Circle Bakote

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Location of the Circle Bakote region (highlighted in purple) within Abbottabad District.

Circle Bakote is a cluster of Union Councils in the eastern part of Abbottabad District in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Circle Bakote is located on the upper and west bank of the Jhelum River at Kohalla Bridge. The region is somewhere between 65 kilometres and 90 kilometres northwest of Islamabad. "Bakote" means the "land of forts". The Kanhar and Jehlum rivers are the two main rivers in Circle Bakote. Famous hill stations in the area are Miran Jani, Mukeshpuri, Thandiani, Pather Gali, Ayubia, Khanas Pur and Nathia Gali.


Ancient History

Circle Bakote and surrounding areas have a rich history - going back thousands of years. Historic excavations first began under colonial rule, when researchers such as Sir John Marshal - who as part of the Archaeological Survey of India uncovered many relics in the area, studies continue to this day by scholars such as Asko Parpola and others. Historically this region was part of the Taxila Kingdom of Gandhara, there are many relics in the area dating to the Vedic Age as it was en route to Moshpuri where a Vishnu temple used to be. After the arrival of Islam, the area became part of Kashmir.

Modern History

In 17th century a Dhond Sardar (chief), Lahr Khan, divided his territory by his brothers and finalised the borders from Manwan ni Hel to Lora on the west bank of the river Jhelum to Islamabad, the last edge of last UC Birote of Hazara Division on East-south. This line was drawn from the river Jhelum to Sulleal (Lower Birote) to Aarhi, now called Hadd at upper Birote, Kanair Kas to Sorjal, Arwarh, Thoba (Barhean), to Lora. The tribes used the jirga system to govern themselves

This partition of land was accepted by the Nalwa Singh administration of Ranjit Singh and by Major Abbott, the first commissioner of Hazara. In 1800 Maharaja Ranjit Singh attached this region to the Lahore Darbar, this area was later sold to Maharaja Gulab Singh of Kashmir under the Amritsar Agreement.

During British rule, rebellion had broken out - after the failure of this revolt and as a punishment for the war of independence waged by the local Tribes, this area was first annexed to Murree in February 1859, and then became a part of the Hazara Region in November 1859, both areas being under the direct rule of Britain.

The dominant people in Circle Bakote are the Lehral Dhond Abbasi family, they battled against the Sikh rulers under the command of Pir of Plasi at Balakot in 1830, and also fought against the British in 1857 at Murree.

Music and arts

The musical tradition of Circle Bakote was inherited from the earlier Hindu civilisation. Music is a compulsory element of Hinduism, and when Muslim tribes entered here the music was also changed and it changed into a profession rather than a religious tradition, that adopted by special families called Mirasies. These families performed not only at weddings but on seasonal occasions as Grass Cutting ceremony (LAITRY), Roof Building of a House, (PAHCHI) Etc. The other duties of Mirasies were to distribute invitations of weddings in shape of sweets homemade items, they were also used to spy on rival tribes or tribal chief before wedding caravan (Janj).

Sikh Era

The mountains of Circle Bakote and Murree Hills were under the control of Gakhars and Dhond Abbasies and Karhrals were their sub-feudal lords for four centuries. The Sikh army personal of Gulab Singh and the Lahore Darbar were very brutal against the Muslim tribes of this area.[citation needed] They looted and gutted their houses, slaughtered them and got rewards of Rs. five Nanakshahi per child head and Rs. 10 for adult ladies or male heads[citation needed].


The Circle Bakote area was formerly part of the Hazara area, the Government of British India issued District Gazetteers every year in which details of population demography was published. The Circle Bakote population was not mentioned separately but the overall statistics of District Hazara and Tehsil Abbottabad are available.

Hazara District

  • 1869-70 : Total population was 343,929, (15,733 Dhond Abbasi and 25,231Kareals)
  • 1881 : 383,031
  • 1891 : 483,903 (Including the population of Thoba (Barhean) - this area was transferred to the Punjab Government in 1893.)
  • 1901 : 528,666, current Union Councils Birote and Bakot had a total population of 2,290 total and a cultivatable area of 6,024 acres (24.38 km2) - the land revenue collected by local lumberdars (village headmen) was Rs. 1,750/. There were six lumberdars with second class police station in Birote and Bakote.


District and Tehsil Abbottabad

In 1981 the Hazara area was divided and Abbottabad was formed as a district with two tehsils, In 1981, Abbottabad district had a population of 977,212 whilst Tehsil Abbottabad (a sub division of the district) - had an area of 1,802-square-mile (4,670 km2) and a population of 667,328 including 51% of Circle Bakote. In 1990 the total population of the district was 1,425,032 including Circle Bakote 43%.

Political division

Politically Hazara was a solo constituency of NWFP Legislative Assembly in 1935 to 1951, Hazara was divided into three constituencies.

Union Councils

Under the new administrative system - there are eight UCs of Circle Bakote. This area had been divided into 13 UCs in 1983 but some of these councils were merged in 2000, Moolia was merged into Bakote, Malkot into Palak , Chamyali into Pattan Kalan and Birote Kalan and Khurd were united. The Circle Bakote region is composed of the following union councils:

  1. Bakot
  2. Birote
  3. Boi
  4. Dalola
  5. Kukmang
  6. Nambal
  7. Palak
  8. Pattan Kalan

The highest and lowest places

The highest place is the peak of Mukeshpuri, while Manwan ni hell is the lowest place in UC Birote it is located on three provincial borders,- NWFP, Punjab and Azad Kashmir on the right bank of the Jhelum river. This place was of historical importance and contains relics as it was a crossing point between Kashmir and Taxila during the time of the Gandhara kingdom. Manwan ni hell was the first town of the Kethwal and Satti tribes who settled much of the current Circle Bakote and Murree Hills area before the arrival of Karhlal and Dhond Abbasi tribes six centuries ago.

Language and Literature

See Article on Dhondi/Kareali language

Urdu Literature

During the twentieth century as education spread through this hilly region, Urdu was the medium of learning. The rural culture and civilization was revolutionised and new thoughts and ideas came into being. Many Urdu newspapers and magazines such as Daily Zimidar Lahore, Daily Inqilab Lahore, Wakil Amretser, Muslim Rajpoot Ludhheana, Madina Bajnore stimulated the poetry of the hill people. Much of the poetry is oral and not written down.

Esperanto writers

Muztar Abbasi (1931–2004) was a scholar from the Dhond Abbasi tribe of Murree Hills and Circle Bakote. He was a patron of the Esperanto language in Pakistan. He translated the Quran and wrote a biography of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in Esperanto.


Many books have been published in Murree and Circle Bakote related to local history. The historians wrote only some information but not in depth and not fulfilling the demand of anthropologists and history, containing unauthentic information from Oral histories. There have also been tribal histories books such as "TAREEKH-E-ALVI AWAN" by Muhabbat H Awan, "Tareekh-e-Gakhrhan" by Raja Haider Zaman Keani and "Tarekh-e-Sattian" by Sabir Satti which are detailed research[citation needed].

Religious Heritage

In prehistory the people of this area were Hindus, however during the reign of King Ashoka and the spread of Buddhism, this area became a route for Buddhist scholars who travelled from Taxila Buddhist University to Kashmir via Lora, Narha, Thoba (Barhian), Nathia Gali, Moshpuri, Birote Khurd and Domail Kanair Pull on the River Jhelum.

In the 12th century Islam arrived, when Muslim tribes such as the Dhanyal settled in Kashmir and then crossed the River Jhelum into Circle Bakote. The first tribes of the area who embraced Islam were the Ketwals and the Satties who were previously Zoroastrians. Muslim saints Syed Ali Hamdani and Mohazzam Shah (aka Dhanni Pir) were able to make converts, although the first Mosque in the area was not established until the 17th century. In the 14 century, the Karhal tribe settled the area, followed by the Dhond Abbasi in the 15th century. Both fought against the Ketwals and Satties and expelled them from the area. During the wars, many Hindu and Buddhist temples were destroyed.

In 17th century, a Dhond Abbasi feudal Chief Malik Soraj Khan rose to prominence. He was a religious scholar as well as a saint and a poet of the [[Dhondi language]. His mother Rehmat Jan was a Satti. He built first mosque in Potha, Alyote, seven km north of Murree. The people of Circle Bakote and Murree Hills were troubled during the early Sikh era and they fought against them in Balakot under the command of Pir of Plasi Seyed Mohammed Ali Shah, a close companion of Mujahid Leaders Syed Ahmed Shahid and Shah Ismail Shahid, grandsons of Shah Waliullah Dehlvi, but they did not succeed and were defeated and killed in Balakot.

After this incident Seyed Mohammed Ali Shah moved to Bakot in 1832, built a mosque there and lived there until his death in 1849. He was the first religious saint but his influence was eclipsed after the arrival of Faqir-u-llah Bakoti from Pajja Shrif, Chikar (AJK). Fakir-u-llah Bakoti was a great Sufi saint who had thousands of followers. He was a well known figure of Circle Bakote. He invited people to follow the teachings of Islam. He arrived in Birote in 1870 and married into the Naik Mohammedal Alvi Awan of Birote, and a land of 12 kanals were granted to him by the Kamalal sub tribe of the Dhond Abbasi, then he travelled to Bakote because an Ahmadi preacher taught in a mosque in Central Bakote. He beat this person and taught the people of Bakote traditional Islam.

Haqiqullah Bakoti was first member of the NWFP legislative assembly from Circle Bakote. He was second son of Fakir-u-llah Bakoti and father of Pir Azhar Bakoti. He was a great scholar and religious leader. He had thousands of followers in Circle Bakot, Murree, Azad Kashmir and all over Pakistan. He was educated in Deoband, India. He was a pupil of Akhoond of Swat. He organized the Circle Bakote Muslims spiritually and politically by an organization named Anjuman Mujahideen at Bakote.

Another saint who came in Circle Bakote was Gull Baba from Mansehra and died at Ramkote east of Ayubia in 1943 where his tomb now resides.

Transport History

There have been road links between Punjab and Kashmir for thousands of years. For some 1500 years these road links have been established via Kohala, Lora, Musearhi (Murree old name) and Khwadder. Kashmiri rulers all depended on the trade link from Punjab to Kashmir.

In 1350 the Turks conquered Kashmir along this route. When the Mughals appointed their governor Yousaf Ridhvi in 1587, they made contacts through Kashmir Highway via Kohala. Another route between Kabul and Srinager was established when Abdullah Khan Kabuli became ruler of Kashmir - the route was Kabul, Mansehra to Srinager via Hasan Abdal. In the second decade of 1800, Hazarawals suspended supply lines of the Sikhs as result of the bloody wars they were engaged in. Hari Sing Nalva, a Sikh General tried to open this route by bloodshed and war of Balakot but did not succeed. The only route between Kashmir and Punjab remained Upper Dewal Kohala, which they developed. Another route was between Kashmir and Potohar (Land of Gakherhs) along with right bank of River Jhelum from Srinager to Mirpur, AJK. Rawalpindi (formerly Gajnipura) emerged as a socio-political as well as commerce centre of North Punjab in 1802 after the defeat of Gakherhs and the emergence of the Sikh government of the Lahore Darbar. Malka Singh as a new ruler set up Raja Bazar as a major trade centre between Punjab and Kashmir and Kohala as a centre of Raja Bazar. His successor Sardar Jewan Singh occupied all Murree Hills and Circle Bakote controlling the properties of local tribes, i.e. Dhond Abbasi, Karhral, Gakherhs and other tribes and transferred them to Hindu merchants by force. At that time these was no bridge in Kohala and travellers crossed the River Jhelum at Knair Pull or Pattan. Knair Pull is the oldest place crosspoint in the region going back. The remains of this points are also can be seen at Domail, 200 feet (61 m) above the New Kohala Bridge, 100 feet (30 m) above Kanair Pull Dak Bangalow and new build road from eastern part of New Kohala Bridge to Bashir Petrolepump. There were three routes in second decade of 1800 from Kabul, Rawalpindi to Kashmir. The first route was Hawailian, Khaira Gali, Malkot. Dewal to Khawadder crossing, second was Haripur, Lora, Danna, Gorha Gali, Kotli Sattean to Patan Dhalkot and third was Rawalpindi, Musearhi, Upper Dewal to Kohala. The resistance movement against the Sikh Authorities built forts (Kote in local language) and checkposts (Kotlies) in Dannah, Dewal, Bakote and Sahlian to maintain law and order.

Upper Dewal Kohala Road

The new construction of Upper Dewal Kohala Road started in 1836 on the orders of Gulab Singh, the Maharaja of Kashmir, where Sikhs armed troops patrolled 24 hours and fought local people ruthlessly. After the government of Ranjit Singh ended in 1845, the notorious Amritsar pact was signed among British rulers and Maharaja Gulab Singh - as a result of this all areas of Circle Bakote were aligned to Kashmir. This event compelled the local tribes to rebel, they destroyed Upper Dewal Kohala Road, delinked all bridges and had taken positions against Sikh troops. They killed more than 100 troops in Kohala [1] and hanged their dead bodies across right and left banks of River Jhelum. The agitation produced fruitful results and all regions of Circle Bakote were reunited with Punjab in same year after a few months.

Rawalpindi Murree Road

In 1857 local tribe's war of independent failed and British Government started development of Murree City and built Rawalpindi Murree Road. All bridges including Salgran is a masterpiece of Mistri Noor Alahi of Birote. A new friendship pact was also signed between the Dogra Raj of Kashmir and British Government of the Punjab in 1870.

Kashmir Highway

In 1873 the construction of the Kashmir Highway (Murree Srinagar Road) via Kohala started. The contractor was Sardar Hoshnak Singh and the bridge builder was Mistri Noor Alahi of Birote. It was completed via Aliyot, Phagwari, Lower Dewal and Lower Birote in 1885 and carts began travelling. In 1871 the first Kohala suspension bridge was built which was destroyed in the 1991 flood. Notable events are:

  • First highway link established between Rawalpindi and Kashmir and transport started.
  • Trate, Company Bagh, Gora Gali, Sunny Bank, Kuldanna, Ghikagali, Lower Topa, Aliyote, Phagwarhi and Garheal Camp emerged as populated towns along Kashmir Highway.
  • Kashmir Highway completed in 1901.
  • Kohal Bridge washed away three times, 1890, 1902 and 1991, then the bridge was shifted to Domail in Union Council Birote.
  • Parsi investor Dhanji Boy four-wheel chariot service first established to Murree in 1904 and then to Srinager next year.
  • Punjab Motor Transport Company established in 1907 and started service with four buses.
  • The first transporter of Circle Bakote was Dewan Singh of Termuthean.
  • The first Muslim transport company had established in 1920 with equal shares of contractor Amin Khan, Mehmood Shah, Ghulam Nabi Shah of Birote and many other shareholders from Rawalpindi under the banner of Allied Ghiraghdin Transport Company with two buses en route to Rawalpindi to Srinager.
  • Poet of the East Allama Iqbal first travelled to Kashmir by Kashmir Highway in 1921. He was passenger of Allied Chiragh Din driven by Molvi Ghazi of Lammian Larhan, Birote. According to Sabir Afaqi, Iqbql wrote 17 poem of his book ARMEGHN-E-HIJAZ and on poem of Jawaid Nama AANSOO-E-AFLAK during this voyage.
  • Rawalpindi Murree transport Company started her bus service in 1923 between Rawalpindi and Murree.
  • In 1930 Contractor Amin Khan and Raja Nazer Khan founded a new Rawalpindi Srinager Transport (SRT) Company and got a very handsome response by passengers as second company of Allied Chiragh Din. First SRT bus was Chewerlet no RI 4618 started on 23 July 1930.
  • In 1935 reksha started their services on this road.
  • Raja Serwer Khan of Gora Gali established third transport Company named Murree Hills Transport Company in 1943 with eight buses en-route to Kohala Rawalpindi.
  • Between years of 1946–47 Rawalpindi Srinagar transport bus service suspended and eight buses of Allied Chiragh Din were seized by Dogras. New transport system first introduced when British Government built Rawalpindi Murree Road in mid of 19th century.

Transport After Independence

After Pakistan came into being, many transporters came forward and invested millions of rupees in this sector both in Northern Punjab and Azad Kashmir. A half dozens transporters of Azad Kashmir run their services on Kashmir Highway but the route was on Rawalpindi to Muzaferabad, Rawalakot, Bagh, Dhirkot, Chinari and Athmuqam. Allied Chiragh Din and Srinagar Road Transport (SRT) Company purchased more used buses and restarted their operation. Murree Hills Transport Company monopoly was on Rawalpindi Kohala route which was broke by Pindi Murree Transport Company in 1951 and started operation with 32 seater six buses. Mentioned company got route permit of Rawalpindi Lora, Rawalpindi Ayubia and Rawalpindi Rewat on Kohala Bridal (Now Upper Dewal Kohala) Road. Demand of Upper Dewal Kohala Road construction was echoed in President House in ex-capital Karachi and in 1958 when federal Capital shifted in Islamabad, the importance of Upper Dewal Kohala Road emerged higher and higher as a permanent supply line of Pakistani armed forces in Azad Kashmir. A large landslide damaged Kashmir Highway near Aliyote in 1960 and road was closed for six months, it was a great concern for GHQ, therefore federal government called an emergency meeting of Corp Commanders in Rawalpindi in last December and recommended construction work of Upper Dewal Kohala Road under supervision of Pak Army. In first phase construction work started on this road in mid of 1961 from Garheal to Rewat. The second phase completed in 1964 from Rewat to Dewal and then suspended. Pakistan Army faced many hurdles in logistic movement during 1965 war as a single road connection with AJK and the importance of Upper Dewal Kohala Road came more aggressive again as a defence linkage way for Armed Forces. Pak Army restarted road construction in 1966 on Sikh made old route and it was completed in 1969. The first bus service started on this route was Murree Hills Transport Company driven by Mohammed Rezaq Khan of Birote. The second Pakwatan Bus servpany Bagh, Gora Gali, Sunny Bank, Kuldanna, Ghikagali, Lower Topa, Aliyote, Phagwarhi and Garheal Camp emerged as populated towns along Kashmir Highway.

  • Kohal Br10 services have been operating in morning from Moolia, Kohala, Basian and Birote to Rawalpindi and four were from Rawalpindi to Kohala and Molia. These bus operators are:-
  • Razaq Khan then Nizakat Abbasi operated Murree Hills Bus Service from 1963 to 2004.
  • Azad Khan of Basian operated Pir Bakoti Express from 1980 to 2003 and then sold to Hussain Abbasi of Basian and he operated it till 2006.
  • Nisar Abbasi of Birote started Abbasi Coach (No RID 8699) in 1987 and ended in 2006 by his son Anwar Abbasi.
  • Imteaz Abbasi started Abbasi Coach (No Rid 1230) in 1990. This was the first bus that first time operated from Rawalpindi to Molia.
  • All heavy passenger transport is now eliminated on Kashmir Highway and Upper Dawel Kohala Road since 2003, and coaches are running travel business. More than 200 texies are now operating only in UC Birote.

Books on Circle Bakote and Murree Hills

Colonial Era Books

The earliest books published on this area were during the British Raj - The first was "MEMORENDUM ON THE NWFP" by Cap. Bonami and published from Calcutta (now Kolkata), India. Other notable books are:-

  • Notes on Khaira Gali and Shangla Gali of NWFP by J E N Bide (1927)
  • The origin of the Himalayas Mountain
  • Notes on The elevation of Himalayan Peaks by Archibald Campbell published from Colkata (1848)
  • Remarks on Himalayan Glaciation. - G.F.Cambell published from Kolkata (1877)
  • Indian Frontier Policy, A historical Sketch by Sir John Miller Adye published from London (1897)
  • North West Frontier Province by T Camon Plot (1930)
  • NWFP and Pathan Borderland (A Survey Report) by E W Kastlave (1914)
  • Year on North West Frontier of India by S J Koten from London (1868)
  • Memorandum on the Produce of Himalayas Hills by L Kowan from Lahore (1860)
  • Air Mapping of NW Frontier by D R Crown (1936)
  • The North West Province of India by W Krikk (1897)
  • A General Geographical Accounts of NWFP by M A Durrani (His MA Thesis in London University) in 1939.

Modern Books

Mohammed Ata Raheem of the Pakistan Science Foundation (also a professor at the Quaid-e-Azam University) compiled a history of Circle Bakote and Murree Hills from 1684 to 1947. It was published in 1976.

"Zameeni Sitaray" A book by young Journalist from Bakote Sharif "Hanan Ali Abbasi". This book is autobiography of 100 successful personalities from different fields of life in Pakistan. Hanan is youngest author and writer of Circle Bakote and his articles are published in countries leading newspapers. Zameeni Sitaray is available in all famous Books Stalls of Islamabad and Pakistan.

  • "AY KOH-E-MURREE" (O Murree Hills) written by Brgd. Mohammed Ismail Siddiqi, about the civilisation, culture and tribal history of Murree Hills, Circl Bakote and Galyat.
  • "TAREEKH-E-HAZARA" (new edition) written by Dr. Shair Bahader Khan Panni published from Abbottabad.

Khan Bahadur Raja Abdul Rehman Khan Sahib from Nagri tutial was the first minister in Circle Bakote (1932 to 1944) And his Brother Raja Sardar Khan Sahib (MLA 1946 to 1952) And his Nephew

  • Sardar Anyat-u-Rehman khan Abbasi Sahib also Parliamentarian of Circle Bakote. established many primary, middle and high schools. Upper Dewal Kohala Road and Ghora Gali Road and electric supply.

Nagina afzal riaz is the first lady candidate from circle Bakote Who applied for pf 45 in the 2008 general election. She is the daughter in law of ex-chairman of UC Birote Haji Aazam khan and widow of afzal riaz.His family are called hajial in Bakote.*Transport: Thekedar Amin Abbasi of Birote created the first transport company named "Allied Ncgiraghdin" in his grandfather's name. Raja Nazer of Julial, Mehmood Shah and his elder brother Ghulam Nabi Shah (father of Dr. Ilyas Shah) of Birote joined him as co-transporters with six buses en route to Rawalpindi to Srinager from 1932 to April 1947.

  • Education: Vernacular Primary School Bakote is the oldest school, it opened in 1902, the first student was "Sardar Hasan Ali Khan" of Boi, the first teacher was Syed Masoom Ali Shah (1882-1963) of Juleal Birote who taught in various places to educated people. The first batch of all government running school of Circle Bakote teachers was Masoom Shah students in 1902.

Circle Bakote in 2009

(Under compilation)

Further reading

  • Tarekh-e-Murree by Noor Alahi Abbasi
  • Dastan-e-Murree by Prof. Karam Haidri
  • Tarikh-e-Alvi Awan by Mohabbat Husain Awan,
  • Tarikh-e-Gakhrhan by Raja Haider Zaman Keani,
  • Tarikh-e-Hazara by Shair B Panni,
  • Tarikh-e-Frishta by Frishta
  • Kegoher Nama translated by Dr. Mohammed Baqir
  • Ay Koh-e-Murree by Brg. Ismail Siddiqi
  • A brief Description Galies Forest Devision By R Ahmed 1936a


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