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Rawalpindi


Rawalpindi also known as Pindi, is a city in the Pothohar region of Pakistan near the country's capital city of Islamabad, in the province of Punjab. Rawalpindi is the fourth largest city in Pakistan after Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad. In the 1950s, Rawalpindi was smaller than Hyderabad and Multan, but the city's economy received a boost during the building of Islamabad (1959–1969), during which time Rawalpindi served as the national capital and its population increased from 180,000 at the time of independence to over 4.5 million in 2007. Rawalpindi is in the northernmost part of the Punjab province, 275 km (171 mi) to the north-west of Lahore. It is the administrative seat of the Rawalpindi District. The total area of the city is approximately 108.8 square kilometres (42.0 sq mi). Rawalpindi is the military headquarters of the Pakistani Armed Forces.

Rawalpindi, named after Raja Pindi, is a bustling city on the northernmost part of the Punjab province, strategically located between the North-West Frontier Province and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Many tourists use the city as a stop before traveling towards the northern areas. Rawalpindi is also a prime destination for the expatriate community of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Numerous shopping bazaars, parks and a cosmopolitan population attract shoppers from all over Pakistan and abroad. The city is home to several industries and factories. Islamabad International Airport is actually located in Rawalpindi and serves both cities.

Rawalpindi has been inhabited for thousands of years, it is believed that a distinct culture flourished on this plateau as far in c1000BC. The material remains found at the site prove the existence of a Buddhist establishment contemporary to Taxila and of a Vedic civilisation. The nearby town of Taxila has another significance; according to the Guinness Book of World Records it has the world's oldest university - Takshashila University. 

Sir Alexander Cunningham identified certain ruins on the site of the cantonment with the ancient city of Ganjipur or Gajnipur, the capital of the Bhatti tribe in the ages preceding the Christian era. Graeco-Bactrian coins, together with ancient bricks, occur over an area of 500 ha (2 mi²). Known within historical times as Fatehpur Baori, Rawalpindi fell into decay during one of the Mongol invasions in the fourteenth century. 

It appears that the ancient city went into oblivion as a result of the White Hun devastation. The first Muslim invader, Mahmud of Ghazni (979-1030), gave the ruined city to a Gakhar Chief, Kai Gohar. The town, however, being on an invasion route, could not prosper and remained deserted until Jhanda Khan, another Gakhar Chief, restored it and named it Rawalpindi after the village Rawal in 1493. Rawalpindi remained under the rule of the Gakkhars until Muqarrab Khan, the last Gakkhar ruler, was defeated by the Sikhs under Sardar Milka Singh in 1765. Singh invited traders from the neighbouring commercial centres of Jhelum and Shahpur to settle in the territory. 

Early in the nineteenth century Rawalpindi became for a time the refuge of Shah Shuja, the exiled king of Afghanistan, and of his brother Shah Zaman. The present native infantry lines mark the site of a battle fought by the Gakhars under their famous chief Sultan Mukarrab Khan in the middle of the eighteenth century. Rawalpindi was taken by Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1818.

Demographics

The population of Rawalpindi is approximately 1,991,656 according to the 2006 census which includes many people who come from Punjab villages looking for work in the city. Punjabi is the language of people and most people speak Pothohari dialect of Punjabi language. When it comes to Religion, Islam is followed by 94% of the population. Nearly 65.8 being Sunni, Shia, 24%, other Muslim Sects being 4%. Remaining 6% being follower of other faiths. The majority of the people of Rawalpindi are Muslims. There are many mosques throughout the city. The most famous Mosques are Jamia Mosque, Raja Bazaar Mosque and Eid Gah Mosque which attract thousands of visitors daily. Other minority religions are Christian, Zoroastrian, Bahai, Parsi, Hinduism and Sikhism. The literacy rate is 80% (2006–07). The population is ethnically and linguistically heterogeneous, comprising Rajputs, Pothohari,Sudhun, Dhamial Rajputs, Chauhans, Satti Rajputs, Awans, Kathwals, Paharis, Kashmiris, Pakhtuns, Gujjars, Muhajirs, Hindkowans, Afghans, Sheikh, Hazaries, Punjabis,Qureshis.

Culture

Rapidly developing into a large city, Rawalpindi has many good hotels, restaurants, clubs, museums and parks, of which the largest is the Ayub National Park. Rawalpindi forms the base camp for the tourists visiting the holiday resorts and hill stations of the Galiyat area, such as Murree, Nathia Gali, Kotli, Ayubia, Rawlakot, Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Abbottabad, Samahni, Swat, Kaghan, Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Chitral.

The crowded alleys of the old city are home to many attractions, including Hindu (in ruins now), Zoroastrian, Sikh temples and Islamic shrines. There are several museums and arts galleries such as the Lok Virsa, Pakistan Museum of Natural History, and the $Idara Saqafat e Pakistan.


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