Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Pakistan through the eyes of a train traveller

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When the first train pulled into Quetta in March 1887, it did not roll the way they do today up the stony bends of the Bolan Pass. Instead, the line struck north from Sibi into the 160-kilometre-long meandering gorge of the Nari River through the sulphur-stained badlands of Gandakeen Aaf (sulphur water in Balochi) past such evocative names as Tanduri that is still famous for its furnace summer heat and into the cool highlands of Harnai and Shahrag. In those days when the Great Game had reached a frenzied pitch, the line that dreamed of reaching Kandahar was called the Kandahar State Railway.

Northwest of Harnai lay Khost and beyond it the dramatic yawning maw of the Chhappar Rift. But the rift is a tale of glorious achievement and woe so far as railway engineers of that time were concerned. Suffice it to say that it was put out of service by a summer rainstorm in July 1942. By then the line through the Bolan Pass was in place and passenger trains entering the Nari Gorge went only as far as Khost while coal trains trundled on another 15 kilometres to the mines of Zardalu.
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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days