Kotli Azad Kashmir

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Kotli is at a distance of 141 km from Islamabad – the capital of Pakistan. It is linked with Mirpur by two metalled roads, one via Gulpur and Rajdhani (90 Kilometers), and the other via Dhungi and Charohi. It is also directly linked with Islamabad and Rawalpindi via Sehnsa and Holar. It is also directly linked with Rawalakot via Trarkhal (82 Kilometers).

District Kotli is bounded by the occupying Indian forces of Indian-administered Kashmir in the east, and by Mirpur District in the south and Rawalakot to its north. Kotli is one of the eight districts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. Kotli the chief town of the district, was originally a minor town between Mirpur and Muzaffarabad, but has recently seen major growth.

In South of the city is Gulhar. In the north west of Kotli city (between Kotli and Sarsawa) lies union council Chowki Tinda having an old history. Sarsawa is linked with Sehnsa with road on left hand from Sarsawa Chowk towards west and Panjera comes on right hand and is linked to Plandri. While moving towards east from Sarsawa Chowk, Baloch and afterwards Rawlakot come on left hand link. Right hand link towards east leads Kotli city through Chowki Tinda (also misleadingly called as Tinda Kalah).

Southwest is the small town of Gulpur, where a large refugee camp is situated. Adjoining Gulpur is Throtchi famous for its castle built in 1460. It was here in 1947 that a contingent of local men headed by Col. Mahmood defeated and chased out the Dogra army.

West of Gulpur, on the Kotli-Rawalpindi road, Sehnsa lies just before Holar (the boundary point between Azad Kashmir and Pakistan).
Description:

Kotli Azad Kashmir PicturesInitially name Kotli was originated from two words, those were spoke for a small population of local village.These names were koh and talay, which means that a population under mountains. By the passage of time the composite name Kotli was originated.

There are two more theories about the origins of the name of Kotli. One school of thought claims that in ancient times, Prince Raja Shahswar Khan built a small residency here and called it Kot later to be adopted as Kotli. An another theory states that the name is derived from the Sanskirit word Kotli which means to reside or take up residence. At one stage the area was inahbited by the Mangran and Solhan people and was called Kotli Solwhan, later to be called just Kotli.
Kotli was a subdivision of Mirpur District up to the year 1975 and was known as Kotli Mangralan. Prior to 1947, it was a part of the Jammu and Kashmir area, it comes under the Jammu section which is part of the greater dispute between India and Pakistan.

Today Kotli is a summer boom town. The town has become a vision of three-storey mansions that have taken over the once-barren roads between the outer ring villages and the ever-expanding city sitting on the brim of the Poonch River.
The most famous and notable buildings are the three Khan-Wali fortresses: Khan-Wali House, Khan-Wali Palace & Khan-Wali Towers.

The Kotli city is famous for its mosques and is often descirbed as Madina-tul-Masajid. The town of Gulhar Sharif in Kotli is a place of great spirtitualism. Here one finds a great mosque located right at the heart of the town.

Kotli district is divided into four tehsils (sub-divisions):
Kotli (City)
Fatehpur Thakiala or Nakyal
Sehnsa
Charhoi
Fagoosh
The district covers a total area of 1862 square kilometres. Kotli is now the largest city by population (656,000). Before the division of Kashmir in 1947, Nakyal was part of Mehndar sub-division of Poonch.

Kotli district is a hilly area with narrow valleys and rises gradually towards the high mountains of Poonch district. These hills are the southern limits of the Pir Panjal Range. Hills are generally covered with coniferous trees. The average height in the eastern and central part of the district is about 1000 meters above sea level. The rest of the area is less than 1000 meters in altitude. Hills are generally covered with coniferous trees. Its climate is more moderate than that of Mirpur due to the sub-mountainous topography. The river Poonch passes through Kotli to be joined by a smaller river called the Baan at Brahli, a short distance from Kotli.

Kotli has a scenic landscape with many mosques. Dahmole is a beautiful village near by Kotli and is a great place to live. At a distance of 26 km from Kotli via a metalled road lies Tattapani, a popular tourist and mythical destination. It is further linked with Hajeera (Poonch). Thousands of people flock to the sulphur springs each year in the hope to find magical cures for illnesses.
Rivers and streams:

The Poonch is the main river in this area, and enters the district from the north at Tatta Pani and flows south passing west of Kotli town and finally enters Mirpur district before flowing into Mangla Lake. Jhelum rivers makes the western boundary of the district and flows in north-south direction. The Rangpur Nala is an important western tributary of the Poonch river while two important streams namely Ban Nala and Mahuli Nala join it from the east. The River Poonch passes through Kotli to be joined by a smaller river called the Baan at Brahli, a short distance from Kotli.
Climate:

The climate of the district Kotli is generally hot in summer and cold in winter. The eastern and northern parts are dry and cold. Where as the western areas are a little hot. June is the hottest month with the mean maximum and minimum temperature of about 38 °C (100 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F) respectively. January is the coldest in month with the mean maximum and minimum temperatures of about 18 °C (64 °F) and 5 °C (41 °F) respectively. The mean annual rainfall is about 1,300 millimetres, more than half of which occurs during July and August.
Places to See:
Saloon:

A small town about 12 km from Nakyal, a central point for many village i.e. Narali, Nada gali, Nail/Bhil, Plaee and Chayer.

On the west side from Kotli there is a smaller town Doongi which leads to khuiratta town.
Dhanna Village:

Dhanna village is the central village from Doongi to Khuiraata. On the outskirts of Khuiratta is the famous Mai Totee darbar, to whom people as far as Mirpur come to pray for.
Teenda:

Teenda is a place of viewpoint linked with metalloid road, 6 kilometers from Kotli. One can have a wonderful view of Kotli City, river Poonch and surrounding areas from this place. To make it an attractive tourist spot, AJK Tourism Department has constructed a Tourist Rest House here to provide accommodation facilities.

38 kilometers from Kotli ahead, a road leads to Khoiratta. Khoiratta and nearby area provide remarkable attraction to tourists because of the remains of gardens and fountains of the older times. Khoi Ratta, lying close to the Cease-Fire-Line, has been the victim of agressive firing and shelling by the Indian army in recent years, causing casualties in the military and civil sector.

Khoiratta and nearby area provide remarkable attraction to tourists because of the remains of gardens and fountains of the older times.

Khuiratta is a very nice place and worth seeing place. Its most area consists of a valley which is named the Bannah valley. All basic needs of everyday life are provided, like electricity, telephone, hospitals and a good networks of roads throughout the whole valley. Its most famous places are dhairy sahibzadian, sairi, manjwal, phalni, bhayyal, gayaen, karjai deehari bagh darbar mai toti and chattar. Literacy rate is very good in this town. There are so many government and private schools and colleges in the Khuiratta town. Government high school khuiratta , holy public college and school the Pasban academy khuiratta are much popular for their eduational level.

Nearby Khoiratta, Banah is a beautiful area full of natural springs and waterfalls. At Bahees Naraha several springs emerge from the mountains.
Fatehpur (Nakyyal):

It is located at a distance of 40 kilometers from Kotli and 181 kilometers from Islamabad. Fatehpur Thakiala was part of Mendhar sub-division of Poonch before the partition of Kashmir in 1947. It is bounded by the Line of Control (boundary between Indian and Pakistan-administered Kashmir) on two sides (north and east). The 1947-48 war between India and Pakistan divided it into two parts. One went to Pakistan and the other became part of India. After the separation from Mendhar it became a tehsil of Kotli District. The old name of this area was Thakiala, named after the Thakial Rajputs who live here since ancient times but it was renamed Fatehpur Thakiala to honour the late Sardar Fateh Muhammad Khan Karelvi.

Due to high altitude (1524 meters) Fatehpur is comparatively a cold place than the rest of the district. A Tourist Rest House provides accommodation facilities to the tourists/ visitors. Nakyal and its surrounding areas are considered among most beautiful parts of Azad Kashmir
Karela Majhan:

From Fatehpur, 10 kilometers ahead is Karela Majhan. Its beauty and neat, clean and peaceful atmosphere inspires everyone visiting the area. A Tourist Rest House is available there.
Tattapani:

At a distance of 26Km from Kotli via a metalled road lies Tattapani, a popular tourist and mythical destination. Thousands of people flock to the Sulphur Springs each year in the hope to find magical cures for illnesses.
Gulpur:

Going on South-West, Gulpur is located on the junction of the Kotli-Mirpur and Kotli-Rawalpindi road. Gulpur is a small town providing for the local villages as well as the residents of a large refugee camp.
Throtchi:

Adjoining Gulpur is Throtchi famous for its castle built in 1460. It was here in 1947, that a contingent of local men headed by Col. Mahmood defeated and chased out the Dogra army. The Dogra soldier were beseiged at the Throtchi Castle until they decided to make a run for Jammu. They were chased through Changpur and Khawas villages, and some through the Mhooli river. They were eventually caught up at a place called Dabrian, near Joona, where a final showdown took place. Many of the Dogra soldiers were killed in the encounter, whilst one or two who were heavily armed managed to retreat towards Jammu. Today, the Late Col. Mahmood is regarded as a celebrated hero and Dabrian is place of national importance.
Sehnsa:

Sehnsa is a large town in Pakistan Administered Azad Kashmir which lies on the west of Gulpur on the Kotli-Rawaplindi road. Sehnsa is a sub-divisional (Thesil) headquarters of Kotli district in the center of Sehnsa valley. It is situated at a distance of 35 km from Kotli. Sehnsa Valley runs from Holar through to Gulpur with beautiful villages and forests. Main occupation in the valley is farming. Nearby is the scenic Bruhian surrounded by Chir forests and natural beauty.
Hajia Abad:

Hajiabad, located on Holar-Kotli road, is a midway point for the travelers coming from Rawalpindi/Islamabad. Khoi Ratta 8 kilometers from Kotli ahead, a road leads to Khoiratta.
Damas:

Damas is a small town on the Khoiratta-Mirpur road. Damas was the site chosen for the plant nursery back in the 1960s when the AJK government propogated a programme of plantation.
Dhungi:

Dhungi valley runs between Kotli and Khoiratta. Maneel, Dhana,Sarhota, Samror, Dhungi and other villages lie within this beautiful valley.
Dhamal:

Dhamal is a small village near Charohi on the Khoiratta-Mirpur road. Apart from a small bazaar, the area has a number of villages of outstanding beauty.
Changpur and Khawas:

Changpur and Khawas are two neigbouring villages near Throtchi in Kotli district. Although they are two distinct administrative villages, they are usually referred together because they share most of the infrastructure (Post Office, School, Medical clinic etc.).
Joona and Dabrian:

Joona and Dabrian are two adjacent villages in Kotli district. It was here in 1947, that a contingent of local men headed by Col. Mahmood defeated and chased out the Dogra army. The Dogra soldier were first beseiged at Throtchi Fort near Gulpur until they decided to make a run for Jammu. They were chased through Changpur and Khawas villages, and some through the Mhooli river. Some Dogra re-enforcements were arriving but they were all eventually caught up in ambush here at Dabrian, near Joona, where a final showdown took place. Many of the Dogra soldiers were killed in the encounter, whilst one or two who were heavily armed managed to retreat towards Jammu. These photos show the fields where the fighting took place.
Holar:

Holar is a small town on the boundary between Pakistan and AJK. The bridge over the river Jhelum marks the soft border between AJK and Pakistan.
Bahees Narrah:

Bahees Narrah (also know as Bahi-Narrah) is a famous place near Khuiratta. This was once the location of 22 water springs which burst out from a mountain side providing fresh water to the locals. It was also a place of reverence in Dogra times. Presently there are only 6 springs prividing water; others having dried up.
Kharjai Fort:

This vast fort near Khoiratta lies in Kharjai village high overlooking the Banaah valley. The grandeur of this fort and the views it offers leave the visitor outstanded. However, the government of AJK has allowed this fort to fall into ruin. Most of the walls have fallen down, property looted and wild growth taken over.

Currently, there is no programme to protect or restore this fort and creeply-crawlies, including snakes, are the guardians here. The AJK government has wasted a collosal potential to develop this heritage site into a tourist destination to serve the public, foreign tourists and students of history.

This fertile valley runs from outskirts of Kotli to Seri and beyond, comprising many villages, small towns and the main city Khuiratta. Here, in this series, we take a trip from Kotli to Gahie village.
Rajdhani:

Rajdhani is a small town on the Kotli-Mirpur road. It is known for farming and the extent of expat population.
Koi:

Koi is a small village in Kotli District, Pakistan. Waterfalls on the river Mhool running through Village Koi, Near Bratla in District Kotli, Azad Kashmir.

This is close to where the famous battle of Dabrian took place. A few heavily armed Dogra soldiers managed to escape to Jammu by following the path of the river Mhool
Where to Stay in Kotli?

You can easily find the hotels, restaurants, and other everyday needs of life. Kotli has all the basic facilities like bazaars, banks, hospital, colleges, telephone & internet cafes etc. A PWD Rest House, Tourist Rest House at Sarda, one at Teenda and middle standard hotels in the city provide accommodation facilities to the visitors. The majority of the local people are in foreign countries for living hoods.
How to Reach:

Kotli is an easy approachable place. If you have landed in Islamabad. Then you can use rent a car or just go to peer Wadhai bus station and you will find commfortable small vans going to Kotli directly. You will reach the town in 3 hours. It is not more than 141 kms journey but the whole journey is full of excitement and thrill. As the zig zag road is moving along the high mountaineous chain.

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