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The name Mangla (منگلا) is derived from the name of a small village that was situated in District Mirpur within the State of Jammu Kashmir. The village was located to the west of and at the foothills of Mangla's fort (which also derived its name from the same village). It was surrounded on three sides by the semicurvature of river Jhelum flowing North to South. It bordered Jhelum district, with the right bank of river Jhelum being a boundary between the State of Jammu Kashmir and Punjab province of Pakistan. Presently the word "Mangla", after the village had been razed to the ground (with the construction of Mangla Dam), is used for a wide area which includes; Mangla Cantonment, Mangla Colony (Left bank WAPDA Colony) and Mangla Hamlet. The village Mangla itself was named after Mangla Devi, a Hindu goddess. It has been narrated to be 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 the ancient Mangla village moved to Mangla Hamlet, therefore this town represents Mangla in a true sense. Mangla is located 12 km from the city of Mirpur, at the mouth of the Mangla Dam. The dam reservoir has a perimeter of 400km, and is a place of interest. It 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, dividing the Mirpur and Jhelum districts. A part of Mangla fort was razed during the construction of the Mangla Dam, however a large part remains and serves as a public recreation place.
After the completion Mangla Dam, most of the Baral & Sultanpure Thill Area was taken over by Pak Army and converted into a Cantonment whereas a small section within the compound walls of Pakistan Army's Officers residences, known as Baral Colony, was allotted to WAPDA named as WAPDA OFFICERS COLONY.