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Peshawar derives its name from a Sanskrit word "Pushpapura" meaning the city of flowers. Peshawar's flowers were mentioned even in Mughal Emperor Babar's memories.

Alexander's legions and the southern wing of his army were held up here in 327 B.C. for forty days at a fort excavated recently, 27 1/2 kms north-east of Peshawar at Pushkalavati (lotus city) near Charsada.

The great Babar marched through historic Khyber Pass to conquer South Asia in 1526 and set up the Moghal Empire in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent.

The Khyber Pass and the valley have resounded to the tramp of marching feet as successive armies hurtled down the crossroad of history, pathway of commerce, migration and invasion by Aryans, Scythians. Persians, Greeks, Bactrians, Kushans, Huns, Turks' Mongols and Moghals.

Peshawar is now, as always, very much a frontier town. The formalities of dress and manner give way here to a free and easy style, as men encounter men with a firm hand-clasp and a straight but friendly look. Hefty handsome men in baggy trousers and long, loose shirts, wear bullet studded bandoliers across their chests or pistols at their sides as a normal part of their dress.

There is just that little touch of excitement and drama in the air that makes for a frontier land. An occasional salvo of gun fire, no, not a tribal raid or a skirmish in the streets but a lively part of wedding celebrations.

Remember, we are in the land of the Pathans - a completely male-dominated  society. North and south of Peshawar spreads the vast tribal area where lives the biggest tribal society in the world, and the most well known, though much misrepresented.

Pathans are faithful Muslims. Their typical martial and religious character has been molded by their heroes, like Khushhal Khan Khattak, the warrior poet and Rehman Baba, a preacher and also a poet of Pushto language.

Today, they themselves guard the Pakistan-Afghanistan border along the great passes of the Khyber, the Tochi, the Gomal and others on Pakistan's territory, but before independence they successfully defied mighty empires, like the British and the Moghal and other before them, keeping the border simmering with commotion, and the flame of freedom proudly burning.

Peshawar is the great Pathan city. And what a city! Hoary with age and the passage of twenty-five centuries, redolent with the smell of luscious fruit and roasted meat and tobacco smoke, placid and relaxed but pulsating with the rhythmic sound of craftsmen's hammers and horses' hooves, unhurried in its pedestrian pace and horse-carriage traffic, darkened with tall houses, narrow lanes and overhanging balconies, intimate, with its freely intermingling crowd of townsmen, tribal, traders and tourists - this is old Peshawar, the journey's end or at least a long halt, for those traveling up north or coming down from the Middle East or Central Asia, now as centuries before when caravans unloaded in the many caravan series now lying deserted outside the dismantled city walls or used as garages by the modern caravans of far-ranging buses.

Until the mid-fifties 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 now. It leads out to the Khyber and on to Kabul.

You come across two-and -three story houses built mostly of unbaked bricks set in wooden frames to guard against earthquakes, Many old houses have beautifully carved heavy wooden doors and almost all have highly ornamental wooden balconies. There is a tall and broad structure whose lofty portal look down upon the street. This historical building houses the police offices and the site was occupied centuries ago by a Buddhist stupa, then by a Hindu temple and then by a Moghal sarai. It was, in Sikh days, the seat of General Avitable, an Italian soldier of fortune in the service of Ranjit Singh.

Here perhaps visiting travelers or the relaxing townsmen were regaled with stories by professional story tellers, in the evening, in the many teashops that still adorn the bazaar front with their large brass samovars and numerous hanging teapots and teacups.

As in most eastern bazaars, the shops of delicacies predominate, and here too you will find many colorful fruit shops displaying the glorious harvest of Peshawar's unrivaled bread and justly celebrated "Kababs" and "Tikkas" meat sizzling on hot coals, in the many wayside cafes.

Leather goods shops are the next most numerous, selling that wonderful footwear, the Peshawari "Chappals" or sandals, belts, holsters and bandoliers and a special variety of light but sturdy suitcase called "Yakhdaan".

As you move up, the Qissa Khawani Bazaar turns left and here begins the bazaar of coppersmiths whose jewel-like engraved and embossed jars, bowls, ewers and plates are piled up in shops like glistening treasure trove. Other famous bazaars of Peshawar are the Khyber Bazaar. Bird Bazaar and Meena Bazaar, Jewellery Bazaar and Mochilara (Shoe Makers' Bazaar).

In fact, the variety  of craft in which Peshawar excels even today is amazing and this is a part of the city's character often eclipsed by its martial tradition. Remember that it was in this valley of Peshawar that there flourished that remarkable school of Ghandhara sculpture, which is one of the glories of Pakistan's heritage.

Soon you reach the central square called chowk Yadgaar the traditional site of political rallies. The two routes from the old city meet here. Parking of cars can safely be done only at this place in the old city.

The only significant remaining Moghal mosque in Peshawar was built by Mohabat khan in 1670 A.D. when he was twice Governor of Peshawar under Moghal Emperors Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb. The mosque was nearly destroyed by fire in 1898 A.D. and was only saved by the unremitting efforts of the faithful. The extensive renovation of the mosque was done by the traditional craftsman. The mosque is a fine specimen of Moghal architecture of Emperor Shah Jehan's period. The interior of the prayer chamber has been lavishly decorated with floral work and calligraphy.

The mighty Bala Hisaar Fort lies on both eastern approaches to Peshawar city. It meets the eye when coming from Rawalpindi or from the Khyber. It is a massive frowning structure as its name implies, and the newcomer passing under the shadow of its huge battlements and ramparts cannot fail to be impressed. Originally built by Babar, the first of the Moghals in 1526-30, it was rebuilt in its present form by the Sikh Governor of Peshawar, Hari Singh Nalva, in the 1830's under the guidance of French engineers. It houses government offices at present.

Peshawar Museum is housed in an imposing building of the British days. It was formerly the Victoria Memorial Hall built in 1905. The large hall, side galleries and the raised platform which were used for ball dances now display in chronological order finest specimens of Gandhara sculptures, tribal life, the Muslim period and ethnography.

These houses are situated in Mohallah Sethian and can be approached from Chowk yadgaar. These are highly decorated style of building with carved wooden doors, partitions, balconies, mirrored and painted rooms. The Sehtis are the traditional business community of Peshawar. The main house was built in 1882 AD. by Haji Ahmed Gul who migrated from Chamkani (a near village) almost 6 generations ago.

Across the railway line was built the new modern Peshawar, the Cantonment, like the ones which the British built near every major city for their administrative offices, military barracks, residences, parks, churches and shops.

The Peshawar "Sadder" (Cantonment) is a spaciously laid out neat and clean township with avenues of tall trees, wide tarred roads, large single storied houses with lawns and a pervading scent of rare shrubs and flowers that is Peshawar's own.

The heart of the sadder is the Khalid bin Walid (Company) Bagh which is an old Moghal Garden. Its huge ancient trees and gorgeous big roses are a sight to remember. Two other splendid old gardens are the Shahi Bagh in the north-east and the Wazir Bagh in the south-east, all of which give the character of a garden city to Peshawar.
In Sadder, there are the splendid modern state bank building, Governor's house, hotels, old missionary  Edwards collage ,archly stocked museum, fine shopping area and right in the middle is the tourist Information center at Dean's hotel (Phone:279781).

The Peshawar of the hoary past is the old city, the Peshawar of the British period (1849 to 1947) is the Cantonment but the Peshawar of independent Pakistan is the vast extension of the city west and east.

Westward, on the road to the Khyber, where in the days gone by, no one was safe from tribal raids, today stretches a long line of educational and research institutions, such as the Academy of rural development, the teachers training college, the north regional laboratories of the council of scientific and industrial research and many others.

 But the pride of Peshawar today is its university, a vast sprawling garden town of red brick buildings and velvet lawns, which comprises a dozen departments and colleges of law, medicine, engineering and forestry. Special mention must be made of the Islamia college, which was the pioneer national institution that ignited the torch of enlightenment in this region,67 years ago.

The road stretching out east towards Rawalpindi is lined for miles upon miles with factories producing a variety of goods and also orchard producing some of the world's finest plums, pears 
and peaches. Rice, sugar-cane and tobacco are the rich cash-crops of the well-watered Peshawar valley through which flows the Kabul River and at the end of which the mighty Indus forms the district boundary for 48 1/2 Kms (30miles),the two joining near the historic Attock fort.

PUNJAB:  Lahore  Multan  Bahawalpur  Cholistan  Sialkot  Faisalabad  Gujranwala  Chiniot
SIND     :  Karachi  Hyderabad  Moenjodaro  Sukkur  Thar  Rohri
NWFP   :  Peshawar  Khyber Pass  Swat Valley  Chitral-Kafir Kalash
BALUCHISTAN:  Quetta  Ziarat  Bolan Pass  Sibi  Taftan  The Makran Coast 
 Skardu Valley  Gilgit Valley  Hunza Valley  Karakoram Highway  Kaghan Valley
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