The word Dir is derived from an Arabic word meaning place of worship, monastery/convent, where one can live in seclusion from others. The area has been a seat of religion and spirituality since ages. There are excavations of numerous burials of Aryans at Timargarha and other places, dating from 18th to 6th century BC. The Aryans were followed by the Achaemenians, who were ousted by the invasion of Alexander in 327 BC - though he faced great difficulties in subjugating Pakhtun of Dir. After the Greeks, the area witnessed the Gandharan Civilization, which achieved great fame. This period is signified by the presence of the monumental remains of the Buddhist stupas and monasteries - few of which has already filled the museum at Chakdara, lower Dir.
The Yousafzai Pakhtun, who established themselves in Dir in the 15th century AD, are honored for the tribal, social, political and economic system of the region. As a spiritual leader, Akhun lIyas of PaindaKhail (Later known as Akhunkhail) enjoyed popular support among locals. His descendants built upon this support and ultimately increasing their influence and laid the foundation of a distinct political state.
The British annexed Dir in 1897 and demarcated its boundaries. After independence of Pakistan, it still enjoyed the status of a separate state, but was combined with Pakistan in 1960 as a tribal agency and was finally emerged as a district with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 1969. Later in 1996 the decision was made to divide Dir District into two districts, Lower Dir and Upper Dir, with Timargarha and Dir as their respective headquarters.
The natural beauty of Dir attracts thousands of tourists from within the country and abroad. The mountains, rivers, waterfalls, religious sites and lush grounds are among the best in the region and the world. Dir is one of the most important regions, historically, economically, culturally and strategically. It is considered as a strategic gateway to the central Asian countries including Russia, China, Tajikistan, Afghanistan via Chitral, Gilgit Baltistan and Bajawar. Dir is surrounded by Chitral in the North, Swat in the East, Malakand in the south, Bajawar and Afghanistan in the West. About 98% of the people of Dir are Pakhtun and Pakhtu is the main language. The people of Dir are loving people and are famous for their hospitality and honor. They welcome visitors regardless of their culture, religion and social class.