Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan had been a geopolitically and strategically important city in every era under the rule of different empires like Mughals in 1543, Hotak dynasty in 1709, Durrani empire in 1747, British Raj in 1828 and now for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan since 1947. The city has an area of 178 km square with a number of fruit gardens and patriotic Pashtun, Baloch, Hazara, and Urdu speaking ethnicities. 

The first European visited Quetta in 1828, describing it as a mud-walled fort surrounded by three hundred mud houses. Due to its beautiful streets, multi-story buildings and peaceful environment the city was known as “Little London” before the 1935 earthquake that almost completely destroyed  Quetta’s infrastructure with more than 40,000 casualties. 

In this article, you will get to see  7 amazing pictures of Quetta also known as the fruit garden of Balochistan, before the earthquake of 1935. 


  1. Quetta in 1880

This is one of the oldest pictures of Quetta in 1880. This is a general view of the Cantt taken during the second Anglo-Afghan war (1878-80). The picture depicts that the city was sparsely populated with a few houses covered by mountains from all directions.  Quetta is also known as a mountain-ringed city as four mountains Murdar in the East, Zarghoon in the North, Chiltan in the South and Takatu in the West surrounding the town from all directions. 


  1. Quetta Cantonment in 1889

Quetta lying to the north of Balochistan near Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Chaman, had been an important strategic location for military purposes. This is the picture of Quetta Cantt in 1889 where you can see some people busy in construction work. Moreover, the picture reflects an old infrastructure of British era under the use of armed forces. It was necessary for Britains to have a highly armed equipped Cantonment to deal with any uproar in the area leaving inductive effect over Afghanistan and the former United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). Quetta Cantt is one of the most beautiful cantonments throughout Pakistan and still has the old arsenal depots of British Raj. 


  1. Sandeman Memorial Hall Quetta in 1900 

It is a rare picture of Sandeman Memorial Hall of Quetta in 1900 which was destroyed in the deadly 1935 earthquake. This earthquake destroyed the whole changing its infrastructure but was soon rebuilt. The hall was built in the honour of Sir Robert Sandeman, the British administrator in 1900. The purpose of making this hall was to bring together the province’s various tribal leaders for negotiations and reconciliation of disputes between them and the Government. Moreover, this hall was also famously known as Taj Mahal of Balochistan due to its appearance. 


  1. Tribal Leaders and people of Balochistan leaving Sandeman Memorial Hall in 1925 

This historic picture shows that the tribal leaders of both Pashtun and Baloch ethnicities are leaving Sandeman Memorial Hall after meeting with Sir Robert Sandeman, the administrator of British Balochistan in 1925. In order to maintain their government, the British used to chose some selected tribal chieftains from all the areas of the province who were given full powers in their respective areas. Mr Nazar Muhammad Tareen and Mr Muhaidin Shah were their close allies from Pishin district. 


  1. Civil Hospital Quetta in 1910 

The image is of Civil Hospital Quetta in 1910. It is also called as Sandeman hospital as it was named in the honor of Sir Robert Sandeman. As Balochistan has a large area and is sparsely populated, hence the British government made this hospital in Quetta to treat ill people. People from all parts of the province still come here for treatment and it’s one of the largest government hospitals in the province.


  1. Quetta Railway Station in 1890

This image was taken in 1890 where the railway station and scores of passengers and people can be seen. Some horse carts can also be seen waiting for the passengers to come. Construction of Railway network was also one of the key factors behind maintaining its influence in the region as the railway can easily take troops to any area where there is unrest. People used to travel from Quetta till Mumbai via this railway. 


  1. Staff College in 1910

The historical military college, Command and Staff College of Quetta located near Hanna Urak is shown in this picture in 1910, three years after its construction. This college was shifted from Deolali, a place near Mumbai, India to Quetta in 1907 where the armed commissioned officers are passed out. It still has students from various parts of the world.  Among its notable alumni are field marshals Archibald Wavell, Bernard Montgomery, Claude Auchinleck and William Slim of UK, Thomas Blamey of Australia, and Sam Manekshaw and KM Cariappa of India. 

 

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The author hails from Quetta and contributes to Express Tribune, Balochistan Stars and Baloch Express. He can be reached on Twitter @YStorai

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