Town & Places - Dir

 

 

 

The town of Dir, which gives its name to the Agency, lies on a stream and forms an important link between the former States of Swat and Chitral. It is linked to Chitral through the Lowari Pass located in the Hindu Raj Range which forms a boundary between the two districts. This picturesque and dangerous Pass rises breathlessly steep on the Chitral side.

The Khan of Dir was the traditional overlord of the country and exacted allegiance from the chieftains. The strategic importance of Dir became apparent during the colonial era when the British pushed northwards to bring the mountain tribes and states under their control, if not rule. Like the corps of scouts raised in Chitral, in Dir a levy corps was organlsed to look after the security of communications, provide escorts for mail and maintain law and order on the Chakdarra-Chitral Road.The Mughals had built a fort on the Swat River at Chakdarra, in 1586. In 1895 the British occu¬pied it, as it was strategically placed on the Dir-Peshawar road, to guard the entry into the Swat and Dir valleys. The British expanded the fortifications to station the troops required for campaigns up-country. At present it houses a contingent of the Pakistan army. To the west on a hill stands Churchill's Picket. It commemorates the youthful Winston, later Prime Minister of Britain. His eye-witness despatches on the 1879 Malakand Campaign as a frontline war correspondent, earned him fame and fortune and made him a house hold name back home. From the vantage point of this crumbling structure one can still survey the panorama of three districts, the lazy progress of the river and the fields where the armed clashes took place. In 1895 the force sent for the relief of Chitral crossed the river at Chakdarra that became an important outpost throughout the campaign. In July 1897 Mulla Mastan besieged this outpost. The Chakdarra museum,situated in the proximity of the fort, has a fine collection of Gandhara sculptures and reliefs excavated in the surrounding areas.

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