capital of, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Frontier province, Pakistan. The city lies just west
of the Bara River, a tributary of the Kabul River, near
the Khyber Pass.
The Shahji-ki Dheri mounds, situated to the east,
cover ruins of the largest Buddhist stupa in the subcontinent (2nd century
AD), which attest the lengthy association of the town with Buddha and the
religion founded about him.
The city was known variously
as Parasawara and Purusapura (town, or abode, of Purusa). Also called Begram,
the present name, Peshawar (pesh awar, "frontier town"), is ascribed to
Akbar, the Mughal emperor of India (1556-1605).
A great historic centre of transit-caravan trade with Afghanistan and
Central Asia, Peshawar is today connected by the Grand Trunk Road and rail
with Lahore, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, and Karachi and by air with Rawalpindi,
Chitral, and Kabul, Afghanistan.
Peshawar's historic buildings include Bala Hissar, a fort built by the Sikhs
on the ruins of the state residence of the Durranis, which was destroyed by
them after the battle of Nowshera; Gor Khatri, once a Buddhist monastery and
later a sacred Hindu temple, which stands on an eminence in the east and
affords a panoramic view of the entire city; the pure white mosque of
Mahabat Khan (1630), a remarkable monument of Mughal architecture; Victoria
memorial hall; and Government House. Pop. (1981) town, 566,248; metropolitan
Balahisar Fort :
Balahisar is of Persian origin and most likely given by Afghan Ruler Taimur
Shah Durrani (1773 - 1793). The origin of the fort is not clear, but it is
as old as the city itself, 2000 to 2500 years. The main entrance faces the
old route to India. A Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang, visited Peshawar in 630
AD, and he has described it as a royal residence of the city. According to
Dr Dani, a channel of the old Bara River surrounded it once.
Peshawar has always been a city of strategic importance, frequently
mentioned as the seat of Ghandhara civilization. Subuktagin captured
Peshawar in 988 AD, Mahmud of Ghazni in 1001 AD, Ghori in 1179 AD, and then
came Babar in the 15 century and established the Mughal empire. Afghan King
Sher Shah Suri destroyed the fort after the overthrow of Babar's son Humayun.
Upon his return Humayun rebuilt the fort.
Ahmed Shah Durrani of Afghanistan finally took it from the Mughals and made
it a residential palace. His son Taimur made Peshawar his winter capital.
After his death in 1793, Shah Zaman lost it to the Sikhs in 1834, who
destroyed it. Then Sher Singh on orders from his father Ranjeet Singh,
rebuilt the fort. An inscription from the Sikh period still survives on a
annexed Punjab in 1849 after defeating Ranjeet Singh's son, and extended
their rule to Peshawar. At the time Balahisar was a mud fort, the British
reinforced it with bricks and gave it the present day look. Till 1947, the
fort also housed the treasury.
On 14 August 1947, the Pakistan flag hoisted over Balahisar, and the
following year it became the Headquarters of the Frontier Corps (FC). A
small museum has also been opened inside the Fort, which has a nice display
of weapons, dresses, and photographs relating to the FC.
Fort has been opened to tourism, however prior appointment is a necessary
convenience. It would be prudent to take a conducted tour, preferably
through Sehrai Travel & Tours details below
Mahabat Khan Mosque :
The mosque was
built in mid 17th century, during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan.
Mahabat Khan was governor of the Peshawar region at the time, and he
financed the building of the mosque, thus the eponym.
It is a beautiful mosque in the traditional Mughal style. Set among the gold
and silversmith shops, its narrow but massive entrance leads to a large
prayer courtyard. In the middle of the courtyard is a cool blue tiled
ablution pond, with a row of rooms on either side, and a main prayer hall
towards the western side. The main hall is lavishly decorated inside and
covered by three fluted domes. Two tall minars (towers) rise on either side
of the main hall.
In 1826, the Sikhs had to fight their way to Peshawar and let loose a reign
of terror, which continued with the appointment of General Avitabile, an
Italian mercenary, as the governor of Peshawar. Every day before breakfast,
he would have a few local men hurled from the top of the minar of the
Mahabat Khan Mosque to "teach a lesson to the unruly tribesmen". His cruelty
has passed into the folklore of the walled city, for naughty children are
often warned of the wrath of Abu Tabela, a local corruption of 'Avitabile'.
The top domes of the minars were destroyed by the Sikh rulers, and later
rebuilt by British. Today it is well maintained by the faithfuls.
Remember to take off your shoes before entering the mosque. Ensure that you
are clothed to cover your arms and legs. Also cover your head.
The Mahabat Khan Mosque is located on the narrow street of Andarshar Bazaar,
inside the Peshawar City. To get there, either take the Kachairy Road to
Chowk Yadgar, park there and walk west 150 meters into the Bazaar; or park
diagonally across the southeast end of Balahisar Fort on Hakim Ullah Jan
Road, and walk up the alley of Andarshar Bazaar. The mosque is at the
highest point on the street.
Bab-e-Khyber & Jamrud Fort
The Khyber Gate was built in 1964, at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, where
the Jamrud Fort is also located. Once way-out of the city, today Peshawar
extends through the Hayatabad bazaar, that threatens to en-gulf the Bab-e-Khyber.
Jamrud Fort :
Sikh General Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, proposed the construction of a big
fort at Jamrud (originally Fattagarh) in 1836, in order to strengthen the
base for further advances through the formidable defile. It is at the
southern end of the Khyber Pass, where the Khyber gate stands across the
road today. Construction was approved the following year and Hari Singh
built a mud fort in an unbelievably short time of 54 days. However, Amir
Muhammad Khan of Kabul (Afghanistan) sensed danger and attacked it in early
1837, he defeated the Sikhs and returned to Kabul. In April 1837, the local
tribesmen followed suit and attacked the fort, killing Hari Singh.
The fortress is situated on a mound covering a hundred square yards. It has
an outer wall and an inner wall and had one entrance in each wall at the
time. The route inside spirals to the top, from where one can get a
commanding view of the stony barrenness that leads into the famous Khyber
Pass. In 1924, the British took over the fort and constructed new barracks.
Today it is part of the Peshawar garrison, and prior permission is required
to visit inside.