Rawalpindi is a city in the Potwar Plateau near Islamabad, the current capital of Pakistan, in the province of Punjab. It is the military headquarters of the Pakistan Armed Forces and also served as the nation's capital while Islamabad was being constructed in the 1960s. The city is home to many industries and factories. Islamabad International Airport is actually in Rawalpindi, and it serves the city along with the capital. Rawalpindi is located in the Punjab province, 275 km (171 miles) to the north-west of Lahore. It is the administrative seat of the Rawalpindi District. The population of Rawalpindi is approximately 3,039,550.
Towns in Rawalpindi
The City-District of Rawalpindi comprises seven autonomous towns or tehsils:
- Gujar Khan
- Kahuta Town
- Kallar Sayedaan Town
- Kotlisattian Town
- Murree Town
- Rawal Town
- Taxila Town
- Chamanzar Colony
- National Town
Rawalpindi, also known as Pindi, has a long history spread over several millennia. Archaeologists believe that a distinct culture flourished on this plateau as far back as 3000 years. The material remains found at the site prove the existence of a Buddhist establishment contemporary to Taxila and the Vedic civilisation (Hindu culture).
It appears that the ancient city went into oblivion as a result of the Hun devastation. The first Muslim invader, Mahmud of Ghazni (979-1030), gave the ruined city to a Gakhar Chief, Kai Gohar. The town, however, being on an invasion route, could not prosper and remained deserted until Jhanda Khan, another Gakhar Chief, restored it and named it Rawalpindi after the village Rawal in 1493. Rawalpindi remained under the rule of the Gakkhars till Muqarrab Khan, the last Gakkhar ruler, was defeated by the Sikhs in 1765. The Sikhs invited traders from other places to settle here. This brought the city into prominence.
Following the British conquest of the Sikhs and their occupation of Rawalpindi in 1849, the city became a permanent garrison of the British army in 1851. In the 1880s a railway line to Rawalpindi was laid, and train service was inaugurated on January 1, 1886. The need for having a railway link arose after Lord Dalhousie made Rawalpindi the headquarters of the Northern Command and Rawalpindi became the largest British military garrison in British India.
In 1951, Rawalpindi saw the assassination of the first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, in Liaquat Garden. Today Rawalpindi is the headquarters of the Pakistani Army and Air Force.
The famous Murree Road has been a hot spot for various political and social events. Nala Lai, famous for its floods, runs in the middle of the city, dividing it into city area and Cantonment area. History describes Nala Lai water pure enough to do washing clothes but now it has become polluted with the waste water from all sources including factories and houses.
There are many ways to get in and around Rawalpindi.
The Chaklala International Airport is actually located in Rawalpindi than Islamabad and is used by over 25 airlines, both national and international. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the principal carrier in Pakistan, has numerous routes, with many domestic and international flights every day.
Rawalpindi is on the ancient Grand Trunk Road (also known as G.T. Road or, more recently, N-5) which links Rawalpindi to nearly every major city in northern Pakistan, from Lahore in the Punjab to Peshawar in the NWFP.
The city is also served by two nearby six-lane expressways, M2 (Lahore-Islamabad) and M1 (Islamabad-Peshawar), which were completed in the 1990's. Somewhat further away is the famous Karakoram Highway, the world's highest international road, which connects Pakistan to China.
Public transport for travel within Rawalpindi is diverse, ranging from yellow taxis, auto-rickshaws, mini-buses and even tongas (horse-drawn carriages). Due to lack of planning of roads, mess of traffic is found even on small roads. For inter-city travel, air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses and coaches are regularly available to many destinations in Pakistan.
There is also an Islamabad/Rawalpindi central railway station that allows travel to every major city in Pakistan. In addition to freight, Pakistan Railways provides passenger rail service throughout the day, with train coaches that have air-conditioning in first-class.