Saturday, August 18, 2018

An Utmanzai , 1868

An Utmanzai Yousafzaey (Mandanr), 1868. From Watson and Kaye collection.

Description given with the photograph

"The subject of the Photograph is nearly as fair as an Englishman, with dark eyes, and is five feet nine inches in height. His dress consists of a green cotton turban, with border and ends of crimson silk and gold; a dark blue loongee or waist cloth, sometimes worn over the shoulders as a scarf, and sometimes as a girdle, with a border of crimson silk, and ends of crimson silk and gold. This, with loose trousers of cotton cloth, completes the costume. In cold weather a sheep-skin choga or pelisse, or a tunic of quilted cotton, is worn over all. "

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sheikh Badin hills

Sheikh Budeen or Marwat range, 1864. Watercolour dated August 20, 1864. By Henry Brabazon Urmston.

The locals call it Shin Ghar or ghund. Its crest divides the districts of Lakki Marwat and Dera Ismail Khan. It rises abruptly to a height of 4,516 feet. This range is mostly composed of soft sand stone, and is rapidly disintegrating. Surface soil of southern Marwat has been formed by denundation from this and other neighbouring ranges.

British built a hill station there. Major Urmston writes in 1864 that, "There are no two opinions on the healthiness of the sanatorium. It has been proved beyond doubt to be a most valuable place of resort for officers and families on the frontier during the hottest months of the year; and, after the experience of two seasons, I can safely affirm that, though its outward appearance is less attractive than other hill stations, its beneficial effects upon the constitution, especially of ladies and children, are very great. The cool breeze which sets in towards sunset is very refreshing, and dense fogs and clouds are rare."

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The revolt of Shaikh Kamaluddin Daudzai and Khan Jahan Lodi against the Mughals

Khan Jahan Lodi (Pir Khan Lodi) was one of the foremost nobles during the reign of  Emperor Jehangir. Under his patronage the Makhzan-i-Afghani or the Tarikh-i-Khan Jahan Lodi was complied by Naimatullah Harvi. He was compelled to revolt against Emperor Shah Jahan in the second year of his reign.

Darya Khan Daudzai, another prominent Pashtun noble, joined hands with Khan Jahan Lodi in his rebellion against the Emperor. Darya Khan's brother-in-law , Shaikh Kamal-ud-Din, orchestrated the rising of Pashtuns against the Mughals in Peshawar, where he held a jagir. After suffering reverses at the hands of loyalists, Khan Jahan Lodi formed a plan to go to the Punjab on the advice of Darya Khan Daudzaey, Aimal Khan Tarin and Sardar Khan Ruhilla, so as to be nearer his homeland to foment trouble in the suburbs of the Punjab with the help of the Pashtuns living in Pakhtunkhwa. Nevertheless Khan Jahan could not reach Punjab, was intercepted and killed by the Mughals.

Khan Jahan Lodi died fighting barvely. The Badshahnama relates: '
"When the misfortunate [Khan Jahan Lodi] saw that the approaching army would in no way leave him alone, he dismounted from his horse and began hand-to-hand combat with Madho Singh and the group of mace-bearers and others. During the struggles Madho Singh struck him with a lance. Most of his companions were killed, and the mace-bearers cut off the heads of those wrong-headed rebels."

Friday, July 27, 2018

Battle of Maiwand

On July 27, 1880, Mohammad Ayub Khan, fifth son of Amir Sher Ali, decisively defeated a British force under Brigadier G. R. S Burrows in open battle at Maiwand, near Qandahar. Of the 2,476 British and Indian soldiers engaged in the fighting, 971 were killed in action, 168 wounded (Abridged Official Account of the second Anglo-Afghan War, 1908, as quoted by Dupree). But according to Ghubar, out of 12,000 soldiers and officers, only 25 British soldiers dressed as Afghans and Muslims, had reached Kandahar, as helped by Sardar Sher Ali Kandahari, to tell the tale of their defeat at Maiwand. At the battle of Maiwand a legendary Pashtun heroine, Malalai, used her veil as a standard, and encouraged the warriors by shouting the following couplet (landay) in Pashto ;

کہ پہ میوند کے شہید نہ شوے
گرانہ لالیہ بے نگئی تہ دے ساتینہ

Young love, if you do not fall in the battle of Maiwand,
By God, someone is saving you for a token of shame.
(Translation Dr 'Taizai')

The disastrous defeat of British arms in Asia could not go unchallenged, so Lt. General Sir Fredrick Roberts was dispatched to Kandahar with a picked mobile force of 9,987 men. The British won a decisive victory, and Ayub Khan returned to Herat.


1- Afghanistan by Louis Dupree
2- Afghanistan A Political history by S. Fida Yunas

Friday, July 20, 2018

Nimla or Mimla garden (Nangarhar province)

The Nimla garden (Khogiani district, Nangarhar) was planted by Mughal emperor Babur (not to be confused with Bagh-i-Babur of Kabul).

Nimla village lies about 5 miles east of Gandamak and 30 miles from Jalalabad. Its inhabitants are Khogiani Afghans.

Mughal emperor Jahangir hunted a female panther between the Nimlah and Bagh-i-Wafa (Jalalabad). "On the 24th, between the garden of Wafa and Nimlah, a hunt took place, and nearly forty red antelope were killed. A female panther (yuz) fell into our hands in this hunt. The zamindars of that place, Laghmanis, Shall, and Afghans, came and said that they did not remember nor had they heard from their fathers that a panther had been seen in that region for 120 years". [Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri, ‎Henry Beveridge's translation, p-125]

Note: Note: The original, and correct name of the place is Nimla'h, not Mimla'h. The garden was planted by Mughals and they named it Nimla'h. Siraj al-Tawarikh of Faiz Mohammad Katib Hazara (published in 1912), an official national history, also spell it as Nimla'h. All the 19th century British sources also spell it as Nimlah.

Nimlah or Mimlah Bagh (Khogiani district, Nangarhar), with soldiers in the foreground, taken by John Burke in 1878.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sayyids of Kunar

Sayyid Mahmood, the Badshah of Kunar, 1879.

For centuries the long and narrow valley of Kunar with Pashat as its main town had been ruled by a Pashtunized Sayyid family of Arab descent. Sayyid Ali Tirmizi, known as the Pir Baba, who had accompanied  Zahir al-Din Babur from Tirmiz, was the founder of the family. His shrine in the village of Paucha in Buner is venerated to the present day. Emperor Humayun, who was the son and successor of Babur, had granted him Kunar free of revenue. His descendants known locally as de Konarr pachayaun (kings of Kunar) as well as de Konarr sayyedaun (Sayyids of Kunar) gradually became secular. They took the revenue at the rate of one-third of the production of the land and in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries their annual income fluctuated between sixty thousand and eighty thousand rupees. ["A Political and Diplomatic History of Afghanistan, 1863-1901" , p-69, M. Hasan Kakar ]

Friday, July 13, 2018

Islamia College, Peshawar

Roos Keppel, then chief commissioner of the North West Frontier province, wanted to ' tame' the Pashtun people through higher education. As such, he went forward with a movement that led to the foundation of Darul Uioom and the affiliated lslamia School and lslamia College. The lslamia College Committee was formed to raise funds and make arrangements for establishing the mentioned educational institutions. Roos Keppel remarked, " I shall try to get all the sons of the tribal maliks, the chief of the next generation, to attend the school and learn that the ‘Firangi’ and his administration are not as black as they are painted.” The pro-government camp under the leadership of Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum Khan joined hands with Roos-Keppel in establishing Islamia College at Peshawar.

Islamia College Peshawar, 1930