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Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan
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Muzaffarabad the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), lies 80 km north-east of Pakistani capital Islamabad in foothills of the southern Karakorum Range and just 22 km east of the control line separating it from the Kashmir valley. The Neelam river, a tributary of the Kashmir valley's Jhelum river, meanders through Muzaffarabad until it reaches its confluence in the city's heartland at Domel. Before heading out of the town, the merged river forms a spectacular U-bend around Chattar area. Two further tributaries join the river before it flows into a 97.7 sq. miles reservoir for the Mangla Dam in Mirpur district.
Although its majestic mountainous scenery leaves you breathless, Muzaffarabad's mountains are dwarfed by Karakorum's famous giants like the K(Karakorum)2 (8611m), Broad Peak (8,047 m) and Rakaposhi (7,788 m). These are found in northern fringes of the region making up the greatest concentration of high mountains in the world with longest and the largest glaciers outside the polar regions.
The town is located at an altitude of approximately 700m and most of its surrounding hills and mountains range in height from 1000 to 1600 m. However, Pir Chinasi (3110 m) reaches height that lies well above this range. Other notable mountains and peaks in its vicinity include Pir Hasimar (2632 m approx.), Pir Chela (2860 m approx.) and Makra peak (3,586 m).
In 2005 the city was struck by a catastrophic earthquake with widespread destruction and enormous loss of life. The epicentre was just 19km to the northeast. Muzaffarabad lies on a geologically active fault line associated with slow-motion collision between Indian and the Eurasian tectonic plates, going back to 40 million years.
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