Murree is a popular hill station and a summer resort, especially for the residents of Islamabad, and for the cities of all the provinces of Pakistan. Murree is also the administrative centre of Murree Tehsil, which is a sub-division of Rawalpindi district and includes the Murree hills.
The name Murree is derived from 'marhi', "high place" although there is another popular belief that it is named after the Mary (Hazrat Marrium Alai Salam).
A view of Murree
Murree is one of the largest resort towns in the Galyat area of Pakistan, and is the capital city of Murree Tehsil (which is an administrative division of the Rawalpindi District). It is situated on the southern slopes of the Western Himalayan foothills as they ascend to the northeast towards Kashmir. During British Rule in the nineteenth century, its altitude was established at 7,000 feet (2,100 m), but its actual altitude has now been determined as 2,300 m (7,500 ft) above sea level.
Murree is accessible by road from the centre of the Islamabad and Rawalpindi areas. It is still associated with Britain; many British fruits (including cherries, raspberries and strawberries) thrive locally. There is a church, built in 1857, located at the centre of the town, which is still used as a place of worship. Many houses around the church are still standing, functioning mostly as hotels. Old traditional restaurants have been replaced by fast food shops and newer restaurants. Some old places of accommodation, such as the Rich Villa Inn and Gulberg Hotel, have completely disappeared. A typical hotel usually provides a motel type accommodation with breakfast and communication access. Newly built hotels are also accessible.
Murree has expanded since 1947 at a rate much greater than that which its infrastructure can sustain. Securing water and electricity has been a constant challenge. The jam-packed bazaar has caught fire a number of times in the last century, and the growth of tourism and a construction boom have had an adverse effect on the local environment.
Murree, aftermath of fire in 1875
An 18th century post office
Dark and Cloudy Murree Landscape
Murree was founded in 1851 by the Governor of Punjab, Sir Henry Lawrence, and was originally established for the British troops garrisoned on the Afghan frontier. as a sanatorium.
The permanent town of Murree was constructed at Sunnybank in 1853. The church was sanctified in May 1857, and the main road, The Mall, was built. The most significant commercial establishments, the Post Office, general merchants with European goods, tailors and a millinery, were established opposite the church. Until 1947, access to the Mall was restricted for non-Europeans.
Until 1876, Murree was the summer headquarters of the Punjab local government; after 1876 the headquarters were moved to Simla.
The railway connection with Lahore, the capital of the Punjab Province, made Murree a popular resort for Punjab officials, and the villas and other houses erected for the accommodation of English families gave it a European aspect. It was described in the Gazetteer of Rawalpindi District, 1893–94 as follows:
The sanatorium of Murree lied in north latitude 33 54' 30" and east longitude 73 26' 30", at an elevation of 7,517 feet (2,291 m) above sea level, and contained a standing population of 1,768 inhabitants, which was, however, enormously increased during the [May-November] season by the influx of visitors and their attendant servants and shopkeepers. It is the most accessible hill station in the Punjab, being distant from Rawalpindi only a five hours' journey by tonga dak. Magnificent views are to be obtained in the spring and autumn of the snow crowned mountains of Kashmir; and gorgeous sunset and cloud effects seen daily during the rains [July-August]. Part of the station, especially the Kashmir end, are also well wooded and pretty. Murree also can boast of a world class educational establishment the Lawrence School ,Ghora Galli
In 1901 the population of the town was officially 1844, although if summer visitors had been included this could have been as high as 10,000.
In the hot season it was the headquarters of the 'Lieutenant General of the Northern Command. The Commissioner of the Rawalpindi Division and the Deputy-Commissioner of Rawalpindi also resided here during part of the hot season, for which period an Assistant Commissioner was placed in charge of the subdivision consisting of Murree Tehsil. The site was selected in 1850 almost immediately after the annexation of the Province, and building operations commenced at once. In 1851 temporary accommodation was provided for a detachment of troops ; and in 1853 permanent barracks were erected. The garrison generally consisted of three mountain batteries. In 1873, 1874, and 1875 Murree was the summer headquarters of the Punjab Government. It was connected with Rawalpindi town by a service of tongas.
The houses crown the summit and sides of an irregular ridge, commanding magnificent views over forest-clad hill-sides into deep valleys studded with villages and cultivated fields. The neighbouring hills were covered during the summer with encampments of British troops, while the station itself is filled with European visitors from the plains and travellers to Kashmir. A fine view of the snowy peaks of Kashmir is to be had on a clear day, and the crest of Nanga Parbat (26,182 feet) can sometimes be seen. The municipality was created in 1850.
The income during the ten years ending 1902-3 averaged Rs. 49,500, and the expenditure Rs. 48,200. In 1903-4 the income and expenditure were Rs. 5r,40o, chiefly from octroi, and Rs. 54,400 respectively. The income and expenditure of cantonment funds averaged Rs. 10,000 between 1893 and 1903. The chief educational institutions are the Lawrence Military Asylum for soldiers' children, and the St. Denys' and Convent English schools for girls. The station contains the Lady Roberts Home for invalid officers and a branch of the Alliance Bank of Simla. The Murree Brewery was the only industrial concern of any importance.
1857 War of IndependenceSee also: 1857 War of Independence in Murree
In the summer of 1857, the local tribes of Murree and Hazara, including the Dhond Abbasi and Tanoli, planned to attack the British Army. The campaign was led by the chief of the Dhond Abbasi tribe, Sardar Sherbaz Khan, and by Malik Nawab Bahadur Khan of the Tanoli tribe. They fought respectably against the British Army, giving the British considerable difficulties. The British Army eventually signed an agreement with the local Abbasi tribe.
British presenceAfter the British forces' occupation of Murree and Abbottabad, many English soldiers and administrators went there during the summers for the cooler climate of the area. The British settled here and raised families. Some prominent people who were born here include:
Bruce Bairnsfather - a famous cartoonist during world War I
Francis Younghusband - an army officer and explorer. He established the Bible Society in the Christian High School in Geryal Murree. The society did in depth research into the local languages. This society translated a chapter of new testament book Loqas in Dhondi that was noted by the compilers of the "Linguistic Survey Of India".
AnimalsMany rare animals can be found in Murree. One example is the rare snow leopard, which is said to live here.
TribesThe main tribe of Murree are the Dhond Abbasi, other tribes are the Kethwals, the Dhanyals,Awans, Jasgam and the Satti.
AdministrationLocation of Union Council within Murree Tehsil.
As well as being tehsil headquarters, Murree is also a Union Council, it is bounded to the north by Darya Gali and Rawat, to the west by Ghora Gali, to the south by Numbal and Mussiari, and to the east by Ghel and Charhan.
Journalism in MurreeThe earliest records of newspapers being sold in the Murree Hills are from 1936 during British rule. Today there are four daily newspapers (Daily Ousaf, Daily Musalman, Daily Azkar, and Daily Nawa-i-Hazara) published in Islamabad but edited by people in Murree Hills and Circle Bakote, including well-known local political personalities of Jhika Gali and Mussyari. There are also two weekly newspapers, the Hill Post and the Hill News.
The Murree Union of Journalists was founded in 1983. The first president of the union was Salim Shwalvi, a well known journalist from Kashmir
Imtiaz ul Haq is the senior most journalist in Murree, working with leading news papers and tv network founding member of murree press club and president of union of journalists (MURREE)
New Murree ProjectThe government of Punjab is at the brim of initiating the “New Murree Project” to promote tourism.The location selected for this project is Patriata after considering the other three, Ban, Barian and Charihan. This project will cover 4,111 acres (16.64 km2) of land, including 3,849 acres (15.58 km2) of the Murree Forest Division and 262 acres (1.06 km2) of the Rawalpindi North Forest Division. The water for New Murree City will be supplied from River Jhelum.
Famous PeopleFamous people from Murree include:
Mohammad Khaqan Abbasi (former MNA of Dewal)
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (MNA from Dewal)
Raja Ishfaq Sarwar ,President Muslim League (N) Politician
Mirza Mohmmed Sharif Baig (A local Politician and Social Elder)
Khawaja Abdur Rahman Wani (A political activist and renowned Builder)
Raja Muhammad Hanif, (owner Move N Pick, Hotel)
Raja Khalil Abbasi (Owner Faran Hotel and President Hotel Association Murree)
Raja Javed (Owner Ambassador Hotel Mall Road Murree)
Raja Irfan Abbasi (Owner Jawa International Hotel Murree)
Raja Muhammad Sohail Abbasi (Owner Jawa International Hotel Murree)
Raja Daftar Abbasi President Muslim League (N) Murree owner White Onion Restaurant
Aftab Ahmad Abbasi Hotelier