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    Photo Credit by: Shahzaib Saeed
    Soon Valley

    Soon Valley

    The Soon Valley is in the north west of Khushab District, Punjab, Pakistan. Its largest settlement is the town of Naushera. The valley extends from the village of Padhrar to Sakesar, the highest peak in the Salt Range.

    The valley is 35 miles (56 km) long and has an average width of 9 miles (14 km). It covers a 300-square-mile (780 km2) area. Soon Valley has much scenic beauty, with lakes, waterfalls, jungle, natural pools and ponds. The valley has been settled since ancient times, including by the Awan tribe, whose descendants still live in the valley.

    The peak of Mount Sakesar is at 5,010 feet (1,530 m) above sea level. It was once the summer headquarters of the Deputy Commissioners of three districts - Campbelpur (now Attock), Mianwali and Shahpur (now Sargodha). It is the only mountain in this part of the Punjab which receives snowfall in winter. In the late 1950s the Pakistan Air Force placed a radar station on Sarkesar to monitor airspace over north-eastern Pakistan. Also on the mountain is a television transmission center with which the Pakistan Television Corporation relays its transmissions to the surrounding area.

    Total villages:

    • Main villages: Naushera, Uchalli, Khura, Mardwal, Khabaki, Surraki, Dhaka, Anga, Dhadhar, Jabbah, Kalial, Sodhi Jai wali,Kuradhi,Siddique-abad (Kufri), Ugali, Subhral, Jahlar, Chitta,Sirhal, Sodhi Bala, Hard do Sodhi (Zeren), Shakar kot,Uchhala, Teeveen, Mustafabad (Bhuki), Ahmedabad (Khotaka), Mukrummi, Manawan, Jhuge wala, Kotli, Nato wali, Jaley wali,kalayji.
    • Distance from Islamabad: 170 km
    • Distance from Sargodha: 90 km
    • Distance from Lahore: 300 km
    • Lakes : Uchali, Khabbaki, Jahlar,
    • Shrines: Khanqah e Hameedia Makan Sharif Siddique Abbad(Kuffri),Sultan Haji Ahmad in Uchhala, Baba Shikh Akbar, Pir Baba Sakhi Muhammad Khushhaal in Dhadher, Baba Saavi beri Wala in Naushera, Gulshan-e-Taj-ul-Aoulia Koradhi Sharif as well as the ancestors of Sultan Bahu
    • Forts: Fort Akrand, Amb Shareef

    In 997 CE, Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, took over the Ghaznavid dynasty empire established by his father, Sultan Sebuktegin. In 1005 he conquered the Shahis in Kabul and followed it by conquests within the 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 the Punjab.

    The Janjua clan settled in the valley when Babur, the first Mughal emperor passed through on military campaigns, according to his memoirs, the Baburnama. The grave of Raja Tatar Khan Janjua is in Khutakka (Ahmadabad), the centre of his rule. The remnants of his fort 'Akrand' still stand. The Janjua were scattered after the attack of Hari Singh Bhangi in 1760 and their descendants settled in Kattha, Ratala Rajgaan, Jaswal, Dhak, Jauharabad and Shahpur.

    The Awans of the Soon Valley were also amongst those the British considered to be "martial race". The British recruited army heavily from Soon Valley for service in the colonial army, and as such, the Awans of this area also formed an important part of the British Indian Army, serving with distinction during World Wars I and II. Of all the Muslim groups recruited by the British, proportionally, the Awans produced the greatest number of recruits during the First and Second World Wars. Contemporary historians Professor Ian Talbot and Professor Tan Tai Yong have asserted that the Awans (amongst other tribes) are viewed as a martial race by not only the British, but neighbouring tribes as well. Awans occupy the highest ranks of the Pakistani Army. A village by the name of Manawan (formerly Man Awan - The heart of the Awans) is also among the notable historical villages of the valley.

    The Government of Punjab constructed the road from Nurewala to Naushehra in recognition of services rendered by the Awans of Soon Valley during the First World War. Sir W.M. Hailey, the Governor of Punjab formally opened the road on April 1, 1928 - as commemorated on plaques between Khushab and Sakesar as the road enters the hills.
    Many inhabitants of the valley descend from tribes of Arab origin (unverified information). Islamic culture and traditions are the norm. Practices include arranged marriages according to the Islamic traditions, where the wedding ceremony takes place at a mosque. The Nikah is attended by close family members, relatives, and friends of the bride and groom. Usually men and women are separated, either sitting in separate rooms or with a purdah (curtain) separating them.

    Luddi is a folk dance for celebratory occasions, when the music is often played on the dhol drum and shehnai oboe.

    Lake Uchhali is a picturesque salt water lake in the southern Salt Range overlooked by mount Sakaser, the highest mountain in the Salt Range. Its brackish water means that its waters are lifeless. Lake Khabikki is also a salt water lake in the southern Salt Range. It is one kilometer wide and two kilometres long. Khabikki is also the name of a neighbouring village. These lakes attract thousands of migratory birds each year including rare white-headed ducks (Oxyura leucocephala) from Central Asia.

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