Monday, September 13, 2010

PESHAWAR


Peshāwar Persian is the capital of the North-West Frontier Province and the administrative centre for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Peshawar" literally means "The Place at the Frontier" in Persian and is known as Pekhawar in Pashto or Pukhto. The area of the city has been ruled by numerous empires including the Afghan, Persian, Shahi, Greek, Maurya, Scythian, Arab, Turk, Mongol, Mughal, Sikh and the British.

In ancient times, a major settlement called Purushpur was established by Kanishka, the king of the Central Asian Kushans, in the general area of modern Peshawar. Purushpur emerged as a major center of Buddhist learning until the 10th century, and was the capital of the ancient Indo-Greek kingdom of Gandhara. During that time, the Kanishka stupa on the outskirts of Peshawar, was the tallest building in the world - rising to almost 700 feet.

The current city was established during the Mughal period in the 16th century by Akbar during which it received the name Peshawar. During much of its history, the city was one of the main trading centres on the ancient Silk Road and was a major crossroads for various cultures between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.

Located on the edge of the Khyber Pass near the Afghan border, Peshawar is the commercial, economic, political and cultural capital of the Pashtuns in Pakistan. It is as a geographical and cultural frontline between extremist, moderate, and liberal Islam.

History of Peshawar

Being among the most ancient cities of the region between Central, South, and West Asia, Peshawar has for centuries been a centre of trade between Afghanistan, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. As an ancient center of learning, the 2nd century B.C.E. Bakhshali Manuscript used in the Bakhshali approximation was found nearby. Peshawar is also the setting of the famous story Peshawar Nights, which was an exchange between a Shia scholar and a Sunni audience over the course of eleven nights, which presumably resulted in their acceptance of Shi'ism.

Peshawar was a major center of Buddhist learning until the 10th century. As an indication of its importance, Peshawar was also the site of Kanishka's Great Stupa which housed relics from Gautama Buddha, and was widely considered to be the tallest building in the world at the time of its construction. Ancient Chinese manuscripts tell of Buddhist pilgrims such as Faxian, Sung Yun, and Xuanzang reporting that the 7th century stupa, which was rediscovered in 1908, had a height of 591–689 feet.
Indo-Greek Peshawar
The area that Peshawar occupies was then seized by the Greco-Bactrian king, Eucratides (170 - 159 BCE), and was controlled by a series of Greco-Bactrian and later Indo-Greek kings who ruled an empire that spanned from ancient Pakistan to North India. Later, the city came under the rule of several Parthian and Indo-Parthian kings, another group of Iranic invaders from Central Asia, the most famous of whom, Gondophares, ruled the city and its environs starting in circa 46 CE, and was briefly followed by two or three of his descendants before they were displaced by the first of the "Great Kushans", Kujula Kadphises, around the middle of the 1st century CE.
Kanishka's Rule

Peshawar formed the eastern capital of the empire of Gandhara under the Kushan king Kanishka, who reigned from at least 127 CE. Peshawar became a great centre of Buddhist learning. Kanishka built what may have been the tallest building in the world at the time, a giant stupa, to house the Buddha's relics, just outside the Ganj Gate of the old city of Peshawar.
Excavations of Kanishka's Monastery in central Peshawar

The Kanishka stupa was said to be an imposing structure as one travelled down from the mountains of Afghanistan onto the Gandharan plains. The earliest account of the famous building is by the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim monk, Faxian, who visited it in 400 and described it as being over 40 chang in height (probably about 120 m or 394 ft) and adorned "with all precious substances". "Of all the stûpas and temples seen by the travellers, none can compare with this for beauty of form and strength." It was destroyed by lightning and repaired several times. It was still in existence at the time of Xuanzang's visit in 634. From the ruined base of this giant stupa there existed a jewelled casket containing relics of the Buddha, and an inscription identifying Kanishka as the donor, and was excavated from a chamber under the very centre of the stupa's base, by a team under Dr. D.B. Spooner in 1909. The stupa was roughly cruciform in shape with a diameter of 286 feet (87 meters) and heavily decorated around the sides with stucco scenes.

Sometime in the 1st millennium BCE, the group that now dominates Peshawar began to arrive from the Suleiman Mountains of southern Afghanistan to the southwest, the Pashtuns. Whether or not the Pashtuns existed in the region even earlier is debatable, as evidence is difficult to attain. Some writers such as Sir Olaf Caroe write that a group that may have been the Pakhtuns existed in the area and were called the Pactycians by Herodotus and the Greeks, which would place the Pakhtuns in the area of Peshawar much earlier along with other Aryan tribes. Ancient Hindu scriptures such as the Rig-Veda, speak of an Aryan tribe called the Pakht, living in the region.

Regardless, over the centuries the Pakhtuns would come to dominate the region and Peshawar has emerged as an important center of Pakhtun culture along with Kandahar and Kabul as well as Quetta in more recent times. Muslim Arab and Turkic arrived and annexed the region before the beginning of the 2nd millennium.
Arrival of Islam
The Pakhtuns began to convert to Islam following early annexation by the Arab Empire from Khurasan (in what is today western Afghanistan and northeastern Iran).

Sebuktagin dying in 997 was succeeded as governor of Khorasan by his son Mahmud, who throwing of all dependence on the Samani princes, assumed the title of Sultan in 999, and from this reign the Hindu religion in these parts may be said to have received a death blow. In the early reign of this celebrated invader of India the plains of Peshawar were again the scene of some great battles, the first of which was fought on the maira between Nowshera and the Indus, in the year 1001. Mahmud was opposed by Jaipal, who had been constantly endevouring to recover the country wrested from him by Sebuktagin, still aided by some Pathans whose allegiance to the Muslim governor of Peshawar was not of long continuance.

The battle took place on November 27 and the Hindus were one again routed, Jaipal himself being taken prisoner, who upon his subsequent release resigned the crown to his son Anandpal. On this occasion Mahmud punished the Pathans who had sided with the enemy, and as they were now converted entirely to the Islam, they stayed true to their new allegiance, and joined the Sultan in his wars against the infidels.

Peshawar was taken by Turkic Muslims in 988 and was incorporated into the larger Pakhtun domains by the 16th century. The founder of the Mughul dynasty that would conquer South Asia, Babur, who hailed from current Uzbekistan, came to Peshawar and founded a city called Bagram where he rebuilt the fort in 1530. His grandson, Akbar, formally named the city Peshawar, meaning "The Place at the Frontier" in Persian and expanded the bazaars and fortifications. The Muslim technocrats, bureaucrats, soldiers, traders, scientists, architects, teachers, theologians and Sufis flocked from the rest of the Muslim world to Islamic Sultanate in South Asia and many settled in the Peshawar region.
Reigns of the Pashtun Kings
The Pakhtun conqueror Sher Shah Suri, turned Peshawar's renaissance into a boom when he ran his Delhi-to-Kabul Shahi Road through the Khyber Pass and Peshawar. Thus the Mughals turned Peshawar into a "City of Flowers" by planting trees and laying out gardens similar to those found to the west in Persia. Khushal Khan Khattak, the Pakhtun/Afghan warrior poet, was born near Peshawar and his life was intimately tied to the city. Khattak was an early Pakhtun nationalist, who agitated for an independent Afghanistan including Peshawar. As such, he was an implacable foe of the Mughal rulers, especially Aurangzeb.

After the decline of the Mughal Empire, by the 18th century the city came under Persian control during the reign of Nadir Shah. In 1747, following a loya jirga, Peshawar would join the Afghan/Pakhtun empire of Ahmad Shah Durrani as a Pakthun region. Pakhtuns from Peshawar took part in the incursions of South Asia during the rule of Ahmad Shah Durrani and his successors.

Reigns of the Pashtun Kings
The Pakhtun conqueror Sher Shah Suri, turned Peshawar's renaissance into a boom when he ran his Delhi-to-Kabul Shahi Road through the Khyber Pass and Peshawar. Thus the Mughals turned Peshawar into a "City of Flowers" by planting trees and laying out gardens similar to those found to the west in Persia. Khushal Khan Khattak, the Pakhtun/Afghan warrior poet, was born near Peshawar and his life was intimately tied to the city. Khattak was an early Pakhtun nationalist, who agitated for an independent Afghanistan including Peshawar. As such, he was an implacable foe of the Mughal rulers, especially Aurangzeb.

After the decline of the Mughal Empire, by the 18th century the city came under Persian control during the reign of Nadir Shah. In 1747, following a loya jirga, Peshawar would join the Afghan/Pakhtun empire of Ahmad Shah Durrani as a Pakthun region. Pakhtuns from Peshawar took part in the incursions of South Asia during the rule of Ahmad Shah Durrani and his successors.
Decline Under Sikh Rule

Ranjit Singh lead the Sikh army and invaded Peshawar in 1818 after wresting it from Afghanistan - resulting in Peshawar's darkest times as a part of The Sikh Kingdom of Punjab. In the wars between to two nations, the city's population was decimated as up to half of its inhabitants were killed or expelled under the Sikh reign.The famous mosque at Ghor Khatri which was built by Jahan Ara Begum, daughter of Emperor Shahjahan, was destroyed by the Sikhs around 1823 and replaced with a temple to Gorakhnath, which remains until the present day
All but one of Peshawar's grand Mughal mosques were destroyed under Sikh rule. In contradiction to some Sikh sources, which continue to insist that no Sikh ever desecrated a mosque, of the many Mughal mosques that existed prior to the Sikh invasion, only the Mohabbat Khan Mosque survived Sikh depredations as it was used as an execution ground. Even there, the Sikhs destroyed the crowns of the minarets which had to be rebuilt later by the British

Sikh rule of the city from 1834 to 1843 was administered under an Italian general named Paolo Di Avitabile, whose reign was described as one of "gallows and gibbets".

British Gazetteers noted that General Avitable used the minarets of the famed Mohabbat Khan Mosque as gallows.[29][30][31] Despite claims that no Sikh desecrated a mosque, the desecration of Peshawar's mosques by their appointed administrator is well documented.

f the monuments of the Muslim period, too very few have survived our own times, not because the Muslim kings were not endowed with architectural tastes and talents or that they did not construct any attractive edifices, but because everything of architectural value that existed here was destroyed by the Sikhs, especially during Avitabile’s reign as the Governor of Peshawar. The only buildings of any antiquity and historical interest are the Gor Khatri, also called Serai Jahanabad, and the Mosque of Mahabat Khan. Even these did not escape the tyrant’s hand, while the mosque was desecrated and its lofty minars were used as gallows, the Serai was converted into the residence of the governor, and the mosque of Jahan Ara Begum built inside was replaced by a temple, which still stands there.

The Sikhs also proceeded to destroy Peshawar's own Shalimar Gardens, as well as burn a large portion of the city. They felled many trees in the city gardens for use as firewood. The Sikhs also destroyed much of the Bala Hisar Fort during their reign, but rebuilt it in its current form under the governance of Hari Singh Nalwa, briefly renaming it Samir Garh.

Colonial Peshawar

With the collapse of the Sikh Empire, following the passing by of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the Sikh defeat in the second Anglo-Sikh War, the British occupied Peshawar, much to the relief of its citizens who had endured the brutal conditions of Sikh occupation.

The mountainous areas outside of the city were mapped out in 1893 by Sir Mortimer Durand, then foreign secretary of the British Indian government, who demarcated the boundary of his colony with the Afghan ruler at the time, Abdur Rahman Khan. It is now known as the Durand Line. The Kabul government has argued that the pact expired when British colonialists left the region - although claims to the region have not been a part of official Afghan policy.

Independence and Afghan Instability

In 1947, Peshawar became part of the newly independent state of Pakistan after politicians from the Frontier approved merger into the state that had just been carved from British India. While a large majority of people approved of this action, others believed in the unity of India, such as Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Still others believed that the province should have ascended to Afghanistan - a position which later evolved into a call for a state independent of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Until the mid-1950s, Peshawar was enclosed within a city wall and sixteen gates. Of the old city gates, the most famous was the Kabuli Gate but only the name remains to this date. Peshawar has not grown as much in size or capacity as the population has. As a result it has become a polluted and overcrowded city

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Peshawar served as a political centre for the anti-Soviet Mujahideen, and was surrounded by huge camps of Afghan refugees. Many of the refugees remained through the Afghan civil war, which broke out after the Soviets were defeated in 1989, antecedent to the rule of the Taliban, and the invasion by American and allied forces in late 2001. Peshawar would replace Kabul and Kandahar as the centre of Pakhtun cultural development during this tumultuous period. Peshawar managed to assimilate many of the Pakhtun Afghan refugees with relative ease, while other Afghan refugees have remained in camps awaiting a possible return to Afghanistan.

Peshawar continues to be a city that links Pakistan to Afghanistan as well as Central Asia and has emerged as an important regional city in Pakistan. It remains a focal point for Pakhtun culture. Today, like the surrounding region, it is at the crossroads of the struggle between the extremist Taliban and moderates, liberals and Pakhtun nationalists. As a demonstration of their determination to destroy Pashtun icons, the Taliban bombed the shrine of the most beloved Pashtun poet, Rahman Baba, in 2009.

Old City of Peshawar

The historic old city of Peshawar was once a heavily guarded citadel with high walls. Today, not much remains of the walls, but the houses and havelis have an essence of days gone by. Most of the houses are made of unbaked bricks with wooden structures for protection against earthquakes. Many of them have beautifully carved wooden doors and latticed wooden balconies. Areas such as Sethi Mohallah still contain many fine examples of the old architecture of Peshawar. There are many historic monuments and bazaars in the Old city, including the Mohabbat Khan Mosque and Kotla Mohsin Khan, Chowk Yadgar and the Qissa Khawani Bazaar.

The walled city was surrounded by several main gates which severed as the main entry points into the city, some of which still survive today. They include:

Lahori Gate
Sarasia Gate
Ganj Gate
Sirki Gate
Sard Chah Gate
Kohati Gate
Educational institutions
With the level of higher education on the rise, there has been a surge of prestigious educational institutions in Peshawar.

Abasyn University
Khyber Medical University
Institute of Management Sciences
Agriculture University of Peshawar
University of Engineering & Technology (U.E.T.)
National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences (FAST-NU), (Peshawar Campus)
Islamia College Peshawar (1913)
Gandhara University
Iqra University
Institute of Management Studies
ICMS
Oxfords College University Town Peshawar
City University Of Science & Technology
Institute of Business & Management Sciences
CECOS
Gandhara Medical College
Sarhad University
Ghulam IOshaq Khan Institute of Science & Technology, Topi, NWFP
College of Aeronautical Engineering (CAE, NUST), Risalpur, NWFP
Peshawar Medical College
University of Peshawar
Preston University
Greenwich University
PAC
Government Frontier College Peshawar
Jinnah College for Women
Edwardes College Peshawar
Government College Peshawar
Superior Science College Wazirbagh Peshawar.
Fazaia Degree College (PAF Degree College)
St. Francis' High School
University Public School (1964)
University Model School
Peshawar Model School
Collegiate School Islamia College
Oxfords College School University Town Peshawar
Peshawar Public School and College
The Convent High School
Army Public School
BeaconHouse School System
The City School
The Educators
The Roots School
American International School
I.L.M
The Smart School
Qadeems Educational System
Iqra School
daffodils Kindergarten (Hayatabad Town)
Frontier Model School
Peshawar Grammar School
Lahore Grammar School (Peshawar Campus)
Saint Mary's High School
Forward Model School
Forward Public School

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing History of Peshawar. This blog is very important and knowledgeable for me because i don't have the idea about this history. panipat

    ReplyDelete