Mansehra is located between 34º – 12′ and 35º – 50′ and 47º – 07′ cast longitudes. It is bounded in the North by Kohistan and Diamir districts, in the east by Muzaffarabad district of Azad Jamu and Kashmir, in the south by Abbottabad district, and in the west by Swat district.
The leading distinctive features of Mansehra are its mountain ranges, the plains, the valleys and the lakes. The area has been blessed with the rich and harmonious combination of tall and stately fine trees, high mountains, plains, beautiful valleys and lakes which make it a heaven of peace.
The mountain ranges which enter Mansehra district from Kashmir are the offshoots of the great Himalayan System. In Kaghan valley the mountain system is the highest of the area including the Babusar Top. This range flanks the right bank of the Kunhar, contains a peak (Malika-e-Parbat) of over 17,000 feet, the highest in the district. On the mountains the grasslands are also found where Gujars and other nomads migrate during summer for grazing their sheep, goats and other animals.
On the northern side there are mountains which are the extension of the same mountain system as that of Kaghan mountains. This range diverges from the eastern side at Musa-ka-Masalla a Peak (13, 378 feet) which skirt the northern end of the Bhogarmang and Konsh Valleys, and sends down a spur to divide the two. Here also like Kaghan thick forests are found especially on the higher slopes. Due to extensive exploitation only in unapproachable areas the thick forests are found.
In the west of the Siran valley the mountain ranges of Richari and Tanglai run towards the Chuttar Plain. This plain is surrounded by the high mountains of Hilkot. The Batagram valley totally consists of mountains and hills. Towards the west there is Black Mountain range and on the north the mountains of Allai are also important because of thick forests and grasslands on the higher slopes and like the Kaghan valley the Gujars and other nomads migrate to this area which is called Malian in the local dialect. On the south of Chuttar and Batagram is the Agror valley separated by the Tanglai mountain from Pakhli through a gap which is called Sosal Galli. From Agror southward are the Tanglai mountain, Bhingra (8,500 feet) being the highest.
Towards the west from Oghi the important Black Mountain range runs northwards. This area is termed as the tribal area and notorious for the outlaws and criminals. The mountains are generally covered with forests only on the higher places. From Mansehra town’s westward the area is covered with low lying hills, the Bareri hill being prominent of them.
Some plains of Mansehra worth mentioning are Pakhli, Chuttar, Agror and Mangal.
Pakhli tract is 3,000 feet above the sea level, 11 mile from north to south and ten mile from east to west. It is the most fertile and intensively cultivated plain, especially on the western side and is irrigated by bourns and nallas and the Siran river. The Chuttar plain lies on the north of the Pakhli plain and is 5,500 feet above the sea level, smaller in size than the former. The Agror tract is also popular in the area where Rice, Barley, Wheat, Maize and other crops are cultivated.
There are many valleys in Mansehra among which the Kaghan valley, Konsh valley, Agror valley, Bhogarmang valley and Pakhal valley are most popular. These large valleys have taken together, produced holiday resorts such as the Kaghan valley.
This particularly earned the reputation of having the most enchanting tourists resorts of Pakistan. Agror is a small valley lying at the foot of Black Mountain and is separated from Pakhli by the ridge of Tanglai. Konsh and Bhogarmang are also famous valleys.
Siran and Kunhar are well known rivers of the district. The Siran issues from Panjool and flows through the western plain of Pakhli.
Two canals have been taken out from the Siran river, the upper Siran canal at Dharial and lower Siran canal at Shinkiari. From Pakhli the Siran runs into the Tanawal hills and joins the Indus at Tarbela in the north west. Its total course is between 70 to 80 miles, and it irrigates 6,273 acres of land.
the Kunhar bursts out the from the Lulusar at the head of Kaghan valley and after a turbulent course of 110 miles falls in the river Jhelum at Pattan. Since the land upon its bank is little level therefore, its water is not used for irrigation purposes. Some other notable bourn and nallas which flow in district Mansehra are Pootkatha (Mansehra), Nadi Unhar (Shergarh), Butkus (joins the Siran near Icharian), Ichar and a small Siran stream that flows in Batagram and joins the river Indus near Thakot.
There are three beautiful lakes in Mansehra district. These are encircled by snow clad peaks of the mountain range in the Kaghan valley. The names of there lakes are Lulusar, Dudipatsar and Saiful Maluk Sar. The former two lie near Babusar top while the latter one near Naran.
The word “sar” is used with the name of each lake meaning lake. In the summer when the water of these lakes reflects like a mirror a large number of visitors from different areas of the country come to watch the enchanting views of these lakes. With Saiful Maluk Sar a legend of mythical fairy Badri Jamal and Prince Saiful Maluk is associated while Lulu Sar is the Reminiscent of those 55 participants of 1857 war of independence who had been arrested near Lulu Sar.
The flora of Mansehra is a very interesting study. Due to the diversity of local topography and climate, particularly of rainfall, the flora varies from place to place. Tree species are well represented by the deciduous and evergreen types.
The commonest broad leaved trees are walnut, asanthus, traikun, eucalyptus, acacia, chestnut, bird-cherry, yew, barmi, peshor wild olive, ash, plane tree, alder, Persian lilac, elm mulberry, and many species of willow and poplar Birch and occasionally juniper are found in the higher parts. Among the conifers there are pine, deodar, blue pine, spruce and sliver fir. The best known forests of pine, in Mansehra, are the forest of Batrasi, Jaba, Dadar and Paraziarat. Deodar and blue pine grow in stony slopes like fir and spruce.
The general vegetation is of the shrub type which include the shrubs or medium size trees. The common shrubs and herbs of the area are sanatha, grund, phulah, wild indigo, valerian, peony, sorrel. timar, phitni, hawthorn, oleaster, wayfaring, barberry, bamble, kamila and others. In the upper area as the snow milts by the approach of the spring followed by summer, the whole area gives the appearance of a vast flower bed, dominated by the number of annual and perennial herbs.
Apple, apricot, plum, fig pear, wild pear, mango, orange, damson, lichi, and persimmon are worth mentioning fruit trees of the area. Sunflower, rose, jasmine, jasmine-zambak, narcissus, tulip, lily, dog violet, brush flax, iris and musk-rose are included in the flora of Mansehra.
Mansehra district sprawling over an area of 5,957 sq.km. had been traditionally the home of variety and plenty from faunistic point of view. The expansion in agricultural activities has affected the natural habitats of the area.
The fresh water fauna is directly or indirectly dependent on the local rainfall, natural springs, and mostly the Kunhar and Siran rivers. The Kunhar river abounds in trout fish, a hot favourite for amateur fishing zeal. A trout fish hatchery has been established at Shinu (Kaghan) to supplement the fish numbers. China corp, gold fish, mullah, chukar and conge-ed are found in the Siran. For the former two a hatchery has been established in Ichrian while the latter are commonly found in the rivers and nallas
Reptiles like the lizards and snakes are the master creepers and runners among the terrestrial fauna. In avian fauna re included several species of herons, teals, doves, cuckoos, bee caters, wood packers, larks, shrikes, bulbuls, finches and wagtails are widely dispersed in gardens, cultivated fields, streams and hill slopes. Swallows, parrots, mainas, pigeon, sparrows, hoopoe, kingfishers and crows are also found, while western horned tragopan, imperial monal pheasant, and kokla pheasant are found only in hilly areas, whereas back and gray partridges as well as quails are common. The birds of prey are shikra, sparrow hawk, owl and several species of vulture.
Mansehra still has varied mammalian fauna despite the pact that the mammals had the hardest time directly or indirectly through man’s persecution. The rhesus monkeys and the common lungur are dwelling in large numbers. Among the carnivores lion and cheetah became extinct while the snow leopard and leopard are endangered species. The snow leopard moves up and down the mountains with its favourite prey like markhor. The other animals found in Mansehra are wolf, red fox, black and brown bears, jackal, leopard cat, Himalayan lynx, mongoose, musk deer, grey foral and ibex. The pet animals are camel, buffalo, horse, donkey, sheep and goat.
The natural scenery and climate of Mansehra has a great attraction for the tourists. Low and bare hills that fringe the level tracts have attraction of their own, Panoramic view of widespread plain and invigorating fresh air in all seasons and the higher hill with pine covered slopes, the snow capped peaks of Kaghan, Bhogarmang, Koush, Allai and the regions beyond the mountains are torrents and water-falls. The peaceful lakes of Kaghan, the villages perched on almost inaccessible heights and the green valleys are appealing to the lovers of beauty.
These lovers of beauty rejoice when the walk on mountain erects and see the mists sweeping up[. They can listen to the roars of water from behind the great grey curtain, and look at the torrent at their feet tumbling over the rocks down gully and glen. The stillness of the dawn, of noon and of evening as well as the winds pure and austere are really most enchanting for the lovers of beauty.
The climate of the district is warm in summer and cold in winter. The northern part where there are high mountain is cold in summer due to snow clad mountains and is very cold in winter. The total annual rainfall of the district according to 1972 census report is 72 inches. Temperature ranges from 2ºC to 36ºC in the district.
There are a number of important and historical place in Mansehra. Kaghan is famous for its pleasant climate in summer when tourists come to watch its beautiful views.
Then comes Balakot which has a great significance in the history of Hazara with special reference of Syed Ahmad Shaheed’s movement. The other wellknown villages and towns are Mansehra, Baffa, Shinkiari, Dhodial, Battal, Bhogarmang, Batagram, Allai (former integral part of Kohistan tribal area), Phulra (chief village of the former Phulra state), Oghi, Shergarh (the summer headquarters of the former Nawab of Amb), Darband (former centre of Amb state), Gulibagh (capital of former Pakhli Sarkar), Ichrian, Ghari Habibullah, Jabori, Chuttar, Dadar (where lies one of the famous T.B. Sanatorium in the country), Khaki and Black Mountain Provincial Administered tribal area.