The town of Abbottabad, under the British Raj, was the headquarters of the Hazara District during British rule of India. It was named after Major James Abbott who founded the town and district in January 1853 after the annexation of Punjab. He remained the first Deputy Commissioner of the Hazara district from 1849 until April 1853. Major Abbott is noted for having written a poem titled "Abbottabad", before he went back to Britain, in which he wrote of his fondness for the town and his sadness at having to leave it. In the early 20th century, Abbottabad became an important military cantonment and sanatorium, serving as the headquarters of a brigade in the Second Division of the Northern Army Corps. The garrison consisted of four battalions of native infantry, of the Frontier Force (including the 5th Gurkha Rifles) and two native mountain batteries.
In 1901, the population of the town and cantonment was 7,764 and the income averaged around Rs. 14,900. This increased to Rs. 22,300 in 1903, chiefly derived from octroi. During this time chief public institutions were built such as the Albert Victor unaided Anglo-Vernacular High School, the Municipal Anglo-Vernacular High School and the Government dispensary. In 1911, the population had risen to 11,506 and the town also contained four battalions of Gurkhas.
In June 1948, the British Red Cross opened a hospital in Abbottabad to deal with thousands of patients who were being brought in from the Kashmir fighting areas.
In October 2005 Abbottabad was devastated by the Kashmir earthquake. Although most of Abbottabad survived, many older buildings were destroyed or severely damaged.
In May 2011, Abbottabad gained worldwide attention when U.S. President Barack Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in his compound in the city. Later, Pakistani authorities demolished the house where Osama bin Laden lived for years.
The city is bounded at all four sides by the Sarban hills, from which residents and tourists can see breathtaking views of the region and city. The location of the city and the hills allows Abbottabad to experience pleasant weather in the summer and cold winters. The Dor river flows south of Abbottabad through the town of Harnol, eventually reaching Tarbela Dam, situated west of Abbottabad. Neighbouring districts are Mansehra to the north, Muzaffarabad to the east, Haripur to the west and Rawalpindi to the south.
Abbottabad is situated in the Orash Valley lying between 34°09′N latitude and 73°13′E longitude at an altitude of 4,120 feet (1,260 m).
Abbottabad has a humid subtropical climate, with mild to warm temperatures during the spring and autumn months, hot temperatures during June and July and cool to mild temperatures during the winter. The temperature can rise as high as 35 °C (95 °F) during the mid-summer months and drop below 0 °C (32 °F) during the winter months. Snowfall can occur in January, though it is sparse, while the rare occasion of rainfall occurs during the short monsoon season stretching from July to September and frequently causes flooding.
According to the 1998 Census of the 881,000 who resided in the Abbottabad District, Hindko was spoken by 94.26% of the population, followed by Potohari at 2.30%, Pashto at 2.22% and Urdu at 1.05%. Although the first language of most people in the district is Hindko, Urdu is understood and spoken fluently by majority of the residents and used in markets, offices and formal functions as the official language. English is widely used in business and education.
Abbottabad has one of the country's highest literacy rates with 67% in 2007, ranking first in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and ninth overall in Pakistan. The city also has a young demographic (ages 15–30) due to a large number of students who have come from across the country to study in its schools, for example Army Burn Hall College and Abbottabad Public School. The city has a wide variety of post-secondary institutions, such as Ayub Medical College, COMSATS University of Science and Technology, and the University of Engineering & Technology.
Abbottabad is also home to the Pakistan Military Academy, a four-year coeducational federal service military academy that provides training to the officers of the Pakistan Army. The academy has three training battalions, and 12 companies. Another 2,000 guests each year, from over 34 countries, receive some training at PMA.
Abbottabad has been attracting tourists to the city since the colonial era, as it is a major transit point to all major tourist regions of Pakistan such as Nathiagali, Ayubia and Naran. According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India, "the town is picturesquely situated at the southern corner of the Rash (Orash) plain, 4,120 feet (1,260 m) above the sea". Like much of the mountainous Northern Areas, tourism is one of the important sources of income in Abbottabad. In the summer when temperatures rise to around 45 degrees Celsius in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a large number of tourists travel to Abbottabad.
The Karakoram Highway, which traces one of the paths of the ancient Silk Road, starts from Hasan Abdal on the N5 and heads north passing through the city, eventually reaching Khunjerab Pass. The Karakorum Highway is a major attraction itself for its views. The Karakoram, Himalayas and the Hindu Kush ranges can be approached from Abbottabad and it continues to be a transit city for tourists, serving as a base for visiting numerous nearby places, such as Hunza, Gilgit, Skardu and Indus Kohistan, of the Karakoram Range.
Abbottabad is popular not just with visitors but with those looking to relocate. Its weather, peaceful reputation and the perceived security of a garrison have drawn many from other cities to work or educate their children. There was an influx of migrants from Azad Kashmir after the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake, another from Swat during military operations against militants in 2009 and 2010, and also from Waziristan after the army launched major operations against the Taliban in 2009.
Some popular tourist destinations in and around Abbottabad include:
- Ayubia National Park
- Bara Gali
- Dor River Valley (at Harnoi/Harnol)
- Dunga Gali
- Ilyasi Mosque
- Khaira Gali
- Nathia Gali
- Shimla Hill
Abbottabad's main public transport consists of modified Taxis carry pick-up vans Suzukis, which can accommodate anywhere from 1 to 14 people at one time. Taxis are also available as well as wagons which connect Abbottabad to the surrounding cities and towns (ex. Nathiagali, Sherwan, Dhamtour, Haripur, Mansehra) in the region. Abbottabad is also served by Daewoo Express and Niazi Express, the NATCO, Skyways and many other bus services. Pakistan Railways does not serve Abbottabad however a PR Reservation Office is located in Fawara Chowk in the city centre. The nearest railway station is located in Havelian, which is the last and most northern station on the Pakistan Railway network. The station is approximately thirty minutes drive south from Abbottabad city centre.
Tags: Abbottabad, City, City of Abbottabd, cities of pakistan, NWFP. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
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