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).
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.
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):
Fatehpur Thakiala or Nakyal
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.
Rivers and streams:
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:
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 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 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.
Khoiratta and nearby area provide remarkable attraction to tourists because of the remains of gardens and fountains of the older times.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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:
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.
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.
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 is a small town on the Kotli-Mirpur road. It is known for farming and the extent of expat population.
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:
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: