Kathua district is one of 22 administrative districts that comprise the state of Jammu and Kashmir under Indian rule. It is surrounded by Jammu to the northwest, the Doda and Udhampur districts to the north, the state of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Punjab to the south, and Pakistan’s working boundary to the west. Its terrain is diverse, consisting of rich agricultural areas along the Punjab/Kashmir border, plains sweeping eastward to the foothills of the Himalaya, and a mountainous Pahari region in the east.
Kathua district is divided into 8 blocks:Bani, Barnoti, Basholi, Billawar, Duggan, Ghagwal, Hiranagar, Kathua and Lohai Malhar. It has approximately 512 villages.
The traditional language of Kathua is Dogri. The Pahari languages are prevalent in the mountainous area of the east. The principal media of education are English, Hindi, and Urdu.
In a Muslim majority state, Kathua, like the Jammu district, is overwhelmingly Hindu, Total Population is 6.15 Lacs (Census of India 2001), Hinduism practiced by 91%, Muslims 7% and Sikhs 2%.
Though there is no detailed and fully documented history of Kathua district, there is a belief[by whom?] that Jodh Singh, a Rajput of the Andotra clan migrated from Hastinapur to Kathua nearly 2,000 years ago and settled here. The three hamlets of Taraf Tajwal, Taraf Manjali and Taraf Bhajwal were by the same account established by his three sons Teju, Kindal and Bhaju. Tracing their ancestry to these three are the groups now known respectively as Tajwalia, Bhajwalia and Khanwalia Rajputs, of the Andotra sub-caste. The conglomeration of these three hamlets was loosely called “Kathai” in earlier times which with the passage of time came to be called as Kathua.
Greek historians, who provide an insight into the ancient history of Jammu hills, prominently record the existence in this area of two powerful empires – Abhisara (present day Poonch) and Kathaioi – at the time of invasion of India by Alexander. Strabo describes Kathaioi as a mighty republic of that era, located in the foothills along the Ravi River. The topography of Kathaioi corresponds with the present day Kathua. Strabo describes the people of this republic as the epitome of bravery and courage, and records that they gave a tough fight to invading army of Alexander.
There are many places which commemorate a visit to Kathua Pandavas. Lord Krishna is also said to have come to this area, in order to get back from Jamabant the same diamond which is now known as Koh-i-Noor, part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
Basohli, a town of Kathua district, is widely known for its paintings. Immortalised by their artistic eminences and their connoisseur patrons, Basohli today is a metaphor for a vigorous, bold and imaginative artistic style, rich, stylish and unconventional.
A style of painting characterized by vigorous use of primary colours and a peculiar facial formula prevailed in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in the foothills of the Western Himalayas in the Jammu and Punjab States.
The earliest paintings in this style originated in Basohli from where the style spread to the Hill States of Mankot, Nurpur, Kulu, Mandi, Suket, Bilaspur, Nalagarh, Chamba, Guler and Kangra. The first mention of Basohli painting is in the annual report of the Archaeological Survey of India published in 1921.
Kathua District has five assembly constituencies: Bani, Basohli, Kathua, Billawar and Hiranagar (S.C).
According to the 2011 census Kathua district has a population of 615,711, roughly equal to the nation of Solomon Islands or the US state of Vermont. This gives it a ranking of 521st in India (out of a total of 640). The district has a population density of 232 inhabitants per square kilometre (600/sq mi) . Its population growth rate over the decade 2001-2011 was 20.38%. Kathua has a sex ratio of 877 females for every 1000 males, and a literacy rate of 73.5%.