The main centre of mining is Khewra in the Salt Range where the world's largest salt mines are located. Khewra salt mines are 154 kms away from Rawalpindi. The route is Mandra-Dudyal-Chakwal-Bhaun-Choa Saidan Shah-Khewra. A longer route is through Kallar Kahar-Katas. The nearest hotel accommodation is at TDCP resort Kallar Kahar. For permit to visit the mines and to book the accommodation at the PMDC Rest House at Khewra, you may contact their office in Islamabad at Plot No.13, H-9 (Manager Salt Tel: 250928-30) through PTDC Tourist Information Centres in Rawalpindi or Islamabad, at least 4 days in advance.
Rock Salt was already in use of the local population when in 326 BC, Alexander of Macedonia and his army camped along the Jehlum river about 35-40 kilometers away from Khewra waiting to fight a battle with Raja Porus across the river. Alexander's horses started lick the rocks and thus the Greeks came to know about the Rock Salt deposits in this area. Since then, mining was done by the local Janjua tribes till the arrival of British in 1849. But it was not done on a scientific manner. The Salt was taken from the outcrop of the salt seams exposed to the surface of the hill. Dr. Warth, a British Mining Engineer laid out the main tunnel at ground level in 1872 to have an easy and direct access to the salt deposits, using Pillar and Chamber Method. The method of mining introduced by Dr. Warth is still in practice. Only 50% of salt is excavated from the working seam while the remaining 50% is left there as Pillars for support of the mine.
Khewra Salt Mines are the 2nd largest Rock Salt Mines in the world with estimated total of 220 million tones of rock salt deposits. Today, Khewra Salt Mines produce around 325,000 tons salt per annum. Out of this production, around 220,000 to 240,000 tones is supplied to Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) Soda Ash Khewra, which was established in 1938. Rock Salt is also supplied to Ittehad Chemicals Ltd. Kala Shah Kaku and a number of other industries. Selected quality Rock Salt is supplied to dealers for animal and human consumption. A reasonable quantity of salt is also exported to many countries including India. Decoration pieces like lamps, vases, ashtrays etc. are also made and exported from Khewra Rock Salt.
Khewra Salt Mines As A Tourist Attraction
A reception/briefing hall with ticket desk, restroom, toilet facilities, parking area restaurant and souvenir shop, have been provided outside the mine area. A walkway from the reception area to the mouth of the mine has also been constructed. Services of a mines guide are also provided. Proper lighting arrangements have been made inside the mines and the electric trolley train takes the visitors inside the mines. Restaurant facilities are also available inside the mines opposite the, "Sheesh Mahal".
Visiting Hours & Entry Fee
The mines remain open for tourists from 9 am to 6 pm daily (including Sunday and gazetted holidays). Foreign tourists are charged US$ 6 per person (or equivalent in Pak. Rupees) and Pakistanis are charges Rs.30 per person. There is a 50% discount for students and children. Trolley Charges are additional Rs.20 per person. There is also a parking fee ranging from Rs.10 to Rs.50 per vehicle (depending upon the type/capacity of vehicle).