Report on the Rawalpindi Settlement 1865 by Major Crocroft – Part one
Summarized by Dr. Abdus Salam|[email protected]
The eastern portion of Rawalpindi district is composed of four Tehsils, namely Rawalpindi, Gujar Khan, Kahuta and Murree. This portion yields more Revenue & has more favorable climate. Its physical features are less wild & population is denser. The population is scattered in the innumerable hamlets, called Dhoke (ڈھوک) or Mohra (موھڑہ), belonging to the parent village. Eastern portion has felt with full force the levelling effects of the Sikh power, while the western maintained its integrity alike against Gakhars and Sikhs.
Western half of the Rawalpindi district consists of Tehsil Attock, Pindi Gheb & Fateh Jang. It is distinct in physical features & population from the eastern section. The mountains are drier and arid. The heat is more intense. The villages fewer & larger in area. The population is scanty. The people hardier and addicted to violent crimes and blood feuds. This portion of the district includes the richly fertile tracts of Chhachh (چھچھ), the valleys of the Sohan, the Seel, Hasan Abdal, and Burhan. But its general characteristic is a vast arid areas and comparatively small produce. Therefore, there is insignificant Revenue. There are large Zamindari and Pattidari estates with powerful Proprietors, and depressed Cultivators.
There are 1, 45,876 houses in the district. Only 1,706 are built of burnt brick while the remainder are all Kacha. Only 2,117 scholars attend the village schools. One per cent Muslims boys and seven per cent of Hindu boys go to school. The only towns in the district are Attock and Rawalpindi. The total number of Lumberdars is 3,915 with average two Lumberdars to each village
The Kala Chitta Pahar is composed chiefly of Limestone. But the formation of its Southern side is soft sandstone. Due to the action of the atmosphere the surface of the sandstones has assumed black colour. Thus, giving it the name of Kala Pahar. The range is wedge shaped. It enters the District between Attock fort and Nara (ناڑہ), where its width is about 12 miles. It comes to a point at its eastern extremity 4 miles due South of the Margalla Pass. It is about 50 miles in length. It lies in the Khattar tract, so called after the Khattar tribe.
The range is thickly covered with Kow [کعہوا] (wild olive), and Phulahi [پھلاہی] (Acacia modesta). There is a salt spring near the village of Jafar, which is carefully watched by the salt customs department. Rich lime is the most valuable production of these hills. The trees are excellent for fuel and charcoal.
From Kala Chitta to the north, the rain water finds its way to the Haro, and Nundna, and to the South the surface drain age is conveyed to the Indus partly by the Jubba and Nummul Ravines.
Gundgurh Mountain is situated in the Hazara District. It is the seat of the Tahirkhaili tribe. They were once the terror for travellers on the high-way from Peshawar to Lahore. Gundgurh divides two fine plains. One plain extends from Haripur to Hasan Abdal, comprising the Elaqa of Haro, Nulla and Punjkhutta (پنج کٹھہ). The other plain is the fertile plain of Chhachh (چھچھ). Rain water descends from western side to the plain of Chhachh (چھچھ), and finds its way by the Chel (چَیل) stream to the Indus above Attock.
Between the Gundgurh mountain and the Chitta Puhar are two hills. Both running east and west. The first and largest about 8 miles long by 3 miles broad, is the Kherimar [کھیڑی مار] (near Kot Sundki –Midway between Bahtar & Burhan on Motorway). The extreme hardness of its dark blue limestone destroys the Kheri (کَھیڑی), or sandal. Between it and the Gundgurh range is the fertile valley of Burhan, watered by copious streams.
The other hill is the Kawa gar (north of Akhori). It is noted for a kind of black marble with yellow vein. This stone is called Abre (ابری) by the natives. It is worked into cups and ornamental objects by an artisan of the neighbouring village, Kuhootra (?). A very good specimen of ornamental pillars, made of this stone, is to be seen in a building at Attock, now used as a Police Post
At Hassan Abdal there is a hill of about 4 miles in circumference, with a celebrated pilgrim’s shrine of Baba Wali Qandhari. It is said that one of Jahangir’s wives is buried at Hasan Abdal, in an enclosure containing two fine old Cypresses. At the express order of Lord Dalhousie, this tomb is carefully preserved. Much has been written of the charms of the Valley of Hasan Abdal and the garden of Wah, so named from an exclamation extorted from the emperor Akbar, in admiration of its beauty. Time has left nothing but the ruins of buildings, covered with grass and weeds, choked reservoirs & a jungle of trees. It is watered by a branch of the Chiblat. Wah used to be the resting place of the emperors on their way to the valley of Kashmir. The garden of Wah has been made over to Hayat Khan, aid-de-camp of General Nicholson. He is now an Extra Assistant Commissioner.
The MAIRA-Between the plain of Chhachh (چھچھ), and the Chitta Pahar, is a high table land or “Maira,” (مَیرا) extending to the Gundgurh Mountain, where it becomes extremely bleak and arid, affording facility to Trans Indus marauders from Sitana to make inroads, carry off cattle, and kidnap traders for ransom. It is drained by the Chel (چَیل) & the Haro. The land is sandy, poor, undulating, and incapable of retaining much of the rain water. There are no villages in the centre of this tract. They are all situated on its outskirts, where water is procurable.
Between the Haro, the Nandna, and the Chitta Pahar are many villages generally situated on the banks of those streams, or on ravines falling into them. They are mostly poor villages, with extensive areas.
Between the Kherimar (کھیڑی مار) and the Chitta Pahar, is a fertile tract of country in which the fine villages of Bahtar & Jhang are situated. The possessions of Fateh Khan of Dreg, Khattar, and his cousin Nawab Khan are in this quarter.
The Attock Mountain formation is a coarse thick slate. There are only two villages situated in it, namely Rumian and Dakhnair.
The Narrara Hills are in the Makhad Tract. These hills attain no height, consist of boulder formation, and yield grass for cattle, and hardy shrubs. Saghri Pathans rear horses, which roam at large over the hill. This is one of the wildest tracts in the district. The hills stretch for some miles in distinct elongated ridges, with valleys between them. The best of these is Nurrara, a valley with a broad mountain torrent. On its banks are the homes and the lands of the Pathans.
Both the Chitta Pahar and the Makhad Tract abound in game, especially the wild sheep or Oorial (اڑیال) and Ravine Deer. Jaffar khan Khattak takes out a yearly license, and many officers of Rawalpindi and Peshawar find here relaxation in sport. The Ravine Deer causes much loss and annoyance to the farmers. They roam about in large herds, and are not easily driven away. There are fewer wild beasts. No Tigers and but few Leopards. Wolves too are not often seen.
South of the Chitta Pahar is the extensive Tehsil of Pindi Gheb. From its eastern limit to the centre, it is traversed only by the Seel stream. From the centre to the West, it is cut up by huge ravines.
Fateh Jang Tehsil is divided by a 24 miles long Khairi Moorat (کھیری مورت) hill which is partly of Limestone and partly of Sandstone formation. Fateh Jang is a large village. It is favourably situated for trade at the junction of several important lines of communication. The route from Peshawar via Bagh Nilab, the Salt Range, and Ramnagar (onward to Lahore) passes through this village. But this route has lost much of its trade since the Grand Trunk Road has been taken through Rawalpindi.