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The word Kohistan literally means land of mountains (koh’i mountain, ‘stan’ land)’ and is one of the most isolated and the most deprived district not only in Hazara Division but in the entire North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Swat is situated to its west, Chilas, Darial and Tangir on the northern side and Naran, Kaghan and Alai valley surround Kohistan from the southern and eastern sides.  Dassu is the divisional headquarter, whereas Pattan, Palas and Dassu are the three Tehsils of Kohistan District. It is located in the heart of the Himalayas from 34.40 to 30.35 degrees altitude and from 75.30 to 50.72 degrees longitude. The total area of the District is 7,492 Km2.

 The River Indus flows through Kohistan and divides it socially and culturally. Kohistan is one of the least developed districts in the country and its national significance is the Karakurum Highway. This road is the main source of trade, transportation and link between Pakistan and China. The ancient Silk Road has long been a thoroughfare for the tourists, traders and conquerors from Central Asia and in the past, business delegations would use this passage to travel up to Europe and the Little Asia (Kochak). 

Kohistan is where the famous Hindukush, Karakuram and Himalayan mountain systems meet and serve as a natural boundary for environmental regions in the chains of Himalayan, Karakurum and Hindukush mountains. This uniqueness of the mountains system also results in rich flora and fauna and therefore gives home to unique species such as the Western Tragopan pheasant and the Snow Leopard.


Kohistan is divided into to east and west banks by the River Indus. Its western bank, up until 1976 was called Swat Kohistan and the eastern part known as Yaghistan (the rebellious land) and Hazara Kohistan. On the western bank, Bankhar, Duber, Jijal, Pattan, Keyal, Seo, Razqa, Kandia and Gabral are located while on the eastern bank are situated the valleys of Darra Madkhel, Batera, Kolai, Palas, Jalkot, Sumar, Sazin, Shatyal and Harban. 


History provides evidence that civilization in Kohistan matured quite early as compared to adjacent areas were people were worshipping fire, plants and other objects. Islam is the most recent religion dating back only 350 years.

The geographic location, lush green valleys adorned with rich flora and fauna were the biggest attractions for the external invaders. It was also the only passage between China and South East Asia the area remained under constant attacks by Tibetans, Sikhs, Hindus. This constant invasion resulted in one of the most unique society and culture in the region. “The Rebellion Culture” is the main characteristic of Kohistan and the people of Kohistan are still following the same culture.