Mirpur, Pakistan(Redirected from Mirpur, Azad Kashmir)
Mirpur (Urdu, Punjabi: مِيرپُور), more commonly known as New Mirpur City, is the capital of Mirpur district and is the largest city of Azad Kashmir. The city itself has gone through a process of modernization, and most of the surrounding area remains agricultural. Mirpur is known for its grand buildings and large bungalows, primarily funded through its expatriate community, which comes mainly from Europe (especially the United Kingdom), Hong Kong, the Middle East, and North America. The main crop cultivated during summer is millet and pulses. However, other crops such as wheat, maize and vegetables are also grown. The produce of quality rice from the paddy fields of Khari Sharif between Upper Jhelum Canal and Jhelum river is very famous and popular for its aroma and taste. The production of electricity from Mangla Dam provides the energy needs for Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Punjab.
|New Mirpur City|
|• Total||1,010 km2 (390 sq mi)|
|Elevation||458 m (1,503 ft)|
|• Density||746/km2 (1,930/sq mi)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC+5)|
|Number of towns||2 =[ Mirpur And Dadyal]|
|Number of Union councils||21|
A significant portion of the population from the district migrated to the United Kingdom in the mid-to-late 1950s and in the early 1960s, mostly to West Yorkshire, East Midlands, West Midlands, Luton, Peterborough, Derby and East London. In fact, 70% of all British Pakistanis are British Mirpuris. Mirpur is thus sometimes known as "Little England". Many British products are found, and many shops in the city accept the pound sterling.
The area that is now Mirpur has always been a crossroad for major invasions of the South Asia and has formed part of various empires over time including the role of an outlying region of the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Kingdom of Gandhara, the Mauryan empire, the Kushan empire, the Sultanate of Ghazni, the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal empire amongst others.
The Mirpur city itself was founded in around 1640 AD or 1050AH by the Ghakhar chief Miran Shah Ghazi. The Imperial Gazetteer of India Provincial Series Kashmir and Jammu (1909) provides this information about Mirpur history as "it is said to have been founded by Miran Shah Ghazi and Sultan Fateh Khan". An alternate view is that the city was founded by Mira Shah Gazi and Gosain Bodhpuri, both regarded as saints. The word 'Mir' was taken from the name of the former while 'Pur’ from the latter.
In 997 CE, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, took over the Ghaznavid dynasty empire established by his father, Sultan Sebuktegin, In 1005 he conquered the Shahis in Kabul in 1005. The Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire ruled the region. The Punjab region became predominantly Muslim due to missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot its landscape
The area that is now Mirpur has been historically associated with Pothohar. Though modern demarcation of Potohar devised by British excludes Mirpur by using Jhelum river as the eastern boundary. By the end of the 18th century, Gakhar power in Pothohar had declined. Mirpur had become part of Chibb ruled the state of Khari Khariyali with capital at Mangla Fort. With the rise of Sikh power in Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh established his supremacy and set his eyes on the Chibh states of Bhimber and Khari Khariyali. In 1810, a force was sent against Raja Sultan Khan of Bhimber and was met with fierce resistance. However, in 1812 another Sikh army under prince Kharak Singh defeated Sultan Khan and the Bhimber state was annexed as Jagir of Kharak Singh. Around the same time, Ranjit Singh acquired Gujrat and invaded Khari Khariyali ruled by Raja Umar Khan. Raja Umar Khan made peace with Ranjit Singh. But before a settlement could be made, he died and the state and Mirpur became part of Ranjit Singh's territories.
In 1808, Ranjit Singh annexed Jammu state, which was already a tributary since 1780, and in 1820 awarded Jammu to his commander Gulab Singh who hailed from Jammu and was under the service of Ranjit Singh for the past eight years. Between 1831–39 Ranjit Singh bestowed on Gulab Singh the royalty of the salt mines in northern Punjab, and the northern Punjab towns including Bhera, Jhelum, Rohtas, Mirpur and Gujrat. Gulab Singh kept on expanding his kingdom and in 1840 Baltistan was made subject to Jammu and Gilgit fell to a Sikh force from Kashmir in 1842. The state of Kashmir was annexed by Ranjit Singh in 1819. However the rebellion in Hazara in the beginning of 1846, compelled the country to be transferred to Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu as well. As an aftermath of the First Anglo-Sikh War and the Treaty of Lahore, The Treaty of Amritsar was signed between the British East India company and Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu on March 16, 1846. The British Government sold Kashmir to the Raja of Jammu for 75 lakhs Nanak Shahi Rupees. This treaty transferred him all the hill states between Ravi and Indus. The transfer included Kashmir, Hazara and the southern hill states (including former Khari Khariyali Thus sealing the fate of Mirpur with the new state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Mirpur was historically a part of the Punjab region. However it became a part of the Jammu division of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in a deal between the rulers of that state and the British. Since Mirpur lies at the point where the Jhelum River breaks out of the heavily forested foothills of the Pir Panjal mountains into the plains of the largely treeless Punjab. It was an ideal spot for the construction of the boats used to carry goods down the five rivers of the Punjab to the Indus River and onto the seaports in the Indus delta. Traders have been operating from there across the Indian Ocean for over three thousand years. Most of the crew on the boats trading up and down the Punjab and Indus River system were drawn from Mirpur, as training as a boat-builder was a necessary prerequisite for becoming a boatman.
With the arrival of Dogra Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu, the thriving river trade was decimated due to the construction of railway lines from Bombay and Karachi into the interior of the Punjab. Moving goods by rail was both cheaper and quicker, and hundreds of Mirpuri boatmen found themselves out of a job.
At the same time long-distance ocean trade was shifting from sail to steam. There was a huge demand for men who were prepared to work in the hot, dirty and dangerous stokeholds of the new coal-fired steamers. British seamen avoided such jobs whenever they possibly could. They preferred to work on deck. But in the 1870s Mirpuri ex-river boatmen were desperately searching for a new source of income. Although unfamiliar with stoking coal-fired boilers, they were prepared to learn and quickly gained jobs as engine-room stokers on new steamships sailing out of Karachi and Bombay, a position they retained until coal-fired ships were finally phased out of service at the end of the Second World War. Many Mirpuris fought in Burma during the Second World War.
Indo-Pakistan War of 1947
In the wake of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, a number of militant campaigns were organised all around the Western mountains of Kashmir and Jummu, including Poonch, Muzaffarabad and Mirpur to forcibly usurp Kashmir from Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh.
On the Mirpur front, Captain Khan of Mong played a leading role in the campaign with the strategic aim to cut off the India's supply line into the rest of Kashmir. In October 1947, Captain Khan ambushed two Dogra despatch-riders at Puranian Hattian on their motorcycle armed with one sten gun. This gun was used to raid Gobindpur Police Station a few nights later. This raid provided further supplies and consolidated their position. A number of further attacks ensued leading up to the Battle of Mirpur where five attacks were organised. On 25 November, finding the situation beyond control, Wazir Wazarat Mirpur, Rao Rattan Singh and Brig Karki from Nepal decided to abandon town at 1400 hours.
After World War II, a new set of opportunities opened up. Britain's economy was just starting what proved to be a long postwar boom, and there was an acute short of labour in the foundries of the English Midlands and in the textile mills of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Now it was the turn of ex-seamen to become industrial workers in Britain. In 1960, when the Mangla Dam was about to be constructed, those who were going to be deprived of their agricultural land were afforded the opportunity to migrate to the United Kingdom and to join their relatives, who long established themselves in Britain.
As a result, Mirpur is one of the principal sources of migration from the State of Azad Kashmir to Europe, especially to Britain, so out of the million migrants from Azad Kashmir and Pakistan, 82% came from Mirpur.
Although one major reason for the outflow was the construction of the Mangla Dam, but long before the construction of dam, a sizable Mirpuri community already existed in the UK.
Mirpur City is at 459 m above sea level and is linked with the main Peshawar-Lahore Grand Trunk Road at Dina Tehsil. It is the headquarters of Mirpur District, which has two subdivisions: Mirpur and Dadyal. Mirpur is now one of the largest city of Azad Kashmir. The building of the new city in late 1960s paved the way for New Mirpur, situated on the bank of ManglaLake.The project of four-star hotel PC has been completed. The government is planning to make the second rotating hotel of Pakistan in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir.
In fact, the remains of the old city (Old Mirpur) are under the waters of the Mangla Lake, bit during the colder months of March and April, the water level recedes to such an extent that one can travel on motorcycle on the old Mirpur, road which still exists. The holy shrines of Syed Abdul Karim and Meeran Shah Ghazi then become visible and so do the remnants of a Sikh gurdwara as well as a Hindu Mandir, possibly dedicated to the "Mangla Mata" (Mangla mother goddess). The remains of old houses, water wells and graveyards reappear as well.
People from surrounding areas visit old Mirpur to pay homage to their ancient land on which they lived and pray on the graveyards of their loved ones. Urs Mubarak of Meeran Shah and Syed Abdul Kareem are also arranged in Old Mirpur.
The remains of Old Mirpur depict a silhouette of pre-Independence city, when many faiths coexisted. However, after division of the State of Jammu Kashmir, the non-Muslim community (Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs) fled to Jammu.
New Mirpur was well planned, and modern buildings and ample roads serve each part of city. The affluence from emigration mainly to the UK is reflected by the structure and grandiose of the residential houses. There are telltale signs of inward investment by the expatriate community living in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America and the Middle East. There are a number of good hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and other urban facilities.
Most of the area's bushy landscapes, stretching from Bhimber to Dadyal, are barren, leaving only a small stretch of fertile land but there is highly-productive land near water. One crop cultivated during the spring/summer season is millet. Also, a few farms grow vegetables and wheat, especially when the dam water subsides during the winter season.
The government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir has successfully developed Mirpur industrially and promoted private investment in a diverse economy: foam, polypropylene, synthetic yarn, motorbikes and scooter, textile, vegetable oil (ghee), wood and sawmills, soap, cosmetics, marble, ready-made garments, matches and rosin, turpentine. The economy of Mirpur generated economy of Azad Kashmir. However, much of the infrastructure still needs improvement so that high-quality products can be obtained.
As part of the relief/compensation package in the wake of Mangla Dam, a new city is being developed along the southeastern outskirts of Mirpur, with the main city of Mirpur being doubled. Much construction is occurring around the whole district by Pakistani and Chinese contractors, raising the dam. Four towns in the district have been planned near the new city to resettle the population affected by the project.
English is common in educational institutes. Previously, the University of Azad Jammu & Kashmir was the only institution for higher studies but there have been significant changes in the educational infrastructure. The Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST), the Akson College of Health Science and the Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Medical College have been formed.
The AJK Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Mirpur is responsible for the studies at lower levels. In addition to the state-run schools and colleges, Mirpur has a well-developed private sector providing the education to all sections of the society:
Other notable colleges and schools include:
Electronic and print media are rapidly increasing in number. There are many daily newspaper published in Mirpur.
Football, cricket and volleyball are popular in Mirpur. Mirpur has a cricket stadium, Quaid-e-Azam Stadium.
There are registered sports clubs:A-5 Cricket Club, Al-Siraj Cricket Club, South Asia Cricket Club, Pilot Football Club, Youth Football Club and Kashmir National FC.
The district football team of Mirpur take part in the All Azad Jammu and Kashmir take part in football championships.
CNG auto rickshaws are very popular mode of transport for short routes within the city. The city's transport system links it to a number of destinations in Azad Kashmir notably Bhimber, Jatlan, Chakswari, Dadyal, Kotli and Khoi Ratta and to major cities in Pakistan as well as including services to Gujrat, Jhelum, Kharian, Gujranwala, Lahore and Rawalpindi. There is no railway station in Mirpur. The closest station is in Dina. The promise of a rail extension to Mirpur has not been fulfilled.
An international airport has been planned. The location of the airport has not been determined, but possible locations near Mirpur are Mangla, Jatlan and Bhalwhara. In August 2013, the National Assembly and the prime minister approved the airport. It was determined that the airport would be constructed in two years after funding.
Mirpur is the shopping capital of Azad Kashmir. The shopping area is centred on Chowk Shaheed, Mian Mohammed Road, Puranian/Hattian, Nangi and Allama Iqbal Road.
Mirpur has food centres and restaurants. Samosa and fish are specialties. In terms of restaurants, there is a variety of food areas from takeaways to high-class restaurants. There is also a Thai restaurant. Some restaurants specialise in local Pothwari/Punjabi dishes.
According to the 1998 census, Mirpur had a population of approximately 100,000. Mirpur's original population comprises different tribes similar to that of Punjab. However, since 1947, Pahari people emigrated from the neighbouring Rajouri and Poonch districts of the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir. The bulk of the Mirpuri diaspora resides in England.
Hindu and Sikh communities
Before the Kashmir War in 1947, the Mirpur District had about 75,000 Hindu and Sikhs, amounting to 20 percent of the population. A great majority of them lived in the principal towns of Mirpur, Kotli and Bhimber. Refugees from Jhelum in Western Punjab had taken refuge in Mirpur town, causing the non-Muslim population to increase to 25,000. On 25 November 1947, tribesmen and Pakistani military members moved into the town, seizing the city. Of the minority population, only about 2,500 Hindus or Sikhs escaped to the Jammu and Kashmir along with the State troops. The remainder were marched to Alibeg, where a gurdwara was converted into a prison camp, but the raiders killed 10,000 of the captives along the way and abducted 5,000 women. Only about 5,000 made it to Alibeg, but they continued to be killed at a gradual pace by the captors. In March 1948, the ICRC rescued 1,600 of the survivors from Alibeg, who were resettled to Jammu and other areas of India. The date of 25 November is remembered as the Mirpur Day in the Indian-administered Kashmir.
Saif Ul Malook Festival
The Saif Ul Malook Festival takes place annually in April, usually in the city centre. It is an event celebrating the anniversary of Baba Pir-e-Shah Ghazi Qalandar (Damrian Wali Sarkar), who was the spiritual guide/teacher of Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, the Sufi saint and Potwari poet famous for his poem Saif ul Malook.
The Rathoa Mehla takes place annually in summer in Rathoa Town near the dam front. It is an event celebrating culture value peace and tolerance.
Pahari Mushahira is a literary event in which poets from all over Azad Kashmir present their poems to the general public. It is celebrated regularly in Mirpur, as part of the campaign of Alami Pahari Adabi Sangat for the preservation and rehabilitation of the Pahari language and the culture of Jammu and Kashmir.
In recent times, the city has seen many new developments. Some of the schemes approved and under construction are the New Bong Escape Hydropower Project, Pakistan's first private Hydel power and the raising of the Mangla Dam.
The Köppen-Geiger climate classification is BWh. The average annual temperature is 27.4 °C. The average annual rainfall is 109 mm.
Mirpur is the breadbasket of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and has a climate similar to that of the neighbouring Potohar and Punjab.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
- Balah-Galah is a community of Mirpur between the larger villages of Bhurkay and Sangot.
- Bhalot is a village near the B5 district of Mirpur.
- Bhimber is the chief town of Bhimber District, approximately 50 km from Mirpur.
- Chakswari is a municipal committee approximately 40 km from Mirpur. It is fast becoming a commercial area of the district.
- Dadyal is a tehsil approximately 65 km north of Mirpur and the second largest city in Azad Jamma Kashmir, after Mirpur.
- Islamgarh is a municipal committee approximately 30 km northeast of Mirpur.
- Jandi Chontra is a popular scenic spot approximately 67 km from Mirpur in Bhimber District, home to the shrine of the Sufi saint Hazrat Sheikh Baba Shadi Shaheed.
- Jangian Kotla is near the River Jehlum and approximately 20 km south of Mirpur.
- Kakra Town is approximately 12–15 km from Mirpur.
- Khari Sharif is an agricultural area approximately 8 km from Mirpur. It is famous for its Sufi shrines.
- Kotli is the chief town of Kotli District, approximately 101 km from Mirpur.
- Khaliqabad is approximately 6 km from Mirpur. It is an intersection for the main road leaving Mirpur.
- Mangla is approximately 16 km from Mirpur, at the mouth of the Mangla Dam for which it is famous.
- Football Chowk, in D4 area, is on the outskirts of Mirpur.
- Mehmunpur Rajgan is approximately 15 km from Mirpur, near Pul Manda.
- Sahalia is approximately 70 km from Mirpur.
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