Pothohar Plateau

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Pothohar Plateau
سطح مرتفع پوٹھوہار
Potohar Plateau Location Map.svg
Country Pakistan
 • Total22,254 km2 (8,592 sq mi)
350 to 1,447 m (1,150 to 4,750 ft)
 • Total17,464,763
Time zoneUTC+5 (PST)

The Pothohar Plateau (Urdu: سطح مرتفع پوٹھوہار) is a plateau in north-eastern Pakistan, located between Indus River and the Jhelum River.[1][2] It borders Azad Kashmir to the east and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the north and west. The region was once the home of the ancient Soanian culture, which is evidenced by the discovery of fossils, tools, coins, and remains of ancient archaeological sites.


A late medieval Persian manuscript, Kaigoharnameh, written by Raezadeh Diwan Duni Chand in A.D. 1725 to the order of Gakhar Chiefs presents a detailed history of Gakhars in northern Punjab.[3][4] The term in the manuscript has been written variously as Pathwar, Pot har and Pothohar.[3] According to Ahmad Hasan Dani, the term is derived from Prshtawar in Sanskrit, Prshta meaning "back" of the Indus River and War meaning "area".[3][2]


Potohar Plateau is bounded on the east by the Jhelum River, on the west by the Indus River, on the north by the Kala Chitta Range and the Margalla Hills, and on the south by the Salt Range.[5] The Kala Chitta Range thrusts eastward across the plateau towards Rawalpindi; the valleys of the Haro and Soan rivers cross the plateau from the eastern foothills to the Indus. The ramparts of the Salt Range stretching from east to west in the south separate Potohar from the Punjab Plain. The Potwar Plateau includes parts of the current four districts of Jhelum, Chakwal, Attock and Rawalpindi.[6] The terrain is undulating. The Kala Chitta Range rises to an average height of 450–900 meters and extends for about 72 kilometers. The Swaan River starts from nearby Murree and ends near Kalabagh in the Indus river. Sakesar (Khushab District) is the highest mountain of this region and Tilla Jogian in Jhelum is second highest. Most of the hills and rivers are bordered by dissected ravine belts. The streams, due to constant rejuvenation, are deep-set and of little use for irrigation.

The diverse wildlife includes urial, chinkara, chukar, hare, mongoose, wild boar, and yellow-throated marten. The Sivapithecus indicus fossil skull of an extinct ape species was discovered in Potohar plateau.[7]


Agriculture is dependent largely on rainfall, which averages 380–500 mm annually; rainfall is greatest in the northwest and declines to arid conditions in the southwest. The chief crops are wheat, barley, sorghum, and legumes, onions, melons, and tobacco are grown in the more fertile areas near the River Indus.

The plateau is the location of major Pakistani oil fields, the first of which were discovered at Khaur (1915) and Dhuliān (1935); the Tut field was discovered in 1968, Missa Keswal was discovered in 1992 and exploration continued in the area in the 1990s. The oil fields are connected by pipeline to the Attock Refinery in Rawalpindi.[8] Major reserves of oil and gas has been discovered at Chak Beli Khan near Rawalpindi in Punjab.

A major oil reserve has been discovered near Jhelum in Punjab, opening up a new area for exploitation of hydrocarbon potential (e.g., Meyal Field[9]). With an estimated production of 5,500 barrels per day, the Ghauri X-1 oil well is expected to be the country’s largest oil-producing well and is likely to start contributing its output to the system by the end of June 2014. Due to low rain fall, extensive deforestation, coal mining, oil and gas exploration, the area is becoming devoid of vegetation. The under water areas of lakes (Uchali, Khabeki, Jhallar and Kallar Kahar) have been reduced to much smaller areas than in the past.

This region also lends the name to the Suzuki Jimny SJ-410 model, which was branded as the Suzuki Potohar for the Pakistani market.

The major cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and the smaller cities of Choa Saidanshah, Kallar Syedan, Chakwal, Gujar Khan, Sohawa, and Attock are situated on the plateau.


Pothohar Plateau scene
Ling Stream
Centuries old banyan tree inside Pharwala Fort, Potohar.

The existence of the Soanian culture finds its home on the plateau. The Indus Valley Civilization is known to have flourished in the same region between the 23rd and 18th centuries BC. Some of the earliest Stone Age artifacts in the world have been found on the plateau, dating from 500,000 to 100,000 years. The crude stone recovered from the terraces of the Soan carries the account of human grind and endeavors in this part of the world from the inter-glacial period.

The Stone Age people produced their equipment in a sufficiently homogenous way to justify their grouping. Around 3000 BC, small village communities developed in the area, which led to the early roots of civilization.

Important sites[edit]

Pothohar plateau has multiple historical sites, including;

Ruins of Hindu shahis[edit]

The ruins of the Shahi destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in the 11th century and of ancient Gandhara destroyed in the 6th century by the Hunas (Indo-Hephthalites) litter the countryside.


Ancient Taxila is an ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the plateau. Taxila (then called taksh-shila) was Hindu and Buddhist seat of learning, connected across the Khunjerab pass to the Silk Road, attracting students from all over the world. Ancient Takshashila was renowned all over the world as home to a great university. It came under the control of the first Persian empire known then as the Achaemenid Empire followed by Alexander the Great and then the Sassanians (see Indo-Sassanian). As a city in Gandhara, it flourished during the first-fifth century AD. It was finally destroyed in c.450-c.565 by the Hunas.

The material remains found on the site of the city of Rawalpindi prove the existence of a Gandhara Buddhist establishment contemporary to Taxila but less celebrated than its neighbor. It appears that the ancient city also went into oblivion as a result of the same Hunas devastation. The Gakhar chief Jhanda Khan restored it and gave it the name of Rawalpindi after the village Rawal in 1493 AD. Today it is the twin city of the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad which was built next to it.

Rohtas Fort[edit]

Rohtas Fort located near the Potwar is another UNESCO World Heritage site, built by Sher Shah Suri in 1541 to control the Gakhars who remained loyal to the deposed Mughal Emperor Humayun.[10][11]

Rawat Fort[edit]

Rawat Fort is located 17 kilometres (11 mi) east of Rawalpindi, on the Grand Trunk Road leading to Lahore. The grave of a Gakhar Chief, Sarang Khan is located inside the fort. He died in 1546 AD fighting against the forces of Sher Shah Suri. If one dares to climb the broken steps inside the tomb, one may get a panoramic view of the plateau and the Mankiala Stupa. The remains of this Buddhist Stupa lie about 32 km southeast of Rawalpindi in Mankiala village. Apparently, this Gandhara stupa was built in the reign of Kanishka (128–151 AD). According to legend, Buddha had sacrificed parts of his body here, to feed seven hungry tiger-cubs. In 1930, several gold, silver and copper coins (660 – 730 AD) and a bronze casket having Kharoṣṭhī inscriptions, were discovered from this stupa.

Pharwala Fort[edit]

Pharwala Fort is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Rawalpindi beyond Lehtrar road and was built by the Hindu Shahis. Emperor Babur attacked the fort in 1519 AD and conquered it.

Katas Raj Temples[edit]

Tilla Jogian, 2nd highest peak in Jhelum District

The Salt Range is dotted with Hindu temples, of which the most notable is the Katasraj temple. Located 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Chakwal, Katasraj is notable in many ways. The temple was abandoned by local Hindus when they migrated to East Punjab in 1947. While Katas Raj has not received much publicity, the two semi-ruined temples of the Hindu Shahi period (650–950 AD) have been frequently photographed by newspapers and history journals.

A joint project with Professors Abdur Rehman, past Chairman of the Department of Archaeology, University of Peshawar, and Farid Khan, founder of the Pakistan Heritage Society, has begun to analyse and document these important monuments in the history of South Asian temple architecture with funding from the University of Pennsylvania. Two seasons of excavation have been carried out at the site of North Kafirkot.[12]


This region is home to many different tribes like Rajputs, Awans, Khokhars, Gakhars, Gujjars, Khatris, Abbasi, Syeds, Jatts, Sattis, janjuas[13] and others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tikekar, Maneesha (2004). Across the Wagah: An Indian's Sojourn in Pakistan. Bibliophile South Asia. p. 180. ISBN 978-81-85002-34-7.
  2. ^ a b Mukherjee, Sreecheta (2015-06-01). Visual Culture in the Indian Subcontinent: Chitrolekha International Magazine on Art and Design, Volume V, Number 1, 2015. Chitrolekha International Magazine on Art and Design. p. 86.
  3. ^ a b c Salim, Mohammad (1997). The Palaeolithic Cultures of Potwar with Special Reference to the Lower Palaeolithic. Centre for the Study of the Civilizations Central Asia, Quaid-i-Azam Univ. pp. 2–3.
  4. ^ Chand, Raezadeh Diwan Duni (1965). Kaigoharnameh: An Unpublished History of Gakkhars Written Originally in 1137 A.H.(A.D.1725) by Raezadeh Diwan Duni Chand to the Order of Sultan Mobarez-ud-din and Sultan Delawar Khan Gakkhar Rulers of Akbarabad and Pharwala. Punjabi Adabi academy.
  5. ^ "Salt Range: A Hidden Treasure". Daily Times. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  6. ^ Gohar Social Studies base 4 , By S.A. Siddiqi , PAGE 6 , Gohar publishers
  7. ^ A partial hominoid innominate from the Miocene of Pakistan: Description and preliminary analyses
  8. ^ "New Page 1".
  9. ^ Riaz, Muhammad; Nuno, Pimentel; Zafar, Tehseen; Ghazi, Shahid (2019). "2D Seismic Interpretation of the Meyal Area, Northern Potwar Deform Zone, Potwar Basin, Pakistan". Open Geosciences. 11 (1): 1–16. doi:10.1515/geo-2019-0001.
  10. ^ "Rohtas Fort". Travel Web. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  11. ^ "Rohtas Fort". UNESCO-World Heritage. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  12. ^ "Salt Range Temples, Pakistan". University of Pennsylvania-School of Arts & Sciences. Archived from the original on 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
  13. ^ Ibbetson, Sir Denzil ] (1970) [1916]. Panjab Castes. Language Department, Punjab. p. 117.

External links[edit]