It is popularly known as `Mini Kashmir` and is the smallest & the remotest district of Jammu & Kashmir.
District Poonch, which is popularly known as mini Kashmir, is the smallest in area and the remotest district of Jammu & Kashmir state. The Actual Line of Control (ALC) bound it from three sides. The ALC is about 103 Kms from in Balakote to Sawjian in Mandi Block. Poonch (also referred to as Punch) is a city and a municipal committee in Poonch District in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Poonch has witnessed many historical events and has been ruled by outsiders and locals at different junctures till it became a part of independent India. Based on the Mahabharata evidence , and evidence from 7th c Chinese traveler Yuan Chawang, the districts of Poonch along with Rajaori and Abhisara had been under Poonchthe sway of the Republican Kambojas during epic times. In the 6th Century A.D. Chinese traveller Huien Tsang passed through Poonch. He wrote that Poonch was famous for graphics, fine tea (Musloom) and good horses.
Around 326 BC when Alexander the Great invaded the lower Jhelum belt to fight with Porus. This region was known as Dravabhisar. In 6th Century AD, the famous Chinese traveller Huien Tsang passed through this area. According to his observation, this region was known to be a part of Kashmir. Around 850 AD Poonch became a sovereign state ruled by Raja Nar, who was basically a horse trader. According to Rajtrangani, Raja Trilochan Pal of Poonch gave a tough fight to Mahmood Ghazanavi who invaded this area in 1020 A.D. In 1596, Mughal King Jahangir made Siraj-Ud-Din ruler of Poonch. Siraj-Ud-Din and his descendent Raja Shahbaz Khan, Raja Abdul Razak, Raja Rustam Khan and Raja Khan Bahadur Khan ruled this area till 1792 AD. In 1819 Maharaja Ranjeet Singh captured this area and it remained under the captivation of Khalsa Darbar of Lahore till 1850.
The era from 1850 to 1947 is considered as the Golden Period of the history of Poonch. The principality of Poonch got status of a state from British Raj in 1901 AD during the reign of Raja Baldev Singh. The rule of Raja Moti Singh, Baldev Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Jagatdev Singh and Raja Shiv Rattan Dev Singh witnessed all round development of Poonch state. The historic Poonch fort was renovated and redesigned. Town Hall and Court building were constructed on the line of Mubarak Mandi of Jammu; Fountain Garden Poonch was established on the pattern of Shalimar Garden of Kashmir. Baghi Khanna, Bagh Deodi the gateway of city and number of other buildings were also constructed. Palaces of rulers called Baldev Mahal, Moti Mahal and Sheesh Mahal reflected the aesthetic of the rulers. A number of temples, mosques and gurdwaras also emerged during these years.
Poonch is the smallest district of the Jammu and Kashmir State. It is situated between 33Â°25` to 34Âº01` north latitude and between 73Â°58` to 74Âº35` east longitude. It is surrounded by Kashmir Valley (Baramula, Badgam, Pulwama and Anantnag Districts) in the northeast, district Rajouri in the south and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) in the west. Spread over an area of 1,674 sq. Kms, Poonch District is totally hilly and mountainous barring few-low laying valleys. In winters all the areas height are covered with snow.
The economic condition of people of Poonch district is not satisfactory. Industrial environment is totally absent and commercial activity exists on a very low scale. The poverty surrounds adversely upon the life style of the general population that cripples their purchasing power and renders most of them fragile to withstand the abnormalities of consumer market. There are many unemployed youths in the district and the people usually try to do government jobs as the potential in the private sector is bare minimal.
Unemployment problem among youth, both skilled and unskilled workers are quite large when compared to other districts of the State and the State Govt./Distt. Administration is trying its level best to eradicate the problem by implementation of different employment generation schemes viz. PMRY, SSES, SGSY, SJSRY by providing loans to the beneficiaries through different Banks and in SJRY by providing wages to the beneficiaries during the loan period. The new policy of the Govt. to recruit Rehbar-e-Taleem Teachers from respective villages/ areas is also helping the unemployed youths of rural areas of the District.
District Poonch is connected to other parts of the state / country through Road links. It is about 250 Km form Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir State. As road passes through hilly region the time taken to travel this distance is significantly more than that taken in plan area. The Public transport takes about 9 to 10 hours to reach Poonch from Jammu.
To reach Jammu from other parts of country one can consider Rail, Road or Air network. After that one has to travel by road only to travel to Poonch. Everyday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. a number of buses, Video Coaches, Tempos Traveller, Sumo, JKRTC Deluxe Coaches and other vehicles leave Bus-Stand Jammu for Poonch. After 8 am the chances of public transport are rare, however depending on season and length of day one can hire private car / Sumo service for Poonch till 11 a.m.
Poonch - SheepflockThe people of different faiths, caste and creed are living peacefully in the district. Races like Gujjars, Bakerwals, Punjabis, Kashmiris and Rajputs-mostly Muslims are living in harmony nourishing their composite culture lavishly. Gujjars are mostly residing on the slopes of mountains. They are having small pieces of land for cultivation, and cattle for supplementing their economy. Bakerwals are nomadic tribes. Most of them rear herds of goats and flocks of sheep. Gujjars and Bakerwals speak Gojri whereas rest of the population (excluding Kashmiris) speaks Pahari/Poonchi. The mother tongue is a great cementing factor of Pahari speaking people because they remain so closely associated with each other that cultural ethos transcend all that of distinct beliefs and faiths.
Poonch is rich in folk songs. Most of the Punchi folk songs make women as their central theme. Family feuds, battles, love, marriage ceremonies, social rituals, social evils and superstitions are also have been given attention. Chann, Kainchi, Sepaiah and Maiah are some of the popular folk songs of Poonchi and Gojri. Folk songs also speak of the bravery and heroism of the peoples of Poonch. Some folk songs i.e. Jabu, Shamash Khan and Nura still resound in mountains of the area. Folk songs of Poonch have passed on from one generation to another without any documentation. Now serious efforts are being made by various scholars to preserve these in literature in original form.
Poonch is a fascinating hunting ground for trekkers and nature lovers. The lush green meadows and coniferous forests display rich wealth of flora and fauna. From time immemorial hill folks, pilgrims and Europeans trekked over its hills to Kashmir folks, pilgrims and the Europeans trekked over its hills to Kashmir due to lack of means of communications.
Poonch is separated from Kashmir valley by the gigantic Pir Panjal range, whose highest peak Tatakuti standing at 15560 ft. falls in Poonch and is visible even from Lahore on a clear day. This is still a virgin peak challenging adventurers with crystal clear water, the alpine lakes viz. Sukhsar, Neelsar, Bhagsar, Katorasar, Kaldachnisar and Nandansar and other thirteen lakes.