Murree Hills

Murree

Murree

Murree, the “Queen of Hills”, is a famous hill station forming the outskirts of Rawalpindi and the capital city of Islamabad in Pakistan. Located about 30 km northeast of Islamabad city, the Murree hill station at an altitude of 6000 ft to 7000 ft is a famous and thriving tourist attraction easily accessible from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and the twin city of Rawalpindi. The hill station remains open and accessible all year yet is extremely crowded both in peak summers and during the snowfall in winters.

History

Murree is located in the Galyat region of the Peer Panjal Range. Nestled in the Himalayan foothills, Murree was first identified as a potential hill station in 1847 by Major James Abbott, an Indian Army officer. In 1849, it was decided to establish a hill station at Murree conveniently accessible from the essential military cantonment of Rawalpindi. It was founded in 1851 by the then President of the Punjab Administrative Board, Sir Henry Lawrence.

The hill station was originally established as a sanatorium for British troops garrisoned on the Afghan frontier. However, the permanent town of Murree was constructed in 1853. The first Church in the hill station was consecrated in 1857 and then gradually the British went on adding heritage that we still see today in the form of Churches, educational institutions, and other historic monuments. Moreover, Britons born here during the colonial era including Lieutenant Colonel Sir Francis Edward Younghusband, Reginald Dyer, and Joanna Kelley remained prominent in the world.

The reason for choosing Murree as a summer retreat was probably its climate that resembles that of England as well as to escape the scorching heat in the plains of Punjab during the summer. Over the years, Murree continuously got famous as a tourist resort for British citizens of the British Raj. Murree, therefore, became a hot tourist destination during the colonial era yet access was denied to non-Europeans to visit commercial establishments including Lawrance College, and Mall Road until 1947.

 Access from Lahore, the capital of Punjab, was via train to Rawalpindi and then onward a five-hour service tanga (horse cart) ride to Murree – almost an entire day journey. The station was filled with European visitors from the plains, the hills were covered with encampments of British troops and the houses and villas built for the English families using Victorian Gothic architecture gave the entire settlement a European feature. By 1901, the permanent population reached 1844 while if the summer visitors were included, the number could be as high as 10,000.

 Post Independence

The hill station remained a charming colonial town until 1947. As a bustling summer resort in the Galyat region of northern Punjab, Murree now attracts a huge influx of tourists every season. The local population is about 2,33,000 (as of 2022) and people speak Pahari. Local businesses are mostly owned by non-locals. The resort city also serves as a transit point for tourists visiting Muzaffarabad and Abbottabad. Murree has retained its position as a popular hill station since the Independence of Pakistan in 1947. Tourists visit Murree both in summer and in winter from different regions of Pakistan as well as from abroad.

Things to do

The Himalayan hills of dense with evergreen forests, flora and fauna, scenic beauty, and hugging clouds make Murree an ideal summer retreat. Even during winters when it snows, the valleys and mountains of Murree become too spectacular and attract a huge number of visitors from across the country and around the world. It has a number of attractions for tourists including hiking trails, resorts, flora and fauna, a unique climate, and picturesque valleys. One can carry out a wide range of outdoor activities in Murree including:

  • Patriata Chairlift located about 20km from Murree
  • Ayubia Chairlift
  • Hiking in Nathiagali and Changagali
  • Strolling from Mall Road to Pindi point and chairlift ride down to Bansra Gali
  • Strolling from Mall Road to Kashmir point to enjoy the scenery of the mountains of Kashmir
  • Shopping and eating on the Mall Road
  • Birds and monkeys watching
  • Explore Uppertopa and Lowertopa
  • Visit Goragali and Bhurban

 Climate

Murree is situated in the outer Himalayas and retains a high altitude. According to the Köppen climate classification, Murree features a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate where the region features cold and snowy winters while cool rainy summers with fog. Usually with almost year-round precipitation with an average of 1,904mm (75.0 in) while 1,590mm (62.6 in) of snow per year that usually starts in January and lasts till March.

Access

Murree is accessible from Islamabad by the old Murree Road and the new Islamabad-Murree Expressway. There is no Railway station or airport in Murree due to the mountainous terrain. Islamabad International airport is the nearest airport and Golra Railway Station in Islamabad is the nearest Railway station.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *