Mansehra (former Pakhli Sarkar) has a very old history in the Sub-Continent. Its geographical boundaries has constantly been changed in the times of various Rajas, Maharajahs and Kings in the past. Alexander the Great after conquering the northern India, established his rule over a large part of it. Different historians are of the opinion that in the year 327 B.C. Alexander handed over this area to Abisaras, the Raja of Poonch state.
During Maurya dynasty Mansehra remained a part of Taxila. The Great Ashoka was the Governor of this area when the was a prince. After the death of his father, Bidusara, Ashoka ascended the throne and made this area along with Gandhara ball valley major seats of his govt. The famous edicts of Ashoka inscribved on three rocks near Bareri hill, beside Mansehra town, are the evidence of his rule here. These edicts prove that this area was a famous religious centre where pilgrims used to come to perform pilgrimage. From ages the devout Hindus after climbing up the BARERI PEAK performed religious obligations to “Sheva”.
In second century A.D. a mythical Hindu king Raja Risalu, son of Raja Salbahan of Sialkot,brought this area under his sway. The local people consider him as their hero and even today parents narrate to their children the stories of Raja Risalu and his wife Rani Konklan in the winter nights.
When a Chinese pilgrim Hiun-Tsang visited Indo-Pakistan Sub-Continent this area was under the control of Durlabhavardhana, the ruler of KASHMIR. It is also said that Turkey Shahi and Hindu Shahi dynasties ruled Pakhli one after another. Among the rulers of Hindu Shahi dynasty Raja Jaipala was the most prominent. Mehmood of Ghazni defeated him during his (Mehmood) first Indian campaign. Mehmood paid no attention to Mansehra for establishing a Muslim rule over here except using it as his approach to Kashmir.
Again in the 11th century A.D. after the fall of Hindu Shahi dynasty, the Kashmiris occupied this area under the leadership of Kalashan (1063 to 1089 A.D). From 1112 A.D. to 1120 A.D. King Susala ruled this area. In the last quarter of the 12th century A.D. Asalat Khan, a General of Mohammad Ghuri, captured this area but soon after Mohammad Ghuri’s death the Kashmiris once again occupied it.
Thereafter the history of Mansehra is obscure up to 1399 A.D. when the great Muslim warrior Taimurlanc, on his return to Kabul, left here some soldiers for the protection of this important route between Kabul and Kashmir. By this time, The Muslims ousted the Hindus from power and established their authority. In the beginning Mansehra remained under the direct control of Kabul. But in 1472 A.D. Prince Shahab-ud-Din came from Kabul and established his rule here. He founded the state namely Pakhli Sarkar and chose Village Gulibagh as his capital.
During the Mughal period the local Turk Chiefs acknowledged the authority of the Mughals. Since Mansehra (Pakhli) provided the main route of Kashmir, therefore, Emperor Akbar went to Kashmir via Mansehra. During the last days of Akbar the Turki Chief Sultan Hussain Khan revolted against the Mughals. His complaint was that the Mughals were interfering into his internal affairs. The Mughals exiled him after crushing thes revolt but later on they pardoned him and handed over his country back to him. In 1619-20 Emperor Jahangeer stayed with Hussain Khan when he was going to Kashmir.
The first quarter of the 18th century A.D. became miserable for the Turks because their rule came to an end due to the decay of their vitality, and the increasing aggression of the Pukhtoons and their allied forces. the most crucial attack was that of the Swatis under the command of Syed Jalal Baba in 1703 A.D. They ousted the Turks and captured this area.
When Ahmad Shah Durrani extended his kingdom to Punjab and Kashmir, Mansehra also came under the control of this new invader. the durranis controlled Mansehra through the local Khans among whom the Khans of Amb State and Ghari Habibullah were prominent. In the beginning of the 19th century A.D. their power weakened which opened the way of revolt against them. they sent many detachments of troops to maintain law and order but rather their control decreased day by day. When the Sikhs arose in power under Ranjeet Singh (1777 – 1838 A.D.) they asserted themselves independent of the Durranis. Ranjeet Singh organized his “Khalsa” Army on modern lines and then started to extend his regime over vast area.
The Sikhs got hold of Mansehra in 1818 A.D. after a stiff resistance from its inhabitants. soon after the Sikh’s annexation of Mansehra to Punjab, Syed Ahmad Shaheed along with the Mujahidin appeared on the soil of Mansehra. He, with the cooperation of local people, fought many battles against the Sikhs. at last in 1831 A.D. a fierce battle look place between the Sikhs and the Mujahidin at Balakot. the Sikhs got the upper hand and martyred Syed Ahmad along with his number of friends. Thus the Sikhs hold strengthened in Mansehra.
After the death of Ranjit Singh, disintegration of the Sikh state started due to which the British annexed Punjab to their dominion. In the meantime the remnants of the Mujahidin of Balakot and Tanaolis attacked the Sikh forts and slew a large number of Sikhs.
On 19th March, 1846 A.D. a peace treaty was signed between the Sikhs and the British according to which Raja Gulab Singh took Kashmir and Hazara from the British for rupees 75,00,000. But due to widespread civil disorder and resistance movement Raja asked the British government to take over Hazara in exchange of the Jamu-Jehlum belt. The British accepted this offer and took over Hazara from him. They deputed James Abbot to Hazara to restore peace. He defeated Chuttar Singh, a Sikh general, after coming to Hazara and thus completely ousted the Sikhs from power. In 1849 A.D. this area came under the direct control of the British. At first the British faced no resistance here, but after three years Zaman Shah of Kaghan turned against the British. James Abbot sent an expedition to Kaghan which deprived Zaman Shah of his territory and he was exiled to Pakhli plain. After four years the British forgave him and he was permitted to get back his lost territory.
Unlike the people of the settled areas, the Pukhtoon tribes that lived on the western outskirts of Mansehra, remained a constant source of trouble for the British for four decades (1852-92). The British sent more than four expeditions against them and ravaged Black Mountain (The pukhtoons abode) many times. To maintain peace in the area the British also took preventive measures having conferred titles on the leading persons.
After their advent the British declared Hazara as a district, divided into three tehsils i.e. Mansehra, Abbottabad & Haripur, and annexed it with the Punjab. In 1901 when NWFP province was formed, Hazara was separated from the Punjab and made a part of NWFP.
During the British period Mansehra remained in the forefront of various religio-political movements in the Indo-Pakistan Sub-Continent. The people of this area joined the ranks of those Muslims freedom fighters who wanted to strengthen the cause of Islam. The people of Mansehra joined the Khilafat movement zealously. Consequently Mansehra became quiet unruly. The people refused to acknowledge the British rule having selected their own functionaries in different Villages. The British took strict measures to bring them under their control. Even they imposed Martial Law in Mansehra to crush this resistance.
When the Muslim League started its movement for a separate homeland, the local people joined it and struggled for liberation from the alien rules under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam and got triumphant victory against them, culminating in the creation of Pakistan, an independent state for the Muslims of the Sub-continent.
During the elder Bhutto’s regime Mansehra was upgraded to a district level comprising two tehsils namely; Mansehra and Batagram. In 1983 Balakot town, a gateway to the Kaghan valley, was also upgraded to the level a tehsil of Mansehra District. Today Mansehra is a place of scenic beauty. During the summer, people come here for recreation from far flung areas of Pakistan as well as rest of the world. They feel here peace and tranquility.