Baluchistan

admin   January 27, 2015   Comments Off on Baluchistan

balochistan5One of the most exciting and exotic regions to explore in Pakistan is the Province of Baluchistan.Covering an area of 347190 sq. kms. it forms the largest province of Pakistan. It covers 44 percent of the land surface but has a population of only 4.5 million (around 4%); making it the least populated province of the country. About half of this population lives around Quetta, the provincial Capital of Baluchistan. To it’s north and west, thousands of kilometers of barren deserts and stark mountains form the borders with Iran and Southern Afghanistan while due east, it is divided from the rest of Pakistan by the Kirther and Sulaiman mountain ranges. Towards the south, along the Arabian Sea, stretch 600 kilometers of deserted sandy beaches of the Makran Coast. Most of Baluchistan lies outside the Monsoon System of weather therefore, the climate is extremely dry. The annual rainfall is of about 15 centimeters, and even less along the Makran Coast.

balochistan3In terms of physical geography, Baluchistan has more in common with Western Asia than with the Sub-Continent. It’s wild & mysterious vistas of arid waste-lands, great deserts, and formidable mountain ranges of amazing rock formations (dramatically contoured and twisted by the earth’s violent geological movements) make it an exotic and dramatic area to visit. It’s dry climate combined with the natural geographical features make it one of the most daunting environments for successful human habitation. Therefore, it is sparsely populated. Many observers think that the region resembles the surface of the moon.

Baluchistan is populated by a tribal society of Nomadic and semi-Nomadic tribes. The most important are the Brahvis, Baluchis and Pathans who speak Brahvi, Baluchi and Pushto respectively. The north east of this Province receives rain and snowfall which support juniper forests, cultivated land and orchards, producing apples, almonds, apricots, peaches and grapes. Most of the people in central Baluchistan lead semi-nomadic life herding sheep, goat and camels, while others are subsistence farmers and labourers working in Punjab and Sind during winter months. A small portion of Baluchis also work in the Arabian-Gulf States. Some areas of the South, near the Makran Coast, are famous for growing 300 different varieties of dates.

Archaeological discoveries have confirmed that Baluchistan has been inhabited from the Stone Age of 50,000 years ago. The important Neolithic excavation-site at “Mehargarh” (7000-3000 B.C.) is the oldest in the Sub-Continent. Archaeologists believe that as early as 6000 B.C.,  farmers in the Bolan Valley were cultivating barely and wheat, thereby becoming probably the earliest humans to domesticate sheep and buffalo. Recent archaeological discoveries in the Ketch and Rakshan Valleys of Baluchistan have pushed the known history of this region even further back; almost to 9000 B.C.

Trans-Pakistan offers various itineraries in this area both for Adventure and Cultural tours. For itineraries, prices and complete details please contact us.
Covering an area of 62,000 sq. kilometers, Makran forms the southern most strip of Baluchistan, the largest but least populated province of Pakistan. Its one of the 6 divisions of Baluchistan province having over 600 km. of coastline.

It is hard to envisage the vast wilderness of this remote area where miles and miles of virgin golden beaches stretch along the sea in bright sunshine and  blue skies during the winter months. As there is hardly any rain here, the few villages and settlements depend on spring water and wells.

The coast has several tiny fishing villages while main towns Gwadar, Ormara, Jiwani and Pasni have small fishing harbours where the fisherman can be seen coming in with their catch every morning and evening. Gwadar, Pasni, Ormara, Jiwani, Turbat and Panjgur all have airports connecting them with Karachi and Quetta.

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Perhaps no part of Baluchistan has figured so largely in ancient annals as Makran. From ancient times it has held a historically strategic position as the most direct route between the Middle East and the riches of the Indian subcontinent.
HISTORY

Known to the ancients as Gedrosia, the Greeks are the first recorded visitors to Makran. At the end of his conquests in 325BC, Alexander the Great marched with his army through its harsh desert wastes suffering heavily due to shortages of both food and water. Earlier, only Semiramis and Cyrus are known to have tried to traverse Makran’s wastelands with an army but with devastating results.

According to the Greek historian Nearchos, Alexander did not take that route in ignorance of its difficulties, but that he chose it on learning that no one had yet traversed it with an army except Semiramis who escaped with only twenty men of all her army while even Cyrus, the son of Kambyses escaped with only seven soldiers. When Alexander heard these accounts, he was seized with an ambition to out- rival both Cyrus and Semiramis.

The Greeks never really exerted more than a nominal influence over this region and in 305 BC, Chandra Gupta defeated Alexander’s successor Seleucus Nicator and the region came under the control of the Mauryan Empire. Later the area fell under the Sassanian Dynasty and remained under their control till the end of the 6th century. Rai Chach of Sind who controlled the area for some time, followed them.

The Arabs controlled Makran from 7th century till the 10th century. For the next 7 centuries the region was under loose control of many foreign dynasties which followed one another in quick succession but their power was short lived.

Towards the beginning of the 16th century the Portuguese found their way to India and captured several places along the Makran coast. They never penetrated inland and were unable to establish anything more than heavily defended military bases at various points. In 1581 they destroyed Gwadar and Pasni by burning them to the ground. In the 18th century, Makran came under the control of the State of Kalat, which was ruled by Nasir Khan I.

It was not until the 19th century that the British got interested in this area during the time of the First Afghan War in 1838.  An expedition was sent into the area to pave way for the building of the Indo-European telegraph line, which passed through Makran. On its completion in 1863, Major Goldsmith was posted to Gwadar as Assistant Political Agent. In 1872 a firm boundary between Persia and British Baluchistan was established and Makran became a part of the British Empire. Later, after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, it became a part of Pakistan.

Most areas of Makran were closed to foreigners till a short time back and at the moment, most trips to these areas are of Exploratory nature as tourist infrastructure there is totally missing. But, this makes it all the more inviting for those with the Pioneering Spirit who are ready to rough it out for the sake of blazing New Trails into un-explored territories. Trans-Pakistan is privileged to be the first to offer Jeep-Safaris and Beach – Holiday Adventure Trips (with possibilities of Snorkeling and Fishing) covering most of these areas. Our team has reconnoitered the regions and has managed to get permissions to operate exploratory trips in this area.

The best time for these exciting journeys is from December to March. We offer Jeep-safaris of 7 to 24 days in the central and southern Baluchistan regions. Our aims for the near future are to offer Camel-safaris and Boat-Cruises along the fabulous Mekran Coast. You can choose a trip from the given Model Itineraries but for other options and complete details, itineraries and costs, please contact us.

Our country is full of pleasant surprises and unique features. The picture on the rigth is not the famous Egyptian Sphinx but one of countless natural formations and shapes created by mother nature in the amazing wilderness areas of Pakistan’s Makran Coast. Another unique feature discovered by Trans-Pakistan’s scouting team!.