History Of Muree

Instant Information on Muree


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Murree, 2413 metres above sea level and self styled as 'Queen of the Hills', owes its origins to a morganatic connection with Rawalpindi. Commanding, as one guide book put it, 'magnificent views over forest-clad hills into deep valleys, studded with villages and cultivated fields, with the snow-covered peaks of Kashmir in the background', it stood naturally eligible to be selected as a recuperative health resort and as an escape from the heat of the Punjab plains. A sanatorium for British soldiers was made there in 1850 and subsequently barracks were built for them in 1853. A school known as the Lawrence Asylum (now Lawrence College, Ghora Gali)was also opened for their children. Murree served as the summer capital for the Punjab Government until 1876 when it was forced to defer to Simla.
Eastwick's guidebook of 1883 recommended that the journey from Rawalpindi to Murree, a distance of 33 miles, should be done in eight stages. It suggested that 'ladies would prefer to ascend in a duli, the cost of which including return, is Rs. 15; in this way the journey occupies 12 hours. The Government hill cart costs about 10 rs. for each person, and with express 16 rs.' He cautioned that tigers and panthers could still be found in the Murree hills.

View of Muree Hills, 1863
Engraving from a phptograph by Capt. Robert T.
Hickey, published in The Illustrated London News, 31
October 1863.
Almost certainly the earliest view of Murree, seen from the Observatory hill, this illustration was derived from a photograph taken by Capt. Robert Hickey, a British officer who might have visited Murree on summer or sick leave in the early 1860s..
Already, less than fifteen years after it had been selected for development, the popularity of Murree
- refreshingly cool at 7500 feet above sea level - had become apparent from the number of houses and cottages which dotted its forested slopes. The Holy Trinity church, visible in the top right corner of the picture, begun in 1857 and completed ten years later, had already been consecrated and was in use by the time of this illustration.

A view of Muree, 1864

By the time this photograph was taken, the identity of Murree recognisable as it appears today had emerged.
The photographer was Samuel Bourne, originally
a bank clerk from Nottingham, who came to India at
the age of twenty-nine in 1863 and joined the photographer Charles Shepherd in business at Simla. In
1864 Bourne travelled to Lahore and continued up
to Murree.
Bourne subsequently became a partner to form the famous firm of photographers Bourne and Shepherd which had offices at Bombay, Calcutta and Simla. Bourne himself returned to England in 1870, leaving the firm to continue as one of the leading commercial photographers.

A view of the bazaar, Muree, 1869
The Lawrence Assylum, 1863