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Rawalpindi Cantonment

Rawalpindi is the headquarters of the Pakistani Army and Air Force. Rawalpindi is a city in the Potwar Plateau near Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad, in the province of Punjab. It is the military headquarters of the Pakistan Armed Forces and also served as the nation's capital while Islamabad was being constructed in the 1960s.

The city of Rawalpindi had a turbulent development, its strategic location attracting the attention of successive invading forces. Protected as a Sikh garrison town and astride the Grand Trunk Rd, it eventually grew in importance as a trading centre, before coming to the attention of the British, who seized the city from the Sikhs in 1849.

Following the British conquest of the Sikhs and their occupation of Rawalpindi in 1849, the city became a permanent garrison of the British army in 1851. Owing to the British expeditions to further north and on to Afghanistan, Rawalpindi [aka RWP] soon became a military cantonment. In 1851 the British Army established their General Headquarters in the south of the city. On the introduction of British rule, Rawalpindi became the site of a cantonment, and shortly afterwards the headquarters of a Division. The municipality was created in 1867. When Lord Dalhousie made Rawalpindi his headquarters of the then Northern Command, a need was felt to connect it with the rail link, hence Rawalpindi was connected with Lahore with rail link on 1 January 1886.

In the 1880s a railway line to Rawalpindi was laid, and train service was inaugurated on January 1, 1886. The need for having a railway link arose after Lord Dalhousie made Rawalpindi the headquarters of the Northern Command and Rawalpindi became the largest British military garrison in British India.Its connexion with the main railway system by the extension of the North-Western Railway to Peshawar immensely developed both its size and commercial importance.

The income and expenditure during the ten years ending 1902-3 averaged 2-1 lakhs. In 1903-4 the income and expenditure were 1-8 lakhs and 2-1 lakhs respectively. The chief item of income was octroi (1-6 lakhs) ; and the expenditure included administration (Rs. 35,000), conservancy (RS. 27,000), hospitals and dispensaries (Rs. 25,000), public works (Rs. 9,000), and public safety (Rs. 17,000).

The cantonment, with a population in 1901 of 40,611, was the most important in India. It contained one battery of horse and one of field artillery, one mountain battery, one company of garrison artillery, and one ammunition column of field artillery; one regiment of British and one of Native cavalry; two of British and two of Native infantry; and two companies of sappers and miners, with a balloon section. It was the winter headquarters of the Northern Command, and of the Rawalpindi military division. An arsenal was established here in 1883.

Rawalpindi remained a military cantonment, and even after the partition of British India, Pakistan retained its General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army in the same buildings. Upon creation of Pakistan, Rawalpindi remained the GHQ of Pakistan and continues to remain so. In 1951, Rawalpindi was witness to the murder of first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, who was murdered by one Said Akbar on 16 October minutes after the Prime Minister rose to address a public gathering at what is now called Liaquat Bagh.

Saddar, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, is the main commercial hub of Rawalpindi Cantonment. It is located between the Mall road and the main Railway Station. Tourist Attractions in Rawalpindi include the bazaars. These are the best way to see the city. Meander through the bazaars, but you should familiarize yourself with the geography before setting out. Rawalpindi Attractions like the city markets comprise two main roads: the Grand Trunk Road running east to west is known as The Mall when it crosses the cantonment; the Murree Road to the north of The Mall, crosses the railway tracks and heads to the east end on its way to Islamabad. The Raja Bazaar in the old city and Saddar Bazaar are the important destinations. Saddar Bazar is the most versatile, modern and easily approachable market place of Rawalpindi. Its connected to Mall Road on one side, City to the other, and Railway station on the 3rd side. Saddar Bazar has certain good looking plazas, banks, fun houses for children and has a few recreational parks for children and elderly. Gakkahr Plaza is one of the most renowned shopping markets in Saddar Rawalpindi. South of Saddar, the Cantonment has midrange and top-end hotels and traces remaining from the colonial years.

For those with a penchant for the adrenaline-pumping hullabaloo that a typical South Asian metropolis delivers, all that awaits in Rawalpindi - affectionately dubbed 'Pindi'. Rawalpindi has two distant portions; the cantonment and the old city. The cantonment reminds the British due to old barracks, which are now fast dwindling and new building taking their place, the churches and cemeteries, Rawalpindi Club, now renamed as Artillery Officers' Mess with an adjacent small cricket ground. The Mall is the main artery of the Grand trunk Road which connects Lahore with Peshawar, running through the cantonment area. The colonial-style Flashman Hotel still survives on the main Mall, which has the offices of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) and is a haven for the tourists looking for rather less expensive stay. On the Mall are two British era cinema halls, now in repair wanting state, but the shows still go on. Running parallel to the Mall, is the main shopping centre of the cantonment, typically called the Sadder as in any cantonment of Pakistan and India. Sadder is a thriving business and trade centre of Rawalpindi with a number of hotels, banks, airlines and travel agents, beside being a busy shopping centre. For tourists, handicraft shops on the Mall and Kashmir Road are often the first choice.

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