Poonch, Jammu And Kashmir: Poonch, also known as ‘Punch’ is a Municipal Committee Town and District Headquarters of Poonch District in Jammu & Kashmir State of India. Positioned at 33°46′N 74°06′E33.77°N 74.1°E coordinates, Poonch has an average elevation of 3220 feet above sea level.
Known as ‘Mini Kashmir’, the Poonch Valley is separated from the Kashmir Valley by the Pir Panjal Range of Mountains and there are two routes connecting the both. One route is via Jammu and the other is the Mughal Road which connects Bufiaz in Poonch to Shopian in Kashmir directly.
Poonch is the smallest and remotest District of the State bounded by the Actual Line of Control (LOC) on three sides, surrounded by Kashmir in the northeast and Rajouri District in the South. In 1948, the Poonch District was divided into two, during the war between India and Pakistan. The current Poonch District in India is divided into 4 Tehsils of which, Poonch Town is the Headquarters.
The Poonch topography comprises of hills, mountains, valleys and green meadows which makes the area very scenic – much like Kashmir.
Before the 1947 partition of British India, the Poonch District comprised of four tehsils, namely Bagh, Sadhnuti, Mendhar and Haveli. After 1947, two and a half tehsils went under the illegal occupation of Pakistan while Tehsil Mendhar and half of Tehsil Haveli continued being a part of the country. From 1947 to 1967 district Poonch was named as Rajouri-Poonch district. In 1967, Rajouri- Poonch district was again bifurcated into two parts namely, Rajouri and Poonch districts.
The 6th Century Chinese Traveler recorded that Poonch was famous for graphics, fine tea (‘Musloom’) and good horses.
Poonch and its surrounding areas are economically backward with the industrial environment totally neglected because of the closeness to the actual line of control. Commercial activity is almost non-existence as the locals have small pieces of land for cultivation. The general population has limited purchasing power with most of them commuting to other places within the state to earn their living to withstand the abnormalities of consumer market.
The people of Poonch have different faiths, caste and creed. Besides all their limitations and tribulations they do live peacefully and in harmony in the district. Most of the people speak Pahari except Gujjars and Bakerwals who speak Gojri.