History of the Region
The region consists of Poonch and Rajouri districts of J & K. These districts have been carved out of the portion of former Poonch State lying on the Indian side of the Line of Control (L of C).
town is tucked into the hills at the confluence of River Poonch and Betar Nallah.
It has remained alienated from the rest of the world due to sparse network of
communications and difficult terrain. The town gained strategic importance as a
result of the tribal invasion launched by Pakistan during 1948. It is believed that Poonch was once known as ‘Parnotsa’
or ‘Prunts’. This area was given away as a Jagir to Maharaja Gulab Singh to
his nephew Raja Moti Singh. After him, his heirs ruled the area.
All the rulers of Poonch owed allegiance to the Royal family of Jammu and
Kashmir State. The last ruler,
Rajkumar Shiv Ratan Dev Singh, was a minor, and hence the Maharaja of Jammu and
Kashmir appointed Khan Sheikh Abdul Khayum as the administrator, and Colonel
Baldev Singh Pathania as his guardian.
Poonch Jagir had four Tehsils namely Haveli, Mendhar, Palandari and Bagh. The total area was about 1600 square miles. Palandari is
inhabited by Soodhan Muslims, Bagh by Dhund Muslims and Sikhs, Mendhar by Rajput
Muslims and Haveli by Rajput and Kashmiri Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs.
Poonch bordering both Jammu as well as Kashmir represents a fusion of the
culture of both. The people speak both Kashmiri and Dogri besides Punjabi and
Gujjri. Their dress is also a mixture of the Kashmiri and Dogri apparal.
1947, as a result of raids from Pakistan all the four Tehsils except Poonch Town
fell into the hands of Pakistan. The Raja and his administrator left the area.
Poonch town remained under siege for about fourteen months under Brig. Pritam
Singh’s gallant leadership. The
people of the town displayed exemplary courage and helped the Armed Forces in
pushing the enemy back and regaining parts of the tehsils of Mendhar and Haveli
before the ceasefire.
1948, the two tehsils of Haveli and Mendhar were merged into a new district,
which was called the Rajouri-Poonch district, consisting of Haveli, Mendhar,
Naushera and Rajouri Tehsils. In Dec. 1967, the district was divided into two
separate districts of Poonch and Rajouri. Rajouri
was earlier known as Rampur.
ancient history of Rajouri is similar to that of the Kashmir Valley, glimpses of
which are available in epics like Kalhana’s ‘Rajtarangani’; Jonraj’s
Chronicle and Pragya Bhatt’s ‘Rajavalipatak’. Before the advent of Islam
in 1343 AD, the areas were under powerful Hindu rulers like Karkotas, Loharas
and the Buddhist rulers of the Maurya dynasty. It is believed that before this
period the Gandharva Empire extended to this region also.
the two rods from Jammu and Muzaffarabad that led to Kashmir during
pre-partition day lie the areas of Naushera, Janghar, Rajouri and Poonch.
Being a backward and remote area it was not well known. As the routes
from Punjab to the Kashmir valley passed through these areas, travelers like
Hieun Tsang made notes of it in their travelogues. Mahmud Ghazni and Maharaja
Ranjit Singh also followed this route. Among
the Mughals, Mirza Haider, a companion of Humayun, was the first to visit this
area. Jehangir patronized this area by visiting it regularly. The area was ruled
by the Afghans and Sikhs after the Mughals. The Sikh rule ended in 1846.