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The city of Gujrat is situated about 120 km north of Lahore and 174 Kilometers from Islamabad. It is the 18th most populated city in Pakistan and is the capital of Gujrat District of Punjab province. Gujrat is also known as the place of King Porus of the past. It is bounded to the northeast by Azad Jammu and Kashmir, to the northwest by the Jhelum River, separating it from district Jhelum, to the east and southeast by the Chenab River, separating it from the districts of Gujranwala and Sialkot and to the west by Mandi Bahauddin District.
Gujrat is an ancient place, which was founded by Raja Bachhan Pal in 460 BC, according to General Cunningham, the British historian. Historical consensus is that it existed at the time of Alexander the Great, and that the Mong's Raja Porus put up a fierce challenge to Alexander's invasion at the bank of the Jehlum River.
The establishment of Gujrat City was realised by Moghul Emperor Akbar, King Jahangir in his memos records the following information on Gujrat; at the time when His Majesty Akbar went to Kashmir, a fort had been built on the bank of river Chenab. Having brought to this fort a body of Gujars who had passed their time in the neighbourhood, he established them here. As it had become the abode of Gujars, he made it a separate pargana, and gave it the name of Gujrat.
In 997 CE, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, took over the Ghaznavi dynasty empire established by his father, Sultan Sebuktegin. In 1005 he conquered the Shahis in Kabul and followed it by the conquests of Punjab region. The Delhi Sultanate and later Mughal Empire ruled the region. The Punjab region became predominantly Muslim due to missionary Sufi saints whose dargahs dot the landscape of Punjab region.
Gujrat became a part of the Muslim Sultanate of Delhi when the Persian noble Sultan Shahab-ud-Din Muhammad Ghauri conquered Punjab in 1185. Gujrat slowly developed as medieval town and many Muslim Sufi missionaries converted the local Gujar population to Islam. During the Mughal period, Mughal royalty frequently travelled through the district en route to Kashmir. When King Jahangir died while he was returning from Kashmir, the news of his death was suppressed to avoid any chaos in the empire. His abdominal organs were taken out and buried in Gujrat. To this day, an annual festival is held commemorating this event, commonly known as the Festival of Jahangir.
Shah Daula is a Sufi saint of the city and he met Sikh's sixth Guru Har Gobind (1595–1644) when he was passing through Gujrat. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the Sikh invaded and occupied Gujrat. The Muslims faced severe restrictions during the Sikh rule. Between 1765 and 1846 Gujrat was occupied by the Sikhs.
Two main battles between British and Sikh armies were fought in this district: the Battle of Chillianwala and the Battle of Gujrat. Only after winning the battle of Gujrat on 22 February 1849 did the British declare victory in Punjab.
After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while the Muslim refugees from India settled in the Gujrat district. Muslim refugees from East Punjab, started arriving and crossed the border into Pakistan; many were given land in Gujrat District to settle.
Because of its proximity with the rivers, the land is good for cultivation, therefore Gujrat is mainly an agriculture based economy with some small industries. Gujrat is also known for its clay and produces low-temperature pottery and ceramic goods, hukkas, or water pipe, artistic handicrafts, flower pots, changairian (made from the leaves of palm and date trees), cotton mates and woolen shawls. The city also produces fine furniture.
Over the last few decades, Gujrat has also attained a name in the export of electric fans. There are about 1,059 cottage level and small/medium/large scale industrial units operating in the district. Jalalpur Jattan is a large town of Gujrat, where several small and large textile companies have been established. There are many other factories engaged in manufacturing of electrical goods, electric motors and shoes.
Several schools and colleges are located in Gujrat, including the University of Gujrat, a prominent university of the region.
Sohni Mahiwal is a famous folk tale of the Punjab region. The heroine of the story, named Sohni (a Punjabi word meaning beautiful), came from the Gujrat region. She used to meet her lover, Mahinwal, by crossing the river Chenab sitting on a pitcher. The tale is still told to this day and is an essential part of Punjabi culture.
The anniversary of Kanwan-Wali Sarkar near Gujrat is celebrated with a fair in August every year. He is known as one of the greatest saints that ever lived. A famous miracle was when water in a well turned to milk for a time. The well is still there. Some locals attach significance to the fact that it often rains heavily around the time of the fair (monsoon). Wengi Wali Sarkar’s anniversary is on 5th January every year at village Haji Wala near Karianwala tehsil and district Gujrat. The shrine of Hazrat Shahdola (a famous saint in Punjab) is in Gujrat near Shahdola Choki. The anniversary of Hazrat Shahdola is celebrated in June every year.
There are many historical buildings and ruins in and around Gujrat. Gujrat's oldest mosque dates from the Mughal era, and resembles Lahore's Badshahi Mosque. The Grand Trunk Road, commonly abbreviated as G.T. Road, built by Emperor Sher Shah Suri, also passes through Gujrat. The road still exists today, along with its period stone wall. Historical buildings and ruins can be found in nearby towns throughout the area.
Gujrat has limited hotels and only a few can be booked online. The best way to visit Gujrat is to take excursion to Gujrat 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).