Kharian is famous for two reasons: Having the world's second largest army base (cantonment) and for its overseas citizens who have roots in greater Kharian, and have invested in the area. Overseas Pakistanis, although critical of the government have themselves been criticized for not doing enough for their country. They invested heavily in private property rather than schools and hospitals.
Kharian is also home to a large medical facility, the Civil & Military Hospital (CMH) Kharian run by the Army. This hospital provides specialised indoor and outdoor medical care and houses a special burn centre for treatment of patients with severe burn related injuries.
This city, for political reasons, never developed any industry and its agriculture is slowing down too. Kharian, out of necessity, developed from a town to a city by itself and not owing its development to very influential native people.
Kharian city is in Gujrat District, Punjab province of Pakistan. The city lies almost midway between Lahore and Islamabad on the Grand Trunk Road (GT road). This is the road which connects the city all the way to India and Bangladesh, and Afghanistan on the other side, it was used during British Rule to transport goods across the subcontinent. The main railway line also passes through Kharian thus providing good transportation to the northern and southern parts of Pakistan. The closest major cities to Kharian are Jhelum and Gujrat.
History of Kharian is spread over centuries. Between River Jehlum and River Chenab, concealing centuries old historical mysteries, it is still vibrant. Although time after time, people of Kharian have been coerced to migrate from it several times it had been under destruction because of Wars, but again and again it came to life after destruction.
In 1568, Khari Gujar on behalf of Delhi, came here to establish this forest area in order to take care of animals. This was the time when there was no concept of law and order. Whoever made use of the land by either cultivating it or living on it was considered to be his. Therefore people of that time, to fulfil their needs developed this breath taking area.
In 1840, because of Bakrami famine, this town was uninhabited and this small town was flung into reticence. When Emperor Alamgir attacked Kabul, he built a rest house here and declared it his destination. So, this lost town once again came to existence.
The Gujar clan named this place after their leader Sami Khari as Kharian. Captain Elliot who was Deputy Commissioner of Gujrat from 1899 to 1901 wrote a book Chronicles of Gujrat in which he mentioned Kharian’s water reservoirs and mentioned a story that in 1542, when Emperor Humayun after getting defeated by Sher Shah Suri was fleeing to Sindh and incidentally came across Kharian and stayed there. When people of Kharian got to know that Humayun was a King, a farmer named Garnami, who was also known as Baba Gehra along with his friends gave pomegranates and butter as a gift to him and said, Your highness, I saw a dream that your house has been illuminated by a lamp, and I have predicted that you will soon hear a good news.
As soon as the farmer had departed, he got to know that in Umerkot (Sindh), his wife has borne him a son. Humayun was very happy. So he called for the farmer and told him that he will be bestowed with anything he wants. The farmer told the King about the deficiency of water and to do something about it. King granted him a parchment with his signatures on it that when he has the rein back in his hands, he will bore a well in Kharian. Later Humayun once again came to power but unfortunately he died after six months and Akbar was his successor. This was the same son whose birth was predicted by the farmer. As time lapsed, this small town witnessed progression and deterioration. Due to scarcity of water and poverty, continuous anarchy prevailed. It is said that scarcity of water was the primary reason for the last bloodshed known.
While traveling towards Kabul in 1594, Akbar the Great came across this very farmer who showed him the parchment that was gifted to him by Humayun. As soon as he perused the parchment, Akbar ordered the building of two water reservoirs instead of one. One small and the other one was big. The larger reservoir had hard water whereas the smaller one had sweet water. The larger reservoir was built with compact and concrete bricks. This was located in the western side of Kharian. Its condition started deteriorating during the reign of the Sikhs. Its renovation was undertaken by one of Gujrat’s reputable rulers Lehna Singh but unfortunately its deterioration could not be stopped and it finally collapsed (except for the round well which was filled with clay) in the middle of the current century. Finally in the last decade of this century, the reservoir was completely destroyed. Today there is no sign of it and instead the famous Alamgiri Mosque was built in its place.
After the flattening of the round well the administration provided space for the dwellers of the surrounding. This settlement was situated at a certain height (known as tibba) on the railway line. On that spot, a settlement has been named after Baba Latif Shah Ghazi today.
During the construction of water wells in 1013 hijri, the people of Kharian shifted near those reservoirs from Tibba. Old coins and crockery are found even today while fields are ploughed in Tibba which are preserved as ornaments in our homes today. Beautiful rocks were used for the construction of the smaller reservoir which is also known as the eastern reservoir. The preservation of this reservoir was also undertaken by the ministry of culture and heritage. Unfortunately, the ministry failed to live up to its commitment despite the fact that their board was engraved upon this reservoir. However the condition of this reservoir is still good and its edifice still stands today but the ministry seems adamant in its destruction by not paying heed to its renovation. The dates of the construction of this reservoir were engraved upon stone which was later kept in the museum.
About 30/40 years ago, when Kharian was just a small town, there were two classes of its inhabitants; land owners who also practiced agriculture (zamindars) and common people performing everyday professions i.e. cobblers, hairdressers and carpenters locally called kammees (derived from workers).
During 1960's the zamindars started migrating to Europe and Middle East in search of better living standards followed by kammees in 1970's, majority of who embarked to Europe and Arab countries. This resulted in narrowing a big economic gulf between these two classes and in abandoning kammees' professions thus leaving a skills vacuum. People from villages around Kharian at some extent, for a short term, filled this vacuum but the news of the available opportunities (also demand for goods and services of large army population in cantonment) spread far away areas of Pakistan and people not only started settling in Kharian but also brought their relatives and friends. Now a days its diverse population routes back to as far as northern areas of Pakistan who are active citizens of Kharian. The current population of the city reflects this strongly and its majority runs their own businesses or works for these.
Obviously increase in population resulted in increasing the area of the city. At one time there were small numbers of community areas called mohallas, which included Mohallah Banni, Mohallah GT Road, Main Bazaar, Mohallah Thathee, Mohallah Sattar Pura, Mohallah Nia Aara, Mohallah Parbat, Guliana Road and Butcher Khana. Nowadays surrounding small villages like Thhupala, Biddar, Pindi Haqeeqa and Dillo are part of Kharian.
Kharian is the richest tehsil of Pakistan. It was proved by various means including media and govt. department surveys. The majority of the males and also many families are settled in Middle East, Europe and America from decades. They are playing their tiny part in Pakistan's economy through contributing a lot of foreign exchange to Pakistan.
Kharian has limited hotels and only a few can be booked online. The best way to visit Gujrat is to take excursion to Kharian from Lahore or Islamabad.
Gujrat has a moderately warm climate in summer and chilly in winters. During the peak of summer, the daytime temperature shoots up to 45 °C (113 °F). During the winter, the minimum temperature may fall below 2 °C (36 °F). The average rainfall at Gujrat is 67 centimetres (26 in).