Chakwal (Urdu: چکوال) is the main town of Chakwal District, Punjab, Pakistan and is located 90 km south-east of the federal capital, Islamabad. As noted in District Gazeteer Jhellum 1904, the city is named after Chaudhry Chaku Khan , chief of the Mair Minhas Rajput tribe from Jammu, who founded it in 1525 C.E during the era of the Mughal Emperor, Zaheerudun Babur. It remained a small but central town of Taluka Dhan Chaurasi for many centuries. In 1881, during the British era, it was declared the Tehsil Headquarter. It was finally upgraded to district status in 1985 by the President of Pakistan, General Zia ul Haq.
Existence of the Soan culture finds its home on the Pothohar plateau. The Indus Valley civilization is known to have flourished in this region between the 23rd and 18th centuries BC. Some of the earliest Stone Age artefacts in the world have been found on the plateau, dating from 500,000 to 100,000 years. The crude stone recovered from the terraces of the Soan carry the account of human grind and endeavours in this part of the world from the inter-glacial period. The Stone Age people produced their equipment in a sufficiently homogeneous way to justify their grouping. Around 3000 BC, small village communities developed in the Pothohar area, which led to the early roots of civilization.
The people of Pothohar speak Pothohari. However, the people of Chakwal or the Dhanni area in particular don't speak Pothohari and hence are ethnologically not regarded as Potoharis. In fact, they speak a distinctive Chakwali or Dhani dialect of Punjabi, which is closer to dialects spoken in Shahpur-Salt Range area and also has a slight tinge of Sarieki.
As the tradition goes, in the year 1190 C.E, Raja Bhagir Dev, a Jamwal prince, while on a hunting expedition fell in love with a Muslim woman belonging to a tribe of wandering Gujjar grazers. In order to marry her, he converted to Islam and consequently was asked by his father to stay away from Jammu and settle in this tract along with his men. Raja Bhagir Dev was named Muhammed Mair after conversion to Islam and his descendants as Mair-Minhas Rajputs. The Mairs preferred pastoral rather than agricultural pursuits for the next few centuries; but remained confined to this area.
When around 1525 C.E, the Mughal King Babur stopped by in this area on his way to Kashmir, his army was ambushed by the hostile tribes from the adjoining areas. However, the herds owned by the Mairs came in their way and Babur's Army was awaken, hence the hostile Rajputs had to flee. The next morning, the Mughal King summoned the chief of the tribe, Raja Sidhar and offered him two thirds of the land of Dhanni, if he provided labour to help the Kassar tribesmen to drain the water from the great lake which then covered all the eastern part of the tehsil, up to the ridge followed by the Bhon-Dhudial road.
Raja Sidhar, chief of the Mair-Minhas Rajputs and Gharka Kassar, chief of the Kassars, a Mughal sub-tribe took up the job along with their respective tribesmen. They drained the lake water by cutting through Ghori- Gala, by which the Bunha torrent now flows. Subsequently, they proceeded to take up the country. The Emperor also awarded them the title of Chaudhry, and administration of the newly formed Taluka, which ever since has been called 'Dhan Chaurasi' or 'Maluki Dhan'.
Chaudhry Sidhar, settled villages named after his sons Chaku, Murid and Karhan and as Chaku Khan became the chief, he decided to settle in Chakwal, the village named after him and make it the center of administration of the Taluka. Whereas, Kassar chiefs founded the villages of Bal-Kassar and Dhudial.
The following few lines about the origins of Chakwal are noted in the District Gazetter Jhelum 1904, "Chakwal has from time immemorial been the seat of administration in the Dhanni Country. It is said to have been founded by a Mair-Minhas Rajput from Jammu, whose descendants are at the present day proprietors of the land in the neighbourhood. It is still the Headquarters of tribe"
This story is also confirmed by the Hindu family of Gadihok, who happened to be "Qanoongoes" of the area throughout the Mughal era and carry many pertinent certificates by the Mughal Emperors. The Gadihoks claim that Dhanni was named "Malooki Dhan" after their forefather, Malook Chand who happened to be with Babur during settlement of the area and prepared all the paper work; but they agree that the area was given to Mairs, Kassars and Kahuts; while the Gadihoks received only a certain portion of the revenue as an 'inam'.
However, the Janjua's calim that the area was called "Malooki Dhan" after their ancestor, Raja Mal Khan. The Kassars have a similar claim and they say that the area was actually "Baluki Dhan" named after their ancestor Bal Kassar and it was only due to a lithographic error that was noted as Maluki instead of Baluki in Ain-e-Akbari. In contrast to all the afore mentioned claims, "Ain-e-Akbari" indicates Gakkhars as the rulers of the land.
The following account about the ownership of Dhanni seems most plausible.
It is generally accepted by all that Mair Minhas Rajput, Mughal Kassar and Kahut Quriesh were the three landowning tribes that were originally settled in this tehsil by the Mughal Emperor Zaheerudin Babur and were the only three land owning tribes in Dhanni till the time of its annexation by the British. The main concentration of the Mair-Minhas Rajputs being in the center (Haveli-Chakwal), North-East (Badshahan), West (Rupwal) and South West (Thirchak-Mahal). The Kassars in the northern part of the tehsil, the area called 'Babial' and 'Chaupeda' and the Kahouts in 'Kahutani' in the South East.
These tribes and especially the Mair-Minhas Chaudhrials of Chakwal rose to further prominence during the short rule of Sher Shah Suri who handed them the control over the adjoining territories, as far as Swan River in Potohar and Pind Dadan Khan plains in the South.
However, after the Mughal King Humayun returned to India with the help of the Persians, he handed over the entire Potohar including Dhanni to the Gakhars, who had helped him escape from India during Sher Shah's revolt and reign. The Gakhars moved the Capital of the Taluka from Chakwal to a neighbouring town called 'Bhon' and stationed their 'Kardars' there. Consequently, the village of Bhon grew bigger than Chakwal in the Mughal era.
The Mair-Minhas and Mughal Kassar tribes again rose to power after King Aurangzeb's death. They had supported his son Moazzam Shah in his quest for power and in return he re-appointed the Mair-Minhas chief Gadabeg Khan as the Taluqdar and Chaudhry of the entire 'Dhan Chaurasi', whereas rule of the Kassar Chaudhrys was confirmed in Babial and Chaupeda 'illaqa'.
Chakwal is known for providing a large number of soldiers to the British and later on to the Pakistan armed forces. The following is a short list of them:
It is also a worth mentioning fact that the later four were all sons of Khan Bahadur Raja Fazaldad Khan and belonged to famous Mair-Minhas Rajput tribe of Chakwal. After the creation of Pakistan, Chakwal has produced more Army soldiers and generals than any other area in Pakistan.
After Independence in 1947 a Government College for Women was also established.
There is sub branch of UET in District Chakwal.It is established in 2005
At the government level, University Of Engineering, Taxila established a temporary campus in the city and work is underway for the construction of a Campus building.
A new Government College for Women is also being established in Balkassar.
In the private sector, a polytechnical college called Swedish Institute of Technology has been established by a nation-wide educational chain. Two commerce colleges affiliated with University of The Punjab have also been started in private sector called CSC College of Commerce
An Allama Iqbal Open University study centre by the name Raja Sarfraz Khan Institute in the city.
A campus affiliated with virtual university called Global Institute has also been established in Chakwal.
Now ALLAMA IQBAL Open University has opened its regional office in Chakwal in Basti Allahwali mohallah Sargojra near old railwayline which is helping the students of Chakwal a lot. Now they did not have to travel for Islamabad
In 2005 a technical college has been made by a Mr Zarrar Butt named as Swedish Group of Technical Institutes .Now the no of students in this institute is abt to 2000 . It is the great opportunity provided by the Swedish Group's . Before 2005 there is no technical coollege in the city chakwal . The students went to Lahore and Rawalpindi to get technical education.
Jinnah Public High School was founded in early 70s. Many old students of Jinnah Public School are in Pakistan Armed Forces, telecom and IT companies. Late Principle Mrs. Akram Sultana dedicated her whole life and effort to make this school an example for all private institutes.
After Chakwal was declared a district in 1986, a modern District Public School was established in the late 80's by the government. (DPS) District Public Higher Secondary School is one one of the most known school of District Chakwal. It was founded in 80's by district Govt. Its a semi govt schaool. After its foundation this school had produced good results. It produced a ver good lot of talented people who r serving da country in all the fields. This school is a higher secondary school for both boys and girls. One of the leading college giving quality education since 1989 is PAF Inter College Kallar Kahar. It has produced several doctors, engineers, IT professionals and to more good citizens. Lately, quite a few good private schools have been established in the private sector. Fauji Foundation, Khursheed International, The Educators, Bahria Foundation, Noble House School and Nexus School Bhaun are providing decent education in purpose built campuses.
A Cadet College was established in Kallar Kahar by General Nazar Hussain in 1997. The College has produced excellent results and is already in the league of top Cadet Colleges in Pakistan.
An English newspaper called, " The Revolution " is also published from Chakwal.
Monthly "Aabadiyat" is the first and so far the only and Urdu magazine being published from here and covers all spheres of life.
Chakwal has very few public and private libraries, the largest of these is the Allama Iqbal Library located at the committee park. However, most of the volumes over there are in Urdu. The Government College for boys also has a library of reasonable size and is open for Public. In the private sector, Myer's Library located at Myers College, Kot Sarfraz Khan has a huge volume of both English and Urdu books.
There are no public or private libraries for children in rural areas of Chakwal.
Chakwal offers a unique landscape to its visitors. Although its natural beauty may not be breathtaking at first glance; its simplicity makes it graceful and sometimes stunning . The Canyons in Thirchak-Mahal tract are bound to impress its visitors. In the winters, the beautiful yellow beds of "Surson" , clear blue sky and sunshine provide ideal spots for picnics. There are many man-made and natural lakes around the city in Kallar Kahar, Dhok Talian, Kot Raja, Khai, Khokar Zer and Dharabi providing ideal places for family hangouts.
The beautiful Jhangar valley, Bisharat is situated on road coming from Choa Saidan Shah facing West to East about 8 km in length in between villages Kotli and Ara lying at height above the sea level. The weather during the summer is very pleasant. It is an un-explored summer resort. The hills are full of green bushes and olive trees.
The most interesting place of this valley is the Picnic Point of Chehl Abdal” hill top which is at the height of above the sea level. On the top of this hill is a shrine called Chehl-Abdal. Many people from local villages and from all parts of the country often visit the shrine and offer scarifices. Don’t forget to take long drinking water, food, snacks etc. as their are no shops in the area
From the Chehl Abdal hill top one can see the great Punjab plains. To the north is the beautiful scenery of Margla hills whereas one can see the Jhelum River flowing in the South.On the East & West side one can see the beautiful greenery of adjoining hills with rain forests consisting of thick jungle trees and bushes.
This valley can be named as “military valley” as 90% of old and young men have served or presently serving the Army. The men are very brave and have fought very bravely in World War I and II and other wars after the independence and have won many military medals.
Alexander the Great passed through this area (old Nandana Fort) near Ara on his way to fight war with Raja Poru on the banks of Jhelum River in 326 BC. Also one of the Muslim scientist Abu Rayhan Biruni passed through this valley.
Another well-known tourist place in the area is Kalar Kahar for which Zahir uddin Baber said “Kaller Kahar is a child of Kashmir. Imagine Kalar Kahar is just above the Sea level and Chehl Abdal is above the Sea level.
Larri pathan is another beautiful place in Chakwal. One faction of the Kakka Zai Pathans migrated from Afghanistan and settled in a village called Lari Pathan.
The famous temple-fort of Katas Raj is also nearby and so are Salt Mines in Khewra.
Chakwal has a well connected road network including road to Jhelum and Lahore via Sohawa road, road to Pind Daden Khan via Choa Siaden Shah road, road to Sargodha via Bhon and Khushab, road to Rawalpindi via Mandra and to Mianwali via Talagang Road. It is connected to GT road between Peshawar and Lahore via Sohawa and Mandra, Indus Highway via Mianwali, and M2 Motorway via Kallar Kahar and Balkassar exits. The travelling distances and time has reduced considerably to Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Faislabad since the commissioning of M2 Motorway
General Muhammed Akbar Khan Raja Muhammed Sarfraz Khan Ayaz Amir, journalist is also from Chakwal. Pakistan's president from 1969-1971, and architect of Pakistan Civil War, Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan was born in Chakwal in 1917.
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