Murree is a mountainous area, forming part of outer Himalayas,
situated at 33.35’ north latitude and 73. 27’ eastern longitudes. It
consists of four gradually increasing supers. On highest among them is
situated Murree city itself at height of 7500 feet. Others include
Patriata, Kuldana and Gharial. It is bounded by River Jehlum in the
east, NWFP districts of Abbottabad and Heripur to the North and West,
Islamabad Capital Territory to the Southwest and Kotli Sattian Tehsil
(town) of Rawalpindi district to the South.
Pre Sikh Period
Administrative division of region comprising the whole area including
present day Islamabad, districts of Rawalpindi, Jehlum and Attock of
Punjab and Haripur, Abbottabad and Mansehra of NWFP has been changing
from time to time throughout the history. Gazetteer of Rawalpindi
District 1893-4, quoting historians of Alexander the Great, states
that at the time of the Greek invasion the hill country North and
Northeast of Taxila comprising present day Murree and Kahuta
(including Kotli Sattian which was created as a tehsil in 1993 a
century later) was ruled by Abhisar. The kingdom was named after the
During the Mughal period all hilly and semi hilly areas east of
Haripur plains were part of Fatehpur Babari (Rawalpindi) under the the
governorship of Gakkars. Murree, Kahuta, Kotli Sattian, parts of
present day Haripur and Abbottabad districts formed part of the
Khakhar governorship. The Hazara plains, present district of Haripur
were part of Attock district while the Mansehra region, then called
Pakhli sarkar was governed from Kashmir.
The writer of Gazetter of Hazara 1883-4 states that Khanpur, the Dhund
and Karral country including the Rojoiya Ilaka (region) were part of
the district. All the tribes acknowledged nominal supremacy of the
Gakkars. However, as the Mughal power declined the Dhunds, Karrals and
Jadun started to assert themselves and refused to pay any revenue to
anyone. The situation seems to have continued during the Afghan
period. In the local parlance this era in the history is called
“apraji’ or self rule.
The Sikh Period
Sikh Sardar Milka Singh Thepuria occupied Rawalpindi in late
seventeenth century but hilly areas including the Dhund and Karral
country retained independence. Though Milka Singh granted 107 villages
of the hill track Ghakkar chiefs but the gift was more nominal then
Maharaja Ranjit Singh took direct control of the Rawalpindi District
in 1820. The Sikh armies, under the command of Hari Singh, attacked
the area twice during next ten years but failed to subjugate the
Karral and Dhund tribes inhabiting the area.
Frustrated by the continued resistance by the local population, in
1831 Maharaja Ranjit Singh entrusted the rule of the area to Sardar
Ghulab Singh, then Sikh Governor of Muzaffarabad. Sardar Ghulab Singh
treated the local population, especially the Dhond tribe, in a very
harsh manner. He let loose his Sikh army over the tribe. His soldiers
were rewarded one rupee for every hill man slain. It is said that the
killing by the troops of Sardar Ghulab Singh became so numerous that
it became a burden on his treasury. As a result, the reward was first
reduced to half a rupee per person killed and then was further reduced
to quarter of a rupee.
However, as the Sikh empire started to disintegrate in the aftermath
of palace intrigues which engulfed the Lahore court after the death of
Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839, the Dhunds and Karrals again rose in
revolt and the troops had to be sent from Lahore to quell the
Under the terms of Treaty of Lahore of March 9, 1946 signed after
First Anglo Sikh War between the British government and Maharaja
Duleep Singh of Punjab, Kashmir and Hazara were ceded to the British
government in lieu of payment of ten million rupees which the Sikh
state was to pay to the British in punishment for waging war against
them. Later following week the British Government conferred the title
of Maharaja on Sardar Gulab Singh of Jammu. On March 16,1846 the
British government and Maharaja Gulab Singh singed the treaty of
Amritsar. Under the treaty the British government ceded all the area
between river Ravi and Indus, (Kashmir and Hazara) to the Maharaja
against payment of seventy-five lakh of rupees (7.5 million Nanakshahi).
There was resistance to the British decision all over Hazara and
Kashmir. Though Shamsuddin the Governor of Kashmir later accepted the
treaty under threat of army action by the British and hand over reign
to Gulab Singh , but the resistance in the Hazara continued. As a
consequence Maharaja Gulab Singh requested the British to exchange
Hazara with territories near Jammu. The British government, which in
the meantime annexed the Punjab in March 1849, accepted the request
and took over the Hazara district from Maharaja Gulab Singh.
At the time of British took over, all the hilly areas east of
Rawalpindi formed part of the Hazara District. In July 1850 the
British government decided to hand over 309 villages Hazara to
Rawalpindi. The ilakas (regions) handed over the the Rawalpindi
district from Hazara included Pulgran, Kurri, Mughal, (Rawalpindi
Tehsil) Charhan, Dewal, Kotli, Karor (Murree Tehsil) Jasgam, Kahuta,
Kairo , Murree (Kahuta Tehsil) and Haro (Attock tehsil). However,
parts of Dhund areas like Bakot, Boi, and Lora and the Karral country
which formed part of Rawalpindi before 1831 were not returned to the
Rawalpindi district and were kept in Hazara, which at that time
consisted of Tehsils of Haripur and Mansehra. Tehsil Abbottabad was
created in 1874 and most of these areas were included in the new
Tehsil. Later in 1901 the Province of North West Frontier Province was
created and Hazara district was merged into the new province. Thus the
people of same ethnic group living together for centuries were divided
into two provinces by virtue of the decision taken in July 1850.
Laying of Murree City
Habitually, the people of Murree preferred the low laying area, where
climate was more favourable for agriculture and tops of the mountains
were forests and pastures. However, due to their climate the same
heights were liked by the British and they decided to build the same
as a "little England" in the Punjab. For this purpose they purchased
and leased hill tops from the local Dhond tribe under different
The Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Rawalpindi established
their summer offices in the area in 1851. Soon the area became famous
in the British Indian empire and more and more tourists and
businessmen started to arrive in the area. Murree Sanatorium Committee
was established in 1851. The committee was renamed as municipal
committee in 1867.The British soldiers arrived in Murree in 1850.
Initially they encamped at Nandkot near Tret, about thirty kilometers
from Islamabad. However they had to leave the place and go present
site of Murree as there were large number of cases where soldiers were
bitten by snakes.
Barracks for the soldiers were built in 1853 and proper houses
started to be constructed.
War of Independence[Mutiny]
The local tribes, have long history of resistance to Afghan and Sikh
rule, initially did give much thought to the British occupation. But
as the British started to settle in the eyebrows were raised and they
started thinking about waging war against the new invaders. By the
time of the War of Independence, or what the British called spy
rebellion, the people of Murree were already convinced about military
struggle against the British. As the news about the war came in, the
tribes started consultations with this effect. According to the
gazetteer of Rawalpindi 1893, the British government received reports
of pledges among the tribesmen for the purpose in May, June 1857. The
British called to local tribal heads to Murree and detained them in
the name of consultations. However, as it seemed to be
counterproductive so the tribesmen were allowed to return to their
villages. On September 2, 1857 the local tribesmen, belonging to Dhond
(Abbasi) tribe attacked the British settlements. However, the British
got the information about the attack before hand and were well
prepared and the Dhond attack was repulsed with heavy losses. In the
meantime more force was called from Rawalpindi and services of loyal
tribes were also called.
With increased force the British government started retaliatory
action against the Dhond tribe. A number of tribesmen were killed
during the operation and their villages were put on fire. Many others
were arrested. Seeing the fate of the Dhond tribe, other hill tribes,
who had earlier pledged their support to Dhonds, changed sides and
assured their support to the British government. After the end of the
war those under arrest were charged for various offences and their
properties were confiscate. On October 17, 1858, 23 persons were
blasted away by tying them in front of cannon. That brutal act took
place at agency ground adjacent of Army Public School. Others were
sent in banishment to Andaman and Nicobar islands for life.
As a collective punishment Dhonds were banned from joining any
government service. The ban was only lifted at the start of present
century but still the British animosity was not removed and they were
continued to be called as treacherous, mischievous and untrustworthy
in the government chronicles.
After First War of Independence ['sepoy mutiny']
The Mall Road was constructed in 1860 and buildings were constructed
on one side of the road while no constructed was allowed on the other
side to maintain the beauty of the surroundings. This law continued to
be strictly followed for next hundred and thirty years. In early
1990s, the law was allowed to be violated which has resulted in
undesired construction on the Mall and defaced its natural beauty
Murree was declared summer capital of the Punjab in 1873.
The capita had to be shifted to Simla (now Hamachal Pradesh India)
owing to widespread cases of Diarrhea. At the start of twentieth
century the British government established cantonments and military
establishments at various places around Murree including Kuldana,
Gharial, Upper and Lower Topa, Barian, and Kalabagh (near Nathiagalli).
In the meantime Murree was also declared summer headquarter of the
Northern Command of Indian Army which further increased Murree's
position. During the period a number of English medium schools for the
children of British families and solders were established. They
included the Lawrence college, Saint Dynes and convent of Juses and
Merry. After independence Murree continued to progress with each
passing day and it popularity increased among the common Pakistanis.
Before independence the entry of people of the Subcontinent to the
Mall Road was very restricted.
Roads and Communication
Jehlum valley provides Punjab and thus the whole of South Asia the
most easiest access into the vale of Kashmir. It is the only all
weather route to the valley of Kashmir. Consequently for centuries
Murree has served as gateway to Kashmir wit whom it has long and deep
ethnic, cultural, social and linguistic similarities and link. and the
Because of this By virtue of its geographical location Murree was
always used as gateway the the state.
Historically, since time immemorial, a network of roads and ferry
services were available accros River Jehlum to connect Kashmir Valley
with other parts of the South Asian Subcontinent. The Gazetteer of
Kashmir 1873 as well as The Gazetteer of Rawalpindi 1873 mention
different routs connecting Rawalpindi with Kashmir and passing through
Murree at the time of the British conquest consquest of Punjab which
at that time included Kashmir, Murree as well as adjoining Hazara
region of Kyber Pakhtoonkhwa.
One of such important roads passed through Murree and
entered Kashmir at Kohala after passing through Dewal. The distance
from Murree to Kashmir through this road was 163 miles. Murree being
40 miles Of which 21 miles were in Murree and remaining in Kashmir.
There was a ferry service available at Kohala. The Gazetteer of
Kashmir 1873 says that there was an old fort at Dewal, 12 miles from
Murree. Dhak Banglows were available at (Ausia, near Dewal) and Kohala.
This road ran closer to the present day Khaqan Abbasi road [ formerly
Kohala Bridal road] which passes through Bhurban and joins
Rawalpindi-Murree-Muzaffarabad-Srinagar road at Abbasian village near
Kohala. Suspension bridge was constructed at Kohala in 1872 to replace
the crossing by ferry which was dangerous and often resulted deaths
due to capsizing of ferries. The suspension bridge made way for a new
bridge in 1896. Likewise There were roads connecting Poonch with to
Punjab passing through Murree.
There were three tracks from Poonch to Murree. Two of these roads
joined at Kohala and crossed the river from there. The third one,
Poonch-Ser Kakota-Kalapani-Parral-Raoli road crossed the River Jehlum
at Khoaddar, 16 miles from Murree, where a ferry service was
available. It was regarded as the easiest and the best route to Poonch
from the Punjab. Besides Kohala and Khoaddar ferries were available to
cross the river Jehlum at Serri, Malot Sattian, Rampattan and Lachman.
Suspension Bridges were constructed both at Malot Sattian as well as
Koaddar in 1956. A concrete bridge at Malot Sattian has repalced since
than and is used as an indepndent rout from Rawalpindi to Rawalakot in
Pakistani administered Poonch district of Kashmir. Koaddar, though has
not though cought the attention of the policy makers despite the fact
that connecting roads are available from both sides of the River. The
suspecion bridge is, however, used to small vehicles.
Construction of matelled road between Rawalpindi and Murree was
completed in 1873 and same was extended to Kohala and onwards to
Kashmir in 1917. The section of the road between Murree to Kohala was
realigned. The new section eighteen miles longer then the old road.
After the construction of the new road the old road became in disuse
for almost a century till it was realigned and metalled in 1970.
Besides the Rawalpindi-Murree road constructed after the British
occupation, there were small paths connecting Murree with Rawalpindi
through different routes.
Till 1922 only tangas and bullcarts used to run between Rawalpindi and
Murree and onwards to Baramula in Kashmir. In 1922 solid tyre
bus-cum-truck called lorries started to run on the road. Later hollow
tyre buses and trucks were introduced. Great strides were made in the
construction of road network in the Murree subdivision after
independence and now the area has a wide network connecting almost
each village with main roads.
A new four lane dual carriage Highway [N-75] has been constructed. It
separates from the old Rawalpindi-Murree-Muzaffarabad-Srinagar road at
Satra Mile near Islamabad and joins it again at Lower Topa near Murree.
The road called Rawalpindi-Murree Expressway was formally inaugurated
by Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani on August 30 2011. It is
part of Rawalpindi-Murzaffarabad Expressway. The work on Lower Topa-
Kohala and Kohala Muzaffarabad sections of the project will commence