Kotli, situated in the Azad Kashmir state of Pakistan. Kotli is a district located 141 kilometers away from Islamabad, the capital city. It is conveniently connected to Mirpur through two well-constructed highways. One route spans 90 kilometers and passes through Gulpur and Rajdhani, while the other route travels via Dhungi and Charohi. Additionally, Kotli enjoys direct connectivity to Islamabad and Rawalpindi through Sehnsa and Holar. Trarkhal also provides a direct link to Rawalakot, covering a distance of 82 kilometers.
Geographically, District Kotli shares its eastern border with Indian-administered Kashmir, occupied by Indian forces. It is bordered to the south by Mirpur District and to the north by Rawalakot. Kotli is recognized as one of the eight municipalities within Pakistan’s Azad Jammu and Kashmir region. The district’s principal town, also named Kotli, has witnessed significant development in recent years, transforming from a small settlement located midway between Mirpur and Muzaffarabad.
Situated to the south of the bustling metropolis, Gulhar is positioned in a strategic location. Nestled between Kotli and Sarsawa, towards the northwest of Kotli City, is the historically significant Union Council Chowki Tinda. Moving west from Sarsawa Chowk and taking a left turn, you will find the connecting road to Sehnsa, while a road to the right leads to Panjera and Plandri. Continuing eastward from Sarsawa Bazaar, Baloch and Rawlakot follow along the left-hand path. On the other hand, if you take the right-hand route through Chowki Tinda, it will lead you to Kotli City in the east, although it is also misleadingly referred to as Tinda Kalah.
In the southwest lies the quaint village of Gulpur, which accommodates a significant refugee camp. Adjacent to Gulpur is Throtchi, renowned for its fortress constructed in 1460.
The origin of the term “Kotli” can be traced back to a combination of two words used by a small fraction of the community in the neighboring village. These words, “koh” and “talay,” signify people residing beneath mountains. Over time, these words merged to form the hybrid name “Kotli.” There are two additional theories regarding the etymology of the name Kotli. According to one belief, Prince Raja Shahswar Khan erected a humble dwelling in the vicinity and named it “Kot,” which later evolved into “Kotli.”
History of Kotli
Prior to 1975, Kotli was a part of the Mirpur District and was known as Kotli Mangralan. It is situated in the Jammu region, which has been the center of the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan. Historically, it was a part of the Jammu and Kashmir region before the partition in 1947.
Presently, Kotli has experienced a rapid growth spurt during the summer months. The town has undergone a remarkable transformation, with the once barren roads now adorned with three-story palaces. These developments have connected the surrounding ring towns to the expanding city, which is situated on the banks of the Poonch River.
In 1947, a local group led by Col. Mahmood successfully routed and defeated the Dogra force in Kotli. This event holds historical significance in the area.
Sehnsa is located on the Kotli-Rawalpindi route, just before Holar. It is positioned to the west of Gulpur, which marks the boundary between Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.
Churches in Kotli
Due to its abundance of churches, the settlement of Kotli is often called Madina-tul-Masajid, meaning “the city of mosques.” The village of Gulhar Sharif in Kotli is known for its strong spiritual atmosphere. At the heart of the village stands a magnificent mosque that captivates visitors with its beauty and significance.
Kotli district is subdivided into four tehsils (sub-divisions):
- Kotli (City)
- Fatehpur Thakiala or Nakyal
- Charhoi Additionally, there is a fifth tehsil named Fagoosh in Kotli district.