Bolan Pass

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Bolān Pass
Bolan Pass depicted on a 1910 advertisement card for Liebig Meat Extract Company
Elevation 1,793.4 m (5,884 ft)
Location Balochistan
Range Toba Kakar Range
Coordinates 29°45′N 67°35′E / 29.750°N 67.583°E / 29.750; 67.583

The Bolān Pass is a mountain pass through the Toba Kakar Range of Balochistan province in western Pakistan, 120 kilometres from the Afghanistan border.

Strategically located, traders, invaders, and nomadic tribes have also used it as a gateway to and from South Asia.[1] The Bolān Pass is an important pass on the Baluch frontier, connecting Jacobabad and Sibi with Quetta, which has always occupied an important place in the history of British campaigns in Afghanistan.

Traditionally, the Brahui of the Baluchi ethnic group are in charge of the law and order situation through the Pass area. This tribe is still living in present day Balochistan in Pakistan, and they still preserve their Dravidian Language.

In 1837, threatened by a possible Russian invasion of South Asia via the Khyber and Bolān Passes, a British envoy was sent to Kabul to gain support of the Emir, Dost Mohammed. In February 1839, the British Army under Sir John Keane took 12,000 men through the Bolān Pass and entered Kandahar, which the Afghan Princes had abandoned; from there they would go on to attack and overthrow Ghazni.

In 1883, Sir Robert Groves Sandeman negotiated with the Khan of Kalat, Khudadad Khan, and secured British control over the pass in exchange for an annual fee.[2]

Bolān Pass railway[edit]

Tank locomotive, built around 1907 for service on the Bolān Pass railway

From Sibi the line runs south-west, skirting the hills to Rindli, and originally followed the course of the Bolān stream to its head on the plateau. The destructive action of floods, however, led to the abandonment of this alignment, and the railway now follows the Mashkaf valley (which debouches into the plains close to Sibi), and is carried from near the head of the Mashkaf to a junction with the Bolān at Machh. An alternative route from Sibi to Quetta was found in the Harnai valley to the N.E. of Sibi, the line starting in exactly the opposite direction to that of the Bolān and entering the hills at Nari. The Harnai route, although longer, is the one adopted for all ordinary traffic, the Bolān loop being reserved for emergencies. At the Khundilani gorge of the Bolān route conglomerate cliffs, which rise to a height of 800 ft., enclose the valley. At Siri Bolān the passage between the limestone rocks hardly admits of three persons riding abreast. The temperature of the pass in summer is very high, whereas in winter, near its head, the cold is extreme, and the ice-cold wind rushing down the narrow outlet becomes destructive to life. Since 1877, when the Quetta agency was founded, the pass was secured by the British Indian Army from militias of Baluch tribesmen (chiefly Marris).

Coordinates: 29°45′N 67°35′E / 29.750°N 67.583°E / 29.750; 67.583

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Singh, Sarina (2004). Pakistan & the Karakoram Highway (6th ed.). Lonely Planet. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-86442-709-0. 
  2. ^ Singh, Sarina (2004). Pakistan & the Karakoram Highway (6th ed.). Lonely Planet. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-86442-709-0. 

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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