Monday, 27 April 2015

History of Peshawar valley

The ancient Hindu name for the valley of Peshawar as it appears in Sanskrit literature is GANDHARA, corresponding to the Gandarites of Strabo and the country of the Gandarae described by Ptolemy, though Arrian speaks of the people who held the valley against Alexander as Assakenoi. Its capital, Peukelaotis (or Pushkalavati), is mentioned by Arrian as a large and populous city, captured by Hephaistion, the general of Alexander, after the death of its chieftain Astes. The site of Pushkalavati has been identified with Charsadda, where extensive mounds of ancient debris are still to be seen. The Peshawar and Kabul valleys were ceded by Seleucus to Chandragupta in 303 B. c., and the rock edicts of Asoka at Mansehra and Shahbazgarhi show that Buddhism had become the state religion fifty years later. The Peshawar valley was annexed by the Graeco-Bactrian king Eucratides in the second century, and about the beginning of the Christian era fell under the rule of the Kushans. It is to the intercourse between the Greeks and the Buddhists of this part of India that we owe the school of art known as Graeco-Buddhist, which in turn served as the source of much that is fundamental in the ecclesiastical art of Tibet, China, and Farther Asia generally. For it was in this District that the Mahayana school of Buddhism arose, and from it that it spread over the Asiatic continent. Buddhism was still the dominant religion when Fa Hian passed through in the fifth century A.D. Sung Yun, who visited Peshawar in 520, mentions that the Ephthalite king of Gandhara was at war with the king of Kabul; but at the time of Hiuen Tsiang's visit in 630 Gandhara was a dependency of Kabul, Buddhism was then  falling into decay.

Until the middle of the seventh century, epigraphic evidence shows that the population remained entirely Indian, and Hinduized rulers of Indo-Scythian and Turkish descent retained possession of Peshawar itself and of the Hashtnagar and Yusufzai plains. They were succeeded by the so-called Hindu Shahis of Kabul or Ohind. In 979 one of these, Jaipal, advanced from Peshawar to attack Sabuktagin, governor of Khorasan under the titular sway of the Samani princes; but 'peace was effected and he retired. Nine years later Jaipal was utterly defeated at Laghman, and Sabuktagin took possession of Peshawar, which he garrisoned with 10,000 horse. On his death in 998, his son Mahmud succeeded to his dominions, and, throwing off his nominal allegiance to the Samani dynasty, assumed the title of Sultan in 999. In 1006 Mahmud again invaded the Punjab; and on his return Jaipal's son and successor, Anandpal, attempted to intercept him, but was defeated near Peshawar and driven into Kashmir. But he was able to organize further resistance, for in 1008 he again encountered Mahmud, probably at Bhatinda, on the Indus, where he met with his final overthrow. The Ghaznivid monarchy in turn fell before Muhammad of Ghor in r 181 ; and after his death in 1zo6 the provincial governors declared their independence, making the Indus their western boundary, so that the Peshawar valley was again cut off from the eastern kingdom. In 1221 the Mongols under Chingiz Khan established a loose supremacy over it. About the close of the fifteenth century, a great tide of Afghan immigration flowed into the District. Before Timur's invasion the Dilazaks had been settled in the Peshawar valley, in alliance with the Shalmanis, a Tajik race, subjects of the rulers of Swat. The Khakhai (Khashi) Afghans, a body of roving adventurers, who first come into notice in the time of Timfir, were treacherously expelled from Kabul by his descendant Ulugh Beg, whereupon they entered the Peshawar valley in three main clans-the Yusufzai, Gigianis, and Muhammadzai-and obtained permission from the Dilazaks to settle on a portion of their waste lands. But the new immigrants soon picked a quarrel with their hosts, whom they attacked.

In 151g Babar, with the aid of the Dilazaks, inflicted severe punishment on the Yusufzai clans to the north of the District; but before his death (1530) they had regained their independence, and the Dilazaks even dared to burn his fort at Peshawar. The fort was rebuilt in 1553 by Babar's successor, Humayun, after defeating his brother Mirza Kamran, who had been supported against Humayun by the Ghorai Khel tribes (Khalils, Daudzai, and Mohmands), now first heard of in connexion with Peshawar. After his victory Humayun returned to Hindustan. On his departure the Ghorai Khel entered into alliance with the Khakhai Khel, and their united forces routed the Dilazaks and drove them out of the District across the Indus. The Ghorai Khel and Khakhai Khel then divided the valley and settled in the portions of it still occupied by them, no later tribal immigration occurring to dispossess them. 

The Khalils and a branch of the Mohmands took the south-west corner of the District; to the north of them settled the Daudzai; the remaining Mohmands for the most part stayed in the hills, but settlers gradually took possession of the triangle of land between the hills and the Swat and Kabul rivers ; the east portion of the District fell to the Khakhai Khel: namely, to the Gigianis and Muhammadzai, Hashtnagar; and to the Yusufzai and Mandanrs, Mardan and Swabi and. the hill country adjoining. In the next century the Mandanrs were driven from the hills by the Yusufzai, and concentrated in the east portion of the Peshawar valley, whence they in turn expelled the Yusufzai. Peshawar was included in the Mughal empire during the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan ; but under Aurangzeb a national insurrection was successful in freeing the Afghan tribes from the Mughal supremacy. In 1738 the District fell into the hands of Nadir Shah; and, under his successors, Peshawar was often the seat of the Durrani court. On the death of Timur Shah in 1793, Peshawar shared the general disorganization of the Afghan kingdom; and the Sikhs, who were then in  the first fierce outburst of revenge upon their Muhammadan enemies, advanced into the valley in 1818, and overran the whole country to the foot of the hills. In 1823 Azim Khan made a last desperate attempt to turn the tide of Sikh victories, and marched upon Peshawar from Kabul; but he was utterly defeated by Ranjit Singh, and the whole District lay at the mercy of the conquerors. The Sikhs, however, did not take actual possession of the land, contenting themselves with the exaction of a tribute, whose punctual payment they ensured or accelerated by frequent devastating raids. After a period of renewed struggle and intrigue, Peshawar was reoccupied in 1834 by the Sikhs, who appointed General Avitabile as governor, and ruled with their usual fiscal severity. 

In 1848 the Peshawar valley came into the possession of the British, and was occupied almost without opposition from either within or without the border.

(The Imperial Gazetteer of India, volume 20, page.114-116)

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