Upper Dir is a District of Malakand Division in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. It lies along the Afghanistan border between Chitral, Bajaur Agency and Lower Dir District. The district was formed in 1996, when Dir District was divided into Upper Dir and Lower Dir.
Dir town is the Headquarters of Upper Dir District. It is sometimes known as Dir Proper or Khas Dir to distinguish it from the district. It lies at the foot of the Lowari Pass, the main road to Chitral, on the Dir River. Dir town was founded in the 17th century by Akhund Baba. It was the capital of the former princely state of Dir, until its abolition in 1969. The former royal palace is on a hill above the town. It was replaced as capital by Timergara, before the district was divided in 1996 into two districts (Upper Dir and Lower Dir).
Pushto is the main language spoken in the town. A few people speak Hindko, Gujri and Khowar (Chitrali). The majority of the population in this area are Yousafzai (Malizai), Roghani, Utmankheil, and Mianghan while the ruling class was Khosro.
Brief History: At the end of the 14th century the territories surrounding Dir were populated by the Pakhtuns who were divided in several clans (khels), who battled against each other. The three great clans which conquered the zone were the Yusafzai, Tarkanrai and the Utman Khel. The Dir territory was populated in the 16th century by the Malizai tribe of the Yusufzai Khel, who took control of the zone by chasing away the previous inhabitants, and within this tribe the most prominent fractions became the Painda Khel and Sultan Khel.
Akhund Mullah lIyas Painda Khel of the Malizai tribe lived in Dir in the 17th century. He was recognized as spiritual leader and was known as Akhund (“scholar” in Persian) Baba. Dir village was founded by Akhund Baba. By the 18th century a section of the Painda Khel, coming from the Kohan village in the valley of Nihag (a Panjkora tributary), seized the trade routes with Chitral and Afghanistan.Akhund Baba’s successors expanded the domain into an autonomous political entity which would eventually become the princely state. The clan of Mullah Ilyas Khan assumed the name of Akhund Khel and a dynasty was recognized as Khans (rulers) of Dir. However, till the end of the 19th century, the dominion of the family was limited to the upper Dir.
Address: Chakdara Road, Timergara