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Quetta is the capital of Balochistan province in Pakistan. If you are taking the overland route from Istanbul, Turkey to New Delhi, India without going through Afghanistan you will have to pass through Quetta. Quetta is an excellent base for exploration of Balochistan. Kan Mehtarzai (2224 meters), the highest railway station in Asia, is a two-hour drive away. Loralai, the almond bowl of the country, is 265 km away. Besides, there are numerous other valleys that are fascinating places for explorers. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Quetta
If you want to enjoy an excursion near the city, you can visit to Hanna Lake. It is in the hills overlooking Quetta, approximately 10 km from the city and very close to the Urak, where benches and pavilions on terraces have been provided. Golden fish in the lake come swimming right up to the edge. A little distance away, the waters of the lake take on a greenish blue tint. Right where the water ends, pine trees have been planted on the grass filled slopes. The turquoise water of lake is a stark contrast to the brownish-green hills that surround the area.
Wagon service operates from city bus station at Circular Road. The transport can be hired through the PTDC Tourist Information Centre, Muslim Hotel, Jinnah Road Quetta.
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park
Hazarganji literally means "Of a thousand treasures". In the folds of these mountains, legend has it, that, there are over a thousand treasures buried, reminders of the passage of great armies down the corridors of history. The Bactrian, Scythians, Mongols and then the great migrating hordes of Pashtuns, all passed this way.
In the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, 20 km southwest of Quetta, Markhors have been given protection. The park is spread over 32, 5000 acres, altitude ranging from 2000 to 3200 meters.
Nature lovers, students, scientists and researchers are welcome to visit the park at any time of the year. For overnight stay, accommodation is available at the Forest Department Rest House located five kilometers inside the Park.
Park Rangers help the visitors to see animals. Access trails have been developed in the park for visitors. A small museum of natural history is located near the Park entrance.
It is a waterfall and picnic point located 70kms from the City Center on Sibi road
Located 10kms west of Quetta
- The Archaeological Museum, Fifa Road. Open 9AM-3PM daily.
Has a collection of rare antique guns, swords and manuscripts. It has a display of Stone Age tools, prehistoric pottery and articles found from Mehrgarh. There are also coins, manuscripts and photos of Quetta before 1935 earthquake.
- The Geological Museum, Sariab Road (near Balochistan University). Has a collection of rocks and fossils found in Balochistan. The Command and Staff College Museum is worth a visit for those interested in British military history. It is housed in the former bungalow of Field Marshal Montgomery.
Amusement and Recreation
The Askari Park at the Airport Road and Liaquat Park on Shahrah-e-Iqbal offer amusement and recreational facilities. Balochistan Arts Council Library is located on Jinnah Road. The Chiltan Hill viewpoint on Brewery Road offers a panoramic view of Quetta. Karkhasa is a recreation Park situated at distance of 10 km to the west of Quetta. It is a 16 km long narrow valley having a variety of flora like Ephedra, Artemisia and Sophora. One can see birds like partridges and other wild birds in the park. Limited recreational facilities are provided to the visitors through the Forest Department, Spinney Road, Quetta.
Popular events in Quetta in the near future
Quetta is 1,680 meters (5,500 feet) above sea level and enjoys a healthy climate. The temperature drops a few degrees below the freezing point in winter following a typical autumn when the leaves turn golden and then a wild red.
Quetta can rightly be called the fruit basket of Pakistan. Plums, peaches, pomegranates, apricots, apples, guavas (locally called zaitoon), some unique varieties of melon like "Garma" and "Sarda" and cherries, pistachios and almonds are all grown in abundance. Some pistachios also grow in Qila Saif Ullah. Saffron grows very well and is being cultivated on a commercial scale. Tulips are an indigenous flower of Pakistan. The yellow and red varieties of tulip grow wild around Quetta.
There are religious and social festivals celebrated by the people of Quetta. Two major religious festivals are Eid-ul-Azha and Eid-ul-Fiter. On these festivals people adorn their houses, wear new dresses, cook special dishes and visit each other. Eid-Meladun-Nabi is another religious festival. It is a celebration of the Holy Prophet’s P.B.U.H birthday.
Numerous colorful social festivals are also source of jubilation. Sibi festival that traces its roots to Mehrgarh, an archeological site of ancient human civilization, attracts people from across the country. It is attended by common folk, ministers and other government officials. Folk music performances, cultural dances, handicrafts stalls, cattle shows and a number of other amusing activities present a perfect riot of color. Buzkashi is a peculiar festival showing the valor of Pashtun people. It is celebrated on horseback by two teams that use their skills to snatch a goat from each other.
In the old bazaars one comes across quaint old tea-shops. These are the local "clubs". There are also many popular eating houses offering different types of delicacies. Among the delicacies you must try is Sajji (leg of lamb), which is roasted to a delightful degree of tenderness and is not very spicy. It is a whole leg of lamb deliciously marinated in local herbs and spices and barbecued beside an open fire. It is very popular among the locals and is offered with great insistence to the guests. The Pathan tribesmen of the valley also enjoy Landhi (whole lamb) and Khadi Kebab. “Landhi” is a whole lamb which is dried in shade and kept for the winters. "Kebab" shops are very popular, the best being Lal Kebab, Tabaq, Cafe Farah and Cafe Baldia. They serve Pakistani and Continental food. The Chinese restaurant that is one of the oldest in town is CAFE CHINA. Some of the finest mutton in the country is raised around Quetta. It has a delicious smell which can be sampled in the Pulao that most of the eating houses offer.
There is famous Lehri Sajji house and Mir Afzal Karahi at Jinnah Road. The most famous is the Khadi kebab which is just behind the street at Liaquat Bazaar
The Pashtun people are also very famous for their refreshing green tea and Dood Pati shops
Very few places can compete with Quetta valley in having wide range of tasteful fruits, exported to all parts of the country as well as abroad. There you can find plums, peaches, pomegranates, apricots, apples, olives, different types of melon, water-melon, cherries, pistachios, almonds and other dry fruits. Saffron and tulip are also grown and cultivated on a commercial scale. The fruits heaven is Urak, called SAMARISTAN meaning the land of fruits in Persian.
- Being an Islamic country, Alcohol is banned but is available for non Muslims. None of the hotels have bars, though at some alcohol can be ordered as room service.
There is a liquor store on the main street though it's difficult to find (it's best to ask your hotel, which should be able to provide directions).
- Quetta is well-known for its Kawa (Green Tea) and Shere Chai also known as Dood Pati Chai. Kawa has a unique flavor, and is usually served sweet, lemon and ginger powder are optional tastmakers.
- Sharbat-e-Sandal is a sweet, non-carbonated drink unusually found in markets in summer. It has a good taste and a yellowish-green transparent colour - look out for the black seeds. Served ice cold.
Local handicrafts, specially green marble products, mirror work and embroidered jackets, shirts, and hand bags, pillow covers, bed sheets, dry fruits, etc.
The main bazaar is on Jinnah Road. Prominent bazaars of Quetta are located on Shahrah-e-Iqbal (Kandahari Bazaar) and Shahrah-e-Liaqat (Liaqat Bazaar and Suraj Gang Bazaar). Here you can find colorful handicrafts, particularly Balochi mirror work and Pashtun embroidery which is admired all over the world. The Pashtun workers are prominently expert in making fine Afghani carpets, with their pleasing and intricate designs, fur coats, jackets, waist-coats, sandals and other creations of traditional Pashtun skills.
Balochi carpets are made by the nomadic tribes of this area. They are generally not nearly as fine or expensive as the Persian city products, or even the Turkoman tribal rugs from further North, but they are generally better than Afghan carpets and more authentic than the bad copies of Turkoman and Persian designs that the cites of Pakistan produce. They definitely have a charm of their own. They range from relatively crude rugs that can, with some bargaining, be had at very reasonable prices to quite fine and valuable pieces. Many are small enough to be fairly portable.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Quetta on Wikivoyage.