Wah Cantt is a cantonment city in the Punjab province of Pakistan and is located approximately 20 miles northwest of the capital city, Islamabad. The city is situated in a valley surrounded by hills in all directions. Wah Cantt has a population of approximate 0.35 million and covers an area of 35 square mile.
The fertile land of Wah is suitable for growing every sort of crops, especially fruits. The area was not developed before the construction of Pakistan Ordnance Factories, but now it is one of the most advanced and developed city of Pakistan.
Wah Cantt is adjacent to a historical city of Taxila, a small town enriched with one of the most important archaeological sites of the world. The ancient name of Taxila was “Takshasila” which means the "city of cut stones". Here civilization and its manifestation in sculpture and other arts took roots and flourished. The ruins of Taxila consist of many different parts of the city buildings and Buddhist stupas which are located in a large area. The main ruins of Taxila are divided into three major cities, each belonging to a distinct time period. The oldest of these is Bhir Mound, which dates from the sixth century BC. The second city of Taxila is located at Sirkap and the third and last city of Taxila is at Sirsukh. Taxila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Taxila was conquered by Alexander in 326 BC. It later came under the Mauryan dynasty and attained a remarkably mature level of development under the great Ashoka. Then appeared the Indo-Greek descendants of Alexander’s warriors and finally came the most creative period of Gandhara. The great Kushan dynasty was established somewhere near 50 AD. During the next 200 years, Taxila became a renowned center of learning, philosophy and art. Pilgrims and travelers as well as teachers and students were attracted to it from as far away as China and Greece.
The name “Wah” has its roots in the Mughal era with the Mughal emperor Jehangir reported to have coined the name when his army was stationed here en route from a mission in Kashmir. As soon as Emperor Jehangir saw the natural beauty of the spring and surrounding mountains, he loudly exclaimed “Wah!” His words were written on the stone of history. After that day, the territory is called Wah. The Mughal advent had a strong influence on the architecture of the city which is still visible to date with prominent Mughal sites.
Founder of the Mughal dynasty Zahir Ud Din Muhammad Babur (1483-1531) has mentioned the Wah region in his book Baburnama. Wah has a rich historical background and it remained a favorite place of great Mughal rulers who built several gardens here. Most famous of them is the “Wah Garden”. Located on GT Road the garden is still present with its remains of Mughal architecture.
Sultan Sher Shah Suri who built the famous Grand Trunk Road (GT Road) built a “bawley” or watering place here. Now this place is called Sher Shah Park and is situated next to the Aslam Market. It is said that Sher Shah's horses used to drink water there.
Post Partition History
After gaining independence, Pakistan had no facilities capable of producing armaments and military goods, so urgent plans were made for an ordnance factory in Wah. The word Cantt was added to Wah in 1951, when Prime Minister Khawaja Nazim-u-Din unveiled the foundation stone of Pakistan Ordnance Factories. POF is not one ammunition factory but it is a complex of 14 factories manufacturing arms and ammunition.
Culture & Education
Wah Cantt is a multicultural city. People with various ethnic backgrounds live and work here. Culture from Karachi to Khyber can be observed in the city. People here are skillful and educated. The city is rather quiet in the morning, but all charm of the city is restored in the evening. The city is said to have one of the best civic amenities in the entire country with a solid health care and education system. Wah Cantt also has significantly high literacy rate, highest in Pakistan. This small city has two chartered universities, one medical college, one engineering college and a large number of schools. There are about 115 educational institutions serving over 50,000 students. Students from Wah Cantt can be found studying at all the institutes of Pakistan and most major universities of the world. This links the city with its past as historically the neighboring town of Taxila has been a seat of learning for thousands of year.
The city offers a number of sport facilities to its residents. Wah Cantt has a hockey field laid with Astro Turf. Welfare Club has an indoor sports arena and a swimming complex. The city also has a lush green 9-hole golf club. Further, at Ordnance Club there are a number of tennis courts and a swimming pool which are open to public. Another pride for the city is holding national and international level squash competitions. The 1st POF WISPA Squash Tournament was hosted at Jahangir Khan Squash Complex Wah Cantt in 2005.