Murree: an Overview

Murree is Pakistan's most popular hill station. Murree lies 50 kilometers northeast of Pakistani capital Islamabad at a comfortable altitude of 7500 feet (2286 meters) in the Himalayan foothills at 33.35 north latitude and 73.27 east longitude.

Murree Sanitarium (US sanatorium), as it was initially known, was selected because of its coolMurree Night View, curtesy Suleman Photopark climate to serve as recuperation area for British troops. It was one of the several such hill stations established in the foothills of Himalayas across the Indian subcontinent. Of these hill stations, two Murree and Simla in present day Hamachal Pardesh sate of India, were established in the Punjab. Murree being more accessible from the Punjab plains initially served as summer capital of the province till 1875. However fire incide in the newly constructed city and spread of chelora forced the government to shift the summer Capital to Simla, which was also being used for the same purpose by the central government thenn based in Calcutta ( now Kolkata).

Murree is a mountainous area, forming part of outer Himalayas. Murree consists of a number of fingure shaped mountains which rise from Jhelum in the East Sawan in South and Harro in the west and gradually peak. Murree city is built on one of them. others in close proximity are Kuldana and Topa, which since 1850s are being used as cantonments.

Patriata to the south east, is somewhat detached and remained a virgin forest till 1980s when a chairlift was installed there.

Galiat which fall north of Murree, higher in elevation.

Murree is bounded by River Jhelum in the east, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa districts of Abbottabad and Heripur to the North and West, Islamabad Capital Territory to the Southwest and sister tehsil of Kotli Sattian to the South. It is pertinent to note that villages falling in Kotli Sattian Tehsil were part of Murree till 1990 when a separate tehsil was created.

Recently Punjab government has decided to merge both the Tehsils to from Murree District.
Murree town was built in line with the European cities with Church in the centre and main road, The Mall, running along with commercial places and administrative offices around the same. The Mall was and still is still the centre of attraction. Non Europeans were not allowed access to the Mall till independence in 1947.

Murree: The Name

Historians differ on origin of Murree's name. According to one theory Murree derives its name from Marrhi which means a ridge.
According to another version the name originates from Turkish marg which means a meadow. The centuries long Schythian rule as well as those by later day Sultans from Turkic-Persian areas have left prominent marks on language and culture of the region. The the local dialect derives a number of words from Turkish language. Thus it may not be suprising if Marri was a changed form of Turkish Marg.

This also seems possible due to the fact that historically people of hilly areas of this region including Murree used to live in vallies at lower altitude and mostly used the hill tops as pastures or to get a summer crop.

Over the centuries Turkish Marq might have become Mari, which incidentally were the spellings British used at the start of their contacts with the area. It was only on 1875 that present spellings, Murree were adopted.
According to yet another explanation Murree derives its name from Hazrat Marriam, or Virgin Marry, who is said to be buried at Pindi Point which is one of the highest places around. There are stories abound about holiness of the sight and how divine interventions has been stopping construction workers to remove the grave.

Irrespective of the origion of the name, before the British occupation it does not seem to have any relavance beyond the hillock.

There is no record indicating that the territory known as Murree today had the same name before British occupation of the area in 1846.
During the Afghan as well as Sikh rule this area along with all territory from Khanpur Dam to Boi on confluence of Rivers Jhelum and Konar, southwest of Muzaffarabad, was known as Dhund Ilaqa as the tribe inhabited the whole region.

It was only after the transfer of the hill tract, including Murree, from Hazara district to Rawalpindi district in 1850 that Tehsil Murree was created.

At that time it consisted of 92 villages divided in five areas or 'Ilakas of Phulgran, Charhan, Dewal, Kotli and Karor. Other areas taken away from Rawalpindi and placed under the ruler of Muzaffarabad in 1831 were divided between Rawalpindi and Hazara. Present day Kahuta and Kallar Sayydan Tehsils of Rawalpindi district were clubed as Kahuta and made a sparate Tehsile while all the hill track from Khanpur to Bio was made part of Hazara district. Thus Murree recieved as very small part of erstwhile Dhund Ilaqa and most of its went to Hazara.
Some times later Pulgran, another Dhund inhabited area, was transferred from Murree to Rawalpindi Tehsil.
It now forms part of Islamabad Capital territory.
In 1990s Kotli and some villages in then Karor ilaka were separated to form Kotli Sattian Tehsil.

Recently in order to better manage the growing tourist traffic to Murree and suroundings the Punjab government has merged Tehsils of Murree and Kotli Sattian to form Murree District. The decision is very controversial as it will create more problems then it will resolve. A more practical solution would be to expand the Islamabad Capital Territory to all the areas earmarked as Specified Areas under Capital Development Athority Ordinance 1960. The schedule of the ordinance gives detail of the Specified area and besides Tehsils of Murree and Kahuta it includes Circle Bakot and Lora of Abbotabad district as well as parts of Haripur District of Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa.

Under the law the federal governement can declare any area mentioned in Specific Area as part of the Federal Capital. Click here for details

Murree, The Land

Murree hill station was constructed by the British colonial government soon after it captured this part of then India in 1850. Murree city lies between Kashmir Point and Pindi Point. As the names suggest Kashmir point gives a panoramic view of snow laden Himalaya and Pir Panjal ranges in Kashmir while the Pindi point overlooks national capital Islamabad and adjacent Rawalpindi. At Pindi Point one can enjoy ride on a Chairlift three kilometers down to Bansragalli and enjoy a panoramic view of Hazara mountains as well as Rawalpindi Islamabad.

The city of Murree lies in seven kilometer area between these two points. The most popular area in the hill station is the Mall road spanning over about two kilometer in beautiful settings.

Murree Guide Map
for larger image
click here
River Jehlum lies to the east of Tehsil Murree and separates it from Azad Kashmir, Abbottabad district lies to the North and north west of Murree, Islamabad, the national capital to the south west and sister tehsil Kotli Sattian of Rawalpindi district lies to the South.

Murree Tehsil has a total area of 434 sq kilometer.

Murree, Population

According to Population Census 2017 Murree has a population of 233017 as against 176599 noted in 1998. Of these 75974 live in the rural areas and the rest in the urban areas.
It may be noted that a large number of villages surrounding Murree city and cantonments were made part of Murree Municipal Corporation under Punjab Local Government Act 2013 which has inflated the population of 'urban' areas.
The law and demarcations of the urban areas has since been changed and next census will reflect the true nature of the settlements.

Click here for complete demographic details of Murree.

Murree, The People

The Rural areas of Murree are mostly inhabited by Dhund (Abbasi) tribe which traces its origin to Hazrat Abbas, uncle of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be Upon Him). Dhund (Abbasis) have considerable presence in all areas surrounding Murree.

The tribe forms overwhelming majority of population in Deerkot in Azad Kashmir, the whole eastern hill tract of Abbottabad district right from confluence of Kunhar and Jehlum Rivers to districts boundary with Haripur district and eastern side of Haripur district itself. Pockets of Dhund majority areas are also found in districts of Mansehra, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and Kahuta and Kotli Sattian Tehsils of Rawalpindi district.

Other important tribes living in the Tehsil include Sattis, Kathwals and Danials inhabiting southern parts of the Tehsil. Sattis form overwhelming majority in Katli Satian Tahsill and some parts of Kahuta Tehsil of Rawalpindi district while some of the majority Danial populated areas have been merged into Islamabad capital Territory as well as Kotli Sattian Tehsil.

There is considerable Danial population in Ausia far from the historical Danial inhabitates on Islamabad-Murree, Kotli Satian border.
It is pertinent to note that centuries old Jhelum valley road to Kashmir passed on the top of mountain which starts near Kohala on border with Kashmir and ends at Jikagali. Historically there was a fort on the road at Dewal.

Drinking water and flat ground was available at Ausia so a camping site for the caravans was set up.

The place is still called Parao in local language which means stay during a journey. Later on during the Sikh era or later a rest house was built for the stay of government officials. It is beleived that the ancestors of Danials on Ausia were either marchants serving the caravans or servants at the rest house. They stayed on and became so amalgamated in society that it is very difficult to differetiate between the two. Members from the community made important contributions in all walks of society.

Besides there there is a sizeable population of Gujars and some Jats as well as members of artisan classes across the Tehsil. Historically Gujar, Jats and other artisan classes lived as tenants of local tribes. However  as a result of land reforms of 1958 as well as those of 1970s most of them have become owners of the lands they tilled .Click here for details on tribes living in Murree

Permanent population of the urban areas is very small and consists of people from all over the country.  A good number of refugees from Indian held part of Jammu and Kashmir also inhabit mostly urban parts of the area. In fact two members of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, one each representing refugees from Kashmir valley and Jammu respectively are wholly or partially elected from Murree.

The dialect spoken in the areas is locally known as Paharai but is considerably different from the language of same name spoken in the southern slopes of Himalays in Hamachal Pradesh and other parts of Northern India. The language spoken in Murree is an amalgamation of Hindko, Potohari and Hinko languages spoken in Rawalpindi, Hazara and western and south western sides of Kashmir, particularly those parts of the state which currently form Azad Jammu and Kashmir. 


According to 2017 national population census Murree has a literacy rate of 84.90 percent among age group ten years and above which is whopping 15 points up from 69 percent recorded in 1998 census. Population census 2017 District wise data: Rawalpindi District This is well above national literacy rate of 58.59 percent or that of Punjab. It is slightly better than overall literacy rate of Rawalpindi district which is 82.45 percent. it is pertinent to mention here that literacy rate in Murree's sister Tehsil Koli Sattyan is is 89 percent which is probably the best in the country. Murree is among the most literate areas in the country and easily surpasses major cities in this regard.

Village Ausia, mentioned above used to be known for having best literacy rates in the country but recent census shows that villages in other tehsils in the Rawalpindi district have left it far behind literacy rate. In this regard we can sepcially mention Malot Sattian, Santha Saroola, Thoon, Kalan Basand, Baiga and Jawa in Kotli Sattian Tehsil, Natha Chattar,Mangot, Huju, Jasol in Gujar Khan and Chapper, Mohra, Dera Khalsa, Pindori in Kallar Sayyadan who have more thann 95 percent literacy rate.The credit for the same must go to people's love for knowledge as well as dedication of teachers.

Like other parts of Sub-continent modern school system was introduced in Murree after the advent of the British rule in 1850. Initially primary schools for boys were established in Murree, Ausia, Tret, Karor and Kotli Sattian.

Educationan institutions

Kohsar University Murree was established in 2020 to cater the educational needs of Murree and its surrounding areas. It is spreads over four different campuses in the city which include former degree college for boys and girls at Jika Galli and The Mall Respectively. a Portion of Punjab House has also been given to the univerity. However government land available in Barori has not been given to the university. It is hoped that a new university building will be established soon so that the students can carry oput their studies withou inconvenience.

The Kohsar University offers BS and MS programmes in Applied Sciences and Engineering, mountain and environmental sciences, bio-medical, computer, management sciences and humanities. Currently 1500 students are enrolled in the university. Girls constitute overwhelming majority among the students

Apart from the Kohsar University, there is a commerce college for both sexes in Murree city while a girls college is working in Phagwari.

There is one each senior secondary schools for boys at Barian and Ausia and while Gora Gali and Charhan have senior secondary schools for girls. Twenty secondary schools each for boys and girls working in diferent villages of Murree.

There are more than three hundred primary and elementary schools for boys and girls available Besides there are two higher secondary schools, at Ausia and Tanda, sixteen secondary schools, twelve middle and 112 primary schools for boys. There are 6 high schools, 15 middle and 109 primary schools  for girls.  Other than that there are a large number of private schools in every nook and corner of Murree, providing commendable services to the people.

Murree is also known for its elitist educational institutions which have been attracting students from across the country since independence. Lawrence college Gora Gali, established as Lawrence Memorial Asylum in 1860 for children of serving or retired British soldiers away from tropical climate of sub-continent. It was part of chain of four such schools established across British India. Spread over an area of more then 150 acres at an altitude of 6397 feet (1950 meters) Lawrence college provides education from class one to twelve including A level and O level and is popular among Pakistani upper classes.
Other colleges established during the British periin every nook and corber of the Tehsil. Beesides there are numerous private schools imparting education to students.

Since the colonial times, Murree is also known for its elitist educational institutions which have been attracting students from across the country. Lawrence college Gora Gali, established as Lawrence Memorial Asylum in 1860 for children of serving or retired British soldiers away from tropical climate of sub-continent. It was part of chain of four such schools established across British India. Spread over an area of more then 150 acres at an altitude of 6397 feet (1950 meters) Lawrence college provides education from class one to twelve including A level and O level and is popular among Pakistani upper classes.

Other colleges established during the British period for the children of British colonialist but now serving the Pakistani gentry include Saint Dynes and Convent of Jesus and Marry. Saint Dynese has recently closed it boarding to in order to cater the needs of local population.

PAF College Lower Topa is working for deacades to provide young leaders to Air Force as well as other forces and society in general. It takes stundent in class 8 after as very competitive examination. PAF has two schools of this kind. The other is working in Sargodha.

Military College Murree was established in 2008 in the same lines as Military College Sarai Aalmgir for producing future leadership to Pakistan Army and other forces. Like PAF collegese in Lower Topa and Sargodha and military college Sarai Aalamgir admission in Military College Murree is through a highly competitive countrywide examination.

Army Public school was established in Murree in 1990 to provide educational facilities to stundents from military families as well as civilians. Boarding facilies are available for boys in the school. in recent years the school has established a junior branch in Upper Topa near Garial camp. There are many schools in with Cadet College names but they are private institution not being run by armed forces.

It would be unfair not to mention Murree Christian School which was unfortunately subjected to terrorist attack in 2002. Situated at Garial near Jika Gali Murree Christian School was established in 1956 to to educate the children of missionaries who serve in Pakistan and neighbouring countries.
It also accepts admissions from grade four to 12 and is open for children from families with evangelical Christian background even if they serve in other professions.

Christian missionary schools were established in the city during the colonial days including Saint Dynes and Convent of Jesus and Marry are still serving the region. Saint Dynese has recently closed it boarding to in order to cater the needs of local population.

Miliatry establishments

Murree houses headquarters of 12th infantry division of Pakistan Army and large number of educational and training institutions of Pakistan Army which situated at Upper Topa, Kuldana and Barain. Combined Military Hospital established to cater the needs of civilian population of Murree and adjoining areas. Pakistan Air Force also maintains base at Lower Topa.

For administrative purposes the military areas of Murree are divided in two separate cantonment cantonments, Murree Cantonment and Murree Hills Cantonment.
Murree Houses residence for Punjab Governor at the Kashmir point. The imposing building was built in nineteenth century by the British. There are Punjab and Sindh Houses to cater needs of the provincial government.

builldings and government houses

A large number of government, semi government and private departments and institutions maintain guest houses in Murree.
A number of diplomatic missions based in Islamabad established their camp offices in Murree in the 1960s. The same however are seldom used now.

It is pertinent to mention that Murree only city other than Karachi, Rawalpindi, Dhaka and Islamabad where National Assembly had a session. The National Assembly meeting in Murree Club building in 1954 considered reports on constitution making. The parties from the former East Pakistan including the Jagto Front issued a statement on their demands pertaining to future constitution. That statement was called Murree declaration

Tourist Attractions

Adjacent to Murree is the Galliat region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which includes Nathiagalli, Ayubia, Khanspur, Dunga Galli, Khairagalli and Changla Galli. Before the British rule whether part of Rawalpindi District of Muzaffarabad, Murree and Galiat have been part of same administrative unit, however in 1850 the British decided to divide them between Rawalpindi and Hazara. Howevere despite divided by provincial boundaries, Murree and Galliat are inseparable both geographically, culturally, linguistically as well as from the point of view of the tourists. Murree serves as a gateway to Galliat.

For hotels, hiking trails and important phone numbers and other information on Nathiagali and Galliat click here.

In recent years Bhurban and New Murree (Patriata), have also developed as a tourist centre. The whole Murree Galliat region is known throughout South Asia for its scenic beauty and fascinating greenery. Mountains overhung with pines and oaks, bubbling with gurgling springs, crisscrossed by rivulets, dotted with sprawling lawns and orchards overloaded with fruits present spectacle of Paradise on earth.

Bhurban, boosting with five star Pearl Continental Hotel owned by Pakistan's best hotel chain and a nine hole Golf course has cropped recently as another tourist attraction in Murree area. Lying at an altitude of 6000 ft, Bhurban is situated at a distance of 13 kilometers from Murree on one of main roads leading to Azad Kashmir. Punjab government is planning to develop New Murree city at Patriata fifteen kilometers southeast of Murree. Punjab Tourism department constructed resorts at the virgin forests on the Patriata ridge in 1987 besides a 3 kilometer sky ride from Gulara Gali to the top of Patriata ridge.  Patriata is connected with Islamabad and Murree through a number of all weather roads. 


    Weather plays and important part in life and economy of Murree. It has four distinguishable seasons. Spring in Murree starts in March and ends in middle of May. Maximum temperature during this period hovers between twelve to twenty and minimum between four and ten. The area receive heavy rain and hail storms during this season. The fruit trees laden with flowers give a spectacular view. Summer spans from middle of Mat to June end of August.

The lowest temperature during this season is between 13 and 16 while highest temperature is between twenty to twenty five. This is the best season in the area and it receives most number of visitors during this season. With the advent of September autumn creeps in and last till the starts of winter in early December. This is the seasons of clear sky in the region when one can enjoy full view of mountains around without cloud hindrance. Temperatures are mild.
        Winter starts in December and normally brings heavy snowfall. Murree and it surrounding areas are covered with thick sheet of snow during most part of the season. Temperature mostly hovers around the freezing point.                  
Next: How to Reach


Last Updated on February 3, 2023
For your valuable comments please write to me at:
Phone: +92-300-5137192

Wajih Abbasi