District Bhimber – Gateway to Kashmir

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rom the mountains of Darbar Baba Shaadi Shaheed and from the the valley of “Kas Chanaater” two waterfalls meet at a point and make a stream of water. This stream is called “Patan” in local language. At the bank of this water stream “Patan” the beautiful city of Bhimber is located.

There are three beautiful bridges on this beautiful stream.

1- Kashmir Gateway Bridge

2- Kas Chanaater Bridge

3- Rose Valley Bridge

Bridge in Bhimber Azad Kashmir

Bhimber Azad Kashmir

Bhimber Azad Kashmir

Location

Bhimber was Division of Mirpur and in 1996 it became the District of Azad Kashmir. Bhimber is 50KM from Mirpur and Gujarat and 166KM from Islamabad. Bhimber district is bounded by Mirpur district to the northwest, Punjab province in the west and south, cease fire line in the north. It is linked with G.T. Road at Dina, a small town about 15 kms short of Jhelum city. It is situated at the Latitude of 32-48 to 33-34N and Longitude of 73.55-74-45E.
Location

Bhimber was Division of Mirpur and in 1996 it became the District of Azad Kashmir. Bhimber is 50KM from Mirpur and Gujarat and 166KM from Islamabad. Bhimber district is bounded by Mirpur district to the northwest, Punjab province in the west and south, cease fire line in the north. It is linked with G.T. Road at Dina, a small town about 15 kms short of Jhelum city. It is situated at the Latitude of 32-48 to 33-34N and Longitude of 73.55-74-45E.
Historically Importance:

In 1965 and 1977 Pak India wars when Chamb Joorian area of Bhimber was over taken by Indian Army then the brave people of Bhimber along with the Pak Army defend this territory and gained back the area from Koiel Moiel to River Tavii which was occupied by India.

Bhimber is an old historic town, discussed by Mughal Emperor, “Jahangeer” in his book “Tuzh-e-Jahangiri”. Mughal Emperor Jahangeer said that Peer Panjaal Mountains are the only way to Kashmir. So it is also known as Baab-e-Kashmir (Gateway to Kashmir), due to its geographical location of the city.

It falls on the route that was followed by the Moghul Emperors for their frequent visits to enter in Kashmir. They often use to stay here and ruins of their accommodations still exist. That is way this area was name “Bhimber Rajaani”. On bank of stream “Patan” near Shah Shatar there still exist ruins of wide wall which is said to be the boundary wall of the Moghul Forts or their accommodations. There are also some ruins and symbols of Water Wells of Moghul era. In Moghul era the specially build water wells were used to provide water to the residents of the area. These water wells are called “Baooli” in local language and such type of Beautiful and well maintained Baooli stills exists in the center of the city.

French Physician Bernier Francois travelled with emperor Aurangzaib almost 350 years ago in 1665. From Bhimber he followed his journey at night time; a day after the emperor had left for Kashmir. Upon reaching the Jandi chontra hill tops he was astonished to find himself in the middle of the pine forest and was equally overwhelmed by the unexpected transformation in the climate. He has summed up his feelings in this very interesting paragraph of his book ‘The travel in the Moghul Empire.

Main Tribes of Bhimber are Jatt, Gujar, Rajput, Butt, Syed and Malik. Punjabi and Kashmiri are the languages of residents.

Many birds and animals are found in the valley including peacocks, partridges, quail, birds of paradise, falcons and eagles. The enclosing Reech Pahari serves as the sanctuary for many animal species including tigers, hyenas, wolves, jackals, Foxes, pythons, monkeys, deer, stags and impalas. The valley is home to many hamlets, of which Bandi, Pind, Gurah, Piana, Parati,and Ghawalian are the best known.
Sub-Divisions (Tehsils) of Bhimber District:

Bhimber

Barnala

Choki Samahni
Famous People of Bhimber Azad Kashmir

There are 3 seats in AJK Assembly for Bhimber. The famous Political and social worker are listed below:

Name Designation
Choudhry Niaz Ahmed (Late) MLA(Member of Legislative Assembly)
Choudhry Muhammad Ashraf (Late) (Member of Legislative Assembly)
Choudhry Muhammad Yousaf (Late) Member Kashmir Council
Choudhry Sohbat Ali Senior Minister and Minister of Finance
Raja Muhammad Afzal Khan Father of Raja Zulkernain Khan(President of AJK)
Raja Zulkernain Khan Former President of AJK
Choudhry Tariq Farooq Minister of Finance, Advisor to PM Pakistan, Advisor to PM AJK
Choudhry Anwaar-ul-Haq Minister Physical Planning, Housing and Public Health
Col (R) Choudhry Inaam-ul-Haq MLA
Raja Maqsoon Ahmed Khan MLA
Choudhry Perviz Ashraf Minister of Local Government
Mohammad Shafique Jaraal Minister for Religious Affairs
Choudhry Mohammad Rasheed Minister of Education
Choudhry Ali Shan Sooni Minister of Jail, Minister of Sports
Professor M Asmat Hashmi Social Worker and Education Specialist
Professor Nazeer Ahmed Tushna Writer
Professor Tariq Siddique Specialist in English Literature
Professor Rasheed Ahmad Qaasmi Principal Govt. Degree College Bhimber. Writer
Imran Hashmi Famous IT Professional
Choudhry Zafar Iqbal Chairman Kashmir Development Foundation
Bergaider Rtd Sher Ahmed Commanding Officer Azad Kashmir Regiment
Major General Rtd President Azad Kashmir
Omer Gull Principal Insight Model College

Places to Visit in Bhimber Azad Kashmir

Kas Chanatar is a valley located next to the city of Bhimber in Azad Kashmir near the border of the Pakistani Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. On either sides of the valley, villages are scattered in evenly spread basis. The relatively low lying foothills of the Himalayan ranges have been carved out by local residents of the region for agricultural purposes to grow crops such as corn and wheat. Most of the villagers in this region rely on their home grown produce to survive. Most of the people living in this region only recently began receiving electricity and telephone lines. Television cables have also begun making their way across the valley within the last year. The animals located in this valley include Jackals, Wild Pigs, Eagles, Goats, Buffalos and Crows. Crops grown in the region include Corn and Wheat. A stream flows between the valley during rainy season.
Barnala:

Barnala is one the sub-division of District Bhimber. Barnala is famous destination and business market of Division Mirpur. Combine Mirpur and Bhimber consist 2526 Square kilometer. District Bhimber consists 1516 sq Km.. The population of District Bhimber is 0.343 Million, growth rate 2.6% and house hold size is 6.7.

The topography of the area is mainly comprises on foothill, plain and starches land. It is situated on extreme East side of Azad Jammu & Kashmir over Line of Control. Barnala consists of seven union councils and has total population 0.11 million.

Barnala is connected with Mirpur, Bhimber, Gujarat, Kharian and Sialkot. Barnala is located 46 Km from Gujarat and 200 Km from Rawalpindi. The famous route to the Jammu city is Kashmir Highway passes through Barnala. The small towns Kadhala, Barnala, Kot Jamel, Moil, Chumb and Iftikharabad are located on this famous route.

Barnala land is very rich in agriculture, wild life, crush stone, millet grain market and packle mango. Foothills are covered by gardens of great mango trees. These lush green mango gardens attract visitors especially in summer season. Pattni Vale presents romantic and beautiful view for local visitors because on LOC. Watala is another great attractions for visitors. Watala is also an old, historic and famous point located on LOC.

Red-led partridge (Chakoor), Pea Cock, Grey Partridge, Black Partridge, Porcupine, Quail, Jackal, Pig, Blue Bull (Neel Gai) and Hare. Licenses are issued from Wildlife office Muzaffarabad to amateur shooters for restricted numbers of animals and birds during particular seasons. License rate and other relative information are available from the Wildlife Office.

All basic amenities like telephone, mobile service, general stores, newspapers, opticians, rent a car, sweet, bakers and confectioners, medical stores, hospitals, photo studios, courier services, garments, tire puncture shops, petrol pumps, moneychangers, hotels, Bar B.Qs, Fast food, travel agents, tour operators, painters, dry cleaners etc. are available here.
Baghsar:

Baghsar means a land of water and gardens. This beautiful place is 12 kilometres in the east of Samahni town and a same distance away from Jandichontra, it is 975 meters in elevation and an ideal tourist resort in the Samahni Valley. Baghsar is said to have been a focal point during and after the Moghul era due to its picturesque locality and calm atmosphere.
Baghsar Fort:

On the top of hill is a famous fort overlooking the lake that adds grandeur to the whole area. This four-storied massive structure of granite is a feat of engineering that has stood the ravages of time. It has also played important roles in the history during the times of Ahmad Shah Abdali, Ranjeet Sing and Gulab Sing.

There are conflicting opinions among historians as to who built this wonderful fort. Many believe this was the work of Moghul emperors. Some say that it was built by the sikh rulers after they had defeated Raja Sultan Khan the last ruler of Bhimber state in 1812. There is a very little evidence available about the true history of this fort. According to G.T. Vigne (a frequent traveller between Lahore and Bhimber) this fort was built by Gulab Singh’s brother called Deyhan Singh who was made Raja of Bhimber in 1826. In his book “travel in Kashmir ladakh and Iskardo” vol1 published 1844 he says.

Some historians believe that emperor Jehangir while returning from Kashmir fell ill and died in this fort, and in order to delay decomposing process his internal organs were removed and buried in this fort before taking his body to Lahore for a permanent burial. The claims of a similar nature however are also made about Chingus sarai near Indian controlled town of Rajouri. If we go by Jehangir’s connection to this place then we will have to trace its roots beyond 1627(Jehangir’s death) and well into the heart of Moghul era. Due to inadequate information and some missing references we are unable to draw a complete picture of this historical site, but despite opposing and controversial views on its origin, this architectural heritage of the Sub Continent is and will remain a constant reminder of our glorious past in the construction field.

For more Information about Baghsar Fort Click Here
Baghsar Lake:

The Lake is nearly half a kilometer long at an elevation of 975 meters and overlooks the Bandala Valley. Its long sheet of crystal-clear water soothes the senses of a visitor after traveling 64 kilometers journey from Gujrat via Bhimber. But this water lake has past its prime days and is being swallowed by the mud and other debris thus is in need of the urgent attention from the authorities.

For More Inofomation about Baghsar Lake Click Here
Bandala Valley:

Bandala is a valley in Azad Kashmir located about 26 kilometres from Bhimber in Pakistan. The valley stretches from the river Tawi in the east to the Samahni valley in the west. The Reech Pahari (Bear Mountain) runs parallel on the northern side and the Baghsar mountain on the southern side. The valley is about 10 kilometres long and about 1.5 kilometres wide. Bandala Valley joins the valley of Samahni at Sara e Saadabad and Chitti Mitti, further east are Chawalian and Nali villages, the last villages before the Line of Control. Many streams flow through the valley, producing cascades, rapids, falls and natural swimming pools. These pools are very popular among the local youths, not only for swimming but also for fishing. The fertile land and mild climate produces a variety of crops or trees, especially mango trees. Farming is still the major source of staple food for the area; wheat and corn are grown annually. The high literacy rate has improved the overall living standards of the people. Because most of the people work for the government or overseas, especially in Middle East and Europe, dependence on farming for income has greatly reduced but people still cultivate the land for food.

Jandi Chontra:

Jandi ChontraThis scenic spot is situated at 17 kilometers from Bhimber and 67 kilometers from Mirpur. Situated at about 1000 meters above sea level, this scenic spot is an eastern gateway to Samani valley. It is 17 km away from Bhimber and 12 km from Samahni town.

Due to the high altitude , this hill station not only gives a panoramic view of Dab valley (an off shoot of the main valley) but it also takes you as far as the snow capped mountains (Pir punjal range) of occupied Kashmir. Although these scenes could be observed with the naked eye, the use of binoculars will have an added advantage.

From Jandi chontra a 15 km stretch of road known as Kadiala road offers an alternative route to enter the valley. This road which runs along the mountain ridges and through thick pine trees joins Samahni Mirpur road, in Chowki bazaar.

A Tourist Rest House serves the visitors/ tourists by providing accommodation facilities. There are quite a few shops and restaurants, with all types of refreshments available.

For more Information about Jandi Chontra Click Here
Samahni Valley:
Welcome to the scenic valley of Samahni (Azad Jammu & Kashmir). The entire valley of Samahni, is approximately 35 km long and 8 km wide, stretching from Chawlian to Behmla in the West. It is located 17km in the North of Bhimber City and 30km in the North-East of Mirpur. The valley has benefited from sub-division status since 1992, when Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan the then Prime Minister of Azad-Jammu and Kashmir announced this long-overdue decision, making it 3rd sub-division of district Bhimber.

Samahni valley is guarded by high mountains on all sides, offers breathtaking and mesmerising natural scenes to its visitors, waterfalls come down mountain slopes as well as streams and nalas* of crystal clear waters. The mountains across the whole valley dressed in jungles of pine trees add an extra touch to the stunning view. The valley holds a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere with pollution free environment from one end to the other. The natural splendour of valley Samahni and surrounding mountains has been acknowledged by many European travellers, who always had a surprised encounter with the lush green jungles of Jandichontra summits while travelling on the Moghul road to visit Kashmir. The valley’s inhabitants are simple, peace-loving and law abiding. Theft, burglary and violent crimes are very low which reflects the very nature of the general population in the Valley. The majority of the households are in one way or another associated with agriculture, growing mainly wheat and maize crops. A large majority of the working population serve in different walks of life, including Armed Forces of Pakistan, some have also been attracted to foreign countries in search of a better future.
Samahni Town:
The whole Valley Samahni has been named after this historic town. It is 29 km away from district Bhimber and 67 km from Mirpur. Samahni Town lies in the eastern edge of the Samahni Valley, a short distance away from the ruins of the ancient Moghul route which linked Bhimber with Noshera and ultimately to the rest of the kashmir. It used to be a centre of social, cultural and trading activities long before the partition of Sub continent. The town consisted of mixed communities of Hindus and Muslims. Financially Hindus were in a better position then the Muslims. They dominated most of the businesses in the towns; old bazzar which was aprox. 100 meters long with all kinds of shops on its both sides. Hindus had built their temple (Mander) in the heart of the bazzar for worshipping and also for their social events they had two Dharam shala (community center) facilities just out side of the town. Samahni town benefited from some of the best craftsmen in the valley. One can still find the scattered ruines of finely carved stones to remind us of their valuable skills. The town had the valley’s only civil dispensary, a post office, and a lower middle school to cater for educational requirements.

In 1947 Samahni town was partially destroyed during a brief invasion by the Indian forces. Since then it has made remarkable achievements to transfer itself into a modern day town.Today the old bazzar has almost disappeared and the new markets have been built instead where all types of businesses are being carried out. Samahni also has the following infrastructure and facilities within its vacinity which refelects the true extent of the progress this town has made.

BABA SHADI SHAHEED (SHRINE)

This is resting place for a 16 century ruler Shadab Khan, descendant of a famous Hindu called Chib Chand who laid the foundation of the Chib dynasty in Bhimber minor state.

Shadab Khan was born around the end of the 15th century. His real name was Shadab Chand. He grew up as a Hindu prince, but during the growing influence of Islam in the Sub continent, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Shadab Khan. He became ruler of Bhimber state after the death of his father Gorpal Chand also known as Goja Chand. As a ruler he showed his true potential and soon became very popular amongst his subjects. His rule was based upon justice, equality and public welfare. For these precise reasons the oppressed people from other states also regarded him as a symbol of hope and migrated into his kingdom in search of peace and harmony. There are a number of stories surrounding his death. One widely believed version is that he was killed by his brother in law while returning to his capital Bhimber after abandoning his fourth wife in Delhi.

Majority of the devotees paying visits to his shrine know him as a great saint. Little do they know that it was due to his ruling qualities he became a legend in history.

Chib Rajput’s of today consider themselves to be the direct descendant of Shadab Khan (Baba shadi shaheed). Therefore they take their newly born sons to his shrine to pay homage and perform certain rituals. Over the years this long running tradition has become popular among ordinary people too. Every year thousands of visitors from all over Punjab and Azad Kashmir come here to show their respect in variety of ways.

Baba Shadi Shaheed shrine is managed by the department of Auqaf Azad Jammu and Kashmir generating a huge amount of revenue for its government. It is disappointing to learn that only a fraction of that amount is invested back into the shrine to improve the conditions of the facilities.
CHOWKI

Chowki is situated 7 km in the west of Samahni town and 35 km from district Bhimber. This is another historic place in the valley. It is believed that the the early Rajas of Bhimber state had built their summer residencies here to escape the heat.There are also suggestions that Gurpal Chand (Goja Chand) the father of Baba Shadi Shaheed has been burried near Chowki in a place called Goja Pir. The ruins of these buildings can be found even today in and around Chowki.

Chowki’s main attraction is its bustling market. In the past few years this market has emerged as a home of thriving businesses. These businesses range from ordinary fruit shops to top quality furniture showrooms.The phenomenal success has made this market one of the busiest in the whole valley.

Chowki is linked to Bhimber district through Kadiala road and also through Samahni road. From here a 10 km long road will take you to the panoramic valley of Soona and other areas such as Broah and Danna.
KAS GUMA

Kas Guma is a small viallage in Bhimber. It is very near to Mirpur Azad Kashmir and can be seen from back side of Kakra Town. Mainly the Rivers and Canals Flow from here. The People collect the sand from here when water is dry and use them in the constructions.

There is also old haveli (house), known as Dewaan Khaana, has a rich history dating back to Dogra times. It was the residence of the late Khan Bahadur Raja Muhammad Afzal Khan, former Governor, as well as Home, Education and Revenue Minister between 1930 to 1941 in the government of the Dogra raj of Hari Singh. Differences developed over the issue of the possession of arms after the promulgation of the Arms Act Bill 1937 passed by the Dogra ruler-which allowed the possession of unlicensed arms by the Hindus but declined the facility for the Muslim population of the state. This blatant discrimination on the part of the Dogra ruler compelled Khan Bahadur Afzal Khan to resign, as a protest and move to Punjab. However, this haveli has been in family possesion and has been allowed to go into a state of decline in the past few decades. The family, now headed by his son, Mr Zulqarnain Khan,the former president of AJK, has modern accommodation behind this site. Due to neglect the haveli is in a serious state of disrepair; sadly it is now a derilict site. Surely there is a business case for this haveli to be repaired and turned into a museum for all to see.

How to Reach:

This town is connected both with Mirpur & Gujrat through all weather black top roads. All the basic amenities of life are available in Bhimber.

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