History of Azad Jammu & Kashmir:
On the termination of British rule over the Sub-Continent two independent States, Pakistan and India emerged in August 1947. In view of geographical, religious and historical links the people of Jammu & Kashmir State demanded freedom from the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh and the accession of the State to Pakistan. The Maharaja, ignoring the wishes of Muslim majority, instead, entered into an unfortunate conspiracy with the Hindu leadership and acceded to India. This sparked the liberation movement of the Muslim population of the State against the Dogra and Indian forces in Kashmir. As a result of this, a part of the State was liberated from the Dogra-cum-Indian domination n October 1947, and named Azad State of Jammu & Kashmir.
People & Culture:Azad Jammu & Kashmir is fascinating land of people, languages & culture. The texture of present population is composed of races claiming their descent from Semitic, Mongoloid, Aryans, Persians, Turks & Arabs. The people of district Kotli, Mirpur & Bhimber, are sturdy, simple, truthful and deeply attached to their land. The culture of this area resemble to that of the adjoining area of Punjab. The people of districts Poonch, Bagh & Sudhanoti are militant and there are numerous anecdotes of there matchless velour as well as inspiring sacrifices for freedom. While district Muzaffarabad has its own distinctive culture. The people of the State are intelligent, ingenious, hard working, mobile & skillful.
Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad State of Jammu & Kashmir, is situated at the confluence of the Jehlum & Neelum rivers. It is at a distance of 138 km from Rawalpindi and about 76 km from Abbottabad.
The present name of Muzaffarabad has given to it after the name of Sultan Muzaffar Khan, a chief of Bomba Dynasty (in 1652). Cradled by lofty mountains, Muzaffarabad is a blend of varied cultures and languages. Being the capital of the State it has all the necessary facilities of life. In addition, there are two historical forts, Red & Black, situated on the opposite side of river Neelum. The Neelum river streams, proudly through the hubbub of the towns, join river Jhelum at Domel and plays a dominant role in the micro climate of Muzaffarabad.
Muzaffarabad, being the capital city not only the hub of the political and cultural activities but it also serves as a base camp for the tourists. It has various spot of leisure. View point Sathra, a public place, unravels the panorama of the entire city before a be holder. The junction point of river Neelum and Jhelum presents a magic beauty from here. Lohar Gali, situated nine km from Muzaffarabad in abbottabad road. The red fort witness to the ancient history of this great city. The local market in Muzaffarabad can be explored for walnut carvings, Kashmiri shawls and other traditional handicrafts.
Muzaffarabad fort, generally know as red fort, traces back a checquered history. It is said that construction of the fort was initially taken up by the Chuk rulers to counter the offensives of the intruders. However, Sultan Muzaffarabad Khan, the founder of Muzaffarabad town, finally completed it in 1646. During the Mughul rule in Kashmir this fort lost its importance, as they were more interested on other part of their empire. But when Durani’s over-took the rule of this area, it again came in to limelight and its importance was recovered. Afterward during the Dogra rile of Maharaja Culab Singh and Maharaja Ranbir Singh, the fort was reconstructed and extended according to their political and militrial requirements. However, toward the end of 1947 the Dogra’s fled away leaving the fort wide open to anybody. Since then it has braved devastating flood, ravages of time and other hazards to project its inherent glory and historical background.
The awe-inspiring locus, with an altitude of 2924m above the sea level is located eastern to Muzaffarabad. Due to its tremendous scenic beauty, velvet green plateaus and wonderful climate, its wins admiration of nature lovers. The view of the summit of neighboring mountains peaks spell bounds a tourist. Devotees of Saint Shah Hussain Bukhari, take pilgrimage to rejuvenate their adust heart. The adjacent Pir Asimar, phawana da Danna and the areas in the bottom of Pirchinassi i. e. sara, sud Bun, Mushki, Sakki and Jarran phirran are also worth seen and ideal fo hiking, trekking and camping activities. AJK Tourism Department has also constructed a tourist lodge at Saran to provide accommodation facilities to the tourists.
The comely beauty of the place attracts a restive mind to prolong his stay. The picturesque Shaheed Gali, Situated at the height of about 1640m above seas level is at a distance of about 16km westward from Muzaffarabad. From Shaheed Gali a trek of 4kms leads towards a wholesome spot namely “Sri Kot”. A tourist is bound to be fascinated by the serenity for the backdrop of the area. A tourist rest house is available for accommodation at Shaheed Gali.
Located at a distance of 19km from Muzaffarabad, it is a gateway to Neelum Valley and can be the first journey break on the way. A mini zoo and fish hatchery have turned the place into a site of diversions. AJK Tourism Department has constructed a Tourist rest house here, which is very popular among tourists.
About 240 km long the picturesque Neelum Valley is situated to the North & North East to Muzaffarabad. Running parallel to the Kaghan Valley it is separated from it by snow covered peaks, some over 4000 meters above seas level. Excellent scenic beauty, panoramic view, towering hills on both sides of the Neelum river, lush green forests enchanting streams, high altitude lakes and attractive surroundings make the valley dream come true.
The area is also ideal for mountain tourism. A part of Naga Parbat Massif falls in the area which is dominated by “Sarwaali Peak” (6326m) the highest mountains in AK. Moreover like Kaghan valley it is famous for fishing and angling activities in Neelum River and Jagran nullah which are stocked with trout fish.
A fair weather road opens the valley to tourists up to Kel, 155km from Muzaffarabad. Buses ply daily in this route and accommodation facilities are also available in the rest houses at places of tourist attraction.
Kutton (Jagran Valley):
This bewitching beauty of Kutton permeated in the radius of 10km, makes Jagran valley. The area is 16 km from Kundal Shai and is accessible by road. For the convenience of tourists, AJK tourism department has constructed a rest house here. Whereas, accommodation is also available in adjacent residential complex managed by the Hydro electric board. From here 16km onward, Thunian, Ghansi and Jagran are located which are worth seeing spot for nature lovers and adventurists.
It is located 10lm from Kundal Shahi a height of 1371m. it is sub-division headquarter of the area and serves as take-off point for tourists interested in hiking and exploring the inner valley. It is an attractive place known for its variety of fruit. All necessary viz bazaar, post office, banks, hospital, telephone and PWD rest houses are available here.
At a distance of about 9kms from athmaqan, Neelum (Karen) is situated on the Right Bank of Neelum River at about 1524m above sea level. It has a fascinating scenery. A small bazaar and a tourist rest house situated on the bank of meandering river Neelum across from where one can have a glance at the Indian held Kashmir. The panoramic lush green valley, profound in wild fruit and wildlife, attracts the tourists from every nook & corner of the country. Owing to its tourist attraction, AJK tourism department has launched a project to convert it in to a tourist resort.
Located at a distance of 30km from Dowarrian, it is a breath-taking green spot at altitude of 1981. Shardi & Nardi are two mountain peaks over looking the valley, reputed named after legendary princesses Sharda & Narda. It has a captivating landscape with numerous springs and hillsides covered with thick forest. Over the right bank, opposite to Sharda, the river Neelum is joined by the Surgan nulla along which a track leads to the Noori Nar Pass and through it to Kaghan valley.
In Sharda, one also finds ruins of an old Buddhist Monastery and a fort which are of historical background. Facilities of a small bazaar, Post Office, health center and public call office are available in Sharda. The AJK tourism department has established here a “Tourism Village” consisting of tourist rest houses, youth hostels, cafeteria and games room to facilitate tourists.
19 km journey from Sharda, upstream takes one to Kel. It is small velly at the height of 2097m. this is to another picturesque place in the Neelum Valley. The Shounter Nullah joins river Neelum at this place and leads to Gilgit Agency over Shounter Pass (4420m). Kel is also a base camp of mountaineering activities up to “Sarawaali Peak” 6326m above sea level and “Sarawaali Glacier” which are said to be the highest peak and biggest glacier of Azad Kashmir.
Buses ply daily on this route. It is advisable to hire a jeep from Athmaqam for a trip in to the a valley. Horses and ponies can also be hired locally for travel to the interior of the Neelum valley. Banks, College, Hospital, Bazaar, PCO and Tourist Motels are available here.
The boarder village about 28km ahead of Kel, is a fascination yet unexplored, Janwai and Sardari ate the most beautiful places around here. A tourist rest house has been constructed at Halmet to provide accommodation facilities to the visitors.
This is an ideal valley for both domestic and international tourists. The curling river Jhelum passes through from East to West between the high green mountains of this valley and joins the river Neelum at Domel near Muzaffarabad city.
A 59 km long metalled road runs along the river Jhelum from Muzaffarabad to Chokothi, which is located adjacent to lone of control (LoC).
It is 24 km away from Muzaffarabad. The town surrounded by mountains is located on both sides of river Jhelum. Educational, Medical, Telephone, accommodation and shopping facilities are available here. AJK Government has established here an “extension Services Management Academy (ESMA)”, which provides tranning facilities of international level.
At a distance of 51kms from Muzaffarabad and surrounded by high hills, it is situated on the left bank of river Jhelum. All the basic facilities viz. Bazaar, hospital, education, ost office, telephone are available here.
The beautiful summer station at a distance of 46kms from Muzaffarabad is situated on top of the mountain on the southern side of Muzaffarabad. A road branches off at Dhanni Baqallan, a place about 33kms from Muzaffarabad and leads to Chikar, which is at an elevation of 1828m. The outstanding features of these beautiful places are its healthy climate and picturesque surroundings. Standing over the hill one can have a fascinating view of the sub-valleys.