A visit to Quetta is incomplete without a trip to Ziarat. Situated 133 kms (3 hours by car) from Quetta at an altitude of 2449 metres above sea level, Ziarat is a holiday resort amidst one of the largest and oldest Juniper forests in the world. It is said that some of the Juniper trees are as old as 5000 years.The name Ziarat means, “Shrine”. A local saint, Kharwari Baba, is believed to have rested in the valley and blessed it. After his death he was buried here. People frequently visit the saint’s shrine, which is 10 kms from Ziarat.
Extensive research is being made in the forest nurseries to replace the forest with other fast growing trees as the regeneration of the juniper is very slow. But that is also persured with great care.
Tourist season: All the year round, particularly from May to October.
Climate and Clothing
Ziarat is a hill station in the Sibi district of the province of Baluchistan. It remains quite cool during summer and receives enough snowfall during the winter. Light woolen clothing for summer and heavy for the winter are recommended.
The inhabitants are mainly Muslim. There are Pathans, Baluchis and Brahuis. Nomadic tribesmen also pass through the valleys around during spring and autumn with their families, herd of sleep and camels.
Pushto, Persian, Baluchi and Brahui are the local languages. Urdu and English are also spoken.
The women wear shalwar (baggy trouser) and long skirted shirts with a chadar ao Dopatta having embroidered and mirror work. The men wear shalwar, long shirts and waist coat with a turban on the head.
Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation has a Motel Complex with 18 comfortable rooms and cottages. Accommodation can be booked from the PTDC Offices in Quetta, Karachi and Islamabad. There are other comparatively inexpensive hotels in the town’s centre.
Forest And Orchards
Extensive research is being done in the forest nurseries to replace the juniper forest with fast growing trees, as the regeneration of the juniper is very slow.
The magic of Ziarat is its honey, its flowers which attain large size here, its lush green grass and cool weather even in the hottest months of summer, “Shinshoab”, a lavender like wild bush looks lovely in twilights. Over 4400 acres in an around Ziarat are under apple orchards. The apple grown in the orchards, particularly the black and red kulu variety are delicious. A fair amount of black cherry is also grown in Ziarat. The cherry season lasts from the 1st to 15th of June.
What to do?
Ziarat and the juniper valleys around offer good opportunity hiking and trekking. Various gorges also offer adventure and fun during the summer. It is also becoming popular for a taste of snow fall during the winter. Besides, the town itself offers hiking and trekking opportunities.
Between the ever-ascending hills and the deep ravine, there is a mile-long stretch of flat land ideal for a peaceful walk. This is the “Chashma Walk” which leads to the spring or a “Chashma” that provide water for the town. It is only 2 kms from the PTDC Motel Complex.
The view from Prospect Point is rewarding. It lies at a height of 2713 metres above sea level and is 6 kms from Ziarat. The road is metalled, but a walk is recommended. Once at the peak with wind whistling through the forest one can see the valley stretch out in undulating slopes in front. From a nearby cliff, one can clearly see the highest peak of these hills known as Khalefat, which rises to a height of 3487 metres. There is a small rest house situated nearby. Advance booking can be made through the office of Deputy Commissioner of Ziarat.
Shrine Of Baba Kharwari
The shrine of Baba Kharwari is 8 kms from Ziarat town. A member of Sarang Zai, his real name was Tahir. He became a disciple of Nana Sahib and a number of miracles are attributed to him. He is buried in a valley about 8 kms from Ziarat. A large number of people visit his shrine and offer sacrifices in his memory. During Eid festival, the tribesmen gather around the shrine and hold wrestling and marksmanship competitions.
Fourteen kms from Ziarat is the picturesque Zindra. Zindra derives its name from the Pushto word “Zindra” meaning “four grinding mills”. Zizree (16 kms) and Nauna Dam (20 kms) are also interesting places for an outing near Ziarat.
Quaid-e-Azam Residency with its lush green lawns, Chinar trees and flower gardens commands a striking view of the whole valley. It is of historical importance, as the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, stayed there during his last illness. It houses the relics of the Father of the Nation. The Residency was built in 1882 by the British and used by the Agent to the Governor General as his summer headquarters.
Balochistan is an arid land, which receives very low rainfall annually. But innumerable natural springs known as “Karez” and streams are found in most of areas. There are more than half a dozen gorges around Ziarat formed by natural “Karez” spring water falling through narrow opening amongst the mountain rocks producing a dramatic effect. The sound of waterfalls singing to the tune of solid rocks while passing through narrow gorges creates a mystic atmosphere. The famous gorges along the road to Ziarat are Chutair Tangi, Khan Tangi, Kawas Tangi, Fern Tangi and the Sandeman Tangi.
It lies 10 kms from Ziarat, off the main road to Quetta. A small waterfall formed by the mountain spring flows down. It is a 2 kms walk from the main road to the waterfall and is an ideal place for picnic.
It is just 4 kms from Ziarat. It is a dramatic waterfall cascading down the rocks and provides fun to the visitors.
Chutair Valley/Tangi After 13 kms from Ziarat on way to Loralai is the beautiful Chutair valley. It is a 30 minutes drive to Chutair from Ziarat. There are green picnic spots in the valley. There is also a rest house in case one wants to stay longer. The crude and rustic huts made with the bark of juniper trees in which the inhabitants of the area live, are strikingly different from dwellings in other villages. Nearby is Chutair Tangi which is worth visiting.