Chakwal and Surroundings

Posted on October 25, 2007
Filed Under >S.A.J. Shirazi, Travel
17 Comments
Total Views: 32758

Share

S.A.J. Shirazi
Discovery of fossils, tools, coins, and remains of ancient archaeological sites give enough historic evidence about Soan civilization and its continuity in Potohar (or Potwar) Plateau. The people, colourful landscape, lakes, hill ranges, flora and fauna are sufficient reasons to explore the land that is largely off the beaten track and one does not see many backpackers in the area.

Some of the world history has started from this region. The first residents of the land we now call home were Stone Age people in the Potwar Plateau. They were followed by the more urbane Indus Valley (or Harappan) civilisation which flourished between the twenty-third to eighteenth centuries BC. Some of the earliest relics of Stone Age in the world have been found in the Potohar region, with a probable antiquity of about 500,000 years. The crude stone implements recovered from the terraces of the Soan carry the account of human grind and endeavours in this part of the world to the inter-glacial period. The Stone Age men produced their equipment in a sufficiently homogenous way to justify their grouping in terms of a culture called the Soan Culture. Around 3000 BC, small village communities developed in the Potohar area and began to take the first hesitant steps towards the formation of society.

Bounded on the east by the River Jhelum, on the west by the Indus, on the north by the Kala Chitta Range and the Margalla Hills, and on the south by the Salt Range, Potohar Plateau is really undulating, multi-coloured, picturesque and geographically ill defined area. The diverse wildlife like urial, chinkara, chukor, hare, porcupine, mongoose, wild boar, and yellow throated martin add colour to the beauty of the area. Sadly, due to low rain fall, extensive deforestation, coal mining and oil and gas exploration, the Valley is becoming devoid of vegetation. The under water areas of lakes (Uchali, Khabeki and Jhallar – internationally recognised Ramsar site, and scenic Kallar Kahar) have reduced to much smaller areas than in the past. Experts say that the lakes have been here for at least 400 years. Locals tell about a strange phenomenon that was observed over Ucchali Lake in 1982. A very broad and distinct rainbow appeared over the horizon of Ucchali and was seen continuously for 15 days. No scientific explanation of this has been given so far, but the locals think that the rainbow appeared because of a volcano hidden under the lakes. They also tell that because of the hidden volcano the water of the Lake keep changing colour.

Kallar Kahar is famous family picnic spot. It is surely one of the most scenic places in the country outside the popular hill resorts and besides locals foreigners from Islamabad frequent the site. There is a shrine of the saint where peacocks dance and people who visit the shrine see them. But Kallar Kahar Interchange on the Motorway M2 is turning the Lake into a typical bus ‘adda.’

Dhan Valley, commonly called Dhan Kahon, is the middle segment of the ancient Potohar Plateau. The contemporary city of Chakwal in the Dhan Kahon is relatively new. Chako Khan of Maer Minhas tribe founded it in the period of Mughal Emperor Zaheer ud Din Babur. Chakwal was created as an independent district of Rawalpindi division in 1985 by combining subdivision Chakwal of district Jhelum, subdivision Talagang of district Attock and a part of Choa Saidan Shah, carved out of subdivision Pind Dadan Khan, district Jhelum. The geography and environs make Chakwal a predominantly rural district pivoted on an arid agrarian economy. The economy in the area is fast changing though – drifting from agrarian to industrial. The Dhan Kahon is becoming industrial and Chakwal is emerging as an Industrial Town of the future. Completion of Motorway M2 passing near Chakwal has expedited the process.

Dhan Kahon is an arid area and the terrain is mainly hilly, covered with scrub forest in the southwest, and levelled plains interspaced with dry rocky patches in the north and northeast. The tribes, clans and castes that inhabit this area – some of them may be indigenous people – are the Awans, Rajputs, Mehr, Kahuts, Mughals, Gujars, Gondals, Arains and the Sheikhs. The physical features of the area, its tribes, its society and its economy all combine to make Chakwal one of the main recruiting areas for the armed forces.

There is a famous saying that every second person of area is a soldier (and every third one is a poet). The only option available to the spirited and rugged people of the area famous for martial traditions was service in the armed forces. An actual artillery gun — awarded to a valiant soldier Subedar Gul Muhammad of Dulmial in the First World War – mounted on a platform in front of his village is testimony to the fact. The gun is one of the only two such awards in the world. This trend is quickly changing. New avenues in business and industry are opening every day.

Chakwal town have evolved over time without deliberate planning depending on the need and situation suited to fulfil the ordinary requirements of living. Like Bannu, Kohat and Mianwali towns, in bazaars of Chakwal one finds chukor or quails hanging in cages on every second shop. Or you see people fondly taming the quails for the next fight. The old parts of residential area of Chakwal consist of two or more storied houses on both sides of narrows, undulating, paved pedestrian streets, with their walls common with other houses on three sides. The houses mostly do not have any lawns, but internal courtyards do exist, and roof-tops are utilized for sleeping in the summer. However, the houses belonging to the upper and upper-middle classes are modern bungalow type with lawns and peripheral walls. Construction of spanking new houses is priority one for the people employed abroad.

Chakwal is famous for many things: bulls, ground nuts, golden ‘Ar’ work on chappal (sandals), and fast growing cotton industry, brick kiln industry, clay pots and sweets commonly known as rewaryan. Found of cockfight, quail fight and dog fights, chakwalians organize annual horse and cattle show where people of the area gather to enjoy horse races, hunting dog races and other local sports in addition to parading and trading of fine quality animals.

Saadat Hassan Anwar, a socialite, says:

“If we can take care of our water and sanitation problems real soon, Chakwal can emerge as pollution free cosmopolitan city and industrial centre of the country. People, politicians and municipal bodies have to do much more than give a good try.”

Photo Credits: Photos for this article come from flickr.com: Saffyhuk, Yasir Nisar,

17 Comments on “Chakwal and Surroundings”

  1. October 26th, 2007 1:42 am

    i’ve been on a visit to Chakwal – its a lovely place… and infrastructure has been significantly improved due to the fact that Motorway touches it and also many cement factories have started their operations in the city; booming economic activities. Something positive about our country.

  2. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    October 26th, 2007 5:31 am

    SAJ Shirazi

    very good one , informative, Pakistani rich civilization
    part of our Pakistaniat, without any doubt, human
    heritage, quest of better, using time factor, these ancient
    civilizations give us courage to research and keep on doing
    it. I will contact my achaeologist friend, will be excited
    seeing this wonder.

  3. mahi says:
    October 26th, 2007 10:03 am

    An idea for such kinds of posts: include a map of Pakistan or the sub-region pointing out the specific area. This is helpful for those not familiar with the lay of the land and helps to mark in their minds a place to visit. Its hard to remember unknown names otherwise.

  4. Adnan Ahmad says:
    October 26th, 2007 10:48 am

    Good post. Ayaz Amir and Zafar Iqbal are two names that come to mind when I hear of this city. By the way, BBC Urdu ran a very good piece on Zafar Iqbal recently on its site. It’s good to hear of economic growth in places like these. I would have liked to see more pictures of the city and its center.

  5. ali raza says:
    October 26th, 2007 5:23 pm

    Shirazi sahib, thanks for introducing many Pakistanis here to the Chakwal area. No mention of Kallar Kahar can be complete without mention of the Gul Kand (A kind of Jam/sweetened preserve made from rose petals) that is sold all over the place. I would second, Mahi’s suggestion of pointing out on a map the location of the area. People would be surprised how close and accessible all these places are to major cities.

    The wildlife that was abundant just a few decades ago has almost disappeared due to unethical hunting and loss of habitat. But the area is still an interesting landscape.

  6. Adonis says:
    October 28th, 2007 11:56 pm

    @ Adnan Ahmad,

    If you are talking about zafar iqbal the poet, then he is from Okara not Chakwal…..

  7. Adnan Ahmad says:
    October 29th, 2007 10:36 am

    Adonis, You are right. My bad.

  8. Mohammad N Awan says:
    October 30th, 2007 9:25 am

    Thanks for introducing this marshal race area. The beautiful valley of kahoon is now beubg into an industrial area after the establishment of cement plants. Choasaiden Shah and Kallar Kahar are beautiful places.

  9. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    October 30th, 2007 11:56 am

    Mohammed N Awan,

    ” the beautiful valley of Kahoon is now ……into an
    Industrial area after the establishment of a cement
    plant ”

    Awan Bhai, should I cry or laugh at this news ??

  10. Hamis nawaz says:
    October 31st, 2007 11:41 pm

    A very good article.In a few paragraphs the author has included so much information that I could not remain without writing back.Keep it up.Please also write an article on picni spots around Islamabad as very few are kown to people ofthe capital.

  11. zoonash says:
    November 7th, 2007 3:41 am

    very very informative site,the beautiful places of chakwal like kalar kahar & katas etc make this city unique,i like to see more pictures of this city & its historical places plz post its more pics thanx

  12. jabir Kazmi says:
    December 17th, 2007 11:15 am

    Shirazi bhai u have mentioned all tribes and casts but i think u forget SYEDs.

    Jabir

  13. zakariya ayub says:
    January 24th, 2008 2:11 am

    i want to tell you about forestry that in pakistan there is no website for the research about forestry in pakistan

  14. MALIK SAGHEER says:
    February 4th, 2008 4:41 am

    Hi i m Malik Sagheer i have visited to chakwal.It is really a good place for torrisum.Specially KALAR KAHAR is so beautiful place and and i also say to every one to visit there.MALIK SAGHEER.

  15. Muhammad Nasir Minhas says:
    March 11th, 2008 6:03 am

    A well worded and plenty of information about Ckakwal. It is a place of sweet persons with decent habits. They are brave and honest.

  16. umer & kashi says:
    July 28th, 2010 12:21 am

    CHAKWAL IS THE PLACE OF OUR FOREFATHER WE LOVE IT WITH OUR HEART ……….
    MAY ALLAH BE CHAKWALIAN HAPPY & HAVE A LONG LIFE…………
    GAVE LOT OF KNOWLEDGE 2 EVERY STUDENT OF CHAKWAL………..
    SADA HANSTY RAHOOOOOO

  17. JIA KIRAN says:
    September 24th, 2010 4:24 am

    HERE I REQUESTED TO ALL CHAKWALIAN TO PROTECT YOUR BEAUTIFUL CITY FROM GARBAGE, QUARRRELS,RESPECT EVERY PERSON ,BE GOOD AND DO GOOD.SALUTE TO YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT.THANKS

Have Your Say (Bol, magar piyar say)