Abbottabad – The City of Pines

Abbottabad was founded and named after Major James Abbott in January 1853 as the headquarters of Hazara District during the British Raj[4]after the annexation of Punjab. He remained the first Deputy Commissioner of the Hazara district from 1849 until April 1853. Major Abbott is noted for having written a poem titled “Abbottabad“, before his return to Britain, in which he wrote of his fondness for the town and his sadness at having to leave it.

In the early 20th century, Abbottabad became an important military cantonment and sanatorium, serving as the headquarters of a brigade in the Second Division of the Northern Army Corps. The garrison consisted of four battalions of native infantry, of the Frontier Force (including the 5th Gurkha Rifles) and two native mountain batteries.

A sunset scene in Abbottabad.

In 1901, the population of the town and cantonment was 7,764with an average income of Rs. 14,900. This increased to Rs. 22,300 in 1903, chiefly derived from octroi. During this time chief public institutions were built such as the Albert Victor Unaided Anglo-Vernacular High School, the Municipal Anglo-Vernacular High School and the government dispensary. In 1911, the population had risen to 11,506 and the town contained four battalions of Gurkhas. In June 1948, the British Red Cross opened a hospital in Abbottabad to deal with thousands of injured being brought in from Kashmir.


Nathia Gali is a popular tourist destination

Miranjani from Nathia Gali

‘Harnoi’, a famous picnic spot 10 km from city.

Abbottabad has been attracting tourists to the city since the colonial era, as it is a major transit point to all major tourist regions of Pakistan such as NathiagaliAyubia and Naran. According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India, “the town is picturesquely situated at the southern corner of the Rash (Orash) plain, 4,120 feet (1,260 m) above the sea”.

Like much of the mountainous Northern Areas, tourism is an important source of income in Abbottabad. In the summer when temperatures rise to around 45 degrees Celsius in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a large number of tourists travel to Abbottabad.

The Karakoram Highway, which traces one of the paths of the ancient Silk Road, starts from Hasan Abdal on the N5 and heads north passing through the city, eventually reaching Khunjerab Pass. The Karakorum Highway is a major attraction itself for its views. The KarakoramHimalayas and the Hindu Kush ranges can be approached from Abbottabad, and it continues to be a transit city for tourists, serving as a base for visiting nearby places, such as HunzaGilgitSkardu and Indus Kohistan, of the Karakoram Range.

Abbottabad is popular with those looking to relocate. Its weather, peaceful reputation and the perceived security of a garrison have drawn many from other cities to work or educate their children. There was an influx of migrants from Azad Kashmir after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, another from the Swat District during military operations against militants in 2009 and 2010, and from Waziristan after the army launched major operations against the Taliban in 2009.[19] There is an under construction £19m amusement park in the city on a 50-acre site is includes a zoo, adventure sports facilities, restaurants and artificial waterfalls.

Some popular tourist destinations in and around Abbottabad include:

  • Ayubia National Park
  • Bara Gali
  • Dor River Valley (at Harnoi/Harnol)
  • Dunga Gali
  • Harnoi
  • Ilyasi Mosque
  • Khaira Gali
  • Nathia Gali
  • Shimla Hill
  • Thandiani
  • Kukmang
  • Raees Khana Bazar
  • Sangimaira/Tharyati
  • Barra Hottar
  • Boi-Marhes
  • Kunhar River Spot-Boi
  • Boi Bazar-Kashmir-Point


Mandian is the northern part of Abbottabad city. The population of this area is 100,000. The word mandian means fruit or vegetable markets: It is a center of commerce with markets and businesses. Today Mandian is a busy hub of the city.

Mandian is also known as Missile Chowk, because a Ghori missile is installed there.

Many renowned schools and colleges are in Mandian like Brook Montessori and School System, Government Postgraduate College Mandian, Army Burn Hall College, Wisdom House Public School, Pakistan International Public School and College (PIPS) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa University of Engineering & Technology Abbottabad Campus. Ayub Medical College and COMSAT Institute of Information Technology Abbottabad campus is 1 km away to the north from Mandian on main Karakoram Highway in Mirpur and Abbottabad Public School, Abbottabad International Medical College and Frontier Medical College is 5 km away on the same highway from Mandian, in the northern end of Abbottabad city.

Mandian has a small industrial estate, which promotes medium- and small-scale industries and provides employment to hundreds of people.


POEM on Abbotabad by Major James Abbott


I remember the day when I first came here
And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air

The trees and ground covered with snow
Gave us indeed a brilliant show

To me the place seemed like a dream
And far ran a lonesome stream

The wind hissed as if welcoming us
The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss

And the tiny cuckoo sang it away
A song very melodious and gay

I adored the place from the first sight
And was happy that my coming here was right

And eight good years here passed very soon
And we leave you perhaps on a sunny noon

Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now
To your natural beauty do I bow

Perhaps your winds sound will never reach my ear
My gift for you is a few sad tears

I bid you farewell with a heavy heart
Never from my mind will your memories thwart