Khewra is a huge salt mine in Pakistan, which produces about 325,000 tons of salt every year, and attracts thousands of tourists by its breathtaking beauty. It is the second largest salt mine in the world.
Khewra is believed to be discovered by the horse of Alexander the Great. In 326 BC, Alexander the Great and his army decided to stop for a rest in the area. Alexander's horse started licking the stones ont the ground, and the other horses joined in. One of the soldiers noticed that the horses were behaving strangely, he tried to taste a piece of a rock and discovered that it was salt.
This mine covers an area of 110 square kilometers, with long tunnels running into the mountain with salt deposits. Since everything in the mine consists of salt, only half of it is being mined, the other half serves as a support to prevent the mine ceiling from collapsing.
Every year, about 40,000 tourists visit this deposit to admire a palette of pink, red, white and transparent salt rocks, as well as see some of the local miniature creations carved out of salt. There are salt versions of Great Wall of China, the Mall road of Murree, Lahore's Shimla hill, a small Badshahi minaret and a long salt bridge, Pul-Saraat - an obvious reference to the bridge that one must cross on Judgment Day, and many more. Those sculptures are made of salt of different colors, and are lighted electrically.
Khewra mine even has its own post office built out of salt – the only one in the world. It is also believed that the mines can cure your asthma, and some people go there specifically for that.
The history of the mine was not always a happy one. After the British took over the mine in 1849, the working conditions for local miners became unbearable – men and women were often locked in the mines until they meet the set goals. Many women gave birth in the darkness of the mines. Twelve minors were shot dead, and their graves near the entrance still remind every visitor about those days.
For the tourists' convenience there is a small hotel nearby and an electric railway to take you around the mines.
Gallery: The salt mines of Khewra