The name Quetta is derived from the world “Kuwetta” which means a fort and, no doubt, it is a natural fort surrounded as it is by imposing hills on all sides. The encircling hills have the resounding names of Chiltan, Takatoo, Murdar and Zarghun.
The main thoroughfare and the commercial centre of Quetta is Jinnah Road, where the Tourist Information Centre of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation as well as the banks, restaurants and handicraft shops are located. Shahrah-e-Zarghun runs parallel to Jinnah Road. It is a long boulevard lined with trees. Many important buildings like the Governor’s House, Post, and Telecommunication Offices are located along Zarghoon Road.
Quetta is connected to the rest of the country by road, rail and air. The highway connects it to Karachi and then on (via Koh-e-Taftan) to Tehran, Iran, 1435 kms away. The road to Sibi connects it with Punjab and upper Sindh. The road via Loralai – Fort Monro -D.G. Khan and Multan is a shorter route for Punjab. The Chaman Road is a link between the country and the Afghan border. Quetta is linked by PIA with Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
What To Buy?
Local handicrafts, specially green marble products, mirror work and embroidered jackets, shirts, and hand bags, pillow covers, bed sheets, dry fruits, etc.
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 colourful handicrafts, particularly Balochi mirror work embroidery which is admired all over the world, carpets, with their pleasing and intricate designs, fur coats, jackets, waist-coats, sandals and other creations of traditional Balochi skills.
In the old bazaars one comes across quaint old teashops. These are the local “clubs”. There are also many popular eating-houses offering different types of delicacies. Among the delicacies you must try “Saji” (leg of lamb), which is roasted to a delightful degree of tenderness and is not very spicy. The tribesmen of the valley also enjoy “Landhi” (whole lamb), which is dried in shade and kept for the winters. “Kabab” shops are very popular. Some of the finest mutton in the country is raised around Quetta. It has an apetising smell, which can be sampled in the “Pulao”.
The Archaeological Museum at Fifa Road 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 Museum is open from 9 am to 3 pm daily.
The Geological Museum on 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.
Parks, Library And View Point
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.
Hazarganji Chiltan National Park
In the Hazarganji Chiltan National Park, 20 kms southwest of Quetta, Markhors have been given protection. The park is spread over 32,5000 acres, altitude ranging from 2000 to 3200 meters. Hazarganji literally means “Of a thousand treasures”. In the folds of these mountains, legend has it, there are over a thousand treasures buried, reminders of the passage of great armies down the corridors of history. The Bactrains, Scythians, Mongols and then the great migrating hordes of Baloch, all passed this way.
Markhor, Of Which There Are Five Distinct Kinds, Is The National Animal Of Pakistan. The Kind That Is Photographed The Most Often Is The Chiltan Markhor, Which Because Of Its Long Horns Looks Very Conspicuous. Ever Since The Markhor Has Been Given Protection Its Number Has Multiplied. Other Animals In The Park Are Straight Horned Markhors, “Gad” (Wild Sheep) And Leopards Which Occasionally Migrate To The Park From Other areas, wolves, striped hyena, hares, wild cats and porcupines.
Many birds like partridge, warblers, shikras, blue rock pigeon, rock nuthatch, red gilled choughs, golden eagle, sparrow, hawks, falcons and bearded vultures are either found here or visit the park in different seasons.
Reptiles like monitor and other wild lizards, geckos, Afghan tortoise, python, cobra, horned viper and Levantine may also be seen in the park.
Amongst the flora of the Park are the 225 species of plants. Prominent are the pistachios, juniper, wild olive, wild ash and wild almond. Many shrubs like wild fig, barberry, wild cherry, makhi, etc., provide food and shelter to the foraging animals, birds and other life forms. Medicinal herbs like Epherda intermedia, gerardiana and nabro (densis) and Artemista (scoparia and martima) are also found in the park. There is a splash of colour in spring when most of the plants are in bloom.
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 kilometres inside the Park. For booking of Rest House and permit to visit the Park, please contact the Office of the Divisional Forest Officer, located on Spinney Road, Quetta. Transportation to the park can be arranged. There is no restaurant but cooking facility is arranged on request. 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.
Karkhasa is a recreation Park situated at distance of 10 kms to the west of Quetta. It is a 16 kms long narrow valley having a variety of flora like Ephedra, Artimisia 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.
Excursions From Quetta
The Urak Valley is 21 kms from Quetta City. The road is lined on either side with wild roses and fruit orchards, peaches, plums, apricots and apples of many varieties are grown in this valley.
A little short of the place where the Urak Valley begins and 10 kms from Quetta, is the Hanna Lake, where benches and pavilions on terraces have been provided. Golden fish in the lake comes swimming right upto the edge of the lake. 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 greenish-blue waters of the lake provide a rich contrast to the sandy brown of the hills in the background. One can promenade on the terraces. Wagon service to the lake operates from city bus station at Circular Road.