Murree is a mountain resort town, located in the Galyat region of the Pir Panjal Range, within the Rawalpindi District. It forms the outskirts of the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area, and is about 30 km northeast of Islamabad. Murree was first identified as a potential hill station by Major James Abbott (Indian Army officer) in 1847 and the town's early development was started in 1851 by President of the Punjab Administrative Board, Sir Henry Lawrence.
It was originally established as a sanatorium for British troops garrisoned on the Afghan frontier. The permanent town of Murree was constructed in 1853. The church was sanctified in May 1857, and the main road, Jinnah Road, originally known as Mall Road and still commonly referred to as 'The Mall', was built. The most significant commercial establishments, the Post Office, general merchants with European goods, tailors and a millinery, were established opposite the church.
In the summer of 1857, a rebellion against the British broke out. The local tribes of Murree and Hazara, including the Dhund Abbasis and others, attacked the depleted British Army garrison in Murree. However, the tribes were ultimately overcome by the British and capitulated. From 1873 to 1875, Murree was the summer headquarters of the Punjab local government, after 1876 the headquarters were moved to Shimla.
Murree became a popular tourist station for British within the British India, several prominent Englishmen were born here including Bruce Bairnsfather, Francis Younghusband and Reginald Dyer. Murree was the summer headquarters of the colonial Punjab Government until 1876 when it was moved to Shimla. During colonial era access to commercial establishments was restricted for non-Europeans including the Lawrence College. Until 1947, access to Mall Road was restricted for natives (non-Europeans).
The railway connection with Lahore, the capital of the Punjab Province, via Rawalpindi, made Murree a popular resort for Punjab officials, and the villas and other houses erected for the accommodation of English families gave it a European aspect. The houses crowned the summit and sides of an irregular ridge, the neighbouring hills were covered during the summer with encampments of British troops, while the station itself was filled with European visitors from the plains and travellers to Kashmir. It was connected with Rawalpindi by a service tangas.
The sanatorium of Murree lies at an elevation of 7,517 feet (2,291 m) above sea level, and contained a standing population of 1,768 inhabitants, which was, however, enormously increased during the months of May to November by the influx of visitors and their attendant servants and shopkeepers. It is the most accessible hill station in the Punjab. 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 rainy season of July and August. Part of the station, especially the Kashmir end, are also well wooded and pretty.
Since the Independence of Pakistan in 1947, Murree has retained its position as a popular hill station, noted for its pleasant summer. Many tourists visit the town from the Islamabad-Rawalpindi area. The town also serves as a transit point for tourist's visiting Azad Kashmir and Abbottabad. The town is noted for its Tudorbethan and neo-gothic architecture. The Government of Pakistan owns a summer retreat in Murree, where foreign dignitaries including heads of state often visit.
Murree has an average altitude of 2,291 metres (7,516 ft) and features a subtropical highland climate. It is situated in the outer Himalayas, retaining high altitude. This type of area has cold, snowy winters, relatively cool summers with drastically escalated rain, in relation with lower altitudes, and frequent fog. Murree receives around 62 inches of snow per year.