Monday, 4 July 2016


Harappa is a large village presently in the province of Punjab in Pakistan. The modern town is a part of, and lies next to, the ancient city. The site of Harappa is important in that it has provided proof of not just the Indus Valley Civilization as it was in its prime, but also of preceding and succeeding cultures as well and is the only site included in this category. The old path of the Ravi River runs to the north of the site, which has since shifted six miles further north.

it is speculated that its oldest mention is in the Rigveda, as the scene of the defeat of the Vrcivants by Abhyavartin Cayamana. The name is recorded as Hari-Yupuya. The previous inhabitants were presumably non-Aryans who were vanquished. Thus it might be said that this site is one of the famed sites where the so-called Aryans overcame the local population and established their dominance. However, until further proof is uncovered to support the theory, this is mostly conjecture. 
The first visit to Harappa was made in 1826 CE by James Lewis, who was a British army deserter and roamed the Punjab and North West areas in search of antiquarian remains. On his journey to Multan he approached Harappa and had the following words in description for it, as recorded by Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry in his book:

"East of the village was an abundance of luxuriant grass, where along with many others, I went to allow my nag to graze. When I joined the camp I found it in front of the village and ruinous brick castle. Behind us was a large circular mound, or eminence, and to the west was an irregular rocky height crowned with remains of buildings, in fragments of walls, with niches, after the eastern manner. The latter elevation was undoubtedly a natural object; the former being of earth only, was obviously an artificial one …The walls and towers of the castle are remarkably high, though, from having been long deserted, they exhibit in some parts the ravages of time and decay. Between our camp and it, (there) extended a deep trench, now overgrown with grass and plants. Tradition affirms the existence here of a city, so considerable that it extended to Chicha Watni, and that it was destroyed by a particular visitation of Providence, brought down by the lust and crimes of the sovereigns."

Lewis related the city to Sangala from the age of Alexander (1300 years previous) by which he was mistaken in his assumption. Later in 1831 CE, an emissary from King William IV, namely Alexander Burnes, recorded the extensive remains at Harappa while travelling from Multan to Lahore to deliver gifts of horses from the King of England to Ranjit Singh. He has also described Harappa while on the same route:
"About fifty miles eastward of Toolumba, I passed inland for four miles to examine the ruins of an ancient city, called Harappa. The remains are extensive, and the place, which has been built of brick, is about three miles in circumference. There is a ruined citadel on the river side of the town; but otherwise Harappa is a perfect chaos, and has not an entire building: the bricks have been removed to build a small place of the old name heard by tradition fixes the fall of Harappa at the same period as Shortkot (1300 years ago), and the people ascribe its ruin to the vengeance of God on Harappa; its governor, who claimed certain priveleges on the marriage of every couple in his city, and in the course of his sensualities, was guilty of incest…I have found coins in these ruins, both Persian and Hindu, but I cannot fix its era from any of them."

However, their records were noticed by Alexander Cunningham, who visited the site in 1853 CE and 1856 CE, resulting in a small excavation in 1872 CE, which then identifies the site with that of Malii, which Alexander had ordered to be blockaded when he invaded the subcontinent. That city was near extensive marshes and to the east or south-east of Kot Kamalia, and Harappa lies exactly in such a place on the banks of the old course of the Indus and 16 miles east-south-east of Kot Kamalia.
The site even at this time was used as a brick quarry by brick robbers working on the Multan Railway, in the same way that Mohenjo-Daro and Kalibangan became quarries for the Sind and Bikaner Railways respectively. During his excavations Cunningham found pottery, chert blades, and a seal. Cunningham termed the seal foreign to India at that time. Also according to locals, the citadel hill was the site of a major Hindu temple that was destroyed and was at the time the site of a tomb of Nur Shah. Some artifacts were found with this tomb. The bricks taken from the site were more than enough to furnish 100 miles of the Lahore Multan Railway, testifying to the scale of the buildings that existed there. Despite several excavations, Cunningham found very little to preserve as the majority of the settlement had been stripped of bricks. Subsequent excavations at Kalibangan, Suktagendor and Mohenjo-Daro revealed the extent of this civilization, but it wasn’t until 1922 that extensive investigations were carried out at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa and the corresponding sites were labeled as the Indus Valley Civilization.

John Marshal then sent a deputy, Harry Hargreaves, on an inspection of Harappa in 1914 CE to determine if it should be further excavated, and it was his work that allowed the acquisition of the Harappan mounds for further study. Further seals were found and similar seals were found in Mesopotamia which pushed the age of these sites beyond even what had been previously considered into the 3rd-4th millennium BCE and this was attested by Dr Ernst Mckay as well who was working at Kish in Sumeria. John Marshal abandoned his Taxila digs to work on the sites in Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in 1923-24 CE and this is considered the point where the Indus Civilization is finally considered to have been identified. Other archaeologists who worked on the IVC at this time were Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni, Madho Sarup Vats, Rakhal Das Banerjee, Ahmad Hasan Dani, Aurel Stein and E. J. H. MacKay. Mortimer Wheeler then took over the excavations in 1944 CE and continued this into the post partition era when he was archaeological adviser to the government of Pakistan. The later work of Dales, Meadow and Kenoyer specifically in Mound E has pushed the historical dates back to the early 4th millenium BCE.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Muzaffarabad Pakistan

Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) extends from the plains of Punjab near Jhelum up through Mangla Lake to the foot hills of the Himalayas, and north to the mountains 6000-20000 feet above sea level. It is drained by three major rivers the Jhelum, the Neelum and the Poonch. The valleys are green and wooded. Muzaffarabad is the capital of Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, situated at the confluence of the Jhelum and Neelum rivers. This city is located in Muzaffarabad District on the banks of the Jhelum and Neelum rivers. It is 138 kilometres from Rawalpindi and Islamabad and about 76 kilometres from Abbottabad. The Muzaffarabad district is bounded by North-West Frontier Province in the west, by the Kupwara and Baramulla districts of on the Indian side of the Line of Control in the east, and the Neelum District of Azad Kashmir in the north.

Muzaffarabad city is one of the major cities in Pakistan. It is a hilly area and consists of wonderful cliffs. It is located in the Muzaffarabad district and ranks among the major tourist destinations in Pakistan. Thousands of tourists and travelers visit Muzaffarabad from all over the world. The scenic beauty and diverse culture of the place makes it a popular holiday spot. Rice and maize are widely grown. Varoius plants like resin, Deodar, Kail, Chir, Fir, Maple and Ash Timbers etc are exist.
Muzaffarabad is also well known for its beautiful gardens, forests, valleys, rivers and mountains. It is a popular holiday spot in the country. The idyllic landscape of the city makes it popular to both local people and foreign tourists. Muzaffarabad is a scenic tourist destination. Administrative capital of Kashmir, Muzaffarabad offers tourists stunning views and exciting trekking trails.

Being the capital city Muzaffarabad is not only the hub of political and cultural activities but it also serves as a base camp for the tourists. It has various spots of leisure. View point Sathra, a public place, unravels the panorama of the entire city before a beholder. The junction point of the river Neelum and Jhelum presents a majic beauty from here. Lohar Gali, situated 9 kilometers from Muzaffarabad on Abbottabad road. The Red fort is a witness to the ancient history of this great city. The local market in Muzaffarabad can be explored for walnut carvings, kashmiri shawls and other traditional handicrafts. It is always possible to get a good bargain. It has besides official buildings; farms, parks and historic fort standing on the bank of the Neelum. Shopping is an exciting activity in Muzaffarabad and you can shop for Kashmiri shawls and walnut carvings. Touring in the city is also easy and convenient as there are wide modes of transportation available. Travelers who wish to tour Muzaffarabad should have proper information about the city and keep the travel tips in mind for a safe and enjoyable tour.  Past the Red fort, crossing Neelum river at Ghori, a few km way is 'Makra mountain' 3,890 meters which is visible from Muzaffarabad and continues on to Shogran in the Kaghan Valley. This is a superb short trek, although you need to camp overnight halfway.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016


The Makran region surrounding Gwadar was occupied by unknown Bronze age people who settled in the few oases. It later became the Gedrosia region of the Achaemenid Persian empire. The region is believed to have been conquered by the founder of the Persian empire, Cyrus the Great. The capital of the satrapy Gedrosia was Pura, thought to have been located near modern Bampur, in modern Iranian Balochistan. During the homeward march of Alexander the Great, his admiral Nearchus led a fleet along the modern Makran coast and recorded that the area was dry and mountainous, inhabited by the Ichthyophagoi or Fish eaters – a Greek rendering of the ancient Persian phrase Mahi khoran, which has become the modern word Makran.

After the collapse of Alexander’s empire, the area was ruled by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander’s generals, but the region came under local rule about 303 BC. For several centuries, the region remained at the sidelines of history, until the Muslim Arab army under Muhammad bin Qasim captured the town of Gwadar in 711 AD. In the following centuries the area was contested between various Iranian and Indian based powers including the Mughals and the Safavids.

Portuguese explorers captured and sacked Gwadar in the late 16th century. This was followed by centuries of local rule by various Baloch tribes. In 1783 the Khan of Kalat granted Gwadar to Taimur Sultan, the defeated ruler of Muscat. When Taimur recaptured Muscat, he continued to rule Gwadar by appointing a wali or governor. The new governor was ordered to conquer the nearby coastal town of Chah Bahar (in modern Iran). Gwadar fort was built during Omani rule, whilst telegraph lines were extended into Gwadar courtesy of the British. In 1958, the Gwadar enclave was transferred to Pakistan and was made part of Balochistan province.

In 2002, Gwadar Port project to build a large deep-sea port was begun in the town. The government of Pakistan intends to develop the entire area in order to reduce reliance on Karachi for shipping. In addition to expanding port facilities, the project aims to build industrial complexes in the area, and to connect the town via a modern highway to the rest of Pakistan. The People’s Republic of China is providing help on the project, and the first phase was completed by the end of 2004.

China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) is a mega project of USD 45+ billion taking the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and China to new heights. The project is the beginning of a journey of prosperity of Pakistan and China’s Xinjiang. The economic corridor is about 3000 Kilometres long consisting of highways, railways and pipelines that will connect China’s Xinjiang province to rest of the world through Pakistan’s Gwadar port.

It is no secret that Pak-China bilateral relations have been strong since the beginning. Pak-China economic corridor is the latest megaproject between these two countries which will help to connect the port city Gwadar to the Chinese region Xinjiang. This project will help to strengthen the relationship between two countries and will also bring prosperity to the region. Pakistan has been in constant attack from certain terrorist elements and such initiatives will help the country to start its journey towards stability. This megaproject will be of 3000 KM and both countries will be connected through highways, railways and pipelines.


Sunday, 26 June 2016


Chitral, a district of the KPK province in Pakistan, to the indigenous people is Chetrar while in ancient times it was called Qashqar or Kashqar.

Historians, anthropologists, authors, travelogue writers and others have described Chitral as the most romantic, captivating and enchanting place tugged into the mighty Hindukush mountains in the extreme north-west of Pakistan with the indigenous Khowar-speaking people proud of their centuries-old unique culture and traditions.

Chitral is bordered in the east with Gilgit-Baltistan, south-east Swat valley, north and north-east by China and the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan, and in the west by the Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. In the south of Chitral is situated the Upper Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkha province.
When one enters Chitral through any of the two main routes – Lowari Pass or Lowari Tunnel and Shandur Psss – the landscape inspires the visitor. Chitral is gifted with extremely mysterious and steep harsh mountains, lush green valleys, beautiful meadows and huge glaciers. Chitral is divided into small valleys numbering about 35. The most important and worth seeing of these sub-valleys are the Kalash valleys, Garam Chashma, Shishi Koh, Mastuj, Laspur, Yarkhun, Tor Khow and Mor Khow. The highest peak in this range of the Hindukush is Terichmir, which lies at a height of 25,263 feet, just 36 miles away in the north-east of Chitral town. It is also called the palace of fairies. No mountain in the region is less than 4,000 feet and over 40 peaks have an altitude of 20,000 feet.
Chitral lies at an elevation of 4,900 feet from the sea level. The total area of Chitral is 14,850 square kilometers and this area is situated between 35 & 37 N latitude and 71 & 22 and 74 E longitude.
In 1998, the population of Chitral was 318,689, and according to latest estimate it has crossed the mark of 500,000 now (2014).


The weather of Chitral is extremely harsh and cold in the winter and pleasant in the summer. The best season to visit the valley is from May to September. Temperatures in summer range between 25 and 40 degrees Celsius while in the winters it plunge below minus.

There are a number of famous places in Chitral such as Drosh, Ayun, Madaklasht, Arandu, Birir, Rumbur and Bumburate; Garam Chashma, Reshun, Booni. The Kalash valleys are the repository of one of the unique cultures and mysterious histories of the world. This culture is certainly the residuary of the pre-historic age.
For the last about two decades, Shandur, the world’s highest polo ground, has become famous all around the world for the annual polo festival. Shandur is located on the mountainous area between Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan and its is about 100 kilometres from Chitral town and 40 kilometres from Mastuj in Upper Chitral.

The people of Chitral are called Khow who have a great ethnic diversity. In the past, till the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Chitral used to be an independent princely state. When Pakistan came into being, the state of Chitral was the first to declare accession to the new country. In the year 1969, Chitral was merged into the Malakand division of the then NWFP as a settled district. Chitral lies at the junction of old Chinese Empire, Indian Empire, the ex-Russian Empire and the former Afghan kingdom. It caught the eyes of the British Empire when after feeling the sense of Russian danger, the British government of India sought new friends in mountainous range and the tribal belt. Then Major John Bidulph visited the country in 1876 and reported to the government of India about the utility of Chitral. So friendship between the British and Chitral started which resulted in the famous Chitral incident of 1895.

From ancient times, Chitral was an important point on the trade routes from northern Afghanistan (ancient Bactria) and the Tarim Basin to the plains of Gandhara (in northern Pakistan), and the region near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. Chitral nevertheless remained an independent state for centuries with its own culture and language. In the late nineteenth century it became part of British India. It was a princely state in 1947, which acceded to Pakistan in that year. The rule of the Mehtar came to an end in 1954 and power was henceforth exercised by the political agent posted at Chitral. The state was merged into Pakistan in July 1969. The recorded history of Chitral is divided into six epochs as follows:


The Achemeanian Empire of Persia was extended to these regions during 400 BC. Its more than two thousand years since this empire receded but its supremacy was so strongly established that many Persian cultural traits are still in practice in Northern Areas as well as few parts of Chitral. In some valleys surrounding Chitral such as Wakhan, Shaghnan, and upper parts of Chitral people speak Persian language. Even Khowar, which is the native language of the local people (Khow), contains much borrowing from Persian.
Zoroastrianism, an Old Persian religion, has also left behind some of its traces in this area. Traditions also tell about leaving of dead bodies unburied in caves in the wilderness or in the hollow of trees. Such practices were specific in this religion. A festival on 21st March (Nouroz) the first day in Persian calendar still prevails in Chitral. It is celebrated in few valleys every year. (Israr, Chitral a historical sketch).


The Kushan dynasty established its rule in this area in 200 AD. In the second century Kanishka the most powerful emperor of Kushan dynasty had extended his rule all over Northern India, probably as far as south Vindyas and all over the remote region up to Khotan beyond the Pamir pass.


The Chinese extended their influence in the 4th century AD and remained in power until the 8th century. The rock inscription of Pakhtoridini near Maroi refers to Chinese rule. Another inscription in Barenis refers to the Kushans. According to Sir Aurel Stien, the inscription says that Jivarman ordered to make the pertinent drawing of a stupa. Such rock carvings have created confusion for writers like Buddulph and many others to believe that Chitral formed part of the last Hindu Shahi ruler of Kabul. It’s also believed that the northern parts had embraced Islam by the end of 9th century when Arabs defeated Bahman, chief of the country. By the time of withdrawal of Arabs many people had accepted Islam. (Souvenir, 2nd Hindukush Cultural Conference, p.19-21)


In the 11th century AD southern Chitral was invaded by the Kalash from Afghanistan, who occupied the country as far to the North as Barenis village, while the upper parts were under another chief Sumalik. Some Kalash chiefs such as Nagar Shah and Bala Sing ruled southern Chitral from 11th to 13th centuries A.D.

In the beginning of 11th century Shah Nadir Rais occupied southern Chitral and defeated the Kalash. Shah Nadir Rais extended his dominion from Gilgit to the present southern boundaries of Chitral. Rais family ruled over Chitral for about three hundred years when
Katura family succeeded them.
During the Rais rule in Chitral its boundaries extended from Narsut in the extreme south of the state to Gilgit in the east. The rulers had an effective council of chiefs of the local tribes to run the affairs of the country. The ruler of this family also worked for the dissemination of the teachings of Islam in the state.
There were no regular state forces to defend the state frontiers so the local headmen and chiefs called all the persons of their tribes to fight for the state under the collective defense system. The Mehtar (ruler) had friendly relations with the rulers of surrounding countries. (Baig, Hindu Kush study series vol. two)


The Katur succeeded the Rais dynasty in 1595. Muhtaram Shah I was the founder of Kature rule in Chitral, whose descendants ruled over Chitral until 1969 when the State was merged as a district of NWFP.
During the rule of Amirul Mulk in 1895, Umra Khan the chief of Jandool crossed the Lawari pass and invaded lower Chitral. As a result, there was fierce fighting in which the Mehtar of Chitral and British officers were besieged in Chitral fort for 42 days. Troops from Gilgit and Nowshera came to the rescue of the besieged fort and the British rule was extended over entire Chitral in April 1895. Shuja ul Mulk emerged as the ruler after the war who ruled for 42 years until 1936.
During the Pakistan movement there was a campaign in Chitral in favor of independence. The people backed All India Muslim League with the then Mehtar Muzafarul Mulk also openly backing the Pakistan movement. In May 1947, Muzafarul Mulk informed the Viceroy about his intention to join the new state of Pakistan. The accession instrument was signed on November 7, 1947.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Baltit Fort

In olden times a number of small independent states existed in the history of Northern Areas of Pakistan. Among them Hunza and Nager were the traditional rival states, situated on opposite sides of the Hunza (kanjut) river. The rulers of these two states, known as Thámo / Mirs (Thάm=S), built various strongholds to express their power.

According to historical sources {Ref: Tarikh-e-Ehd Atiiq Riyasat Hunza by Haji Qudratullah Baig, Pub: S.T.Printers Rawalpindi 1980 Pakistan}, the Hunza rulers initially resided in the Altit Fort, but later as a result of a conflict between the two sons of the ruler Sultan, Shah Abbas (Shάboos) and Ali Khan (Aliqhάn), Shaboos shifted to the Baltit Fort, making it the capital seat of Hunza. The power struggle between the two brothers eventually resulted in the death of younger one, and so Baltit Fort further established itself as the prime seat of power in the Hunza stat

 Hunza Baltit Fort During Winter 2006 (Photo by: E.U.Baig)

The rich beauty of Baltit Fort can be traced to over seven hundred 700 years ago. Ayasho II, Tham / Mir of Hunza in the early 15th fifteenth century married Princess Shah Khatoon (Sha Qhatun) from Baltistan (In Moghul history Baltistan is called Tibet Khurd mean, little Tibet), and was the first to modify the face of Altit and, subsequently Baltit Fort. Baltistan meaning land of Balti people had a very strong cultural and ethnical relation with the Ladakh territory of India then. Consequently, the structure of Baltit Fort was influenced by the Ladakhi / Tibetan architecture, with some resemblance to the Potala palace in Lahasa. Then additions, renovations and changes to the building were being made through the centuries by the long line of rulers of the Hunza that followed.

A veritable treasure house for ancient forts, the Northern Areas of Pakistan lost most of its glorious built heritage around the 19th century as a result of the destructive attacks by the Maharja of Kashmir.
     Altit Village & Fort, January 2006 (Photo by: E.U.Baig)    
However, in this regard people of Hunza were exceptionally fortunate to successfully defend against the invasions of Maharaja Kashmir four times.
{Ref: Tribes of Hindoo Koosh by John Biddulph Chapter: II Page: 29, Pub: The Superintendent of Government Printing-Calcutta India 1880, Reprint: Ali Kamran Publishers, Lahore-Pakistan 1995. First attack 1848, 2nd attack: 1865, 3rd attack 1866 and 4rth attack 1888 Ref: Beg Qudratullah}
One of the biggest changes in the structure of Baltit Fort came with the invasion of British in December 1891. Tham / Mir Safdarali Khan, ruler of Hunza his wazir Dadu (Thara Baig III), fled to Kashgar (China) for political asylum with their fellows and families. With the conquest of Hunza and Nager states by the British forces in December 1891, the fortified wall and watch towers of the old Baltit village and watch towers of the Baltit Fort on its north-western end were also demolished as desired by the British authorities.

The British installed his younger brother Tham / Mir Sir Muhammad Nazim Khan K.C.I.E, as the ruler of Hunza state inSeptember 1892 {Ref: History of Northern Areas of Pakistan by Prof. A.H.Dani, Page:285 Pub: Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore Pakistan, Reprinted: 2007}.

During his reign, Tham / Mir Nazeem Khan made several major alterations to the Baltit Fort. He demolished a number of rooms of third floor and added a few rooms in the British colonial style on the front elevation, using lime wash and colour glass panel windows.Baltit Fort remained officially inhabited until 1945, when the last ruler of Hunza, Mir Muhammad Jmamal Khan, moved to a new palace further down the hill, where the present Mir of Hunza Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan (Current Chief Executive of Northern Areas) and his family are residing.

With no proper authority entrusted to care for it, the Fort was exposed to the ravages of time and over the years its structure weakened and began to deteriorate. His Highness Aga Khan IV initiated the restoration efforts for Baltit Fort in 1990, when Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan the son of last ruler of Hunza, Tham / Mir Muhammad Jamal Khan and his family generously donated the Fort to the Baltit Heritage Trust, a public charity formed for the explicit purpose of owning and maintaining the Fort.

The restoration undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva in association with the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (Pakistan), took six years to complete.

The project was supported by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture as the main donor through its Historic Cities Support Programme, as well as by the Getty Grant Program (USA), NORAD (Norway) and the French Government. The restored Fort, resplendent in its regal glory was inaugurated on September 29, 1996 in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan IV and the president of Pakistan Farooq Ahmad Khan Laghari. It is now operated and maintained by the Baltit Heritage Trust and is open to visitors. Preservation at its best, the Baltit Fort serves as a perfect example of culture restored and preserved for the future generations of the mountain people.