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|Time zone||UTC+5 (PST)|
|Number of towns||1|
|Number of Union Councils||12|
Balakot (Urdu: بالاکوٹ ) is a town in Mansehra District in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The town was destroyed during the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, but was later rebuilt with the assistance of the Government of Pakistan and Saudi Public Assistance for Pakistan Earthquake Victims (SPAPEV), a Saudi relief organisation.
Balakot is located on the right bank of the Kunhar River. It is almost at two third of the length of river from it its origin at Lake Dharam Sar deep in the Kaghan Valley, before it confluence with Jehlum River.
The lower area below Balakot, sometimes referred to as Nainsukh Valley, is temperate while Kaghan Valley above Balakot City is cold enough to turn the whole area to freezing in the winter. Kaghan valley is a pleasant summer destination. Its upper part from Naran upstream lacks the monsoon but the lower part get it well and so is forested.
Balakot is now expanding city and centre among distant northern parts of Pakistan. Smaller hamlets are located in the terraced mountains around it.
Balakot has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with hot summers and cool winters. Rainfall in Balakot is much higher than in most other parts of Pakistan. The heaviest rainfall occurs either in late winter (February–March) associated with frontal systems, or in the monsoon season (June–August); however, all months see significant rainfall on average.
|Climate data for Balakot|
|Record high °C (°F)||24.4
|Average high °C (°F)||13.9
|Daily mean °C (°F)||8.1
|Average low °C (°F)||2.2
|Record low °C (°F)||−3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||105.4
|Source: NOAA (1971-1990) |
Balakot is one of the main cities of Mansehra District. It serves as the chief city of Balakot Tehsil, which is the largest Tehsil of Mansehra District. It has also a Union Council and administers the many surrounding smaller towns and villages.
The known history of the city is not well recorded before the British Period. Archaeologists from Hazara University, however, have found terracotta remains and terracotta figurines from distant points in the high altitudes around the area. They might shed light on earlier inhabitants of the area.
Old graveyards also suggest the linkages toward Pre-Muslim occupants who later on converted to Islam.
Great Mughals ultimately had this place under their control and we have the local tradition of Mughal Queen, Nur Jahan, while on the way to Kashmir, used the route below Balakot near Garhi Habibullah Khan.
The historical records give a detailed account of the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen from Raebareli under the Syed Ahmad Barelvi and Shah Ismail. They were accompanied by many followers who believe Syed Ahmad to be a Khalifah, i.e. Caliph, from Raebareli and some local followers of Swati and Syed clans. Balakot was a refuge to them after being ousted from Swabi and Amb State. The Sikhs, under the banner of Lahore Durbar fought the defining battle against this movement and killed every one in general. However, there are local tradition of revering different sites in the hills, by making small stone enclosure,where the blood of the wounded Mujahideen was supposedly spelled. They name it as, 'Shaheed'. For the sake of this event, Balakot City is sometime also referred to as, Shuhada ki Sarzameen, i.e. The Land of Martyrs. Sikh Army tried to penetrate from the Garhi Habibullah (15 km downstream) with armies from Kashmir but were put to hold till the reinforcement arrived from Lahore via Timri near Shinkiari. On a little mound in the north of the city, by the Rou Nala, the Battle of Balakot was fought on May 6, 1831. Sikhs became victorious and all the Mujahideens including Syed Ahmad and Shah Ismail were killed.
Mahtab Singh, a writer of the history of Hazara to the wish of James Abbot, writes that Sikhs, to stop the movement to continue any further, reopened the grave of Syed Ahmad and set the body into the Kunhar River. It may possibaly be right as in Talhatta 10 km down stream another grave is also dedicated to him. Local tradition also support that it is the head buried here.
It was a brutal and fearsome rule which ended after James Abbot's coming in Hazara and things changed after he incited local chiefdom against Sikhs in his own bid. There have been many skirmishes between locals and Shiks forces. One famous event happened in 1844 when Gulab Singh, Maharaja of Kashmir sent a campaign to Chilas under Diwan Ibrahim, which was effectively destroyed by local populations in Kaghan Valley at Diwan Bela, named after him.
After James Abbot coming to the region in early 1840s, Sikhs were kept in check in upper Hazara. And he was able to wage war on Sikhs with this local support in Haripur. It was brutal rule of Sikhs which made him lead local chiefs and their forces. He sat in Balakot and distributed the land to the people in a summary settlement.
During the War of Independence 1857, no local chief is reported to have revolted. It is rather the other side of the history that local chiefs helped British Army to bring down mutineers of Hoti Garrission, Mardan. 55th Native Infantry mutineers were trying to seek refuge in Kashmir State, however they were only able to cross Indus in Kohistan and went up the hilly route and caught near Lake Dudipatsar by local forces of the Kaghan chiefs, Kohistanis and Gujjars. The whole gorge is now known as Purbi Nar means the gorge of Eastern People i.e. people from Bengal. Few escaped and captured by Kashmir State and then handed over to British Army for execution.
Rest of the British Period gone well and many remains of British Period structures can be seen. Examples are Dakbungalows at Burawai (now ruined PWD Rest House), Lalazar, Battakundi, Naran (now WAPDA Rest House), Kamal Ban, Sharan, Shogran, Balakot can be seen. There are number of bridges also found.
Oral tradition say that there were many Hindu and Sikh inhabitants, particularly businessmen i.e. Banias who decided to leave for India after partition. No reports of any riots been come out of the time. However, the parties were launched to put Kashmir State Army on hold along current Line of Control from all the villages around Balakot.
The town was completely destroyed in a destructive earthquake on 8 October 2005. The fault almost passes through the main bazar of Balakot. It follows the hilly area to the north up to Allai and leads to the Bagh in Azad Jammu & Kashmir from the villages of Balakot like Kanshian and Jabri Kaleesh. This faultline - the Balakot-Bagh fault - is said to be the source of the Kashmir earthquake. The estimated death toll from the Balakot town and the districts in the affected Kashmir area was put at 73,000 with some sources claiming the number is over 80,000.
The United Arab Emirates volunteered to rebuild this town into an improved one with housing colonies, schools, hospitals, and other civic facilities. However the Pakistan government has announced that the city will be relocated. The town will be reconstructed about 20 km away at a safer spot with more earthquake-proof buildings. The hillside town of Balakot, comprising 12 union councils with a population of 30,000 people, was completely destroyed by the earthquake on 8 October 2005. Over 90 per cent of the houses were reduced to muddy smears. The survivors will be relocated to the New Balakot City, currently being developed near Mansehra.
A decade after the earthquake, the New Balakot City was still being constructed and many residents still lived in temporary earthquake-resistant shelters. Amid the locals' discontent, the Pakistani government cited the problem of acquiring the land at Bakrayal as a reason for the delay due to a dispute between the national and provincial government as well as the landowners. There are observers who also note that political patronage diverted aid away from those who need it. There are those who started rebuilding their houses in the old city. By 2006, construction of New Balakot City resumed.
Kunhar river near Balakot during July
- Saudi Public Assistance for Pakistan Earthquake Victims
- "Balakot Climate Normals 1971-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- Tehsils & Unions in the District of Mansehra Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- "Index of /culture/documents/publications". unesco.org.pk. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
- Ali1, Shah2, Hameed3,Ashfaq4, Muhammad5 (2011). "Archaeological Explorations in Balakot, District Mansehra, 2006-07: A Preliminary Report" (PDF). Pakistan Heritage. 3: 149–160.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- Panni, Sherbahadur Khan. Tareekh-i-Hazara. Lahore.
- Watson, H.D. (1908). Gazetteer Of The Hazara District, 1907 (PDF). London: Chatto & Windus. pp. 160–161.
- "Learning from Earthquakes: The Kashmir Earthquake of October 8, 2005: Impacts in Pakistan" (PDF). EERI. February 2006. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
- "The Balakot Earthquake: Ten years on - OpenLearn - Open University". www.open.edu. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
- Over 80% of the building collapsed and several schools where most of the students were buried alive.BBC NEWS – Pakistan to move quake-hit town
- "Broken city, broken promises in Kashmir". BBC News. 2015-10-08. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
- Sadaqat, Muhammad (2016-01-28). "New Balakot project: Construction of Bakriyal city to resume in a week - The Express Tribune". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 2018-06-19.