Town & Places - Kissa Khwani Bazaar

Among walled Peshawar's most historic landmarks is the Kissa Khwani Bazaar / "The Bazaar of the Story-Tellers", or according to Edwardes, the "Piccadilly of Central Asia". It is the main city street and accessed from the Kabuli Gate, one of the original sixteen gates. As the name suggests, the gate faces Kabul.
Destroyed during Sikha Shahi, it was renovated by Sir Herbert Edwardes, who in a self-aggrandizement gesture, re-named it Edwardes Gate. Here traders on the Silk Route would break journey to rest awhile and refresh their bodies and souls. Once the bazaar was alive with stories of the Amir of Bokhara and the Khans of Khiva and the regionallove-Iore of "Adam and Dur Khani".The kahva khanas, or tea-rooms, along its labyrinthine lanes, continue as social institutions, humming with the sound of many languages and dialects,overlooking or looking out to other bazaars and lanes. They provide steaming kahva laced with cardamom and fine herbs, bubbling aromatic hookahs to smoke,the comfort of caravan-serais, and the relaxed atmosphere to lounge and gossip in. Tales of travels and adventure, resistance against the Soviet invasion of, and the American and British presence in, Afghanistan are told and retold, embroidered and elaborated. And trade deals are finalized. Travellers were,and still occasionally are, entertained by balladeers and story-tellers. The rich oral traditions of the region-Pathan romances, battle accounts, burlesques and love songs-all weave into a rich tapestry of human voice and music from simple string and wind instruments.

In the Kissa Khwani Bazaar area is located the Ghanta Ghar / "Clock Tower". An imperial symbol, it was erected in 1900 to the memory of a popular Commissioner of Peshawar, Sir George Cunningham. Close by Is the Yadgar Chowk/ "Memorial Square". Initially it was named after Colonel LC. Hastings (d.1884) and a commemorative fountain was also erected. During the 1940's it celebrated those who died in the struggle for Independance. Now the Chowk also commemorates the heroes of the India-Pakistan War of 1965.

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