Punch district General information

District Poonch or Punch popularly known as mini Kashmir, is the smallest in area and the remotest district of Azad Kashmir. It is bounded by the Line of Control (boundary between Indian and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) on three sides. The 1947-48 war between India and Pakistan divided it into two parts. One went to Pakistan and the other remained with India. Majority of the population of the district practise Islam.

In 1967 for administrative convenience this district was further divided into two parts , viz district Rajouri and district Poonch. Presently Poonch district consists of 178 Villages , 115 Panchayats , 51 Patwar Halqas, 8 Niabats, 6 Blocks, 3 Tehsils, and 1 Sub-division.

History

Poonch has witnessed many historical era.   Around 326 BC when Alexander the Great invaded the lower Jhelum belt to fight with Porus, this region was known as Dravabhisar. In 6th Century AD, the famousChinese traveller Huien Tsang passed through this area. According to his observation, this region was known as Part of Kashmir.   Around 850 AD Poonch became a sovereign state ruled by Raja Nar, who was basically a horse trader. According to Rajtrangani Raja Trilochan Pal of  Poonch gave a tough fight to Mahmood Ghazanavi who invaded this area in 1020 A.D. In 1596, Mughal King Jahangir made Siraj-Ud-Din ruler of Poonch. Siraj-Ud-Din and hisdescendent Raja Shahbaz Khan, Raja Abdul Razak, Raja Rustam Khan and Raja Khan Bahadur Khan ruled this area upto 1792 AD. In 1819 this area was captured by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and it remained under the occupation of Khalsa Darbar of Lahore till 1850
The era from 1850 to 1947 is considered as the Golden Period of the history of Poonch. The Principality of Poonch got status of a state from British Raj in 1901 AD during the reign of Raja Baldev Singh. The rule of Raja Moti Singh, Baldev Singh, Sukhdev

Singh, Jagatdev Singh.The rule of Raja Moti Singh, Baldev Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Jagatdev Singh and Raja Shiv Rattan Dev Singh witnessed all round development of  Poonch state. The historic Poonch fort was renovated and redesigned. Town  Hall and Court building were constructed on the line of Mubarak Mandi of Jammu, Fountain garden Poonch was established on the pattern of Shalimar Garden of Kashmir,. Baghi Khanna,  Bagh Deodi the gateway of city and number of other buildings were also constructed. Palaces of rulers called Baldev Mahal, Moti Mahal and Sheesh Mahal reflected the aesthetic of the rulers. A number of temples, mosques and gurdwaras   also emerged during these years.

People

The people of different faiths, caste and creed are living peacefully in the district. Races like Gujjars, Bakerwals, Punjabis,  Kashmiris and Rajputs-mostly muslims  are living in harmony nourishing their composite culture lavishly. Gujjars are mostly residing on the slopes of mountains. They are having small pieces of land for cultivation, and cattle for supplementing their economy. Bakerwals are  nomadic tribes. Most of them rear herds of goats and flocks of sheep. Gujjars and Bakerwals speaks Gojri whereas rest of the population (excluding Kashmiris) speak Pahari/Poonchi.  The mother tongue is a great cementing factor of Pahari speaking people because they remain so closely associated with each other that cultural ethoes transcend all that of distinct beliefs and faiths.

Economy

The economic condition of people of Poonch district is not satisfactory. Industrial environment is totally absent and commercial activity exists on a very low scale. The poverty tells adversely upon the life style of the general population which cripples their purchasing power and renders most of them fragile to withstand the abnormalities of consumer market. There are many unemployed youths in the district and the  people usually try to go for the government jobs  as the  potential in the private sector is bare minimal. Unemployment problem among youth, both skilled and unskilled workers is quite large when compared to other districts of the State and the State Govt./Distt. Administration is trying its level best to eradicate the problem by implementation of different employment generation schemes viz. PMRY, SSES, SGSY, SJSRY by providing loans to the beneficiaries through different Banks and in SJRY by providing wages to the beneficiaries during the loan period. The new policy of the Govt. to recruit Rehbar-e-Taleem Techers from respective villages/ areas is also helping the unemplyed youths of Rural areas of the District.

 Area

The total area of the district is 113675 Hect., out of which cultivable area is 27765 Hect. and net area sown is 27459 Hect . On the other hand, the forest area is 34050 Hect., while Area under double cropping works to 11000 Hect approximately. There are 36796 land holdings. The average size of land holding is 1.28 Hect

Administrative Set-Up

Before partition, district Poonch consisted of four  tehsils, namely Bagh, Sadhnuti, Mendhar  and Haveli.  After traumetic experience of 1947 two and a half tehsils went under the illegal occupation of Pakistan while tehsil Mendhar  and half of tehsil Haveli continued being a part of the country. From 1947 to 1967 district Poonch was named   as Rajouri-Poonch district. In 1967, Rajouri- Poonch district was again bifurcated into two parts namely, Rajouri and Poonch districts.
    

The district Poonch comprises of 178 villages including 10 uninhabited villages, 115 panchayats, 51 patwar halqas,12 girdawar circles, 8 niabats, 6 blocks, 4 tehsils , one sub-division and 190993 khasra numbers.

Presently under single line administration, the sectoral heads of various departments are working under the administrative control of District Development Commissioner. The District Development Commissioner is also known as Deputy Commissioner and is Revenue head of the District.The Deputy Commissioner is also vested with Powers of District Magistrate and is responsible to maintain Law and Order in the District. The law confers him very wide powers for maintaining peace and tranquility.The administration of Police force  is vested  with Superintendent of Police   in the  Distrct but under the  general directions of the District Magistrate as per provisions of Law i.e. Indian Police Act, 1861.

PLACES OF INTEREST


Buddha Amarnath
: Twent five Kms.in the north east of Poonch town is situated an ancient temple of Lord Shiva on the left bank of Pulsta stream. The area is known as Rajpura mandi two Kms.above mandi village. This is a unique Shiva Temple which is located on the foot hill and not on the hill top and secondly the Shivaling of white stone is not self-made.The stream which flows near it,is loran stream but it is belived by the locals the Ravan's grand father Pulasta Rishi performed his tapasya and thus is known as Pulsta stream. This shrine is said to be older than of Amarnathji of Kashmir. Thousands of people visit on Rakhsa Bandhan.

Ramkund: Another well known shirne located about 68 Kms.from Poonch town is that of Ram Kund. Believed to be of Mahabharat period,it is just 11 Kms.away from Mendhar. The temple was said to be constructed by Raja Lalitaditya while others believe that Raja renovated it,and originally it was constructed by Lord Rama when he was on his way to Kashmir. There are three springs. People take bath on first of bright half of Chaitra.

Ziarat Sain: Situated in village Guntrian,10 Kms.from Poonch,the Ziarat of saint Sain Mira Sahib is a popular pilgrim centre,Hundreds of devotees visit this Ziarat.

Nangali Sahib: Nangali Sahib Gurudwara is situated on the left bank of Drungli Nallah,which is four Kms.away from Poonch City. This gurudwara was established by Sant Bhai Mela Singh who is said to have visited this shrine in 1810 A.D.when he was on his way to conquer Kashmir.

Ziarat Chhotay Sahib: Located 58 Kms.away from Poonch and 4 Kms.from Mendhar this Ziarat is situated in the village Sakhimaidan. Hundreds of piligrims come to this place every day.

Behramgala: Situated at the foothill of 8,600 ft.high Rattan peak on the historic Mughal Road about 45 Kms from Poonch Town. Behramgala is small picturesque spot in a deep gorge.It is small plateau surrounded by mountains and forests.Just near to it is the confluence of Thatta pani and Parnai streams which further adds to its otherwise scenic and natural beauty.

Noori Chamb: A famous water fall in the district also connected with the Mughal Emperors is located in the north east of Behram Gala.This water fall is yet another scenic spot which has tremendous tourist potential.The fall of the stream gives rise to dense clouds of water vapours which engulfs the area and spread all over.The emperor Jahangir had developed so much fancy and liking for this fall that he named it Noori Chamb after the name of his beloved queen Noorjahan.

Buffliaz: Another beautiful hilly spot situated on the foothill of Peer Rattan range is Buffliaz,39 Kms.east of Poonch twon.The village named after the horse of Alexander the great(Bunifales)who is said to have died there,is situated on both the banks of Poonch river.

Loran: A small town situated 34 Kms.north of Poonch town was once the capital of Poonch State under Hindu ruler upto 1542. According to Rajatarangini,it was then known as Lohar Kote.There are ruins of the Lohar Kote Fort which was called as Gateway of Kashmir but now it is destroyed.At this fort,Raja Trilochan Pal defeated Sultan Mahmood Gazanavi.This spot is surrounded by forests and some snow clad peaks.

Surankote: In Rajatarangini,this town was described as Sawernik in the past.Nealy in 1036 A.D.there was a big fort called kote. Combining the name of the town with the fort,it become Sawernik Kote which ultimately changed to its present name of Surankote. It is very charming valley surrounded by snow clad peaks and is known as Pahalgam of Poonch.

Krishna Ghati
: This beautiful hilly and forest area is located 24 Kms.from Poonch town.The hill top,known as Krishna Ghati gives a commanding view of natural scenic beauty.The area is connected with a dependable road.

Girgen: It is bewitching valley of seven lakes.This valley is located about 70 Kms. from Poonch town.This area is also important from trekking point of view. Neel Sar,Nandan Sar,Katora Sar are among the fascinating high altitude lakes.Several trekking expeditions used to come in this valley and trek to these lakes.

Poonch Fort: The foundation of historic fort building in the capital truncated Poonch district,was laid by Raja Abdul Razak Khan in 1713 A.D.

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