Mirpur – Mini London
The perfect definition of wanderlust is to explore a magnificent landscape with those rugged peaks, hidden lakes, untouched villages, and wind-swept plains. Pakistan is a country blessed to have all these, and there’s no better place than Pakistan to spend a summer vacation. And Mirpur, the mini London in Pakistan, is one such place. It is located in Azad Kashmir, in northern Pakistan. The city has a rich cultural history, having served as a trading center for centuries before the partition of India and Pakistan.
Mirpur, Pakistan, was known for its high-quality handicrafts and artifacts before being transformed into a bustling urban center. Although the city has grown tremendously recently, it retains its old-world charm and is an ideal destination for travelers.
Also known as New Mirpur City, it has undergone many militaries and hydrologic transitions over the years. However, the most beautiful thing about this city is that it never lost its beauty no matter what changes it’s going through; the picturesque landscapes have always been worth watching.
This division has three districts, i.e., Kotli, Bhimber, and Mirpur. The dominant language in Mirpur is the Pahari Potohari language, also known as Mirpuri.
The people are known for their hospitable nature and kind attitude toward everyone. No matter who you are and where you come from, they always treat their guests with the utmost respect.
Let’s learn more about the history of this city and the beautiful culture and customs the Mirpuri people have!
About Mirpur City
It is a city in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. It was founded in 1640 AD and has been an essential stop for caravans coming to the region from Central Asia. The city is believed to be established by the Ghakhar chief Miran Shah Ghazi and Sultan Fateh Khan.
This city is also known as “Mini London” because many of its population migrated to England long ago. They’re settled in England and send their foreign earnings to Pakistan. The money has been used to build malls, large bungalows, and buildings in the city; that’s why it is called Mini England.
The city is already famous due to its distinct architecture and infrastructure—it’s no surprise it has become a renowned tourist destination.
The climate is warm and humid, with hot summers and cold winters. The best time to visit is between April and October, when the temperature stays bearable and pleasant. In winter, temperatures can drop to 0°C or lower in some areas.
The people are amiable and helpful. The language mainly spoken is Mipruri, with other languages such as Urdu, Punjabi, and Pahari also spoken.
Mirpur Azad Kashmir has several beautiful places to visit. The entire city is a tourist’s dream come true as one can see beautiful mountains, picturesque landscapes, and entirely mesmerizing views everywhere.
Mirpur has an exciting and rich history dating to its foundation in around 1640 AD, which was done by the Ghakhar chief Miran Shan Ghazi. According to another view, the city was founded by Miran Shah Ghazi and Gosain Bodhpuri; both of these were saints.
The word Mirpur is derived from the names of these saints; Mir from Miran and Pur from Bodhpuri.
The city has been historically linked with Pothohar, but British rule excluded it from Potohar according to the modern distinction by making the Jhelum river its eastern boundary.
In the 18th century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh established his supremacy in this area; he fought different battles and invaded the regions of then Mirpur, like Khari Khariyali.
Ranjit Singh annexed Jammu state and, in 1820, awarded Jammu to Gulab Singh, his commander. He then bestowed on Gulab Singh the royalty of salt mines in Northern Punjab and some towns, including Jhelum, Rohtas, and Gujrat.
In 1840, Baltistan was subjected to Jammu, while a Sikh force invaded Gilgit and snatched it from Kashmir in 1842. Finally, however, Kashmir was annexed by Ranjit Singh in 1891.
During British rule, it became a part of Jammu and Kashmir state when the British government sold Kashmir to the Raja of Jammu for 75 lakhs Nanak Shahi rupees. After independence, due to its geographical proximity to Pakistani-controlled Azad Kashmir, it slowly grew into one of the most critical cities in Azad Kashmir.
The weather is typical, with hot summers and cold winters. It has a subtropical climate with an average annual temperature of 25-26 degrees.
As it is in the extreme south of Kashmir, the climate of this area is extremely hot during the summers, which makes it quite similar to typical hot regions in Pakistan like Jhelum and Gujar khan.
Its climate is similar to the neighboring Potohar in Punjab and has been the breadbasket of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The highest temperature in June is nearly 38 degrees, and the lowest in January is almost 4 degree Celsius.
It is located in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Pakistan; it is bounded north by the Kotli district, south by the Gujrat district of Punjab, and east by the Bhimber district.
Kashmir Mirpur is located at an elevation of 458 meters above sea level and is spread over 1010 square kilometers. It is known as Pakistan’s “Little London” due to its high development. Also, you can see so many English products in Mirpur’s markets.
Mirpur is the second largest city of Azad Kashmir and serves as the region’s commercial hub. It’s 74th on the rank of most significant cities in Pakistan and is now officially known as New Mirpur.
People of Mirpur
It is a multi-ethnic city, and people from many different cultures live harmoniously. However, the most common ethnicities in Mirpur are Kashmiri, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pahari, Potohari, and Gujjar.
The majority religion is Islam, and they follow the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. However, as Mirpur is close to the Potohar plateau, the people living there follow the practices of Punjabi Potohari culture.
As per the census in 2017, the population of Kashmir Mirpur is 124,352. The original people of Mirpur comprise different tribes similar to that of Punjab. The bulk of the Mirpuri diaspora resides in England and sends their money back to Pakistan, improving their local society.
Mirpuris are the most hospitable people you’ll ever meet! They have a great culture that is unique in itself, and they value their guests like family.
Mirpuris taste the same as Punjabis; they love to eat famous Punjabi dishes like Pulao, Biryani, and Quorma. But the iconic dish of Mirpur, which you should also try, is Laal Lobia (red beans) with white (boiled) rice.
Several restaurants and food stalls are selling this famous Mirpuri dish, “Pothi Chaval or Lobia Chaval.” People from all classes, be they elite or middle class, loves to devour this dish; even the Mirpuris settled abroad love to try it when they visit Mirpur.
What Language is Spoken in Mirpur Azad Kashmir?
The local language spoken by most people is Potohari and Pahari, also known as Mirpuri. Although people can also speak Urdu, Mirpuri is mainly preferred by the locals and residents of the city.
Due to the extensive immigration to England, English is also becoming popular in this region, and many institutes have started spoken English courses.
Although it is a part of Kashmir, little to no population of this region can speak or understand the Kashmiri language.
Places to Visit in Mirpur Azad Kashmir
Mirpur Azad Kashmir is a heaven on earth for those looking to explore the beautiful valleys, mountains, and lakes of Kashmir.
If you’re looking to explore the city, there is no shortage of places in the city that are worth visiting. So if you’ve such wanderlust, here’s a list of places to explore in Mirpur Azad, Kashmir.
1. Mangla Dam
The most iconic destination, Mangla Dam, is a large water reservoir created by building a barrier across the Jhelum River. It provides irrigation, drinking water, and electricity to Azad Kashmir and the Punjab Province of Pakistan.
Mangla dam is the sixth largest dam in the world, so tourists from all over the world visit it to see the magnificence of the place. So it’s a perfect tourist spot to enjoy different activities.
Visitors can take boat rides on the lake, jet skiing, or parasailing. Mangla dam is also famous for fishing and picnicking. The dam got its name from the village of Mangla, which sits at the mouth of the dam.
2. Ramkot Fort
The Ramkot fort is located on the embankment of the Mangla dam in Mirpur city. The Muslim rulers of Kashmir built it in the 16th or 17th centuries. It’s an ancient fort constituted by Rani Mangla of Raja Porus Katoch.
The fort has been extensively damaged, but its ruins form a great spot to explore or take pictures of. Unfortunately, there needs to be paved or unpaved leading to the way of Rankot fort; the only way to access this ancient masterpiece is to hop on a boat.
The fort is built on a high hill and overlooks the water of the Jhelum river; you can also enjoy the mesmerizing views of the Mangla dam, which is a short distance from here.
3. Mangla Fort
Mangla fort is built on the hilly side of the Jhelum river and dates back to before Christ. This fort overlooks the bridge over the river Jhelum. The fort was used as a guard post to protect the river crossing at Jhelum river.
There’s an interesting dam museum inside this fort that you’d love to explore. Exciting artifacts and Mangla dam models and cutouts depict the electricity generation process. There’s a restaurant and refreshment corner there.
Though the fort looks dead from the front view, its inside is full of energy and history. Unfortunately, a significant part of the fort fell when the Mangla dam was constructed in the 60s. But still, there are so many remains of it.
4. Darbar E Alia Khari Sharif
Khari Sharif is a beautiful agricultural land between Mirpur and Jhelum of Azad Kashmir. It is the burial place of saints; it is known for housing the shrines of Sufi saints Mian Muhammad Bakhsh and Pir Shah Ghazi Qalandar.
Darbar E Alia Khari Sharif attracts thousands of devotees each year. Large Mazaar Sharif and Dargah can be seen from far away. This shrine has been renovated multiple times over the years, and a mosque was also built near the shrine. The whole area of Khari Sharif is worth exploring as it is said to be a good seat of learning for students of Islam.
Chakswari is another vital town; it’s a tehsil in the Mirpur district of Azad Kashmir. It is situated on the border of Jhelum and has many tourist attractions, including a historical fort and ruins from the Mughal era.
Chakswari also has some beautiful gardens which are perfect for picnics and sightseeing. The area is partly plain and partly hilly.
The most beautiful part of Chakswari is the view of the Poonch River, which flows along the entire town. It is a great place to break from busy city life and enjoy peaceful times.
Mirpur Activities at Mangla Dam
It is a place full of activities and fun things to do. The Mangla Dam, located in Mirpur, is great for exciting activities like boating, jet skiing, and parasailing. Of course, you can always spend a nice vacation with your friends and family while here.
Let’s have a look at some of the things you can do here:
1. Boat Ride
Riding on a boat is the most fun thing you can do while here, as the views are to die for! Many boat operators provide services for a pleasant and safe boat ride on Mangla Dam. You can book a tour with Mangla Boating Club, which offers excellent service at reasonable charges.
The charges for all water activities are pretty reasonable, and you can easily ride on a boat to enjoy the scenes of Mangla dam. That is already a tourist spot with picturesque views, so it’s a great way to spend the day!
2. Jet Ski
If you’re looking for adventure and thrill, then jet skiing is the perfect activity. You can rent a jet ski from several operators and take it out on Mangla Dam. The experience will be one of a kind, and you’ll get to explore the scenic beauty of Mirpur.
So many water activity clubs will provide you with the best services; you can hire a jetski from Mangla Water Sports Club and Mangla water resort.
3. Para Sailing
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you must try parasailing in Mangla Dam. Parasailing gives you a unique opportunity to experience the thrill of free flying with spectacular views from above! You can find several operators offering parasailing activities.
Parasailing is another level of fun, as you’ll enjoy the scenic views of the entire area with beautiful cold winds.
Fishing is a great activity to try out at Mangla Dam for those who want to take it slow and enjoy some peaceful moments. You can rent fishing rods from the local vendors or bring your equipment and catch some fish. The waters of Mangla Dam are known for their affluent fish population, so you can expect to see decent-sized catches.
Set up an excellent camp near a water spot and enjoy a fresh and delicious barbecue with your friends or family!
Where to Stay in Mirpur AJK?
Mirpur is bustling with hotels that offer different levels of comfort and services for travelers. There are various accommodation options, from luxurious 5-star hotels to budget hostels. In addition, most of the hotels provide services like free Wi-Fi, complimentary food and beverages, and 24-hour front desk service.
Some of the best hotels to stay in are:
1. Grand Regency Hotel Mirpur
2. Mirpur Apartments and Hotel
3. Mangla View Resort
4. Lotus Inn
5. Holidays Inn Kashmir
6. Hotel Jabeer
Moreover, you can also find some excellent homestays where you can enjoy home-cooked food and get to know the locals better. These are economical and offer you a chance to experience the culture closely.
The hotels are equipped with modern facilities and provide a comfortable stay for their guests. So if you’re planning a trip, you should consider staying in one of these hotels.
How to Reach Mirpur?
It is connected by air and road networks. You can take a flight to the Islamabad International Airport, which is the nearest airport to Mirpur and is 130 km by road. Sialkot international airport is 110 km from the city, so you can consider it an option.
You can also travel by bus, as buses are available from different cities of Pakistan and Islamabad International Airport.
If you want to travel by road, it’s 230 km away from Lahore and 130 km from Islamabad. So it will hardly take 2.5 hours to reach Mirpur from Islamabad by car.
Important Facts About Mirpur City
Mirpur city, also known as Mini London, is a charming little town located in Azad Kashmir and is becoming very popular among tourists. The area used to be known as Kotli District. But now it’s been changed to Mirpur District due to its popularity. Here are some critical facts about it:
– Population is 124,352, and the most populous city in Azad Kashmir.
– The total area is 1010 square km.
– It has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters.
– The official language is Pahari Potohari, also known as Mirpuri.
– The major ethnic groups are Kashmiri, Punjabi, and Pahari.
– It was once an ideal place for the construction of boats.
– British dominion led to the construction of the modern railway.
– It has plenty of shopping markets and restaurants or food stalls.
– Festive celebrations are held in the old city.
Mirpur, Pakistan, is also called “Mini London” due to the European-style architecture of some areas.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much is the distance to Mirpur from Islamabad?
The distance between Islamabad and Mirpur is about 134 kilometers, roughly a 3-hour drive. The journey is pleasant as you experience various landscapes, including lush green fields, vast open fields, and stunning valleys on the way.
However, taking precautions while traveling by road is essential as conditions can change quickly.
Why is Mirpur called mini London?
It is called “Mini London” because the residents and locals of this city have long been settled in England. They send their foreign-earned income and build shopping malls, buildings, and roads here. That’s the reason it is also known as Mini London.
Why is Mirpur famous?
It is famous for its beautiful natural surroundings and various places of historical significance. Mangla Dam is one of the world’s largest earth-fill dams and is a significant tourist attraction. Other attractions include Ramkot Fort, Mangla Fort, Darbar E Aalia Khari Sharif, Chakswari, and many more.
It is also known for its vibrant cultural scene, with events such as the annual Mela Chiraghan (festival of lights) occurring throughout the year.
Are people from Mirpur Kashmiri?
Yes, the majority of people are Kashmiris. The people speak various languages, including Punjabi and Pahari, but almost all identity as Kashmiri. Mirpuris are proud of their heritage and culture, evident in their traditional dress, cuisine, music, and poetry.
Mirpur is an exceptional Azad Kashmir city worth visiting for its historical sites, activities, culture, and unique attractions. With a rich history and vibrant culture, it offers something for everyone. So whether you are looking to explore the beautiful landscape or experience the traditional customs of the local people, there is plenty to see and do here.
With easy access to Islamabad, it is the perfect destination for a short break. So what are you waiting for? Plan your trip now!