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|Door to Kashmir|
Panoramic view of Bhimber
|Established||7th century AD|
|• Total||461,000 (District population)|
|Time zone||UTC+5 (PST)|
Bhimber (Urdu: بھمبر) is the chief town of Bhimber District, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. The town is situated on the border between Azad Kashmir and Pakistan at a distance of about 50 km (31 mi) from Mirpur, about 48 kilometres (30 mi) from Gujrat, about 37 kilometres (23 mi) from Jhelum, about 166 kilometres (103 mi) from Islamabad and about 241 kilometres (150 mi) from Srinagar.
During the seventh century AD, the celebrated Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, translator and pilgrim to India Hsuan Tsang mentioned Bhimber in his works. The works of Hsuan Tsang were translated into English in 1884 by Samuel Beal a scholar from England.
Bhimber has remained capital city of Chibhal, named after Raja Chib Chand the eldest son of Raja Partab chand Katoch who came to Bhimber and established the state after marrying local ruler`s daughter in 1400 A.D. Chibs are direct descendents of Raja Chib Chand Katoch.
In Chibs, the first who embraced Islam was Shadaab Khan who is famous as Hazrat Baba Shadi Shaheed. His Hindu name was Raja Dharm Chand Chib. The last ruler of Chibhal was Raja Sultan Khan (1800–1840). Bhimber has been important strategically. It lies on the route that was followed by the Mughal Emperors for their frequent visits to the Kashmir Valley. It is also known as "Baab-e-Kashmir" (Door to Kashmir) because of its importance and geographical location which was ideal for Mughal Emperors to enter Kashmir. Therefore, the Mughals used Bhimber as a staging point for journey to Srinagar. Mughal Emperor Jahangir discussed Bhimber in his book Tuzk-e-Jahangiri.
In the 19th century, Chibhal came under the Sikh Empire of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Around 1822, it, along with Poonch, was granted as a jagir to Raja Dhian Singh of the Dogra dynasty, the brother of Gulab Singh. After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Sikh court fell into disunity and Dhian Singh was murdered in the court intrigues. Subsequently, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was formed under the suzerainty of the British Empire, and these territories were transferred to Jammu and Kashmir. The jagir given to Dhian Singh was respected, however, and Dhian Singh's sons Moti Singh and Jawahir Singh were retained as its Rajas.
In 1852, the brothers Jawahir Singh and Moti Singh quarrelled and the Punjab Board of Revenue awarded a settlement. Moti Singh was awarded the Poonch district, and Jawahir Singh was awarded Bhimber, Mirpur and Kotli. In 1859, Jawahir Singh was accused of 'treacherous conspiracy' by Maharaja Ranbir Singh (r. 1857–1885), who succeeded Gulab Singh. The British agreed with the assessment and forced Jawahir Singh into exile in Ambala. Ranbir Singh paid Jawahir Singh an annual stipend of Rs. 100,000 until his death, and appropriated his territory afterwards because Jawahir Singh had no heirs.
The appropriated territory was organised as the Bhimber district (wazarat) in 1860. In the decade preceding 1911, the district headquaarters was shifted to Mirpur and it came to be called the Mirpur district. Bhimber remained a tehsil headquarters until 1947. It had a Hindu majority population, mostly consisting of Mahajans.
At the time of the partition of India, the Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir indicated his preference to remain independent of both the new Dominions of India and Pakistan. However, apprehensive that he would join India, the Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan authorised an invasion of the state on 12 September 1947. The southern wing of the operations came under the command of General Zaman Kiani, formerly of the Indian National Army. Raja Habib ur Rahman Khan, said to be of a Chib family who had also served in the Indian National Army, led the attack on Bhimber. Bhimber was well-fortified and defended by a company of the Jammu and Kashmir State Forces and volunteers from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Rahman could not dislodge the defences, and approached Col. Tommy Masud of Pakistan's PAVO Cavalry for help. Masud, who had already been recruited into the invasion plan by Col. Sher Khan, dispatched a force along with armoured cars. A renewed attack was launched on the night of 22 October and Bhimber fell within a day. The State Forces withdrew to Akhnoor along with a "few hundred Hindus". On the morning of 24 October, the ex-INA men moved in and looted the town. The fate of the remaining Hindus has not been reported.[a][b]
Geography and climate
Bhimber is a valley. Its hot, dry climate and other geographical conditions closely resemble those of Gujrat, the adjoining district of Pakistan.
Regarding infrastructure, Bhimber ranks at 137, with school infrastructure of 24.64 and a retention score of 42.04. Like most districts in Kashmir, schools in Bhimber do not have proper building walls, furniture and other facilities which aid students in studying. There is also a low number of beyond-primary schools, which contributes to its low retention score.
Less girls are enrolled in this district due to a lack of government schools for girls and long travel times to attend daily schools as reported by TaleemDo! App.
Bhimber and its surrounding area is very rich in archaeological remains. There is a forest rest house in Bhimber. Famous historical and scenic sites in the town and surrounding area include:
- Baghsar Fort – This ancient fort is built in Samahni Valley close to a place known as Baghsar.
- Baghsar Lake – This lake is situated near Baghsar Fort.
- Famous Haathi Gate – Jahangir's elephant used to enter the town through it.
- Jandi Chontra – This is the place from where Srinagar and Lahore are at the same distance.
- Sarai Saadabad – The Sarai is located near Bandala in the Samahni Valley. It was used as a staging camp during Mughal Era for the caravans moving from Lahore to Kashmir.
- Tomb of Sufi saint Baba Shadi Shaheed.
Bhimber is connected with the rest of the country through a well built road network. Public transport is commonly done using Hiace vans. Daily routes include Mirpur, Gujrat, Dina, Jhelum, Gujranwala and Kharian. The coaches and coasters travel to larger cities of Pakistan including Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Gujranwala.
There are no railway stations in Bhimber. The nearest railway stations are those of Gujrat, the Lala Musa Junction and Kharian city and cantonment.
The nearest commercial airport is the Islamabad International Airport, which is approximately 166 km by road from Bhimber. Recently, Sialkot International Airport has become operational which is about 102 km from town. There is a small military air strip in the town.
- Manzoor Mirza, economist
- Effendi, Punjab Cavalry 2007, pp. 156–157: "At the break of the day the civilian horde moved in, and went from house to house on a looting spree; Colonel Nawaz suspects it was organised by some INA personnel. The PAVO armoured cars surrounded the fort. There was desultory fire from some machine gun posts, but these were soon suppressed. With the fall of the fort, the PAVO Cavalry withdrew."
- Joshi, Kashmir, 1947-1965: A Story Retold 2008, pp. 59–: "The unit was also directly involved in capturing Bhimber. The account [of the PAVO Cavalry] makes it clear that the alleged role of locals, armed with lathis, was only a fig-leaf. The actual attack was carried out by the Pakistani regulars, led by its commanding officer Tommy Masud on October 22 night and after eliminating the lone J&K State forces company, they quietly withdrew and left the area in the hands of the ex-INA personnel."
- Government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Website. "Distance from other cities". Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- Gulabnama of Diwan Kirpa Ram: A History of Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu & Kashmir, page 41
- History of the Punjab Hill States "by Hutchison and Vogel, reprinted edition, 2 volumes in 1 CHAPTER XX IV. 1933 AD
- The Ancient Geography of India by Alexander Cunningham page 134 1871
- Government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Website. "Jahangir discussed Bhimber in his book Tuzk-e-Jahangiri". Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- Panikkar, Gulab Singh 1930, pp. 121–123.
- Brahma Singh, History of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles 2010.
- Satinder Singh, Raja Gulab Singh's Role 1971, pp. 52-53.
- Snedden, Kashmir: The Unwritten History 2013, p. 232.
- Panikkar, Gulab Singh 1930, p. 123.
- Snedden, Kashmir: The Unwritten History 2013, p. 233.
- K. D. Maini, A peep into Bhimber, Daily Excelsior, 6 November 2016.
- India. Census Commissioner (1912), Census of India, 1911, Superintendent of government printing, India
- Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, Volume 2 2015, p. 238.
- Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India 2010, p. 105.
- Zaheer, The Times and Trial of the Rawalpindi Conspiracy 2007, p. 117.
- Saraf, Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, Volume 2 2015, pp. 247–248.
- Bamzai, P. N. K. (1994), Culture and Political History of Kashmir, M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd., ISBN 978-81-85880-31-0
- Effendi, Col. M. Y. (2007), Punjab Cavalry: Evolution, Role, Organisation and Tactical Doctrine 11 Cavalry, Frontier Force, 1849-1971, Karachi: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-547203-5
- Huttenback, Robert A. (1961), "Gulab Singh and the Creation of the Dogra State of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh" (PDF), The Journal of Asian Studies, 20 (4): 477–488, doi:10.2307/2049956
- Panikkar, K. M. (1930). Gulab Singh. London: Martin Hopkinson Ltd.
- Raghavan, Srinath (2010), War and Peace in Modern India, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 101–, ISBN 978-1-137-00737-7
- Rai, Mridu (2004), Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam, Rights, and the History of Kashmir, C. Hurst & Co, ISBN 1850656614
- Schofield, Victoria (2003) [First published in 2000], Kashmir in Conflict, London and New York: I. B. Taurus & Co, ISBN 1860648983
- Singh, Bawa Satinder (1971), "Raja Gulab Singh's Role in the First Anglo-Sikh War", Modern Asian Studies, 5 (1): 35–59, JSTOR 311654
- Singh, K. Brahma (2010) [first published Lancer International 1990], History of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, 1820-1956: The State Force Background (PDF), brahmasingh.co.nf, ISBN 978-81-7062-091-4
- Snedden, Christopher (2013) [first published as The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir, 2012], Kashmir: The Unwritten History, HarperCollins India, ISBN 9350298988
- Zaheer, Hasan (1998), The Times and Trial of the Rawalpindi Conspiracy, 1951: The First Coup Attempt in Pakistan, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-577892-2