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The name Mangla (Urdu: منگلا) is derived from the name of a small village that was located to the west of and at the foothills of Mangla Fort, prior to construction of Mangla Dam. Presently the word Mangla is used for a large area which includes Mangla Cantonment, Mangla Colony (Left bank WAPDA Colony) and Mangla Hamlet. The village Mangla, which was named after Mangla Devi, a goddess of Hindu worship, was situated on left bank of River Jhelum lying within the semicircle of its curvature and abutting the hill of Mangla fort. It was located within the boundary of Mirpur District of Azad Kashmir and bordered the Jhelum District of Punjab. The right bank of river Jhelum forms a boundary between the State of Jammu Kashmir and Punjab province of Pakistan. It is also the site of the crossing of the Jhelum river by the forces of Alexander the great facing King Porus. At the time of construction of the Mangla Dam, the villages of Thill, Baral and Baruti across the river in Jhelum District were developed as residential colonies and offices for foreign workers and officials.
Prior to construction of Mangla Dam, in March 1962, almost all the inhabitants of ancient Mangla village moved to Mangla Hamlet, therefore this town represents Mangla in true sense. Mangla is located 12 km from the city Mirpur at the mouth of the Mangla Dam. The construction of the dam reservoir, which has a perimeter of 400 km, has turned it into a place of interest. Mangla also hosts the Mangla Power Station which is the second largest in Pakistan.
Mangla is the site of the historic Mangla Fort. The fort is situated on a high hill overlooking the Jhelum river which divides the Mirpur and Jhelum districts. A part of the fort was razed during the construction of the Mangla Dam, a large part remains and serves as a public recreation place.
After the completion Mangla Dam,most of the Baral Area was taken over by Pak Army and converted into a Cantonment whereas a small colony within the Cantonment was allotted to WAPDA named as WAPDA OFFICERS COLONY.