Tuesday, February 17, 2009

aerial view of rawalpindi

Rawalpindi is a district of Pakistan in the north of the Punjab province which contains the city of Rawalpindi. The district has an area of 5,286 km2 (2,041 sq mi). It was part of Rawalpindi Division, until the year 2000 when the division was abolished. It is situated on the southern slopes of the north-western extremities of the Himalayas, including large mountain tracts with rich valleys traversed by mountain rivers. It contains the Murree hills and the sanatorium of the same name, the chief hill station in the Punjab. The chief rivers are the Indus and the Jhelum, and the climate is noted for its health benefits.

Rawalpindi, also known as Pindi, has a long history spread over several millennia. Archaeologists believe that a distinct culture flourished on this plateau as far back as 3000 years. The material remains found at the site prove the existence of a Buddhist establishment contemporary to Taxila and of a Vedic civilisation. The nearby town of Taxila has another significance; according to the Guinness Book of World Records it has the world's oldest university - Takshashila University.[citation needed]

Sir Alexander Cunningham identified certain ruins on the site of the cantonment with the ancient city of Gajipur or Gajnipur, the capital of the Bhatti tribe in the ages preceding the Christian era. Graeco-Bactrian coins, together with ancient bricks, occur over an area of 500 ha (2 mi²). Known within historical times as Fatehpur Baori, Rawalpindi fell into decay during one of the Mongol invasions in the fourteenth century.[1]

It appears that the ancient city went into oblivion as a result of the White Hun devastation. The first Muslim invader, Mahmud of Ghazni 979-1030), gave the ruined city to a Gakhar Chief, Kai Gohar. The town, however, being on an invasion route, could not prosper and remained deserted until Jhanda Khan, another Gakhar Chief, restored it and named it Rawalpindi after the village Rawal in 1493. Rawalpindi remained under the rule of the Gakkhars until Muqarrab Khan, the last Gakkhar ruler, was defeated by the Sikhs under Sardar Milka Singh in 1765. Singh invited traders from the neighbouring commercial centres of Jhelum and Shahpur to settle in the territory.[1]

Early in the nineteenth century Rawalpindi became for a time the refuge of Shah Shuja, the exiled king of Afghanistan, and of his brother Shah Zaman. The present native infantry lines mark the site of a battle fought by the Gakhars under their famous chief Sultan Mukarrab Khan in the middle of the eighteenth century. Rawalpindi was taken by Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1818. It was at Rawalpindi, on March 14, 1849, that the Sikh army under Chattar Singh and Sher Singh finally laid down their arms after the battle of Gujrat and were decisively defeated.[1]

[edit] British rule

Following the British conquest of the region and their occupation of Rawalpindi in 1849, the city became a permanent garrison of the British army in 1851. In the 1880s a railway line to Rawalpindi was laid, and train service was inaugurated on January 1, 1886. The need for a railway link arose after Lord Dalhousie made Rawalpindi the headquarters of the Northern Command and the city became the largest British military garrison in British India.

On the introduction of British rule, Rawalpindi became the site of a cantonment, and shortly afterwards the headquarters of a Division; while its connexion with the main railway system by the extension of the North-Western Railway to Peshawar immensely developed both its size and commercial importance. The municipality was created in 1867. The income and expenditure during the ten years ending 1902-3 averaged 2-1 lakhs. In 1903-4 the income and expenditure were 1-8 lakhs and 2-1 lakhs respectively. The chief item of income was octroi (1-6 lakhs) ; and the expenditure included administration (Rs. 35,000), conservancy (Rs. 27,000), hospitals and dispensaries (Rs. 25,000), public works (Rs. 9,000), and public safety (Rs. 17,000). The cantonment, with a population in 1901 of 40,611, was the most important in all of British South Asia. It contained one battery of horse and one of field artillery, one mountain battery, one company of garrison artillery, and one ammunition column of field artillery; one regiment of British and one of Native cavalry; two of British and two of Native infantry; and two companies of sappers and miners, with a balloon section. It was the winter head-quarters of the Northern Command, and of the Rawalpindi military division. An arsenal was established here in 1883.[1]

It has also been recently disclosed that the British Government tested poison gas on Indian troops during a series of experiments that lasted over a decade.[2]

[edit] After independence

In 1951, Rawalpindi saw the assassination of the first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan in Company Bagh now known as Liaquat Bagh Park (also called Liaquat Garden.) On 27 December 2007, Liaquat Bagh Park's rear gate in Rawalpindi was the site of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.[3] Her father, former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged in Rawalpindi in 1979.

Today Rawalpindi is the headquarters of the Pakistani Army and Air Force.

The famous Murree Road has been a hot spot for various political and social events. Nala Lai, in the middle of city, history describes Nala Lai water as pure enough for drinking but now it has become polluted with the waste water from all sources including factories and houses.

Kashmir Road, was renamed from Dalhousie Road, Haider road from Lawrence road, Bank Road from Edwards Road, Hospital Road from Mission Road, Jinnah Road from Nehru Road.

No comments: