Peshawar is the capital of the Khyber Pakhoonkhwa province and the administrative centre for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Peshawar links Pakistan with Afghanistan and the Russian states. The word Peshawar is derived from the Sanskrit word “Purushapura” which means a “city of men.” In Pashto “Peshawar” is translated “Pekhawar.”
Peshawar contains many historical places including the Bala Hisar Fort, constructed during the Mughal’s era to safeguard the region against foreign invaders. According to some historians the Mughal emperor Zahir-ud-Din Baber crossed the Khyber Pass during the 16th Century, erected the forte and named it Qila Bala Hisar (fort of extreme heights). If you are fortunate enough to get a view from the top of the fort you can easily see the Khyber Pass that was discussed in the previous post: Khyber Pass.
Peshawar also features the Masjid Mohabbat Khan — an ancient mosque with outstanding architecture constructed by Mohabbat Khan (governor of Peshawar in the 1630s, the era of Mughal emperor Shah Jehan.) Faded artwork, creaky floors, and cracked walls emphasize the history of this grand mosque. A Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) was built by special request of Queen Victoria to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. It still stands tall today for all to witness.
The Chowk-Yadgar (the Yadgar Square) was erected during British rule and in those days was named Colonel Hasting Square. It was renamed in 1969 as Yadgar Square.
The Edwards College founded in 1901 and Islamia College founded in 1911 have served Peshawar with high quality education. Islamia College was inaugurated by Haji Sahib of Turangzai and gained University status after the independence of Pakistan. Part of Islamia College is now known as University of Peshawar.
The Qissa Khwani Bazaar has been a long-standing historical landmark that provides a platform for hundreds of people to drink endless amounts tea. It is a place for exchanging views regarding socio-economic and political conditions confronted by Pakistan.
Peshawar’s formalities of dress and manner are free and easy. Men greet each other with a firm handshake and a straight but friendly look. If you visit Peshawar you will notice a touch of excitement and drama in the air. Do not be alarmed by the occasional salvo of gunfire – for this is not a tribal raid or a skirmish in the streets but a lively part of wedding celebrations in Pashtoon tribal culture.