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Cave exploration in Pakistan: Past and Present

The Union of International Speleology (UIS) in its 14th ICS General Assembly meeting held in Athens, Greece in 2005 made Pakistan its member.

The 39 countries present in the general assembly voted for making Pakistan a member of the UIS and recognized Hayatullah Khan Durrani as the country delegate in IUS for Pakistan.

But this feat was not easy to achieve as Hayatullah Khan Durrani has spent a major part of his life in this field. The journey started when Pakistan’s first caving and Balochistan’s first mountaineering organization ‘Chiltan Adventurers Association’ was established by him in 1984.

Since its establishment, the organization has made an international record for the initial exploration of 139 caves in Pakistan. The figure has reached 144 caves now.

Hayatullah as the founder of the organization has played a significant role in the promotion of Caving (Speleology) and mountaineering adventure sports including Canoe, Kayak, Rowing, and rock climbing in Pakistan. 

Being the first and only caving adventure sports/speleological rescue organization in Pakistan and the first mountaineering adventure sports organization, the organization introduced the great tradition of hoisting the national flag of Pakistan on different mountains.

Also, the organization has been celebrating 1984 every national day by organizing mountaineering and caving events and championships.

Later, he established “Pakistan Cave Research and Caving Federation” in 1997. On 14 August 1994, Pakistan Cave Research & Caving Federation for caving and Speleology was established.

At the same time, the Derbyshire-based Orpheus Caving Club unit of the British Cave Research Association and British Caving Association invited Hayatullah Durrani to complete a caving and rock-climbing advanced course under the supervision of famous British Caver and speleologist, Simon James Brooks.

This proved quite beneficial for both the Chiltan Adventurers Association and Pakistan as Hayatullah achieved his first major Caving success in the 1992 Pak-UK Caving Expedition.

As a leader of Pakistan’s national caving team, he made the first international expedition of the initial exploration of Pir Ghaib Cave in the Bolan Mountains which later proved Pakistan’s longest Cave.

In 1997, Chiltan Adventurers Association organized the Pak-UK and Germany International Caving Expedition in collaboration with the Orpheus Caving Club of Great Britain.

The expedition was launched for complete exploration of “Pir Ghaib” Cave to celebrate the Golden Jubilee year of Pakistan’s independence.

The expedition was successfully completed and the 1273-meter longest cave of Pakistan was discovered and the Man of the Expedition Award was given to Hayatullah Khan Durrani.

The same year, Murgha Ghull Cave (Bats valley) was explored in Harnai Balochistan and this is the largest single-chamber and 2nd longest cave in Pakistan.

In 1998, the initial exploration of Juniper Shaft Cave in the Limestone Mountains of Kach Valley was done and the cave is the first-ever most difficult deep descending vertical shaft cave in Pakistan.

In 1999, Pakistan’s Longest Stalagmite Stalactite cave ‘Mughal Saa’ was explored in the Harnai District of Balochistan.

In 2000, the complete exploration of Pid-da-ti-Marran (naturally decorated cave of Pakistan) in the Kalat District of Balochistan was explored.

In 1999/2000, various attempts to explore Juniper Shaft and Pid-da-ti-Marran caves were made and the organization continued with the caving and speleological activities including ‘search and caving attempts’ for finding and exploration of new hidden caves in Pakistan.

Recently, the re-exploration of Juniper Hidden Cave of Angel Pool was conducted in the west base of the Zarghoon mountain range.

This is Pakistan’s 4th cave with water and has been included in the Natural history museum of Pakistan.

The cave has a single chamber with four small and one large live water pool. The cave’s second chamber is linked by a large pool and narrow passage of the cave.

The cave was first discovered and explored in April 2010 but the exploration details were kept classified for the sake of the protection of the formations inside the cave.

The cave will be fully explored on the arrival of Simon James Brooks of Orpheus CC from Great Britain as part of the 13th Pak-UK joint Cave Exploration and Friendship Expedition (Pak).

The 31st year of Pak-Britain joint friendship cooperation and partnership in cave exploration, rock-climbing training expeditions held in Pakistan and Great Britain since 1990 will be celebrated soon.

On the international front, Hayatullah participated in caving and climbed various mountains in the United Kingdom as leader of the Pakistan National Caving team in the company of famous British Cavers Simon James Brooks in 1994, 1999, 2016, and 2018.

In 1999, Hayatullah was the first Pakistani who along with his caving team visited the “Shatter Cave” – the most beautiful cave in the United Kingdom.

In recognition of his lifelong services devoted to caving and mountaineering adventure sports in Pakistan, he was conferred 2005 the Pride-of-Performance award by the President of Pakistan.

Hayatullah Khan Durrani also received an international caving legend award in Great Britain in 2018. He also represents Pakistan in the Asian Federation of Speleology.

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