Muzaffarabad the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, comprising of hilly area, located at the bank of Neelum and Jhelum rivers. It offers breath-taking views of the Tarai Mountains the foothills of Himalaya and also has the 5 star hotel pearl continental. Striking scenic beauty and pollution free atmosphere occupies every part of the city. However, the roads are not yet well-constructed. The name “Muzaffarabad” comes from the name of Sultan Muzaffar Khan, a former ruler of the Bomba Dynasty.
The culture of Muzaffarabad has many similarities to that of northern Punjabi’s culture. It has always been one of the important cities of Kashmir showcasing conflate of various cultures and languages.
People of Muzaffarabad are full of talent and are generally considered as friendly and cultured. The culture also enjoys diversity because people from other areas also transfer here in their jobs or for other purposes. However, different practices are followed here.
- Education; People are well educated and most of the citizens are aware of the importance of education. Highly percentage of both man and woman are educated in cities, although people from villages are less educated due to most of reasons like low income, poor facilities of transportation specially for ladies, less awareness of importance of education. Now Govt of AJK with the help of NGOs has taken this bright step to make people aware of education which returns the clear growth of statis in education especially in villages.
- Culturally: people are simple and their lifestyle is also simple they have their true norms in villages and on those they are bond to obey the traditions of their forefathers.
- Religion is deep rooted in this city. Most of the people found here are either sunnis or shias. People practice Islam and are very punctual in offering prayers. Mosques as well as darbaars are also found here. Other than this holy places of shias are also constructed in different areas of the city.
- Hospitality; They are bound together with each other and a tradition of get-togethers among the families (specially the relatives) is very common. Moreover, they are very kind hearted and hospitable. They are very welcoming towards guests and provide them with best of time. Obesity is very common in this city because they are very fond of eating plenty of food.
- Only one big and main market named “Madina Market” is found in the city which provides the people with all their necessities.
- Villages: most of the population of Muzaffarabad are living in villages so they have to travel long distances to come to city for jobs, education and other basic necessities.
Hindko and Kashmiri is the prominent language of this city. Other than Kashmiri people also speak urdu, Shina, Balti, Potohari and Pahari there.
Muzaffarabadians are famous for cooking a variety of food items. There is a trend of heavy intake of food which makes these people highly obese.
- Whole Meals; The famous cuisines among the people of this city are Gushtabay, Bakar-khani, red beans (Daal), dam aloo, Balti gosht, Yakhni, Daal Makhni, methi gosht, methi chawal, hareesa, baraista bat, palak paneer, Chicken Korma, kulcha and many more. Use of dry fruits is very common; especially in curries. Women like to cook a lot of food so they prefer making even the very necessary items like desi ghee, ketchup, achaar and many more themselves. Kashmiri Pulao is also very famous there.
- Sweet Dishes; Sweet dishes are considered a mandatory part of the meal. They are served at the end of the meal. Popular lip smacking sweet dishes are firni, kheer, Panjeeri, sviyaan and many more.
- Drinks; They are very fond of drinking tea. The most liked drink there is Kashmiri Tea (also known as Pink Tea) and Green Tea. The combination of Pink tea and Bakarkhani is very common for breakfast.
- Kulchas: A large biscuits type cookie called kulcha is very famous in muzaffarabad and even all over AJK
Both men and women wear very traditional dresses like Shalwar Kameez; however, the some women also wear Phairan (a traditional kashmiri dress) in addition to Shalwar kameez. The use of Kashmiri Shawls, to cover their heads, among women is very common in the city. Moreover, the use of Kashmiri embroidery on dresses is also very prominent practice noted among the people. Boys also wear pants and shirts.
The people of Muzaffarabad are very skilled and have expertise in a number of fields. There talent is popular all around the country and people visit Muzaffarabad to purchase these items from different cities of Pakistan. There are various famous things from this area;
- Hand woven carpets are one of them. People of Muzaffarabad are very good at making these carpets. Ghubba (bigger rugs) and namda (smaller rugs), embroidedwoolen chatai (rug), are made here.
- Manufacturing Kashmiri Shawls; either embroided or without embroidery is also a very famous art found here. They are mostly made up of very soft material and are very warm.
- Kashmiri Phairan which is also a traditional dress people wear in this area. These are long loose fitted shirts, either long or short, with or without Kashmiri embroidery, are produced by the talented people of this area.
- Kashmiri embroidery which may include different patterns of flowers, leaves, various shapes (triangles, circles, squares etc), and permutations made up of thick thread work which is very elegant are formulated here. These combinations are used mostly using light colored threads which enhances its softness and delicacy.
- Kangri is a pot which is made up of two parts. The outer part is an encasement of wicker whereas; the inner part is an earthen bowl shaped kondul which is to be filled with charcoal. This is actually used to warm up during winters. It may be placed under a blanket or the phairan etc.
- Other than this wood carving; these are produced from walnut wood and are long lasting and reliable (hard) wood which is used in making furniture.
- Kashikari; which is mosaic work that can be decorative, functional or both.
Muzaffarabad enjoys all four seasons but it is comparatively colder in summers and winters as compared to Islamabad.
Tourism in Muzaffarabad:
Being the capital city Muzaffarabad is not only the hub of political and cultural activities but it also serves as a base camp for the tourist as well.
Muzaffarabad being the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir has the beauty worth watching. Occupied in the middle of mountains, this attractive city could attract the tourists from different countries. But unfortunately its tourism is not yet well established and needs to be promoted.
Famous places to visit:
Personalities from MZD
- Mr. Raja Haider Khan a famous Politician one of ex President of MC AJK Father of Currently PM AJK Raja Farooq Haider Khan
- Mrs. Begam Raja Haider Khan
- Mr. Ali Akbar Awan Principal Govt school
- Mr. Raja Saleem Pioneer of Private sector schools system
- Mr. Anjum Nisar Mir (Famous Lawyer)
- Mr. Zahid Amin Kashif(Social worker, politician)
- Mr. General (R) Mohsin Kamal Ex Core Commander Rawalpindi
- Mr. Ifitkahr Gilani (Politician)
- Mr. Bazil Hussain Naqvi (Politician)
- Mr. Justice (R) Ghulam Mustfa Mughal
11. Mr. Saludin Shah (Social worker, CEO Moon Creations)
Festivals and Celebrations
Different festivals are celebrated locally on different occasions, including Fairs and local festivals, wedding ceremonies are full of entertainment with different customs of Mehndi, Mayu, drinking of Milk, dopta floating, man gari, hiding of shoes, barat, valeema etc.
In villages somewhere a local dances are also performed with trumpets and flutes, a local festival Gatga also played in wedding occasions.