Peshawar derives its name from a Sanskrit word  "Pushpapura" meaning 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.


And 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 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 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 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.


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