The Landscape and Physical Features of the Area
Mansehra District of Khyber Pakhtun Khawa consists of three tehsils – Mansehra, Oghi, and Balakot The District is located from 34º - 14´ to 35º - 11´ north latitudes and 72º - 49´ to 74º - 08´east longitudes. Its total area is 4,579 square kilometers.
Mansehra makes its boundary on the north to Kohistan,Torgar and Battagram districts, on the east to Muzaffarabad district of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, on the south to Abbottabad and Haripur districts and on the west to Shangla and Buner districts.
At the time of Alexander the Great, this area was part of District Hazara and was named as Urasha. In seventeenth century, it was part of the kingdom Valu-Lashi in North West of Kashmir. It was called as Pakhli Sarkar during Mughal period. After Mughal period, in 17th century, Swatis, a local pathan tribe which was driven out of Swat, invaded this area. Turks were defeated and driven out of the area by Swatis. When Mukhan Singh, Governor of Rawalpindi invaded Hazara in early 19th century, Sikh rule started in the area. In the succeeding years Ranjeet Singh occupied the area. Afterwards, Sardar Hari Singh, Governor of Kashmir dominated the area by defeating Tanolis and Jadoons.
By 1825 the whole area, except Kaghan, was under Sikh rule. The following picture of Gurdawara with today serves as municipal library shows the Sikh rule in the area. In 1828,Mujahideen led by Syed Ahmad Ali rose against Sikhs but were defeated. They appeared again by 1930 and captured some part of the area, but in an engagement at Balakot, Mujahideen were defeated. Afterwards the area came under the British rule.
The name of District ‘Mansehra’ is derived from its headquarters town Mansehra. It is named after Man Singh, the Governor General under the rule of Ranjit Singh. Mansehra District is dominated by high mountains, varying in elevation from 200 meters in the south to over 4500 meters above sea level in the north. The famous Babusar pass is situated on the north-eastern boundary of the district. The Nanga Parbat Mountain is located about 40 kilometers from the north eastern boundary of the district. The climate is cold in much winter and pleasantly warm in summer. The northern part like Kaghan valley is cold in summer and extremely cold in winter and it receives heavy snow fall. District has two distinct seasons; the summer season which lasts from April to September and winter season which is from October to March. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures during the month of June are about 35° C and 21° C respectively. During the coldest month of January, the mean maximum and minimum temperatures are 14° C and 2° C.
There are two cropping seasons in the district. One is called ‘Kharif’ which ranges from May to September. Maize, rice and seasonal vegetables are grown in this season. Second is called ‘Rabi’ which ranges from the month of October to March. Wheat, peas and other seasonal vegetables are grown in this season. Due to favorable climatic conditions, the district is rich in vegetables and fruit. Cabbage, carrot and reddish in vegetables and peaches, plums and pears in fruit are grown in the area.
District Manshera is rich in flora. A variety of herbs is found throughout the district. Many of these herbs are used for medicinal purposes. These include Gulkhaira, Khtmi, Musli Sufead, Kadpai, Thandibotti, Sumal, Kakul, Ispaghol, Patris, Manira, Chora, Banafsha, Bantol, Chau, Kuthi Raisha Khatmi and Nera. A large variety of fauna is also available in the district. This includes leopard, porcupine, black bear, monal, koklas pheasant, jackal, wild goat, brown bear, wolf and other migratory birds.
There are two major rivers in the district known as River Kunhar and River Siran. River Siran passes through the Pakhal valley and irrigates major part of the land. River Kunhar starts from lake Saiful-Muluk and after falling some congruent paths reaches Balakot and Garhi Habibullah from where it turns to Muzaffarabad. It then meets River Neelum. Mansehra District has natural resources that are extracted from mines. In Kaghan, ores of paradox, whereas in Oghi and Battal ores of graphite have been discovered.
Industry, Trade and Commerce
People of the district are involved in various trade, business and labour activities. People are also employed in government sector. A large number of people have gone abroad mostly to Middle Eastern countries especially Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, to earn their livelihoods. People are also significantly involved in the field of agriculture. Besides this, transport is another business for the people of District Mansehra.
Mansehra District comprises of different groups of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds. These include Gujar, Swati, Tanoli, Syed and Awan. Locally cultivated wheat, maize and rice are generally used in food by the people of the area. Curry, called as ‘salan’ is the essential constituent of meals which is eaten with rice or wheat bread (rotti). People of the area wear traditional dress consisting of shalwar (loose trouser), kameez (long shirt) and turban. Women add chaddar or dopata in addition to the shalwar and kameez.
Mansehra is connected with other districts of NWFP and AJK, by road network. No airport is available. Total road network as per 1998 Census Report pre– earthquake is:
Metalled road 473 km
Fair-weather road 277 km
There are two national Highways namely; Karakoram Highway (KKH) and Mansehra Narran Jalkhat (MNJ) road. The former serves as a link to rest of Pakistan and the Northern Areas while the latter originates from KKH in Mansehra city and links Kaghan valley with rest of the country. It also connects to important places in the Kaghan Valley, such as Naran, Shogran, Lake Saiful Muluk and Babusar Top. The KKH passes through the district. However, both roads are prone to frequent land-slides, especially during the rainy season.
Under the Local Government Act 2001, the District Nazim is the administrative head of the District Government; while District Coordination Officer (DCO) heads the administrative machinery. Each line department is headed by an Executive District Officer (EDO). Tehsil Municipal Administrations of Mansehra, Balakot and Oghi are led by respective Tehsil Nazims while Kala Dhaka is administered through an Administrative Officer directly responsible to the DCO.
The district is very famous from tourism point of view. The main tourist sites in the district include Baffa, Dadar, Balakot, Kaghan Valley, Oghi, Shogran, Naran and the famous lake Saiful-Muluk. Besides, the famous shrines of Shah Ahmad Shaheed and Shah Ismail Shaheed, who fought the battle with Sikhs in 19th century, are also historic places to visit.