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About Peshawar City

 
 

Peshāwar (help·info) ( Pashto: پېښور Pekhawar/Peshawar, Hindko: پِشور Pishor, Urdu: پشاور), is the capital of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa[2] and the administrative centre (but not the capital) for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.[3] The Kushan king Kanishka, moved the capital from Pushkalavati (now called Charsadda in the Peshawar valley) to Purushapura in the 2nd century CE.[4] The current name "Peshawar" may derive from the Sanskrit Purushapura[5] (meaning "city of men") and is known as Pekhawar or Peshawar in Pashto and Pishor in Hindko. The area originally belonged to Gandhara and the eastern Iranian tribes of Scythian origin and later became part of the Kushan Empire. It gave its name to the Peshwari naan bread, one of the diverse types of naan common in the curry houses of Great Britain. Briefly it also witnessed some Greek influence after which it saw the Arab conquest and rise of Islam. Today it is one of the prime cities of Pakistan west of the river Indus.

Peshawar at Glance

  Province:

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

  Capital:

Peshawar

  Area:

Total 1,257 km2 (485.3 sq mi)

  Population (1998):

Total 2,019,118

  Density:

1,606.3/km2 (4,160.3/sq mi)

Peshawar is now officially recognized as being one of the Oldest Living Cities in Asia. Its history and culture has continued uninterrupted since several centuries. This fact was confirmed by the discovery of silver punch-marked coins from the Government House in 1906–07 and the ongoing excavation at Gor Khatri which is the deepest and widest in the world.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 centre of learning, the 2nd century BCE. Bakhshali Manuscript used in the Bakhshali approximation was found nearby. Peshawar was a major centre 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 of 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 the south east of the city at a site called Shahji-ki-Dheri in 1907–08, had a height of 591–689 feet. Peshawar emerged as a centre of both Hindko and Pashtun intellectuals. Its dominant culture for much of British rule was that of the Hindko speakers, also referred to as "Khaarian" ('city dwellers' in Pashto). Its unique culture, distinct from the surrounding Pashtun areas, led to the city being romanticised by Pashto singers, with songs like larsha Pekhwar tha (go to Peshawar) and more recently Pekhawar kho pekhawar dhay kana (Peshawar is Peshawar after all). This unique culture has gradually disappeared with the massive influx of Afghan refugees and the increasing migration of Pashtuns into the city. The demographics has changed quite dramatically and Pashto is now the dominant language of the city. Peshawar is located in an area that was dominated by various tribes of Indo-Iranian origin. The region was affiliated with the ancient kingdom of Gandhara and had links to the Harappan civilization of the Indus River Valley and to Bactria and other ancient kingdoms based in Afghanistan. According to the historian Tertius Chandler, Peshawar had a population of 120,000 in the year 100 BCE, making it the seventh most populous city in the world.

Vedic mythology refers to an ancient settlement called Pushkalavati in the area, after Pushkal, the son of King Bharata in the epic Ramayana., but this settlement's existence remains speculative and unverifiable. In recorded history, the earliest major city established in the general area of Peshawar was called Purushapura (Sanskrit for City of Men) and was founded by the Kushans, a Central Asian tribe of Tocharian origin, over 2,000 years ago. Prior to this period the region was affiliated with Gandhara, an ancient Indo-Iranian kingdom, and was annexed first by the Persian Achaemenid empire and then by the Hellenic empire of Alexander the Great. The city passed into the rule of Alexander's successor, Seleucus I Nicator who ceded it to Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Empire in 305 BCE. Buddhism was introduced into the region at this time and may have claimed the majority of Peshawar's inhabitants before the coming of Islam.

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 present day 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.

Gandharan Peshawar

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. 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 m) 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. Over the centuries the Pashtuns would come to dominate the region and Peshawar has emerged as an important centre of Pashtun 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 Pashtuns 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 off all dependence on the Samani princes, assumed the title of Sultan in 999. In the early reign of this celebrated invader 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.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.

Peshawar was taken by Turkic Muslims in 988 and was incorporated into the larger Mughal 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 technocrat, 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 Pashtun 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 Iran. Khushal Khan Khattak, the Pashtun/Afghan warrior poet, was born near Peshawar and his life was intimately tied to the city. Khattak was an early Pashtun 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/Pashtun empire of Ahmad Shah Durrani as a Pakthun region. Pashtuns from Peshawar took part in the incursions of South Asia during the rule of Ahmad Shah Durrani and his successors.

Peshawar under British Rule

In 1812, Peshawar was a suzerainty of Afghanistan, but contested by the Sikh Empire. The arrival of a party led by British explorer and former agent of the East India Company, William Moorcroft was seen as an advantage, both in dealings with Kabul and in protection against the Sikhs of Lahore. He was even offered the governorship of Peshawar and invited to offer the area's allegiance to the East India Company, which he declined. Moorcroft continued to Kabul in the company of Peshwari forces and thence to the Hindu Kush.In 1818 Peshawar was captured by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and paid a nominal tribute until it was finally annexed in 1834 by the Sikh Empire. An 1835 attempt to retake the city by Dost Mohammad Khan failed when his army declined battle with the Dal Khalsa. His son, Mohammad Akbar Khan, almost retook the city in the Battle of Jamrud in 1837, but was forced to retreat due to logistics problems. [23] With the confusion following the collapse of the Sikh Empire due to the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the Sikh Empire's defeat in the Second Anglo-Sikh War, the British occupied Peshawar in 1849. 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.

Durand Line

In 1893, Mortimer Durand negotiated with Abdur Rahman Khan the Amir of Afghanistan the frontier between Afghanistan, the FATA, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan Provinces of Pakistan, the successor state of British India, and Afghanistan. This line, the Durand Line, is named after Sir Mortimer Durand and remains the international boundary between Afghanistan and modern-day Pakistan, officially recognized by most nations but an ongoing point of contention between the two countries. In 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand was deputed to Kabul by the government of British India for this purpose of settling an exchange of territory required by the demarcation of the boundary between northeastern Afghanistan and the Russian possessions, and in order to discuss with the Amir Abdur Rahman Khan other pending questions. The Amir showed his ability in diplomatic argument, is tenacity where his own views or claims were in debate, with a sure underlying insight into the real situation. The territorial exchanges were amicably agreed upon; the relations between the British Indian and Afghan governments, as previously arranged, were confirmed; and an understanding was reached upon the important and difficult subject of the border line of Afghanistan on the east, towards India. In 1893 during rule of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan a "Royal Commission for setting up of Boundary" the Durand Line between Afghanistan and the British-governed India was set up, to negotiate terms with the British, for the Agreeing to the Durand line , and the two parties camped at Parachinar, now part of FATA Pakistan, which is near Khost Afghanistan. From the British side the camp was attended by Sir Mortimer Durand and Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum, Political Agent Khyber. The Afghanistan side was represented by Sahibzada Abdul Latif and the Governor KhostSardar Shireendil Khan representing the Amir.[24]

Independence and 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.

During the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan, Peshawar served as a political centre for the Inter-Services Intelligence-trained mujahideen groups, and housed Afghan refugees at the Jalozai refugee camp. There were a total of about 100,000 Afghan refugees reported in Peshawar during the 1988 election when Benazir Bhutto was running for Prime Minister of Pakistan.[26] Peshawar managed to assimilate many of the ethnic Pashtun Afghans with relative ease and many of them still remain in Pakistan. Peshawar continues to be a city that links Pakistan with Afghanistan as well as Central Asia, and has emerged as an important regional city in Pakistan. It remains a focal point for Pashtun culture. Today, like the surrounding region, it is at the crossroads of the struggle between the extremist Taliban and moderates, liberals and Pashtun 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.

Geography and climate

Peshawar

Climate chart (explanation)

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F

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26

 

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49

 

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27

 

36

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8

 

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26

 

 

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27

 

 

68

 

36

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18

 

35

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12

 

26

10

 

 

23

 

20

5

Average max. and min. temperatures in °C

Precipitation totals in mm

Source: World Weather Information Service

Geography

Peshawar is situated near the eastern end of the Khyber Pass and sits mainly on the Iranian plateau along with the rest of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Peshawar is literally a frontier city of South-Central Asia and was historically part of the Silk Road.

The Vale of Peshawar is covered with consolidated deposits of silt, sands and gravel of recent geological times. The flood Plains/Zones are the areas between Kabul River and Budni Nala. The meander flood plain extends from Warsak in the Northwest towards Southeast in the upper Northern half of the district. The Kabul river enters the district in the Northwest. On entering the Peshawar Plain, the Kabul River is divided into several channels. Its two main channels are the Adizai River Eastward flows along the boundary with Charsadda District. Another channel branching from the right bank of the Naguman River is the Shah Alam, which again merges with Naguman River further in the East. In general the sub-soil strata is composed of gravels, boulders, and sands overlain by silts and clays. Sand, gravel and boulders are important aquifer extends to a depth of about 200 feet (61 m). As further confined water bearing aquifer occurs at depths greater than 400 feet (120 m).

Climate

Peshawar under Koppen’s climate classification features a semi-arid climate with very hot summers and mild winters. “Winter” in Peshawar, starts in mid November and ends in late March. Summer months are May to September. The mean maximum temperature in summer is over 40 °C (104 °F) and the mean minimum temperature is 25 °C (77 °F). The mean minimum temperature during winter is 4 °C (39 °F) and maximum is 18.35 °C (65.03 °F). Peshawar is not a monsoon region, unlike other parts of Pakistan. But still rainfall is received both in winter and in the summer. The winter rainfall due to western disturbances shows a higher record during the months of February and April. The highest winter rainfall of 236 millimetres (9.3 in) has been recorded in February 2007,[27] while the highest summer rainfall of 402 millimetres (15.8 in) has been recorded in the month of July 2010.[28] In which a record breaking rain of 274 millimetres (10.8 in) fell during 24 hours on July 29, 2010.[28] previously 187 mm (7.36 inches) of rain was recorded in April 2009.[27] The average winter rainfall is higher than that of the summer. Based on a 30-year record, the average 30-year annual precipitation has been recorded as 400 millimetres (16 in).The highest annual rainfall of 904.5 millimetres (35.61 in) has been recorded in 2003.[27] Wind speeds vary during the year from 5 knots (5.8 mph; 9.3 km/h) in December to 24 knots (28 mph; 44 km/h) in June. The relative humidity varies from 46% in June to 76% in August.The highest temperature of 50 °C (122 °F) has been recorded on June 18, 1995.[27] While the lowest −3.9 °C (25 °F) occurred on January 7, 1970. Peshawar’s environment has suffered tremendously due to an ever increasing population, unplanned growth and a poor regulatory framework. Air and noise pollution is a significant issue in several parts of the city, and the water quality, once considered to be exceptionally good, is also fast deteriorating.

In addition the city has lost 2,700 acres (1,100 ha) of agriculture land during the two decades (1965–85). This in the addition to 400 acres (160 ha) of vacant land that has been also eaten up by expending urban functions. In the same period, the land under parks and green space has shrunk from 163 to 75 acres (66–30 ha).[30]

Demographics

Peshawar is a rapidly growing city with a population of 2,982,816 in 1998. The current population growth rate is 3.29% per year, which is higher than the average of many other Pakistani cities. Peshawar's inhabitants consist mainly of Pashtun people with Hindkowans as the minority group. In addition, thousands of Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Persians, Panjabis, Chitralis and Gypsies can be found in the city. Languages such as Pashto, Persian, Urdu, Khowar, Dari, Hindko, Saraiki and Punjabi are spoken in Peshawar.

  • Urban Population: 51.32% (1,036,000 persons)

  • Rural Population: 48.68% (983,000 persons)

  • Male/Female ratio: 1.1:1

  • Average annual growth rate 3.56%

In 2002, on the growth rate of 3.56% population doubled in 20 years from 1.1 million in 1981 to 2.242 million in 2002. Peshawar District covers a large area extending over 50 kilometres (31 mi) from north to south and over 30 kilometres (19 mi) from east to west. It is situated at an altitude of 347 m (1,138 ft) above sea level. The Peshawar valley is nearly circular, extending from the Indus to the Khyber Hills. It is bounded on the North and North East by hills, which separate it from the Swat Valley. In the Northwest are the rugged mountains of Khyber and to the South is the continuation of spur which branches off from Safed Koh (the famous white mountain on the Afghan border) and runs to Indus. The lower portion of this branch separates the district of Peshawar and Kohat. Over 99% of the city's population is Muslim, mostly Sunnis with Twelver Shias as the minority. Despite the overwhelmingly Islamic nature of modern Peshawar, the city was previously home to other smaller communities such as Bukharan Jews, Zoroastrians, Bahá'ís, Hindus and Sikhs.

Culture

Peshawar is the centre of Ghandara (Hindko) culture and arts in Pakistan. With the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the influx of Afghan refugees into Pakistan, Peshawar became home for many Afghan musicians and artists.[31] The city has become the centre for Pashto music and cinema as well Persian music for the Tajiks. There is also a thriving book publishing activity in the Persian language in Peshawar, concentrated primarily on Islamic Shia literature and located in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar .[citation needed]

However, the election of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) Islamic coalition in 2002 resulted in restrictions on public musical performances, as well as a ban on playing recorded music on public transports. Peshawar has become host to a thriving underground scene.[32] In 2008, the secular Awami National Party (ANP) swept elections and won power from the Islamic coalition. Since then, some restrictions have been lifted, but there has not been a full restoration of the liberties guaranteed before the MMA victory in 2002. 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. This part of inner Peshawar has been damaged by rapid growth and development and is in need of urgent protection. The walled city was surrounded by several main gates which served 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 Former Gates which were demolished during wars were Kabuli Gate, Berikian Gate, Bajori Gate, Yakatut Gate, Dabgari Gate, Kachahri Gate, and Hasht Nagri Gate.

Educational institutions

With the level of higher education on the rise, there has been a surge[citation needed] of prestigious educational institutions in Peshawar. The prestigious University of Peshawar (UOP) was established in October 1950 by the first Prime Minister of Pakistan in Peshawar. Edwardes College which was founded in 1900 by Herbert Edwardes is the oldest and one of the finest colleges in the province. The Islamia College was founded in 1913 and is also a well known institution that is now part of the University of Peshawar.

 

 

 

Landmarks

Peshawar is one of the oldest cities of the world[citation needed]. It is a conservative Islamic city with a rich history. It offers everything from goldsmiths and silversmiths, traditional carpets (one of the big exports of Pakistan today), pottery, and clothing to artwork in wood, brass or semi-precious stones. The old walled city was known for its 16 gates: Hashtnagri, Lahori, Ganj, Yakka Thoot, Kohati, Sirki, Sard Chah, Beriskian, Ramdas, Dabgari, Bajouri, Kabuli, Asamai, Kachehri, Reti and Rampura Gate. The names given to these gates are significant. It was Sikh General Avitabile who built a mud wall surrounding the city.[34] Under the British nearly the whole of the enclosure wall had been built of pucca brick.[35] There are many bazaars with different goods and souvenirs for travellers. The main ones include the historic Qissa Khawani Bazaar, the Copper market, Chowk Yadgar and Andarsheher Bazaar. In addition because of its access to the Khyber pass, the Khyber train safari starts from here.

Transport

The main transport infrastructure in Peshawar is provided by an international airport (served by all Pakistani airlines and several major foreign airlines), a major railway station (operated by Pakistan Railways), and links to several highways including the Grand Trunk Road and the Karakoram Highway, enabling road, rail and air connections to all Pakistani cities as well as neighbouring countries like Afghanistan and China. Within the city, there are several methods of travel available including coaches, buses, auto rickshaws, and taxis.

 

 

 

Neighborhoods of Peshawar

  • Hayatabad

  • Gulbhar

  • Sethi Town (Haji Camp)

  • Momin Town (Dalazak Road)

  • Latifabad

  • Nishterabad

  • Sikander Town

  • University Town

  • Tahkal

  • Faqirabad

  • Karimpura

  • Garhikhana

  • Gulberg

  • Nothia

 

 
 
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