Peshawar derives its name from a Sanskrit word
the city of flowers. Peshawar’s flowers were mentioned even in Mughal
Emperor Babur’s memoirs.
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 ½ kms north-east of Peshawar at Pushkalavati (lotus city) near
Charsadda. The great Babur marched through historic Khyber Pass to
conquer South Asia in 1526 and set up the Moghal Empire in the South Asia.
The 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-THE FRONTIER TOWN
And Peshawar is now, as
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 bandoleers 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
THE LAND OF PATHANS
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 moulded by
their heroes, like Khushal 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 Mughal and others 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.