JHELUM, or JEHLAM, a town and district of British India, in the Rawalpindi division of the Punjab. The town is situated on the right bank of the river Jhelum, here crossed by a bridge of the North-Western railway, 103 m. N. of Lahore. Pop. (1901), 1 4,95 1. It is a modern town with river and railway trade (principally in timber from Kashmir), boat-building and cantonments for a cavalry and four infantry regiments.
The District Of Jhelum stretches from the river Jhelum almost to the Indus. Area, 2813 sq. m. Pop. (1901), 501,424, showing a decrease of 2% in the decade. Salt is quarried at the Mayo mine in the Salt Range. There are two coal-mines, the only ones worked in the province, from which the North-Western railway obtains part of its supply of coal. The chief centre of the salt trade is Pind Dadan Khan (pop. 13,770). The district is crossed by the main line of the North-Western railway, and also traversed along the south by a branch line. The river Jhelum is navigable throughout the district, which forms the south-eastern portion of a rugged Himalayan spur, extending between the Indus and Jhelum to the borders of the Sind Sagar Doab. Its scenery is very picturesque, although not of so wild a character as the mountain region of Rawalpindi to the north, and is lighted up in places by smiling patches of cultivated valley. The backbone of the district is formed by the Salt Range, a treble line of parallel hills running in three long forks from east to west throughout its whole breadth. The range rises in bold precipices, broken by gorges, clothed with brushwood and traversed by streams which are at first pure, but soon become impregnated with the saline matter over which they pass. Between the line of hills lies a picturesque table-land, in which the beautiful little lake of Kallar Kahar nestles amongst the minor ridges. North of the Salt Range, the country extends upwards in an elevated plateau, diversified by countless ravines and fissures, until it loses itself in tangled masses of Rawalpindi mountains. In this rugged tract cultivation is rare and difficult, the soil being choked with saline matter. At the foot of the Salt Range, however, a small strip of level soil lies along the banks of the Jhelum, and is thickly dotted with prosperous villages. The drainage of the district is determined by a low central watershed running north and south at right angles to the Salt Range. The waters of the western portion find their way into the Sohan, and finally into the Indus; those of the opposite slope collect themselves into small torrents, and empty themselves into the Jhelum.
The history of the district dates back to the semi-mythical period of the Mahabharata. Hindu tradition represents the Salt Range as the refuge of the five Pandava brethren during the period of their exile, and every salient point in its scenery is connected with some legend of the national heroes. Modern research has fixed the site of the conflict between Alexander and Porus as within Jhelum district, although the exact point at which Alexander effected the passage of the Jhelum (or Hydaspes) is disputed. After this event, we have little information with regard to the condition of the district until the Mahommedan conquest brought back literature and history to Upper India. The Janjuahs and Jats, who now hold the Salt Range and its northern plateau respectively, appear to have been the earliest inhabitants. The Ghakkars seem to represent an early wave of conquest from the east, and they still inhabit the whole eastern slope of the district; while the Awans, who now cluster in the western plain, are apparently later invaders from the opposite quarter. The Ghakkars were the dominant race at the period of the first Mahommedan incursions, and long continued to retain their independence. During the flourishing period of the Mogul dynasty, the Ghakkar chieftains were prosperous and loyal vassals of the house of Baber; but after the collapse of the Delhi Empire Jhelum fell, like its neighbours, under the sway of the Sikhs. In 1765 Gujar Singh defeated the last independent Ghakkar prince, and reduced the wild mountaineers to subjection. His son succeeded to his dominions, until 1810, when he fell before the irresistible power of Ranjit Singh. In 1849 the district passed, with the rest of the Sikh territories, into the hands of the British.
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