Rawalpindi is a city in the Pothwar Plateau, which encompasses Takshashila (orTaxila) as well - the ancient most centre of learning in the world. The city has seen both glory and destruction in its long and chequered history.
Rawalpindi derives its name from RawalJogis while, according to another myth, Rawal is still a title of respect among the Rajputs and the name connotes ‘city of the Rawals.’ The city evolved, it is said, when Milkha Singh Tehpuria arrived here in 1763 and built the PuranaQila – a citadel to guard the city. The city was plundered, defaced and ruined time and again only to spring from its ashes to become the capital of powerful dynasties such as the Janjuas, the Gakhars and finally the Sikhs, commanded by Sahib Singh Bhangi. Strategically located between the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Rawalpindi became the largest military garrison in British India, as the headquarters of the Northern Command of the colonial army in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The North Western Railways built their headquarters in the city, circa 1867. It is now the home of Pakistan Army with its General Headquarters in the Rawalpindi city.
Popularly known as the twin city of Pakistan's federal capital, Islamabad, Rawalpindi has had the distinction of being the national capital for ten years. Its population increased from 180,000 in 1947 to 4.5 million in a span of decades. Murree Road (or Reza Shah Pehlavi Road) runs through the city like a spine, joining the British Cantonment and Saddar via the Old City to the newer settlements. Along the banks of NullahLeh (near Gawalmandi) is the site of the first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan’s assassination in 1951. The ground, formerly known as Company Bagh, was renamed LiaqatBagh, soon after. In 2007, history repeated itself when the former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated approximately at the same site. Today this historic site is home to the National College of Arts, which prides itself in being the city’s pioneer educational venture devoted to the production and promotion of visual arts.