Kotli – Explore The Evergreen Kotli Azad Kashmir

Pakistan has excellent tourist places and hidden gems; one should explore these before it’s too late! The lovely places in Pakistan are not only fun to explore, but the tours and trips are so under the budget that you can save lots of money and have fun simultaneously. The city of Kotli, located in Azad Kashmir, is one such hidden treasure. The name has its roots in the Sanskrit language and means ‘to take up residence.’

Kotli has lots of fantastic travel places to enjoy if you appreciate heritage spots like Hindu temples, forts, natural beauty, engineering marvels, and lakes. In addition, it has always been one of the region’s picturesque places, a perfect tourist spot for enjoying and sightseeing.

Kotli, Pakistan, has pleasant weather all year, and the climate remains mild during summer and cold during winter. The city has experienced heavy rainfall from July to September, and temperatures have been known to dip below freezing during the winter months.

When you visit it and explore its roundabout, you’ll be mesmerized to see those mountains where the brave liberators of the 1947 war in Kashmir were fighting. Various organisms, ranging from minor bugs to larger mammals, live in this region. It is also home to hundreds of birds and animals.

Let’s look at what it means and the famous tourist spots in this region, which you can explore!

About Kotli City

Kotli is a small city in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, with Mirpur district and Bhimber district on its southern side; the city lies along the Poonch river. It’s one of the ten districts of Pakistan’s dependent territory of Azad Kashmir. On the western side, there’s the Rawalpindi district of Punjab province.

This city is bounded north by the Sudhanoti district and northeast by the Poonch district of Indian Administered Kashmir.

Its population is estimated at around 46,000 people, and it is the biggest district of Azad Kashmir by population. The city is spread over 1862 square kilometers, and the climate is temperate.

The primary language spoken here is the Pahari language, estimated to be spoken by two-thirds of the population, and the other language is Gujari which is used by about a third of the total population.

The city is famous for its mosques and is often described as Madina-tul-Masajid. That is because there are many beautiful mosques to see, even those from ancient times.

What is Meant by Kotli

Kotli is believed to be derived from two words used for only a tiny local village population. These two words or names were Koh and Talay, and the meaning was “a population residing under the mountains.”

As time passed, these two names got merged into Kotli. There are two concepts about the origin of the name. According to the first concept, in ancient times, a prince named Raja Shahswar Khan built a residency here, which he called Kot, and later it got adopted as Kotli.

According to the second theory, the word is taken from the Sanskrit language; it means staying or taking up a residence. At one point, the area was inhabited by the Solhan people, and it was called Kotli Solhwan; later, it got modified. Kotli is also called or pronounced as Cotly in Britain.

Kotli Weather

The weather in Kotli, Pakistan, can be humid and warm during summer, from April to July. The temperature averages around 25-34 degrees Celsius (86-96Fahrenheit), with some days reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The summer season in Kotli is relatively long, hot, muggy, and transparent.

Winters, however, are very cold, partly cloudy, and short as temperatures dip below 0 degrees Celsius (32-37 Fahrenheit).

Its weather and temperature typically vary between 0-30 degrees over the years. According to these temperature conditions, the best time to visit and enjoy the hot weather activities is from mid-May to June and from mid-August to late September.

History of Kotli

Kotli Kashmir has a unique history that dates back to the fifteenth century. During that time, it was a thriving city in the region and was settled by a branch of the Royal Mangral family of Hindu Rajputs. The city’s founder is believed to be Raja Mangar pal belonging to the same Mangral family.

In older times, Kotli was known as Kohtalu, which meant “under the mountains.” However, throughout time, the name got morphed into Kotli.

It remained independent until Raja Ranjit Singh took it over in 1819. There’s a village in the area named Saidabad, famous as Mini Paris.

After the independence of Pakistan and India from British rule, the army of India reached the city in November 1947 and tried to attack the locals by evacuating the garrison at the town. The Pakistan army counter-attacked with the help of locals. Since then, the area has been under the control of Pakistan.

The city has always been famous because of the unique mosques it has. You can spot mosques at all entrances and exit points of the city. According to an estimation, there are more than 300 mosques in the area. That’s the reason why it is famous as a city of mosques. Gulhar Sharif is an excellent place for spiritualism, and so many people visit it yearly to experience the power of spirituality. 

Although much of its ancient structures have been destroyed over time, some great sites remain intact today.

Karot Hydropower Station and Bridge

There’s a massive hydropower station right over the Jhelum river that is being built with the cooperation of Chinese engineers. This project is expected to generate 720 MW of electricity to meet the local population’s needs.

There’s a high-column road bridge beside the power project, a marvel. It can be a perfect spot for base jumping, para jumping, and bungee jumping when tourism is promoted in the area.

Famous Tourist Spots in Kotli Azad Kashmir

Although Kotli Kashmir has become a vision of three-story mansions, once empty roads, it still has lots to offer regarding views and activities. Every corner has its history and is a perfect spot to explore the rich culture and heritage. Here are some famous tourist spots you must visit when in Kotli.

1.     Throchi Fort

Throchi fort is located on a hilltop known as “Throchi,” not too far from the city center. It provides a spectacular view of the surrounding hills, valleys, and forests. It is a popular destination for hikers and tourists, who come here to witness the beauty of nature and soak in some history.

The fort is next to Gulpur, a district town situated on the Junction of Kotli-Mirpur and Kotli-Rawalpindi roads. Throchi fort is standing on the top of a hill at a strategic location. That’s why it’s called the crown of the Kotli district.

Throchi fort is one of those few forts that are not easy to access and are built on a rocky summit. Because of the fort’s strategic location, it was entirely safe and protected against any escalade in the past. Throchi fort was always an important military point, and forces used it for the vigilance of the surrounding areas.

2.     Tatta Paani

Another significant landmark located near Kotli is Tatta Pani, or Hot Spring. This hot spring is about 25 km from the city center on the road to Islamabad. It’s a popular tourist spot among locals, nature lovers, and tourists.

Tatta Pani is located on the right bank of the river Poonch, about 29 kilometers from Hajira. One can also reach there by covering a distance of almost 26 kilometers.

There are many medical benefits of taking a bath in these springs as they contain high deposits of sulfur, which is known for its health benefits. During the winter season, so many locals and tourists visit this place to take a hot water bath to cure skin and rheumatic ailments.

Tatta Pani is an easily accessible spot, and you can take a hot water bath and enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding mountains.

3.     Khuiratta

Khuiratta is another beautiful town located at a distance of about 29 kilometers; basically, it’s a tehsil of the Kotli district. It is a peaceful and serene place where you can find many beautiful gardens, scenic mountains, and lakes.

Khuiratta and its surrounding areas have always been popular among tourists. Almost 15 kilometers from Khuiratta city, Kills Karjai is located in an attractive spot. Moreover, there are many other visiting points such as Ropri, Kot Bhattian, Samryali Hill, Kotla Kandyal, and the famous shrine of “Mai Totti Sahiba.”

Like Tatta Pani, Khuiratta has many natural waterfalls and springs. So many springs emerge from the mountains at the point of Bahees Naraha. In older times, this point was used as a place for Hindu worship.

However, tourism in Khuiratta is restricted to locals and Pakistanis; if you’re a foreigner, you might have to get a NO certificate for only four days.

4.     Poonch River

The Poonch River is one of the most important rivers in the Kotli District. Poonch, also called Punch river, is a branch of the Jhelum river. This river flows through Jammu and Kashmir in India and Azad Kashmir in Pakistan.

The other names of this river are Punch Tohi or Tohi of Punch, and the older form of the word Tohi was Taushi. The Poonch river in Kotli is a perfect spot for fishing, canoeing, and swimming.

This river drains a large area of the mountain country and collects different streams that rise in the lofty Panjal range. Poonch river flows south of the Pir Panjal range, through the length of the district, and passes into the Mangla dam near Chomukh.

The towns of Sehra, Tatta Pani, Kotli, Poonch, and Mirpur are located on the banks of this river.

5.     Mahuli Waterfall

The Gulpur Mahuli Waterfall is a favorite tourist destination in Kotli District. This waterfall is on the trail toward Gulpur and is a beautiful spot to stay and catch a breath. The waterfall is 110 km from Islamabad and takes almost 4 hours to reach by car.

The height of this picturesque waterfall is 50 ft, and the water is crystal clear. It offers a fantastic view of the valley and lush green surroundings.

The trail down to Gulpur Mahuli waterfalls takes only 2 kilometers ad 45 minutes; you can take your camping equipment with you. Locals and tourists on weekends bring camping equipment like tents and grilling stuff and set up their camps on the granite cliffs near the Mahuli waterfall.

The trail to Mahuli waterfall is tricky, and not many people opt to go there as it demands physical work, so the area is quiet and peaceful.

The Mahuli Waterfall is a stunning natural wonder that cascades down from a high elevation, making it one of the highest waterfalls in Azad Kashmir.

6.     Saarda Point

Saarda point is another tourist spot located on the top of the hills on Nakyal road Azad Kashmir. It’s a five minutes drive from Kotli city, and you can see the entire town in one frame from this point and the Poonch river.

Saarda point is famous for sunset and sunrise views, and people from all over Azad Kashmir come here to witness the beauty of nature.

There’s a lovely guest house at this point where you can make a stay with your friends and family. Also, there’s a wheelchair entrance available for differently abled people.

The sound of the Poonch river flowing down adds to the beauty and serenity of this place, and on the other side, you can also see the Throchi fort built in ancient times.

7.     Sehnsa

Sehnsa is a large tehsil in the Pakistani Administered Azad Kashmir. It lies on the west of Gulpur on the Kolti-Rawalpindi road. This area has some of the best tourist attractions in Azad Kashmir, with lush green meadows, waterfalls, and ancient historical sites. You can also enjoy fishing here at the mesmerizing freshwater lakes.

Most people here are Muslims, and the locals are so hospitable, warm, and welcoming that you won’t feel like a stranger here. The language spoken here is Pahari or Hindko.

The region of Sehnsa felt strong shocks during the devastating earthquake of 2005, but there was not much damage. Also, many NGOs first reached this point and helped people in the reconstruction process.

8.     Khud River Waterfall

From Sehnsa to Gulpur, there’s a spot called Khawas with a waterfall near the main road of about 100 feet. From the top of this waterfall, you can also get a bird’s eye view of the Poonch river turning 180 degrees right in front of you.

Khud river waterfall is a beautiful spot to visit, the water is so clear and blue, and it looks impressive, especially in summer. You can walk to the waterfall, swim there, or even camp with a scenic view of the Poonch river passing by.

How Far is Kotli from Islamabad by Car?

Kotli city is approximately 129 km from Islamabad, and it takes around 4 hours to reach there by car via road.

You can reach here via bus, tempo, taxi, or private cars from various cities, including Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Sialkot, Lahore, and others cities.

How to Reach Kotli Azad Kashmir?

The cheapest and easiest way to reach Kotli Azad Kashmir from Islamabad is to travel via a taxi or a private car by road. You can also travel by road if you have a personal vehicle, and it would cost only $18 and 3 hours to get there.

Traveling by road is also the quickest way to reach Kotli Azad Kashmir, and you can travel from any city you want. The cost may vary, but it’s still affordable to travel.

Where to Stay in Kotli Kashmir?

Kotli Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, has many good hotels and guest houses that can provide comfortable accommodations. You can choose from luxury, medium, and budgeted hotels according to your budget.

The Usman Lodges AJK is one of the best luxury hotels and provides excellent room service. Other than this, numerous guest houses and hotels are providing decent services.

Al Haseeb Hotel Kotli, Hotel Kashmir Lodge Muzaffarabad, and Saarda View Hotel are options you can opt for for a friendly and comfortable stay.

There are also options for homestays and camping. Homestays are a great option to experience local culture and hospitality. Some beautiful campsites are located near Tatta Pani, Khuiratta, and along the banks of the Poonch River.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any good hotels and restaurants in Kotli?

For food, there is an array of eating joints that offer traditional Pakistani cuisine and Western dishes. Dreamland Restaurant, Singo Hotel and Restaurant, and Neelam hotel and Restaurant are some of the most popular restaurants in Kotli. You can also enjoy a variety of fresh seafood at local markets.

Kotli Azad Kashmir has some of the best local cuisine restaurants serving delicious food. Punjab Tikka House and Family Restaurant, Feroze restaurant and Grill point, Mattu Kitchen, and Junaid Restaurant are the most popular. These restaurants offer delicious local and international dishes, along with excellent services.

Other than these, many small restaurants in the city serve traditional Kashmiri cuisine. You can also devour the famous Pothi Chaval or Lobia Chaval, the traditional dish of Kashmir, available in food stalls and hotels.

What language is spoken in Kotli?

The primary language in Kotli is Pahari and Gujari, a part of the Indo-Aryan language family. The local dialects vary from one area to another, but commonly spoken languages are Pahari, Urdu, and Punjabi.

Pahari is also spoken in Indian Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and other areas of India.

Where is Kotli located?

Kotli is a city in Azad Kashmir and lies on the Poonch river, which contains several beautiful waterfalls. It is located at a distance of 129 kilometers from Islamabad and can be reached by road. The nearest airport is in Islamabad, about 99 km away. The city has many tourist attractions like Throchi Fort, Tatta Pani Hot Springs, Khuiratta Forest Park, Mahuli Waterfall, and many more.

Kotli is known for its picturesque beauty and calm atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for weekend getaways. The city also offers a range of excellent hotels and restaurants that serve mouthwatering local cuisine. The region is surrounded by lush green forests and beautiful mountains, which makes it perfect for those looking for a quiet getaway. The language spoken is Pahari, and the city lies in Azad Kashmir, making it an ideal spot for tourists looking to discover this hidden gem of Pakistan.

We hope this article provides you with all the necessary information about Kotli and its attractions. Whether looking for a peaceful escape or an adventurous trip, it is the perfect destination. So grab your bags and visit this picturesque city in Pakistan’s Kashmir region!