Himalayan pink salt
has become de rigeur in most fashionable circles in recent years.
Celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver
have recommended the rose-colored condiment for its subtle flavors, while special lamps made from the attractively hued crystal have been endorsed by alternative lifestyle gurus
for their restorative powers.
Many specialized pink-salt spas
have also cropped up, offering a wide range of soothing baths and curative treatments based on this seemingly magic mineral.
Most of our supplies of this popular product actually come from Pakistan's Khewra salt mines
, which lie in the foothills of the Himalayas, about 260 kilometers from Lahore.
Hundreds of thousands of tons of this rock salt are reportedly extracted from the Khewra mines each year, with much of it being exported to the West, where it is sold as a deluxe seasoning in high-end delicatessens or made into fancy lamps that take pride of place in expensive gift shops.
PHOTO GALLERY: Pakistan's popular Himalayan pink salt
A young laborer at the Khewra mines cuts up chunks of pink rock salt intended for decorative pieces.
A worker collects salt stones for loading onto a truck outside the Khewra salt mines.
A laborer, carrying rock salt for loading onto a railway carriage, stops to pose for a photo on a train-station platform in Khewra.
Schoolgirls explore a tourist area inside the Khewra mine.
A guide shines his light onto transparent rock salt for visitors to Khewra.
A woman dressed in a black burqa walks through the salt mines of Khewra.
Workers pack pink salt at a factory to be sold at markets in Karachi.
A man in Lahore applies the final touches to a sculpture made from rock salt.
Miners and visitors pray at a mosque made from rock salt inside Khewra mines
A Pakistani boy runs past a shop selling lamps and decoration pieces.