What many people don’t know is that the west side of Pakistan is filled with beauty and treasures, not just north or south. Let us see what the city of Quetta has to offer; it is more than just barren land.
History/Origin of Quetta
Quetta also spelled Kuwatah a variation of the Pashto word “Kot” which means “fortress”. The name is believed to be developed due to the four imposing hills namely Chiltan, Takatu, Zarghoon and Murdaar which surround the city like a fortress. Quetta is originally part of Afghanistan and to this date still has strong ties with Afghans. The city mainly consist of Pashtuns, Balochs, Hazras & Punjabis and is also home to many minorities.
The major event in history occurred in the 11th century, during his invasion of South Asia, Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi captured the city. In 1839, Quetta was captured by the British in the First Afghan War. After that in 1876, Sir Robert Sandeman and Khan of Khalat signed a treaty which handed the city’s administration to the British thus it became the largest garrison of British India.
Geography of the City
With an average elevation of 1,680 meters (5,500 ft.), Quetta is the only major city at high altitude thus enjoys healthy climate. Quetta is the 6th largest city with an area of 2,653 km2 and population of about 2 million, enclosed by the four cliffs. Due to its location in the northern side of Balochistan, Quetta plays a significant role as a trade and communication route between Pakistan & Afghanistan; Khandahar being the closest major city to Quetta.
Despite having many different ethnic groups in the city, overall cultural values are almost same in the region. The dress code of Balochis, Pashtuns and Brahvis contain many similarities to each other.
Men wear loose shalwar and knee long shirt accompanied by a turban and women wear an embroidery filled shirt embedded with round mirrors. Traditional Pashto music is the most popular one and the ever famous dances; Attan and Khatak not only represents Quetta but they have become an integral part of Pakistan’s culture.
Balochi mirror and the Pashtun embroidery are their handicraft specialties which are not only popular in the country, local Pashtun items are also imported to western countries.
Institutes In Quetta
Quetta has many well recognized institutions like:
- University of Balochistan
- Balochistan Univeristy of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITAMS)
- Federal Government (FG) Degree College
- Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s Univeristy
- Agriculture Institute
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Due to its rich soil, Quetta is known for its wide range of tasteful fruits. These delicious fruits are not only popular in the country but also abroad. Fruits include plums, peaches, apples, apricots, melons, water melons, cherries, olives, almonds and pistachios.
Mutton is the main component in Quetta’s cuisine. Kadi kebab, Lamb Roash and Balochi Saji are few of the most popular traditional dishes available around the city. The Roash, often called “Namkin” by the locals is present in both restaurants and in the outer parts of the city.
The people of Quetta are also famous for their drinks like kawa and doodh pati. The Kawa has a unique flavor served with lemon and ginger.
Filled with valleys and lakes all around the city, serving scenic views, Quetta certainly has many major attractions.
It was also known as the Sundeman Fort in the 18th century. The fort was built by the British as a military garrison for its strategic location. But after the partition, in 1976, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto named it Zhor. It is one of the most iconic sites of the city.
A lake in Urak Valley is one of the most beautiful tourist treasure present in Quetta. Hanna Lake provides a breath taking view, accompanied by the pine trees on one side and majestic mountains on the other side . A little further, the waters take on a tint of a greenish blue creating an astonishing contrast with the copper reddish hills.
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park
The name “Hazarganji”literally means “Of a thousand treasures”. It is a national park with an area of 1315 km2 and an altitude raging from 2,021 to 3,264 metres (5,625 to 10,700 feet), located on the outskirts of Quetta. The park provides habitation to ibexes and Markhors.
Filled with thousands of fruit orchards, Pishin Valley is located 50km away from Quetta. The area flaunts its green beauty with spectacular views. Pishin Valley is also known to be a primary place for the production of fruits and vegetables. In the valley, there is also a man made lake called Bund Khushdil Khan which is 5km long and 2km wide.
One cannot go to Quetta and not visit Ziarat; a valley filled with spectacular views and places like the Sandman Tangi waterfall. However, this is not the only reason behind Ziarat’s popularity; the residency of our founder, Quaid-e-Azam is present here where he spent his last 2 months and 10 days. The Quiad-e-Azam Residency is a very famous landmark of the city and is open to all.
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