Bagh - Garden of Kashmir

Bagh city is the district headquarters of district Bagh, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan situated at about 100 Kilometers from Muzaffarabad, via Kohallah & 80 Kilometers via Suddhen Gali, 205 Kilometers from Islamabad and 48 kilometers from Rawalakot. This city is situated on the confluence of two mini river- Mahlwani & Mahl, which flow all the year round. It is bounded on the north by Muzaffarabad district, on the east by occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir on the south by Poonch District and on the west by Rawalpindi and Abbottabad Districts of Pakistan. The well recognized "Haji Peer Pass " is about 32 kilometers from Bagh City linked with metaled road. 

The District Bagh, as is reflected from its name (meaning garden), is one of the greenest areas of AJK. Bagh had been a tehsil of Poonch district till 1987 when it was declared an independent district. The same year Bagh district was created consisting three sub-divisions namely Dhirkot, Bagh and Haveli with its headquarters at Bagh. It is said that a Bagh (garden) was set up by the landowner, where now the premises of the Forest Department is located. Resultantly, the area was named as “Bagh”, which is now the district headquarters.

The working population of Bagh District is engaged in two major sectors i.e. agriculture/forestry and services/public administration. The people of Bagh are brave, courageous and skilled, especially the artificers in the field of bakery and confectionery.

The entire Bagh district is mountainous area, generally sloping from north­east to south-west. The area falls in lesser Himalayas zone. The main range in district is Pir-Panjal. The Haji-Pir Pass is at the height of 3421 meters above sea level. The general elevation is between 1500 and 2500 meters above sea level. Mountains are generally covered with coniferous forests. Mahl Nala in Bagh sub-division and Betar Nala in Haveli sub-division are the two main streams. However, other numerous rivulets flow in the district. 

Pine, kail, fir and other trees like poplar, shisham, kikar, willow, walnut, ban-akhore, chinar and mannu are found in abundance in the district. Among flowers zianna, dahlia, merrygold, cosmos, daffodil, aster and rose of different kinds are found in the district. Mostly the population of the rural areas is eagerly devoted to plantation of fruit plants to meet the needs of people. For this purpose agricultural and fruit nurseries have been established by the Agriculture Department. Wild life of the district is mostly confined in Haveli range where Markhore, Himalayan thar, leopard cat and bear are found. Among birds murgh zareen, chakore and moned pheasant are available. Murgh zareen and shahin are confined to forests at high hills and chakore is commonly found in the lower plants. The major crops of the district are maize and wheat but at some places rice, gram, bajra and jawar are also cultivated. Pulses of different kinds are also grown in different areas of the district. Similarly the soil of the district is also ideal for sunflower, mustard and basmati rice. Ponies and donkeys are kept for carrying load. Buffalos and sheep/goat are kept almost in every home for milk and other dairy products.

Two flour mills, one at Kohala and other at Arja are operative. No other industry has so far been established in the district. Wool spinning on hand looms is carried out throughout the district. The articles made from these hand looms, are for domestic use only. The main trade centers of the district are at Dhirkot, Bagh and Kahuta. Since there is no industry in the district, therefore, all essential commodities like textiles, leather goods and other items of daily use are imported from various markets of Pakistan. The major export of the district is apple.

Special Communication Organization (SCO) operates an extensive telephone network in the district and all main towns of the district have telephone connectivity. There are 8 digital exchanges, 12 non-digital exchanges and 2 under construction digital exchanges in District Bagh. Cellular phone services with considerable coverage have also become available after the earthquake.

Bagh is linked with Mangla Dam grid system. The distribution network within the city and rest of the district is the responsibility of AJ&K Electricity Department. In rural areas percentage stood at 66.53% and for urban it was 97.78%. However, reportedly prior to earthquake and even after earthquake, almost 100% population of District Bagh has access to electricity.

Places to See:
Bagh has developed into a good city and trade center after creation of district headquarters in 1987. Dhirkot, Kahuta, Yadgar Huda Bhari, Fort Bagh, Sudhan Gali, Neela Butt, Hanse Chowki, Neela Butt, Las Danna, Mahmood Galli, Havaily and Ganga Choti and Darra Haji-Pir are the main scenic spots of district Bagh.

Sudhan Gali:
Sudhan Gali located at a height of 2134m above sea-level and a short distance from Bagh. This scenic spot also serves as a base camp for those going hiking/trekking to the nearby 3045m high mountain, Ganga Choti. 

One can reach Sudhan Gali from Muzaffarabad or Bagh. It takes around a couple of hours to reach here on public or a hired transport from Bagh. Local transport for Sudhan Gali leaves near the Al-Noor hotel. The other option is to come from Muzaffarabad via Garhi Dopatta and Chakar. This option takes around 4 hours. There is an unconfirmed report of a proposed plan to develop a road and even a chair-lift from Sudhan Gali to Ganga. This might result in an increase of tourism but would definitely be a disaster for its natural environment and beauty.

There are two rest houses available at Sudhan Gali for accommodation which are being maintained by the AJK Tourism department and Public Works Department (PWD) respectively. Reservations for Tourism rest house can be taken from their office in Muzaffarabad. However for PWD rest house, the request is generally declined unless one has strong reference in the department. Accommodation in the Govt. Rest House can be booked through the Tourist Board offices in Bagh and Muzaffarabad.

Dheerkot is a facinating and charming place located 24Km from Kohala. Situated at 1676m above sea-level, Dhirkot possesses an extremely pleasant and healthy climate. The place is very popular among people mainly due to easy access, suitable altitude and beautiful landscape with Deodar and kail forests.

In the heart of the calm and quite Deodar and Kail mixed forest, there is a posh Forest rest house, three Tourist Huts and a Log Hut, which are greatly sought after by tourists in summer. Dheerkot is linked with all parts of Azad Kashmir by black top roads and direct transport services are also available.

Neela Butt: 
From Dheerkot towards southeast 6 Km ahead, this spot is situated at an altitude of 2000 meters. Besides its scenic beauty, this place is well-known for its historic background. On August 23, 1947 the Mujahideen-e-Azadi assembled at this place and started armed struggle for accession to Pakistan . Sufficient accommodation facilities are available here for visitors.

Las Danna:
From Bagh, a 15 kilometers long mettalled road leads to Las Danna which is a place of captivating scenes and natural beauty. From Lasdanna, three roads branch off the main road i.e. Mahmood gali-Palangi, Haji pir- Aliabad and Abbasspur- Hajira respectively. A tourist rest house is available here for accommodation.

Mallot is a town in Bagh District, Azad Kashmir. It is situated 17km north west from Bagh city and to the east of Dhirkot with an altitude of 2,000 metres. As well as its scenery the area is known for its historic background.

Mallot is well connected with major roads, it's connected with the Main Rawalpindi-Bagh road via Jaglari Namanpora, from the south west it’s connected via Harigehl, from the west it’s connected via Challa, from north west it’s connected via Bisbagla Dhirkot, from north east it’s connected via Thob, Panili road.

There is one girls inter college and one boys inter science college and some private schools. In addition many primary and middle schools for both boys and girls are also available in the surrounding villages.

There is one Special Communication Organization's digital exchange which is providing the communication facilities to surrounding villages through landlines and also some major private companies boosters are functioning in the area such as Telenor, Ufone and Mobilink.

Kohala is a place of historical importance in Bagh and the gateway of Kashmir. Situated on the River Jhelum, north of Murree, south of Muzaffarabad, and east of Circle Bakote. Kohala has been a transportation centre for goods since the Vedic Age. It gained military importance in 1814 when Maharaja of Kashmir Gulab Singh developed it as a business centre for Hindu merchants. Kohala is the site of the well-known Kohala Bridge across the Jhelum. Kohala is a gateway to enter the Muzaffarabad and Bagh district of AJK. It is a unique place where the Punjab, Kashmir and NWFP boundaries touch each other. Kohala was almost wiped away in 1992 floods but later on the resilience of local Dhondes restored the market back. The only bridge collapsed as a results of high tides of water and wood logs striking the pillars and structure. Later on the bridge was restored and one more bridge was erected in parallel. Another concrete bridge was built by Gammon a kilometre towards Murree. The place is known as Gujjar Kohala and traffic for Bagh diverges from that place.

Birpani is 250 kilometres from Kohala, and 500 kilometres from Islamabad. This town is situated on the confluence of two mini nallahs, the Birpani Nallah and the Dhaki Nallah , which flow all the year round.

The population of Birpani is around 8,000 which includes many tribes, the main tribe in the village are the Maldial (Mughal). The literacy rate is about more then 70%.

There are many schools, colleges, hospitals etc, a develop village throughout the District. There is one girls inter college and one boys higher secondary school in Birpani and many private schools.

Birpani is a union council and so administers other villages e.g Surrol, Dhal Qazian, Ratnoi, Bani Minhasan, and Khawaja. The Bazar of Birpani includes more than 150 shops.There is one Special Communication Organization's digital exchange which is providing the communication facilities to surrounding villages through landlines and also some major private companies boosters are functioning in the area such as Telenor, Ufone, Warid, Paktel, Scom and Mobilink.

Ganga Choti:
Ganga Peak, more commonly known as Ganga Choti among locals is located in the Bagh district of Azad Kashmir. It is also visible from Bagh city and is often called as the Crown of Bagh. Ganga Choti is approachable from Sudhan Gali, Dist Bagh, it is four hours trek and it is strenous trek since you have to gain hight at every step, there is very rare flat grounds on this trek. Ganga Choti is a scenic peak village Bani Minhasan in Bagh District, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. It is 10200 feet (3045 meters) high. It is an attraction for tourists in that area. It is situated in the Pir Panjal Range.

Hike for Ganga peak starts from the town of Sudhan Gali which is at a height of 2200 meters from sea level. From there, the peak can be reached through a 3-4 hours easy hike. People in Chanari climb Ganga from that side.

The hike  to Ganga offers some very nice views of the valley and meadows. From the peak one can have a 360 degree panoramic view of the whole area. The nearest peak higher from Ganga Peak is called Pir Kanthi, which is at an aerial disttance of about 10 km from it. In winters this whole area is heavily covered by snow so the best time to visit it is from April to August. The recommended place for camping is the base of Ganga Peak near the shepherd’s huts.

Some More Notable Areas of Bagh:
Baghsar - The biggest village in district bagh.

Sahlian Maldialan - Village with a population of almost 10,000, 2 km from Bagh in Azad Kashmir. It is surrounded by Nala Maahl, Vill Dharay, Naryola and Singhola. Its total land is 22,000 kanals. It has a forest covering an area of almost 5000 kanals. Its highest point is Blair Potha and its lowest point is Mung Bazar. A proposed ring road touches Sahlian Maldialan at Mung Sahlian via Mung Bazar Bridge.

Kafal Ghar - The native village of Amerr-e-Shariat Mualana Muhammad Abdullah, a great Leader that provoke the people against the Dogra government for freedom.

Nar Sher Ali Khan - A Union Council 15 km from Bagh In the Bases (Daman) of Lasdana; all the homes here were damaged or destroyed during the 2005 earthquake.

Mahldara - A village about 8 km north of Bagh City.

Haveli District - Haveli is a new district of Azad Kashmir that was formerly part of Bagh District. It is central to other villages like Gugdar, Pallangi, Hotar, Bandi Chakyas, Hillan, Jabbi Syedan and Soli.

Munasa - A village 11 km from Kohala going toward Dhirkot.

Rehra - Rera village is located about 10 km from Bagh. It is located between two streams: Seri Kathi Mahal and Dullahi Mahal.

Forward Kahuta - Forward Kahuta is near the border with India. It is a new Tehsil and business centre of Havaili District. 

Ringoli - Different fruits and crops are the main products of this area. Most people depend on government jobs to fulfill their needs. There is lack of quality education and there is need of reforms to provide better education.

Thub Thakyalan is the one of places where a majority of people are Thakyal Rajputs. It is 22 kilometers for away from Bagh. Thub Thakyalan is the largest union council of Bagh District.

Gehl Rawll.It is a thickly populated famous village of District Bagh located between villages Bandi in north east, Salot and Hotrory in north west,Badiar and Hamomora in west and Muhri Farman Shah in south, at crow flight distance of 13 Kilometers and Road distance of 22 Kilometers from District Headquartes Bagh. Agriculture is a speciality of this beautiful area.

Bees Bagla is a town of Bagh District, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. It is 25 km away from Bagh at North East and 8,000 feet above sea level. It is the central place of four sub villages, including Bhutti Sharif, Pas Jhola, Kurree and Channat. The majority of the people are Narma Rajpoots, and minorities includes Sudhans, Syeds and Tezyal Rajpoots. The people of Bees Bagla are well educated and highly qualified. 

Where to Stay:
Middle standard hotels, PWD and Forest rest houses are available for visitors, whereas, all the basic necessities of life are available in the Bagh bazars.

How to Reach:
Bagh town can be visited year round. This town is accessible by metal roads from Rawalpindi, District Muzffarabad and District Poonch. You can drive in your own car, van or bus to Bagh (166 km. from Rawalpinid, 100 km from Muzaffarabad via kohalla, and 46 km from Rawalakot). Bagh Azad Kashmir is also linked with Muzaffarabad via Sudhan Gali with the distance of 86 km.

Bagh district is connected with Rawalpindi by two roads: 

1) Bagh - Tain Dhalkot - Kotli Sattian Road.
2) Bagh - Kohala - Murree road.

Bagh is also connected with Kohala, Haveli via Suddhan Gali and Mallot Las Dana through metalled roads. Besides above, 3187 km kacha/pakka link roads are constructed under Local Government and World Food Programme (WFP) projects.


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