Attock District

From Indpaedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Hindi English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

This article has been extracted from



Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts.Many units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.


Attock District

(Atak). — District in the Rawalpindi Division of the Punjab, lying between 32 34' and 34 o' N. and 71 42' and 73 1' E., with an area of 4,022 square miles. It is bounded on the west and north-west by the Indus, which separates it from the Districts of Kohat and Peshawar in the North-West Frontier Province ; and on the north- east by the Hazara District of the same Province ; while it adjoins the Punjab Districts of Rawalpindi on the east, Jhelum on the south- east, Shahpur on the south, and Mianwali on the south-west. In shape an irregular oval, its northern extremity falls into two zones, the northern comprising the fertile Chach plain, the southern a dry, sandy, and stony tract which rises to the Kala-Chitta Pahar or ' black and white range,' which separates it from the central portion. The Chach plain and the western half of the dry, sandy zone form the tahs'il of Attock. The central portion consists of a wide plain, stretching across the District from east to west and also containing two distinct zones : the northern of poor and stony soil ; the southern fertilized by the waters of the eastern and the western Sil, two streams which run into the Sohan river. The fertility of this zone decreases from east to west, its south-west corner comprising the wild and barren ravines round Narrara and Makhad. The Fatahjang tahsil comprises the eastern half of this central portion with the eastern half of the dry zone north of the Kala-Chitta Pahar, the western half forming the Pindi Gheb tahsil. South of the Sohan lies the high plateau of the Talagang tahsil, which rising to the Salt Range, here parallel to the Sohan, is scoured by the deep mountain torrents that descend from the range into that river.

Physical aspects

The District lies entirely on Tertiary rocks, with the exception of a band of Nummulitic limestone forming the Khairi-Murat ridge. The oldest of these are the Murree beds, which run as a narrow band across the northern part of the District. They are composed of red and purple clays, with grey and purplish sandstones, and are probably of miocene age. These are succeeded to the south by a great spread of lower Siwalik sandstone, which covers the greater part of the District and contains a rich mammalian fauna of pliocene age. It is overlain by the upper Siwalik conglomerates and sandstones, which occur at Makhad on the Indus and other localities. Still farther south the lower Siwalik sandstone is continuous with the similar beds of the Salt Range '.

The flora is scanty, except where there are springs or watercourses, as at Hassan Abdal ; but the proportion of West Asian types is con- siderable, and a few species, hardly found farther eastwards, except at high altitudes, occur here at low elevation. In the actual valley of the Indus the clove pink has been observed, and on low hills Scilla and Iris are not uncommon, with the curious Boucerosia, a fleshy Asclepiad, like the South African Stapelias, the leaves of which are cooked or pickled as a relish. Timber and fruit trees are practically unknown except in gardens, or in that portion of the Salt Range which has been allotted to the newly formed District.

A few urial are found in the Narrara hills, and throughout the south- west of the Pindi Gheb tahsil. Sometimes stray ones from the Salt Range are seen in Talagang. ' Ravine deer ' (Indian gazelle) are occasionally found in the Attock tahsil. Mahseer, bachwa, and other fish are caught in the Haro, Sohan, and Indus.

The temperature differs little from that of the Punjab plains, though the Talagang plateau, lying 1,200 feet above sea-level, is cooler than the rest of the District. Among the rocks of Attock, the sandy slopes of Jandal, and the low hills of Narrara and Makhad the heat in summer is intense, hot winds prevail, and the glare of the sun, reflected by white sand and hot rocks, is terrific. The people suffer from tape-worm and guinea-worm owing to the badness of the water, but are otherwise robust and healthy. The annual rainfall varies from 1 7 inches at Pindi Gheb to 24 at Fatahjang, but is very uncertain.


The history of the District is practically the same as that of Rawal- pindi District. Hassan Abdal, the chief relic of the Buddhist period, was one of the towns subordinate to the capital of Taxila, and under the Gakhars, Mughals,

1 Wynne, 'Tertiary Zone and Underlying Rocks in N.-W. Punjab,' Records, Geological Survey of India, vol. x, pt. iii. and Sikhs the District followed the fortunes of Rawalpindi. The chief historical events recorded are the defeat of Anand Pal near Ohind by Mahmud of Ghazni, the foundation of Attock by Akbar, and its vicissitudes in the Sikh Wars. The District was constituted in 1904, the tahsils of Attock, Pindi Gheb, and Fatahjang being transferred from Rawalpindi District, and that of Talagang from Jhelum.

The antiquities of the District are described in the articles on Attock Town and Hassan Abdal. The population of the District at the last three enumerations was : (1881) 444,307, (1891) 448,420, and (1901) 464,430, dwelling in 4 towns and 614 villages. It increased by 3-6 per cent, during the last decade, every tahsil showing an increase except Talagang, while the increase in Fatahjang was only nominal. The Census of 1901 was taken during a season of drought, which had driven many of the men to migrate to the canal-irrigated tracts in the Punjab plains or to seek work on the Mari- Attock railway, then under construction. The District is divided into the four tahsils of Attock, Fatahjang, Pindi Gheb, and Talagang, the head-quarters of each being at the place from which it is named, but the head-quarters of the Attock tahsil will shortly be transferred to Campbellpore. The towns are the municipalities of Pindi Gheb and Hazro, the canton- ment of Campbellpore, the head-quarters of the District, and the fort of Attock. The following table gives the chief statistics of population in 1 90 1 : —


Muhammadans number 419,730, or over 90 per cent, of the total- Hindus, 37,052; and Sikhs, 6,991. The density of the population is very low. Various dialects of Western Punjabi are spoken in the District, but the Pathans of the Chach plain in the Attock tahsil and those round Makhad in the south-west corner of Pindi Gheb still speak Pashtu.

The most numerous tribe is that of the agricultural Awans, who are stronger here than in any other District, numbering 151,000, or 32 per cent, of the total population. Next to them come the Pathans (38,000) ; the Maliars, a tribe resembling the Arains of the Punjab proper (37,000); and the Rajputs (26,000). Other important agricultural classes are the Gtijars (12,000), Jats (12,000), Mughals (7,000), and Khattars (6,000), the latter being practically confined to this District. Saiyids are strong, numbering 12,000. The most important commercial classes are the Khattris and Aroras, who number 24,000 and 12,000 respectively. Of the artisan classes, the Julahas (weavers, 18,000), Mochis (shoemakers and leather- workers, 13,000), Lohars (blacksmiths, 11,000), Tarkhans (carpenters, 8,000), Kumhars (potters, 8,000), and Telis (oil-pressers, 7,000) are the most important. Less important are the Musallis (sweepers and scavengers, 9,000), Nais (barbers, 8,000), and Dhobis (washermen, 6,000). Kashmiris number 7,000. Of the total population, 65 per cent, are dependent on agriculture, there being no large towns or manufactures.

There are Roman Catholic missions at Campbellpore and Attock. The District contained only 3 native Christians in 1901.


In the north of the District the low-lying Chach plain with its numerous wells is exceedingly fertile, the soil being chiefly an alluvial loam. There is also a good deal of fertile land in the villages of the Sohan and other streams. Elsewhere the District is very poor in natural resources. Wild tracts of arid mountain and rock predominate, and the soil is light and shallow, with stone near the surface, and much broken up by ravines. The District is so sparsely populated that, although it suffers periodically from drought, real famine is unknown.

The land is mostly held by communities of small peasant proprietors, but there are large zamlndari estates in the Fatahjang, Pindi Gheb, and Attock tahsils. The following table gives the main agricultural statistics in 1903-4, areas being in square miles : —


Wheat, the most important product and the staple crop of the spring harvest, occupied 568 square miles in 1903-4; gram and oilseeds covered 132 and 125 square miles respectively; and barley only 43 square miles. The chief crop of the autumn harvest is spiked millet, covering 179 square miles, while great millet occupied 35, pulses 41, and maize 32 square miles. Very little cotton or sugar-cane is grown.

The cattle are small and not of particularly good quality. The Dis- trict is, however, noted for horse-breeding, especially the tahsils of Fatahjang and Pindi Gheb, where there are large estates whose holders have means to devote to breeding. The Jodhra Maliks of Pindi Gheb and Khunda and the Awan Maliks of Lawa are leading breeders. The scareity of water and consequent absence of fodder is a difficulty, and much of the stock is sold when very young. There is a good breed of donkeys, and numbers of mules are raised. Eleven horse stallions are maintained by the Army Remount department, and four pony stallions by the District board. Large flocks of sheep and goats are kept, but the breed is generally inferior, though the fat-tailed sheep is common in the hills. Good pack-camels are bred in many parts.

Of the total area cultivated in 1903-4, 56 square miles, or 3-5 per cent, were classed as irrigated. Of this area, 40 square miles were irrigated from wells, and 15 from canals. In addition, 17 square miles of the cultivated area are subject to inundation from the Indus and other streams. The District had 6,451 masonry wells in 1903-4, all worked with Persian wheels by bullocks, besides 808 lever wells, un- bricked wells, and water-lifts.

About 217 square miles of 'reserved' and 109 of unclassed forests are under the Forest department, and 32 square miles of forest under the Deputy-Commissioner. The most important are the forests of the Kala-Chitta and Khairi-Murat ranges, which support a scattered growth of olive, khair {Acacia Cafechu), and lesser shrubs. Other trees found are the s his ham (Dalbergia Sissoo) and dhreh, but on the whole the District is poorly wooded. In 1904-5 the revenue from forests under the Forest department was Rs. 26,700, and from those under the Deputy-Commissioner Rs. 2,000.

Veined marble is worked into pestles and ornamental objects at Garkawa in the Attock tahsil. Lignite is occasionally met with in the Khairi-Murat hills, and small quantities of anthracite in the Pindi Gheb tahsil. Coal is found in the Kala-Chitta range. There are five bore- holes near Fatahjang, from which petroleum is obtained for use in the Rawalpindi gas-works. Gold is- washed in small quantities from the sands of the Indus, Sohan, and other rivers. Limestone and gypsum occur largely.

Trade and Communication

There are no arts or manufactures of importance. Country cloth is woven throughout the District, and silk embroidery is produced in the Attock tahsil. Lungls are made at Kamra and Shams- abad. Lacquered legs for bedsteads are made in coJ^unicTtfons. a number of villages in the Pindi Gheb tahsil', and iron vessels, locks, stirrups, saddles, shoes, and articles of reed-matting are turned out in various villages. Soap is made in several places and snuff at Hazro. Boat-building is carried on at Makhad on the Indus.

The District possesses very little trade ; and the ordinary manufac- tures described above are exported only to a small extent. A good deal of tobacco and snuff, however, goes from Hazro, the chief centre of trade in the District. Food-grains and oilseeds are, in good seasons, the chief exports. Piece-goods, rice, salt, and hardware are the chief imports.

The main line of the North-Western Railway traverses the north of the District, crossing the Indus at Attock ; and the Khushalgarh branch, which leaves the main line at Golra in Rawalpindi District, runs through the middle of the District to Khushalgarh on the Indus. The Mari-Attock branch, leaving the main line at Campbellpore, traverses the west of the District, giving direct communication with Multan. The grand trunk road, which follows for the most part the main line of rail, the Hassan Abdal-Abbottabad road, and the Rawal- pindi-Khushalgarh road are the only important metalled routes. The unmetalled tracks are fit only for pack animals, and travelling is difficult. The total length of metalled roads is 45 miles, and of un- metalled roads 763 miles. All the metalled and 145 miles of the unmetalled roads are under the Public Works department, and the rest under the District board. There is a good deal of traffic on the Indus below Makhad. The Indus is crossed by the Attock bridge, with a subway for wheeled traffic, by a bridge of boats (now being replaced by a permanent bridge) at Khushalgarh, and by six ferries.


The District is divided into the four tahsils of Attock, Pindi Gheb, Fatahjang, and Talagang, each of which is under a tahsildar and a Naib-tahsidar. The Deputy-Commissioner holds Administration. executive charge of the district, aided by three Assistant or Extra Assistant Commissioners, one of whom is in charge of the Pindi Gheb subdivision, and another in charge of the District treasury.

The Deputy-Commissioner as District Magistrate is responsible for criminal justice. Civil judicial work is under a District Judge, and both officers are subordinate to the Divisional and Sessions Judge of the Rawalpindi Civil Division. There is one Munsif, and a Canton- ment Magistrate at Campbellpore. Crimes of violence against the person are rife, and in the Attock tahsil a few serious crimes against property are committed annually. In the other tahsils organized crime is uncommon ; but the bitter factions into which the whole District is divided lead to violent crime, while the same cause renders detection always difficult. No man will give evidence, if he can possibly avoid doing so, against another member of the clan, except in cases in which the clan is divided against itself.

The history of the land revenue of the District up to its constitution in 1904 will be found in the articles on Rawalpindi and Jhelum Dis- tricts. The Talagang and Attock tahsils were last assessed in 190 1-2 and 1 90 1-4 respectively, the demand being i-6 lakhs and 2 lakhs. The tahsils of Fatahjang and Pindi Gheb were last assessed with the Rawalpindi District in 1885, at 2-7 lakhs; but the assessment is now under revision, and the anticipated increase in the land revenue demand is Rs. 33,000. The demand for 1904-5, including cesses, was 6-4 lakhs. The collections of total [revenue and of land revenue alone in 1904-5 were Rs. 8,16,000 and Rs. 5,89,000 respectively.

The District contains two municipalities, Pindi Gheb and Hazro, and one ' notified area,' Attock. Outside these, local affairs are managed by a District board, whose income, mainly derived from a local rate, amounted in 1904-5 to Rs. 65,000. The expenditure was Rs. 41,000, of which education and medical relief formed the largest items.

The regular police force consists of 442 of all ranks, including 5 cantonment and 23 municipal police. The Superintendent usually has 3 inspectors under him. Village watchmen number 583. There are 1 1 police stations, 3 outposts, and 3 road-posts. A District jail is being built at Campbellpore.

The District stands twentieth among the twenty-eight Districts of the Province in respect of the literacy of its population. In 1901 the proportion of literate persons was 3-6 per cent. (6-4 males and 0-4 females). The number of pupils under instruction was 4,752 in 1880-1, and 7,268 in 1904-5. In the latter year the District contained 4 secondary and 46 primary (public) schools, and n advanced and 250 elementary (private) schools, with 219 girls in the public and 453 in the private schools. The expenditure on education was Rs. 12,000, the greater part of which was met from District funds.

The District possesses 7 dispensaries, at which 89,105 out-patients and 1,231 in-patients were treated in 1904, and 4,275 operations were performed. The expenditure was Rs. 9,000.

The number of successful vaccinations in 1904-5 was 14,345, repre- senting 31-1 per of the population. The Vaccination Act is not in force in this District.

[M. S. D Butler, Settlement Report of the Attock Tahsil (1905).]

Personal tools