Poonch is located in the Poonch Valley of Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Although the city is rarely included in the itinerary of the general tourists the area offers great scenic beauty and has a rich historical heritage. Indeed, those who love to visit off beat places would love to come here. In addition to that, the city is the administrative headquarters of Poonch district; hence it is also very important from administrative point of view.
Geography of PoonchPoonch is situated at 3.77°N 74.1°E. It is located in the Poonch Valley within the Pir Panjal Range of mountains. The town is surrounded by hills on all sides. The average elevation of the town is 981 meters or 3218 feet above sea level.
Climate in PoonchIn general, Poonch enjoys a pleasurable climatic condition. The summers are short and pleasant; the temperature rarely rises above 31 degrees centigrade. The winters are cool and the temperature vacillates between of 10 and 13 degree centigrade. Sometimes, it may get slightly chiller. Snowfall is rare in this region. It was last witnessed in December 2011. Due to western disturbance, the area sometimes gets rainfall in winter. In fact, the region receives sporadic rainfall all through the year. However, July and August are the wettest months. The area may get as much as 669 mm of rainfall during that period.
History of Poonch
The seventh century Chinese traveler Xuanzang has referred to the present day Poonch and its neighboring districts as Mini Kashmir. However, earlier literatures refer to this area in different names. For example, the Indian epic of Mahabharata refers to it as the Republic of Kamboj. When Alexander the Great attacked India in 326 BC this area was known to as Dravabhishar. However, not much is known about the chronology of this area before the middle of the ninth century AD.
Poonch since 9th century ADPoonch was known as Prontsa in the middle of 9th century AD. According to Kalhan of Rajtarangini fame, the area became a sovereign state under the reign of Raja Nar in 850 AD. The king was initially a horse trader by profession. Unfortunately, not much is known about the rule of the said king.
1020 AD is the next important date in the chronology of the city. During that period the area was ruled by Raja Trilochan Pal. It is believed that the said king gave a tough fight to Muhammad Ghaznvi and compelled him to turn back from here.
In 1596, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir bestowed the title of Ruler of Poonch to Raja Siraj-UD-Din Rathore. Raja Abdul Rajak Khan of the said dynasty laid the foundation of Poonch Fort in 1701. However, it was completed by his son Raja Rustam Khan in 1779. The area in and around Poonch remained with the Rathore dynasty until it was captured by the Khalsa regime.
In 1819, Poonch and its adjoining area were captured by the valiant Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh ji. It remained under Khalsa Darbar until 1850 AD.
In 1850, Raja Moti Singh set up a separate principality in Poonch under Khalsa Darbar and established Dogra rule over this region. The city and its adjoining area remained under the Dogras until 1947.
In 1901, Poonch obtained the status of an independent state from British Government.
In 1936, Poonch became a Jagir under King Hari Singh of Jammu and remained so until 1947.
Poonch in 1947 – a saga of bravery and sacrificeIn 1947, as the country became independent, raiders from Pakistan tried to capture Poonch by force. In this, they had active help of the Pakistan army. They occupied parts of the district and lay seize on the city of Poonch. All the surrounding hills of the city were under their control.
Other than the local population, the city was then home to 40,000 refugees, who had lost all they had under enemy attack. They lived there with little to eat and had no medical help. There was chaos and uncertainty all around. Ultimately on November 21, 1947, soldiers of 1 Kumaon Para entered Poonch under the command of Brigadier Pritam Singh and brought hope to the people living there. However, the task was far from over.
At that time Brigadier Pritam Singh had only 419 soldiers under his command. Moreover, Poonch was absolutely isolated; all links with the outside world was cut off by the invaders. So the priority was not only to ward off the Pakistani raiders but also to build an Advanced Landing Ground. While the soldiers were busy warding off the invaders, it was the civilian volunteers, who worked day and night to construct the ALG in record time. From the second week of December, Dakotas belonging to Indian Air Force began to make regular foray. They carried in reinforcement and on their way out evacuated people from the town.
Landing at the Poonch airstrip was no mean task. It is to be remembered that the enemy was positioned at more advantageous location. They kept on targeting the Indian Air Force planes. In spite of that, our brave pilots were able to carry on their mission. Once they had enough resources Indian army started attacking the enemy posts and soon freed Poonch. However, it took almost one year to uproot the enemies from every nook and corner and bring back peace to this region.
Administration in Poonch
Office Telephone No: 01965-220-333
Residential telephone No: 01965-220-144
The DC is assisted by a host of officers. To get their contact numbers you may click here.
Municipality in PoonchPoonch has a municipal council to look after its civic needs. Although the MC at Poonch is an elected body, it functions directly under the Housing and Urban Development Department of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir. The municipality performs a host of activities such as supply of drinking water, removal of garbage, maintenance of roads, framing of policies, collection of taxes, registration of births and deaths within its jurisdiction.etc.
Police Force in PoonchPolice force in Poonch is headed by a Senior Superintendent of Police. If you need to contact him you may do so at the following number:
Office Telephone No: 01965-220-408
Residential telephone No: 01965-220-399, 01965-222-248
Following are few other numbers you may also take note of:
- Additional Superintendent of Police: 01965-220-212 (O), 01965-220-471
- Deputy Superintendent of Police (HQ): 01965-222-717 (O), 01965-221-901
- Police Control Room: Poonch: 01965-220-258
- Police Station Poonch: 100, 01965-220-225
Services in PoonchFollowing are few other phone numbers that may come handy at any time:
- Fire Station at Poonch: 01965-220-145
- Post Office at Poonch: 01965-220-226
- Power House in Poonch: 01965-220-224
- District Hospital in Poonch: 01965-220-291
Business and Economy in Poonch
Until recently, Poonch was one of the most backwards districts of India. However, thanks to the initiative taken by state and central government, the scenario has changed for the better. Many development projects have been taken up by the government with the help of Backward Regions Grant Fund Program. Opening of Mughal Road has also played an important part in improving the economical condition of this region.
It is to be noted that the Mughal Road connects Bufliaz in Poonch to Shopian in Kashmir. Earlier, the distance between Poonch and state capital Srinagar was 588 km. With the opening of the road it has been reduced to 126 km. This has helped to revive the economy of the town and also the district in many ways. Foremost, the area now has more tourists and a hospitality industry is slowly developing in this region, which in turn is providing the much needed income to a large section of the people.
More importantly, the opening of the road has helped in faster transportation of goods to and from Poonch. By reducing the transportation cost it has boosted trade and commerce of this area. Indeed, commerce is now emerging as the main vehicle of progress in Poonch.
Agriculture too plays an important part in the economy of the district. Maize, paddy and wheat are the main crops grown in this area. Apart from that, the district is highly suitable for apiculture. Cultivation of mushroom also has a great scope in this region
Banks in PoonchPoonch also has a highly developed banking system. Following are few of the banks located within the city:
Punjab National Bank
Main Bazzar, Poonch
Phone No: 01965-220277
IFSC Code / MICR Code / Branch Code: PUNB0292200 / 185024101 / 292200
State Bank of India
Bust Stand, Poonch
Telephone No: 01965-220229; 220550
IFSC Code / MICR Code / Branch Code: SBIN0003660 / 185002011 / 003660
Jammu and Kashmir Bank
Main Market, Poonch
Telephone No: 01965-240248
IFSC Code / MICR Code / Branch Code: JAKA0BORDER / 185051101 / BORDER
Bus Stand, Poonch
Telephone No: 01965-220-248
IFSC Code / MICR Code / Branch Code: HDFC0002595 / 185240101 / 002595
Union Bank of iIndia
Ward No: 5, Halwai Bazzar, Poonch
IFSC Code / MICR Code / Branch Code: UBIN0566152 / NON-MICR / 566152
Transport in Poonch
Poonch is well connected to the rest of the country by a network of roads. Visitors, who intend to fly in, can ether land at the Jammu airport or at Srinagar and then travel by road transport system to Poonch. Incidentally, Poonch also has its own airport, built in 1947. This historic airport was built on emergency basis to save the city from the Pakistani raiders. However, not many flights operate through this airport.
It is to be noted that the distance between Poonch and Jammu is 240 Km while Srinagar is only 126 Km from the city. Therefore, if you are travelling by air, it is better to opt for Srinagar. If on the other hand you intend to travel by train, Jammu Tawai is the nearest railhead. From there one can avail public buses, which offer regular services between Jammu to Poonch.
About the Citizens of PoonchAccording to 2011 census, Poonch has a population of 40,987 individuals. Males constitute 55% of it. The average literacy rate of the town stands at 79%, which is much higher than the national average of 59%. The male literacy rate is 84% while the female literacy rate stands at 77%. 13% of the population here in Poonch is below the age of six. The official language for communication is Urdu. However, Hindi, Pahari and Gojri are equally popular
Facts About PoonchDistrict: Poonch
State: Jammu and Kashmir
Pin Code: 01965
STD Code: 185101
Best time to visit: October and November
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