Makran Coastal Highway Attractions

Makran Coastal Highway Attractions

Makran Coastal Highway Attractions

The Makran Coastal Highway in Balochistan, also known as National Highway 10 (N-10), is a 653 km metal road connecting the western provinces of Sindh with southern Balochistan and running mostly along the Arabian Sea coast. Before the construction of this gorgeous highway, it would take about two days to travel along the unpaved road. With the construction of the coastal highway, the travel time has now been reduced to about 6-7 hours. The highway is decked with unique tourist attractions including serene beaches, natural mud formations, and flora & fauna in Hingol National Park. Major Makran Coastal Highway Attractions are:

Zero Point

Zero Point of Makran Coastal Highway

Zero PointThe Zero Point is located about 125km northwest of Karachi. From this particular point, the road branches off northward to the Baluchistan mainland via RCD Highway and westward to Gwadar via N10 Makran Coastal Highway. Cellular networks stop working from this particular point onwards to Gwadar. A replica of the Princess of Hope is displayed at the junction and there are a few local restaurants and tuck shops providing local food, tea, and cookies. A Masjid besides the restaurant with an outside bathroom facility is a great convenience for travelers.

Hingol National Park

Makran Coastal Highway Attractions
Hingol National Park

Hingol National Park stretches over an area of 1,650 square km along the Makran coast in southwestern Balochistan and contains a variety of topographic features. It is one of the largest national parks in Pakistan and was established in 1988. The park has some 250 plant species, 35 species of mammals, 65 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 185 species of birds.

Hingol Mud Volcanoes

Chandragup Mud Volcanoes
Hingol Mud Volcanoes

The Hingol mud volcanoes, also called Chandragup Mud Volcanoes, are located about 200 km west of Karachi and about 8 kilometers off the main Coastal Highway leading from Lasbela to Gwadar. The unique construction of all the muddy hills and statues in the Hingol National Park displays artwork of these mud volcanoes constantly erupting with clay. The site has a total of 21 volcanoes including 3 major mud volcanoes. The site is also a sacred Hindu worship place. Only the locals may provide guidance on the exact location.

 Hinglaj Mandir

Hindu Sacred Place
Hinglaj Mata Mandir

Hinglaj Mandir or Hinglaj Mata is a Hindu temple in Hinglaj town in the middle of the famous Hingol National Park on the Makran coast. It is also named Hinglaj Devi or Nani Mandir considered one of the oldest temples in the world and an important place of pilgrimage for the Hindu community in Sindh. The Mandir is located in a narrow gorge on the west bank of the Hingol River about 19 km inland from the Arabian Sea on the coastal highway, 250 km to the northwest of Karachi, at the end of Keerthar Hill range in the Makran Desert stretch. Unlike other shrines having manmade images, the Hinglaj Mandir has a small shapeless stone smeared with Sindoor (Vermilion) in a small natural cave which is worshipped as Hinglaj Mata.

Kund Malir Beach

Makran Coastal Highway Attractions
Kund Malir Beach

Kund Malir is one of the serene beaches located in Hingol National Park, some 145 km from Zero Point, and around 270 km from Karachi. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in this world. However lacking the basic facilities like hotels, restaurants, fuel stations, and cellular network, it still is worth visiting with a really calm peaceful, and soothing environment. Apart from Kund Malir, there are long stretches of Arabian Sea beaches along the Coastal Highway which turns this long ride into a driving delight.

Golden Beach

Makran Coastal Highway Attractions
Golden Beach

The Golden beach (also called the Malan beach named after nearby Ras Malan wetlands) is in the coastal area of Ras Malan and is located about 2km from Kund Malir Beach. Golden Beach is comparatively less explored by tourists due to the limited facilities and steep gradient towards the beach from the main Makran Coastal Highway. Besides an important habitat for Green Turtles that specifically come to Golden Beach to hatch on the coast, the Golden beach wetlands provide refuge and wintering grounds to more than 50 species of migratory birds including Cranes, Seagulls, Pelicans, Plovers, Lapwings, Flamingos, Herons, Egrets, Stints, Shanks, Coots, Curlews, Falcons, Sandpipers, Godwits, and Osprey, etc. The beach was named “Golden Beach” owing to the color of the golden sand it has immense potential for eco-tourism.

Princess of Hope

Makran Coastal Highway Attractions
Princess of Hope

 

princess of hope was not discovered until the Hollywood actress Angelina Julie visited the area in 2002 and named the naturally carved rock formation “Princess of Hope”. The standing lady is a fascinating natural mud structure in Hingol National Park that appears to be a masterpiece of a skilled artisan. It is located about 275 km from Karachi and can easily be sighted while traveling on the Makran Coastal Highway. God knows for how long it has been standing there bearing all kinds of weather conditions.

The Sphinx

The Sphinx
The Sphinx

About 150 km from the Zero Point of Makran Coastal Highway and about 280 km from Karachi, past Kund Malir beach, the Sphinx-like structure is another natural formation. The coast of Makran mostly constitutes of muddy hills with very fast winds blowing year round. These fast-blowing winds cut through the muddy hills resulting in the formation of natural structures like the standing lady (Princess of Hope) or sphinx. The Sphinx is largely associated with Egypt, which were carved shapes as Egyptian goddesses. The Natural Sphinx is although not as sharply shaped as the Sphinx in Egypt, however, the structure is worth seeing.

Ormara Beach

Ormada Beach
Ormara Beach

Ormara Beach is located between Karachi and Gwadar on the Makran Coastal Highway – about 360 km west of Karachi and 230 km east of Gwadar. Ormara basically was the name given to the town and then to the beach by one of the generals of Alexander the Great called “Ormoz” who died here when Alexander the Great and his army stayed there on their way back after conquering Sindh, Punjab, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces of modern-day Pakistan in 326 BC. Ormara has one of the most pristine beaches on the Makran Coast with the best sunrise and sunset views. The beach is located very close to the highway and Ormara has the only tourist-class facility for accommodation at the Haft Talar tourist resort. The resort, overlooking the wide stretch of the beach, provides several outdoor facilities including concerts, sports, bird-watching, camping, and much more besides boarding and lodging.

Pasni

Pasni is an important small town and a fishing port at the Arabian Sea, off the main Coastal Highway, 40km to the coastal area about 100km short of Gwadar. Its significance relates to the discovery of rock formations including the ancient ruins of the Harappan era and the presence of antique Hindu temples, and proofs of Alexander’s passing the coastal belt.

Astola Island

Astola Island
Astola Island

About 25 km south of the nearest part of the coast and 39 km southeast of the fishing port of Pasni is a small uninhabited island called Astola Island or Jazira Haft Talar. It is known to be the largest offshore Island measuring 6.7 km long and 2.3 km wide, and 246 ft above sea level. The Island is accessible by motorboat in about 5 hrs or by helicopter. It is a popular eco-tourism destination with no lodging facilities on the Island. Anyone planning for an overnight stay must carry a tent and food. The Island is famous for scuba diving, fishing, and observing turtle breeding.

Gwadar

Gwadar
Gwadar

The term Gwadar is a combination of two Balochi words Gwat (meaning the wind) and Dar (meaning Gateway) thus Gwadar means “The gateway of wind”. There is a slightly different concept that suggests that the word Gwadar was derived from “Gedrosia” which was the ancient name of Balochistan given by the Greeks to the arid area making up the southern part of Balochistan.

Gwadar today is a port city on the southernmost coast of Balochistan at the Arabian Sea near the border with Iran located to the east of the Persian Gulf and opposite Oman. However, historically, the city and environs were possessions of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman from 1783 until Prince Karim Aga Khan purchased it on September 8, 1958, and presented it to Pakistan. Pakistan assumed the territory on December 8, 1958, and integrated into Balochistan Province on July 01, 1970, as Gwadar District. It used to be a medium-sized settlement of a fishing community.

In 2015 Pakistan and China announced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as part of One Belt One Road.

Jiwani

Jiwani is a town and commercial port strategically located in the Gwadar District along the Gulf of Oman some 80 km west of Gwadar city and 34 km east of the Iranian border. With an estimated population of 25000, the town making up the eastern end of Gwadar Bay duly shared between Pakistan and Iran and the area around the bay constitutes an important mangrove forest that habitats a wide variety of wildlife. The town is also adjacent to the shipping lanes and has a small naval base and a 5500 ft runway. The town was used in WWII as an airfield and there is Victoria Hut built for Queen Victoria who planned to visit the area to watch the sunset. It is still not confirmed whether Queen Victoria visited or not but the Victoria Hut is still maintained.

Recommendations

The journey from Karachi to Gwadar is long enough without any proper shops, fuel stations, cellular connection or other provisions. Careful planning is very important before undertaking a journey along the Coastal Highway. Here are some recommendations.

  1. Start as early in the morning as possible to make it to Gwadar on time.
  2. Top up the fuel tank in Karachi and refuel at the Hub fuel station as there is no fuel station on the way.
  3. Keep basic tools and extra tires. Make sure the wheels are in good condition.
  4. Make necessary calls before Zero Point, mobile signals recede beyond Zero Point.
  5. Kund Malir Beach (Agor) and Ormara beach are major stopovers on the way.
  6. Keep enough water, cookies, dry/fresh fruit, etc as reserve stock during travel.
  7. Make a hotel reservation in advance.

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