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Archive for the ‘Culter and Tradition’ Category

Mohabat Khan Mosque

The Mohabat Khan’s Mosque is the historic beauty of Peshawar city. Situated near chowk Yadgare, the most important square of Peshawar. It is very beautiful central mosque and the pathans like it very much. Itis said that during the Sikh regime, two Muslim were hanged every day form its high magnificent minarets. Among its dazzling white minarets and cool, clear pool in the center of the lager tiled court-yard it look marvelous in the densely populated city of Peshawar.imagesimages1

Gandhara Civilization

Gandhara comprises the area to the west of river Indus and north of river Kabul. It includes the valleys of Peshawar, Swat, Dir and Bajaur and extends eastwards to the Taxila Valley in the Punjab and westwards to Hadda and Bamiyan in Afghanistan.

Hiuen Tsang, the renowned Chinese pilgrim, who visited Gandhara in the early 7 century AD, wrote that the Kingdom of Gandhara formed the tract of the country on the west bank of Indus and north of Kabul rivers which included the Peshawar Valley and the modern Swat, Buner and Bajaur. According to Zwalf (1996), the British historian on Gandhara Art, the region of Gandhara was located below the meeting point of Hindukush and the Great Himalayas, while Dr. M. F Farooq Swati (1997) maintains that except the time of Mauryans and Kushans, the region was divided into a number of small kingdoms, such as Udhiyana (Swat), Gandhara (Peshawar Valley), Kapisa, Bactria and others.

Gandhara, the cradle of Buddhist Civilization, which gave birth to the famous Gandhara Art, is first mentioned in the Rig-Veda, the religious book of Aryans. It remained one of the provinces of the Achaemenian Empire as per Darius inscription of 6th century BC. Pushkalavati (Balahisar-Charsadda) was its first capital from 6th century BC to 1st century AD, which was invaded in 327 BC by Alexander the Great. Later, Gandhara was ruled by Mauryans, indo-Greeks, Scythians and Parthians rulers. The Kushanas established their capital at Pushapura or Peshawar in the 1 century AD and King Kanishka built a Stupa and monastery at Shah-Ji-Ki-Dheri, near Ganj Gate Peshawar. The relic casket discovered from this Stupa has Kharoshthi inscription, which mentions the name of the city as Kanishkapura, is now exhibited in the main hail of the Peshawar Museum. In 7th century AD, the Shahi Dynasties of Kabul and Gandhara established capital of Gandhara at Hund, which remained their capital till the invasions of Ghaznavids in 998 AD, thus ending the rule of Gandhara after about 1600 years.

It was during the time of the Kushan rulers that the Buddhist Art developed in the form of Mahayana Buddhism at Gandhara and travelled towards China, Korea and Japan. The Chinese pilgrims of the 5th7th century AD talked about the great glory and thousands of stupas and monasteries, which they visited in Gandhara. Taxila, though not geographically included in Gandhara, was an extension of Gandhara Art and a great teaching center of Buddhism.

The main sites of Gandhara are located in:

The valleys of Peshawar







The most famous sites are:

Hadda and Bamiyan in Afghanistan

Shah-ji-ki-Dheri in Peshawar

Bala Hisar and Sheikhan Dheri in Charsadda

Takht-i-Bahi, Jamal Garhi and Sahri Bahiol in Mardan

Aziz Dheri in Swabi

Butkara-I & II in Swat

Sirkap, Sirsukh,Julian in Taxila

The museums of Peshawar, Mardan, Chakdara, Swat, Taxila, Lahore and Karachi house some of the most remarkable collections of Gandhara Art. However, Peshawar Museum has the credit of having one of the best collections of Gandhara Art in the world. The Gandharan collection of Peshawar Museum comes from the excavations of the Archaeological Survey of India, Frontier Circle during the first half of the 20th century. These sculptures mainly comes from the sites of Sahri Bahiol (1 906-26), Takht-i-Bahi (1 907-13), Jamal Garhi (1921-24) in District Mardan, Shah-ji-ki-Dheri (1908-10) in District Peshawar and Palatu Dheri (1902-03), Ghaz Dheri (1 902-03), Mamane Dheri, Akhun Dheri, Ibrahimzai, Utmanzai, Hamid Garhi Turangzai, Bala Hisar and Sheikhan Dheri in District Charsadda. The Taxila museum collection mainly comes from the sites of Mohra Muradu, Julian and Sirkap, while the Swat museum collection is mainly from Butkara and Saidu Sharif sites and Chakdara museum exhibits the collection from the sites of Andan Dheri and Chatpat.

Gandhara Art:

The cosmopolitan art of Gandhara was brought to light by antiquarians and art dealers of the 19th and 20t1t century, but currently, almost all the major museums of the civilized world, have exhibited pieces of Gandharan Art in their galleries. Recent research shows that the art of Gandhara in stone, stucco, terracotta and bronze, for the propagation of Buddhism, is the legacy of the great civilization of Gandhara, which has hardly any parallels in the contemporary world.

Gandhara Art, a contribution of the inhabitants of Gandhara, shows influences from the
main land Indians, Greeks, Romans and Persian artists. The art appeared in this region in the 1st century BC, strengthened in the 1st century AD, flourished till 5th century and lingered on till 8th century. The art died due to the invasions of Huns (5th century A.D.),Turk and Hindu Shahis (6th 10th century AD) and Muslims (10th & 11th AD).

The purpose of this art was the propagation of Buddhism through the images carved and made in stone, stucco, terracotta and bronze, mostly enshrined in the stupas and monasteries throughout Gandhara. Thousands of such stupas were mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsang, who visited Gandhara in the early 7th century AD, only few of which have been excavated so-far. The main focus of the art was Buddha’s life stories and individual images; his previous birth stories (Jatakas) and future Buddhas. The most important among them are the figures of historic Buddha, his miracles and all episodes from his birth to death, beautifully and liberally executed. The local devoted artists, stimulated by the personality of Buddha, took advantage of the contacts, motifs and technology from Greeks, Romans and Persians and developed such a unique art, which gave Buddha an eternal life.

The life stories of Buddha, depicted in Gandharan Art are an authentic document of the Mahayana text composed during the time of Kushana rulers. In fact, the sculptors of Gandhara translated the Buddhist Mahayana religious text into details in stones, stucco, terracotta and bron2e, thus making it more romantic and providing a base for the expansion of Buddhism towards the Far East via Silk Route through pilgrims and traders. The current Buddhist religion in China, Korea and Japan is a wonderful example of the extension of Gandharan Buddhism. The Gandharan sculptures were fixed to the bases, drums and stairs of the stupas, around which the worshipers circumambulated and individual figures filled the niches around the stupas and monasteries. Also, the harmika i.e., the solid box in square above the dome of the stupa was carved on all sides with Buddha life stories. These stories were chiselled on stone tablets and fixed to the stupas, inside which, relics of Buddha were kept in a casket for the purpose of worship.

The major poses of the Buddha and Bodhisattva (Buddha to be) in Gandhara Art are Dhayana Mudra or Meditation Pose, Abhaya Mudra or Reassurance Pose, Dharma Chakra Mudra or Turning of the Wheel of Law pose and Bhumispersa Mudra or Earth Touching Pose. The Art, mainly a product of the land of Gandhara under the Kushana rulers, is much more charismatic than the contemporary Mathuran Art of India and therefore, a great source of attraction for tourists, pilgrims and researchers. Selected museums with Gandhara collection.texla_marble_woman.jpe

Dark side of LRH Hospital


View of garbabe dump at Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) road showing the negligence of concerned authorities, in peshawar , Pakistan

The downfall of cinema culture in Peshawar

Cinemas in any society play a vital and important part in providing entertainment at less cost and that is easy to reach. But in Peshawar, the curtains has fallen to the cinema culture due to a number of reasons. These include changing of cinema houses into departmental stores, plaza’s and other buildings, increasing militancy and law and order situation in the provincial metropolis, popularity of cable in almost every house, easy access of movies through CDs, revealimages1s a survey done by The Frontier Post. The number of cinegoers have dropped almost 50 percent and similarly the quality of the films produced by Pakistan in any of its language have been on constant decline from the past two decades. There was a time when the city had almost 14 cinema houses but now it has only 10 in number. The owners of the four other cinema houses have razed the buildings to construct commercial plazas. The few of cinema theatres which are showing films are deprived of visitors due to a number of reasons which mainly include security concerns, lack of support from the government, poor quality of Pakistani films, poor quality of cinema houses and unfavourable environment, have prevented people to come out to enjoy movies on the 70 mm screen. Palwasha Cinema, Novelty Cinema, Metro Cinema and Falak Sair Cinema, all are now part of history. The remaining cinemas housesare Sabrina Cinema, Arshad Cinema (Khyber Bazaar), Tasweer Mehal and Picture House (Cinema Road), Naz Cinema (Hospital Road), Firdaus Cinema (GT Road), Capital Cinema (Saddar), Shama Cinema (Pajjagi Road) and PAF Cinema (Cantonment Area). The facilities provided in these cinema houses are not even near to the standards. The buildings are ramshackle and need proper renovation work, the seating arrangement is poor and the movies shown in them are even worse. Even the PAF Cinema which is said to be the first ever cinema in Peshawar, now shows Pashto films only. Due to which no families go to this cinema which was famous as the families of the Pakistan Air Force officers once used to visit it. People opt to stay at homes and watch an English or Indian movie in their homes on DVD players instead of watching a Pakistani film in cinema. Haji Muhammad, a shopkeeper in Saddar told this scribe that he use to visit cinema houses in different parts of the city in order to entertain himself from some quality movies. ‘‘Now it has been more than two decades that I have visited the cinema houses,” he said. Abbas Manzoor, an employee of a UN agency said that he used to visit PAF cinema along with his father as it had a very healthy environment and families could easily be accommodated in the gallery of the cinema. ‘‘Who could now go to the cinema houses with the pashto films being aired there,” he said. Khan Muhammad, a resident of Gul Bahar area said that he has seen the old Pashto films on CDs and DVDs and there is no comparison between the old and the new movies. ‘‘The old movies were far better than what are made today. There was original Pashto culture been shown in those movies and what is being shown today is not our culture as they are too much vulgar and full of violence,” Khan said. The cinemas in Peshawar are a part of our history. The PAF Cinema was built after World War I while the Falak Sair Cinema (demolished in 2007) was built in 1934. Though, the downfall of the cinema culture in Peshawar is not a one man responsibility, but there has been no attention given by the government in this regard. Government has to take every one related to this field on board so that steps can be taken to cure the illness of this field. Once Pashto films were famous for their love stories and songs have now been associated with vulgarness and action. Iqbal, a senior citizen of Peshawar who has seen the changing that have occured in Peshawar over the years with his own eyes while talking to this scribe said that there was a time when even women used to visit the cinema houses. ‘‘Most of the cinemas in Pakistan were constructed pre-partition. We used to visit the cinema houses and the quality of the films was much better than what has been produced today,” he said.


Pakistan – Dominating Malang Palawan’s carpet shop in congested Shoba Bazaar is a portrait of his father on horseback – an accomplished player of Buzkashi, the strenuous equestrian sport of Afghanistan.

Palawan is proud that, before him, his father Haji Tokhta and grandfather Ganja Palawan were chapandaz or players of Buzkashi – a game which involves jostling to get at the carcass of a goat and then manhandling it into a delineated circle while on horseback.

Six-feet tall and athletically built, Palawan was 22 when he himself first began playing Buzkashi in the Jauzjan province of his native Afghanistan. Now 40 he still plays the game when he can as a refugee in this frontier town of Pakistan. There was, he recalls, a time when he earned a living as a professional chapandaz, patronized by rich aficionados as the tradition used to be among the fierce, feudal Afghan tribes.

Until 1973, when the last Afghan King Zahi Shah was deposed and for some years afterwards, Buzkashi tournaments were a regular feature of Afghan life and preceded events such as weddings. But times have changed. Palawan fled Afghanistan due to civil war to set up his carpet shop here but does what he can to keep the tradition of buzkashi alive in this alien land – along with Afghan culinary art, culture and tradition.

Afghans lay claim to being the original people who tamed wild horses, and historical records testify to their exceptional riding skills which halted Alexander the Great’s advance into Afghanistan for two years. Afghan horsemen were, from those days, famous for swooping down on unsuspecting enemies and bodily whisking them away – a feat which has its peacetime version in buzkashi with a headless calf taking the place of human prey.

Besides the strength required of both horse and rider, the chapandaz has to perform a feat of balancing while pulling, pushing, snatching and carrying away the calf to deposit it in the circle.

The sport has many traditions but no hard and fast rules which allowed for drastic improvisations – and this has come in handy for those involved in keeping the game alive in Pakistan. Haji Abdul Bari, a Buzkashi promoter and a chapandaz says that where the game is played with 12 players on each opposing side, in Pakistan the teams have been reduced by half for lack of space and suitable animals. The weight of the decapitated calf – for which the teams jostle for posession – has also been reduced from 60 kilograms to half that weight says Bari, also owner of a carpet business in Peshawar.

The moving spirit behind the revival of the game, Bari has spent money and time persuading chapandaz, living as refugees in different parts of Pakistan’s North West Frontier province (NWFP) to play the game – even the watered-down version. Bari has gone to the extent of buying up horses put to work pulling carriages by Afghan refugees. ”I could not bear to see the precious horses pulling carts in the streets,” Bari said.

But worse has happened to the 3 million odd Afghans who streamed into NWFP and other border provinces of Pakistan to escape the civil war – they have had to sell drugs and their women sex to make a living.

Still, the hapless Afghans managed to level a plot of land a ground inside the Khurasan Refugee Camp, on the outskirts of Peshawar for a few rounds of their beloved sport and before long Buzkashi was back in business.

Before long the Pakistan government, anxious to maintain good relations with its turbulent neighbor, helped the refugees organize a few tournaments and recently military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf was treated to a match during a visit here.

”The game will strengthen ties between the two countries, besides becoming a source of revenue for us,” said NWFP minister for sports and culture, Imtiaz Hussain Gillani.

Possessive of their traditions and customs, Buzkashi being a major part of this, the Afghans were delighted.

”What if we have been displaced? Our blood has not changed, and Buzkashi is in our blood,” Palawan said.

peshawar fort

his early photograph shows how the language of the new medium was developing. The composition-the tree and the use of figures to create diagonal lines-dramatically enhances depth of field. The men carefully placed along the road also add to the information being conveyed by the shot. The road is a portion of the Grand Trunk Road. Today, the foreground area is one of the busiest traffic intersections in Peshawar.photo3