Murree, in the Punjaub, 1863

From photograph by Capt. Robert T. Hickey Jr.

The Illustrated London News

November 20, 1869

Murree is one of many hillstations set up by the British in the Himalayan foothills during the 19th century. The best known is Simla, summer capital of the Raj. Murree, founded in 1851, is a smaller version of the classic hillstation. An Anglican Church, consecrated in May 1857, defines the center of town. Alongside runs the main road, the Mall. Across the Church are the most important commercial establishments, the Post Office, General Merchants with European goods, tailors and a millinery or hat store. Beneath the Mall run bazaars of descending economic consequence. Until 1947, access to the Mall was restricted for non-Europeans.
Today, Murree is a thriving summer resort for the nearby capital of Pakistan, Islamabad. People from hundreds of miles to the south in Lahore, Multan and Karachi come to spend the summers here as well.
The hillstation was originally established at 7,000 feet for the British troops garrisoned on the Afghan frontier in Peshawar. In that hot and dusty cantonment, the mortality rate from cholera could approach twenty percent per year. Whole companies could be wiped out in weeks. In contrast, Murree must have been most attractive, as described in the Gazeteer of the Rawalpindi District, 1893-94:
"The sanitarium of Murree lies in north latitude 33 54' 30" and east longitude 73 26' 30", at an elevation of 7,517 feet above sea level, and contains a standing population of 1,768 inhabitants, which is, however, enormously increased during the season [May-November] by the influx of visitors and their attendant servants, and shopkeepers. It is the most accessible hillstation in the Punjab, being distant from Rawalpindi only a five hours' journey by tonga dak. Magnificent views are to be obtained in the spring and autumn of the snow crowned mountains of Kashmir; and gorgeous sunset and cloud effects seen daily during the rains [July-August]. Part of the station, especially the Kashmir end, are also well wooded and pretty."
Same view of Murree today.


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