PESCHAR, (APP) – Peshawar, which has a recorded history of 2,500 years and holds the distinction of being the oldest living city in South Asia, is well known for being the custodian of eight to ten ancient civilizations, including Gandhara. As a result of its distinctive archaeological sites and illustrious past, both domestic and foreign tourists are drawn to Peshawar.
Peshawar, known for its historic Balahisar Fort and Qissa Khwani Bazaar, was dubbed the “Oldest Living City” in South Asia by the Archaeology Department. Peshawar’s history dates back to 539 BC. Dr. Abdul Samad Khan, director of archaeology and museums, told APP that the most recent scientific excavation at Gor Kathri revealed that Peshawar was the oldest city still in existence in South Asia that was inhabited by people with a variety of cultures, languages, and architectural styles.
According to him, the Gor Khatri excavation, architectural styles, cuisine, and languages have shown that Peshawar was home to eight to ten different ancient civilizations. The excavation at Gor Khatri, which lasted for several years and was described as “The deepest and biggest excavation in the world” in the British Journal “Current World Archaeology,” has uncovered 20 layers that give a thorough overview of Peshawar’s history, from the British era to pre-Indo-Greek times.
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According to the excavation, Peshawar was a province of the Persian Achaemenian Empire between the fourth and sixth centuries BC. Before Pakistan was founded, Peshawar was also influenced by the Mauryans, Greeks, Scythians, Kushans, Sasanians, White Huns, Ghaznavids, Slave Dynasty, Ghoris, Suri Afghans, Mughals, Durranis, Sikhs, and British.
Peshawar, which had previously been conquered by the Greeks and ruled by Buddhists, had been rebuilt by Brahmins, invaded by Ghaznavids, seized by the Mughals, overrun by Sikhs, and then annexed by the British. Dr. Samad claimed that Peshawar has remained unaltered and a hub of attractions for tourists and traders since its founding despite having witnessed the onslaught of worry-warts, kings, and invaders that marched from Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics to the Subcontinent through the historic Khyber Pass.
“Qissa Khwani Bazaar continued to be a center of attraction for foreign traders and merchants, who frequently stayed here to enjoy its famous Chapple Kabab and another delectable cuisine with traditional Qehwa and exchanged stories about each other’s culture, food, art, and music before departing to Central Asian Republics (CARs) and the Subcontinent for trade.”
He claimed that while staying at Qissa Khwani, foreign businessmen had the rare opportunity to visit nearly all of Peshawar’s historical landmarks, including Sethi House, Balahisar Fort, Ghanta Ghar, Chowk-e-Yadgar, Mohabat Khan Mosque, and Peshawar Museum. Dr. Abdul Samad described the Peshawar Museum as one of the largest museums of Gandhara art in the world and stated that the building’s conservation from the British era was nearly complete and will soon be opened to the public at an estimated cost of Rs. 20 million.
The museum, which draws Buddhists and monks from all over the world, currently exhibits 4,000 rare antiquities and relics in addition to the full-life narrative of Lord Buddha.
He added that conservation work on the historic Mohabat Khan Mosque building has been finished and that efforts are now focused on renovating it to its original condition. Additional work on the mosque’s ceiling and minarets, along with adjacent components, was also finished to a 40 percent degree. According to an expert in archaeology, Rs 87 million had been allocated for the preservation of Mohabat Khan Mosque, and the KP Chief Minister had already issued orders for the allocation of further monies for the completion of the massive project.
According to Dr. Abdul Samad, 42 encroached stores and a nearby plaza have interfered with the construction of the medieval mosque. Negotiations are currently taking place to persuade the traders and shopkeepers to remove these shops. Around 3,000 historical sites, including 1,840 old buildings, were found in the Peshawar, Charsadda, Swabi, Nowshera, and Mardan districts, according to Bakhat Muhammad, Assistant Director of Research for the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums. He claimed that in addition to Gor Khatri, protected sites included Dalazak Tomb, Kotla Mohsin Khan, Sakhi Mahuddin tombs, and Chacha Younas monument, whereas Sakhi Shah Mardan Villa, Bejo tomb, Qissa Khwani, Lady Reading Hospital, and other places were not. British era, he claimed The KP Government bought Sethi House Peshawar, a historical structure from the British era with distinctive architectural value and eye-catching wood craftsmanship, and turned it into a complete museum. He claimed that the Sethi family, who were involved in international trade and had migrated from Punjab to Peshawar in the early 19th century, built the masterpiece in 1886 after being inspired by Muslims and the local architecture of Bokhara, Uzbekistan, where about seven Havelis were built in nearly the same style, indicating their aestheticism.
Engr Khushal Khan, a native of Dir Lower, said to the news agency, “I had heard a lot about the wood workmanship of Sethi House and found it right today after visiting the architectural wood marvel of Peshawar.
The Sethi House’s outstanding structure with its eye-catching wood decorations, red and green window panes and ventilator structure most impressed me. The completion of 12 ongoing projects, including the preservation of the Mohabbat Khan Mosque, the development of important archaeological sites in Swat, Takht Bhai, and the preservation of the Kalash culture in Chitral, as well as the prevention of illegal excavations and the smuggling of antiquities, are being given priority, according to Dr. Abdul Samad. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he claimed, 800 new archaeological sites had been found. Regarding new projects in the budget for 2022–2023, he stated that Rs. 100 million had been set out for a project titled “documentation of archaeological sites in integrated tribal districts” and work on it would begin in the next fiscal year.