Gwadar is a developing port city in Balochistan which is situated on the southwestern coast of Pakistan on the Arabian Sea. Gwadar is strategically located between three increasingly important regions: the oil-rich Middle East, heavily populated South Asia and the economically emerging and resource-laden region of Central Asia. Gwadar is the location of the Gwadar Port, a warm-water, deep sea port.
The Makran region, surrounding Gwadar, was occupied by an ancient bronze age people who settled near a few oasis. It later became the Gedrosia region of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. It is believed to have been conquered by the founder of the Persian empire, Cyrus the Great. During the homeward march of Alexander the Great, his admiral, Nearchus, led a fleet along the modern-day Makran coast and recorded that the area was dry, mountainous, and inhabited by the “Ichthyophagoi” (or “fish eaters”), an ancient Greek rendering of the ancient Persian phrase “Mahi Khoran” (which has itself become the modern word “Makran”). After the collapse of Alexander’s empire, the area was ruled by Selecus Nicator, one of Alexander’s generals. The region then came under “local rule” around about 303 BC.
The region remained on the sidelines of history for a millennium, until the Arab-Muslim army of Muhammad bin Qasim captured the town of Gwadar in 711 AD. Then the area was contested by various powers, including the Mughals (from the east) and the Safavids (from the west).
The Portuguese captured, sacked and burnt Gwadar in 1581 and this was then followed by almost two centuries of local rule by the various Balochi tribes. The city was visited by Ottoman Admiral Seydi Ali Reis in 1550s and mentioned in his book Mirat ul Memalik (the Mirror of Countries), 1557. According to Seydi Ali Reis, the inhabitants of Gwadar were Baloch and their chief was Malik Jelaledin, son of Malik Dinar. In 1783, the Khan of Kalat granted suzerainty over Gwadar to Taimur Sultan, the defeated ruler of Muscat. When the Sultan subsequently retook Muscat, he was to continue his rule in Gwadar by appointing a wall (or “governor”). The Gwadari fort was built during Omani rule, whilst telegraph lines were later extended into the town courtesy of the British.
Until 1958, Gwadar was part of Oman but was transferred to Pakistan on 8 September, 1958. The Gwadar enclave was actually sold to Pakistan (effective 8 December,1958. It was integrated into Balochistan on 1 July, 1977 and became a full sub-division of the Gwadar District. Gwadar’s location and history have given it a unique blend of inhabitants. The Arab influence on Gwadar is strong due to Omani rule and the close proximity of Arab regions. The presence of the Omani slave trade is felt in the town with people descended from African slaves who passed through the town. The area also has remarkable religious diversity, being home to Muslims, Christians etc.
The construction of the Gwdar port has spurred other major infrastructure projects in the area. This includes the 700km Makran Coastal Highway, which links Karachi with several ports along the coast including Ormara, Pasni, Gwadar and will be extended to the Iranian border in the future. The highway has reduced travel time to Karachi from 48 hours to only 7 hours which is a relief for tourists. Gwadar can be accessed by land, air and sea routes.
People visiting he area should know that Gwadar is a dry, arid and hot region. The oceanic influence keeps the temperature lower than that in the interior in summer and higher in winter. The man temperature in the hottest month (June) remains between 31 centigrade to 19 centigrade. The mean temperature in the coolest month (January) varies from 18 centigrade to 19 centigrade. The uniformity of temperature is a unique characteristic of the coastal region in Balochistan. Occasionally, winds moving down the Balochistan plateau bring brief cold spells, otherwise the winter is pleasant.
Places of Interest in Gwadar
Gwadar Port- The Gwadar port, which is still being developed, is the gem of Gwadar. The amount of revenue it will generate and the job it has and will create has been of a great benefit to the region. People’s Republic of China has made splendid contribution in this project.
Hingol National Park- Cruising on the coastal highway, approximately 190km from Karachi, you will come across Hingol National Park. You can observe wildlife in its natural habitat and there is even the natural underground Hingol river where you can swim.
Kund Malir Beach – A must see place. It is the beautiful desert beach near Hingol, some 145km from Zero-Point on Makran Coastal Highway. It lies next to the huge mountains and together they give a wild look to the place. Enjoy the desert safari and breathtaking view of the desert.
Buzi Pass- Travelling on the Makran costal highway about 6km away from Kund Malir, one would be struck by the sublime beauty of the smooth road of Buzi Pass as it snakes its way
through the mountain. Sitting in a car on the Buzi Pass, one can enjoy the vast blue water of the Arabian Sea on one side, then turn your head and marvel at the grandeur of majestic mountains on the other side. When you look at the lofty peaks along the coastal highway, you will observe the princes of hope and lion of Balochistan.
Ormara Beach- It is one of the most beautiful long beaches on the planet. Amazing blue green beaches, golden sand, and incredible natural beauty and fauna makes it worth a visit.
Things to do in Gwadar
Water Sports: Fun lovers can enjoy Jet Skis on West Bay, Wave Runners Machines can stir your imagination.
Scuba diving: You would be a seeing giant fishes, turtles, stingrays and other marine animals.
Boating: Various cruises are available. You may also travel on a traditional boat.
Desert Safari: The beautiful and minimally populated deserts of Balochistan can be explored by visitors.
Swimming: Swimming is allowed at various beaches in certain safe seasons.
Fishing: Gwadar has a thriving fishing industry with everything from lobsters to sharks being caught and visitors to the area can equally enjoy the excellent fishing.
Gwadar is fast emerging as an economically viable city with a lot of job opportunities and infrastructure development. Its strategic location, coupled with its development projects, will make it rise quickly into a hub of finance. Pakistan Government ha initiated several projects with the financial and technical assistance from China and other countries, to develop Gwadar’s strategic location as a goods transit and trade point. The primary project is the landlocked Central Asian states. The new port will also encompass conversion facilities to allow for the movement of natural gas. Gwadar will serve as a port of entry for oil, gas and other goods to be transported by land to the western regions of China and to other countries.
All these developments will lead to the rise of Gwadar and with that the opportunities for tourism will also rise. More and more people will be attracted to Gwadar and this beautiful region of Balochistan will no longer go unexplored.