Town & Places - Peshawar


The capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it has been identified as Paskapuros of the Greek, Kaspaturos of Herodotus, Po-Iu-sha-po-Iu of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang, and as Purshapur or Pushabur in early Muslim sources such as AI-Biruni and others.These variations are derived from Pushpapura the Sanskrit word meaning the "City of Flowers". Not surprisingly the city attracted migrants, invaders and refugees from the north, through the Khyber Pass and other routes. Herodotus, the Greek historian, mentioned Peshawar in 430 B.C. as a frontier town. Conquered by the Greeks, it remained an important town of the Gandhara kingdom. It was here that Buddhist scholars composed the texts of Mahayana Buddhism that was to spread into China and Japan. When the Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hien (c 404) visited the city it was the capital of Gandhara. Destroyed by the White Huns, invaded by the Ghaznavids, the town was rebuilt after Emperor Babur (r. 1526 - 1530) established the Mughal empire in 1526. Following the weakening of that great dynasty, it fell prey, in the early nineteenth century, to the Sikhs who annexed it to the Kingdom of Lahore. Elphinstone, as member of the British mission, spent less than four months (February 25 June 14) in Peshawar during 1809. He gives a fairly comprehensive view of the geography and the people. His observations are acute, his analysis and understanding discerning. Bala Hissar, which he visited, was in full Pathan glory as the king's palace. In 1823 the scourge of the Khalsa army reduced this magnificent building to "a Sikh barrack affair". On its north side were the immaculately kept royal gardens, later destroyed and all its trees axed by the Sikhs. The pres¬ent Shahi Bagh is a sorry reminder of that great green stretch. The Bala Hisar Fort was then a place of grandeur where Shah Shuja held court:

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