجودگی کا انکشاف ہوا تھا، اس وقت سے یہاں نمک نکالنے کا کام جاری ہے۔ یہ دنیا میں نمک کا اہم ترین ذخیرہ ہے۔ کوہستان نمک کا سلسلہ دریائے جہلم کے قریب بیگنوالہ سے شروع ہوکر دریائے سندھ کالاباغ میں ختم ہوتا ہے۔ اس کی لمبائی 300 کلومیٹر چوڑائی 8 تا 30 کلومیٹر اور اونچائی 2200 فٹ تا 4990 فٹ (کوہ سکیسر) ہے۔ کھیوڑہ کو ارضیاتی عجائب گھر بھی قرار دیا جاتا ہے کیونکہ یہاں کروڑوں سال پرانے پری کیمبرین عہد سے موجودہ دور تک کے حجری آثار موجود ہیں۔ 1849ء میں انگریز انتظامیہ نے نمک کی نکاسی کا کام سائنسی بنیادوں پر شروع کیا۔ 1872ء میں ایک معروف انگریز مائنگ انجینئر، ڈاکٹر وارتھ نے نمک کے ذخائر تک براہ راست رسائی کے لیئے بڑی کان کی کھدائی کرائی جو تاحال فعال ہے۔ اس وقت کھیوڑہ کی کانوں میں 17 منزلوں سے نمک نکالا جارہا ہے۔ سائسی اصولوں کے مطابق کان سے 50 فیصد نمک نکال کر 50 فیصد بطور ستون چھوڑ دیا جاتا ہے جو کہ کان کی مضبوطی کو قائم رکھتا ہے۔ کھیوڑہ کان نمک دنیا کا خوردنی نمک کا دوسرا بڑا ذخیرہ ہے یہاں دو کروڑ بیس لاکھ ٹن کے ذخائر موجود ہیں۔
Salt was discovered in Khewra in 326 BC when a battle was fought between Alexander the Great and Raja Porus at the banks of river Jhelum. The presence of salt was revealed when the horses of Alexander's troops were found to be licking at the stones while grazing in this area. Since then salt is being extracted. It is the most important deposit of salt in the world. The Salt Range starts at Begnowala* near river Jhelum and ends at Kalabagh, river Indus. Its length is 300 kilometers and the width is from 8 to 30 kilometers and the height 2200 feet to 4990 feet (Sakesar peak). Khewra is called a geological museum also because millions of years old fossils from the Precambrian period are found here. In 1849 the British administration started the work of extracting salt on a scientific basis. In 1872 a well-known British mining engineer Doctor Warth, go the main mine excavated to access the salt deposits directly, which is still in use. At present salt is being excavated at seventeen levels from the Khewra mines. According to the scientific principles, 50% salt is extracted and the other 50% is left behind as support columns, which keeps the mines stable. Khewra salt mines are the second largest deposits of edible salt, here 22 million tons of deposits are found.
326 BC Discovered by the licking of out crop salt by the horses of Alexander The Great who fought battle with Raja Porus.
1500 AD ASP Khan local leader of Khews informed the King Akbar the Great abou the existence of salt deposit in Khewra. Minining initiated.
1809 Sikhs taken [took] over the salt mines from Mughals.
1849 British rulers taken [took] over the salt mines.
1853 Aspiring [a spring ] of drinkable water was discovered and conveyed to Khewra through a wooden tunnel.
1856 Motorable road was laid down between Khewra and P. D. Khan.
1872 Dr. Warth first Chief Mining Engineer surveyed whole mines and introduced scientific mining system. He laid out main tunnel at ground level.
1886-87 Railway Bridge (Victoria) was constructed over the river Jhelum between the Railway Junction Malakwal and Khewra.
1889-90 The salt production crosses 50,000 metric tonnes.
1902 Hospital established to provide medical facilities to miners and workers of the salt mines.
1914 Production was reached 80,000 metric tonnes.
1918 Two steam engines were used in the mines for the carriage of rock salt.
1924-25 Power House with Two Disel Electric Generating sets, 500 HP were installed.
1932 Chain cutter machines were imported.
1933 Automatic loading plant was installed.
1971 The mines were switched over to WPIDC.
1974 PMDC taken over the mines from PIDC.
1998 Mining tub system switched over to tractor trolley system.
2002 Khewra Salt Mines Tourist Resort established.
2003 Inauguration of Khewra Tourist Resort.
2005 Khewra Asthma Clinic was Established.
2007 Asthma Clinic working started.
2010 Renovation of Khewra Tourist Resort.