Peshawar: Famous Places, Things To Do & Attractions

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Peshawar: Famous Places, Things To Do & Attractions

  You a foreigner? a traveller? a local? Whoever, Welcome to one of the Oldest Living City of South Asia.

Peshawar is a true metropolis of the orient and the legendary city has many secrets to share. And why not, it’s boasting a recorded history that goes back as far as at least 539 BC.

The city has seen the rise and fall of many empires and kingdoms, which, not surprisingly, can be seen from the historical places it resides.

Before starting to list the famous places of Peshawar, I would like to share that it’s my birthplace, my hometown, where I grew up and spend my whole life. And that’s why I am really passionate to write everything about Peshawar.

Starting from Gorkhatri, here is the 

list of top famous & historical places to visit in Peshawar.

Gorkhatri

Gorkhatri (Pashto: ګورکټړۍ‎; Hindko and Urdu: گورکهٹڑی) literally meaning “Warrior’s Grave”, Now a public park but the site is actually home to several incredible historical landmarks. It’s also known to have been converted into a caravanserai by Jahanara Begum (Shah Jahan’s daughter) in the 16th century during the Mughal-era.

Gorkhatri contains an ancient Buddhist archaeology site, which according to an archaeologist, is believed to be the place where Buddha’s giant bowl was kept.

Another surprising feature of Gorkhatri is the Goraknath Temple, a Hindu place of worship that was constructed in 1851. The temple is one of only a few Hindu mandirs that have survived in the city of Peshawar and was only reopened in 2011 after being closed for half a century. The temple has been attacked many times, yet somehow still stands today.

Masjid Mahabat Khan

The oldest masjid at one of the highest point of the Old Walled City, Masjid Mahabat Khan was built in the 17th Century (between 1660 & 1670) and was named after the Mughal governor of Peshawar, Nawab Mahabat Khan.

The Masjid’s architecture truly reflects the Mughal Era, with two tall minarets and the iconic white marble façade. The interior is just as impressive as it’s exterior, having uncountable multi-coloured frescoes and a wide variety of floral motifs. The mosque’s ceiling is embellished with elegant red frescoes in geometric and floral motifs.

A trip to the Old Walled City of Peshawar isn’t completed if you don’t visit Mahabat Khan Masjid. It’s a masterpiece of the Mughal Era which shouldn’t be missed.

Bala Hisar Fort

Bala Hisar Fort, which means ‘elevated or high fort’, has been a residence of the royals of many empires. A Chinese Buddhist monk & explorer, Xuanzang first mentioned it in the 7th century. Later, the Durrani, Sikh and British Empires has used it for their own and now Pakistan’s Frontier Corps resides in it.

Bala Hisar Fort was used as a royal residence for the Durrani Empire since December 1747, when Ahmad Shah Durrani conquered Peshawar. And the name “Bala Hisar” was given by the Afghan Emperor Timur Shah Durrani which he used as the winter capital of his empire.

In 1823, the Sikhs fought and defeated the Afghans and destroyed Bala Hisar but was reconstructed by Singh Nalwa. Later in 1849, The British reconstructed the outer walls of Bala Hissar after the Anglo-Sikh war.

The Fortress covers around 10 acres of land and stands upon an elevated mound in the northwestern corner of Peshawar. Being at a high point, it offers an epic 360-degree view of the surroundings which sits lower than the fort. Bala Hisar also has a museum exhibiting the military and Pashtun history. And lately, Bala Hisar has been opened for Public as a touring spot but only on weekends with Saturdays being officially reserved for families.

All you need is a CNIC card if you are a Pakistani National. Foreigners will need special permission due to the fort being under Corps control.

Jamrud Fort

Although you can’t visit Jamrud Fort without permission from the higher authorities but it can be seen from the Bab-e-Khyber.

It is located beside Bab-e-Khyber at the entrance to the Khyber Pass along the way to Torkham border. The fort was built in 1837 by Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa – a general in the Sikh Empire after Jamrud was lost by the Afghan Durrani Empire.

This Historical Landmark is known for its 10 feet (3m) thick walls and was originally named Fatehgarh to commemorate the Sikh victory over the disunited tribes.

Jamrud Fort also hits this list as it’s a century-old landmark, although rarely tourists visit it for it being under the control of the security forces and not easily accessible. But a view from Bab-e-Khyber is guaranteed.

Sethi House

The Sethi House resides among the twelve other famous Havelis, in Sethi Mohallah in the Old City also known as the Walled City of Peshawar. The Haveli was built in 1884 and had been restored by the Department of Heritage and is now a Museum.

It was owned by the Sethi family – wealthy traders who had businesses across almost the whole of Asia. During the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Sethis ‘ downfall began, when their businesses experienced setbacks from which they never recovered, forcing them to leave Central Asia and return to Peshawar.

The Haveli showcases the design and architecture of the craftsmen, their perfection and intelligent construction inspired by Bukhara’s vernacular architecture. You will find intricate geometric patterns and wooden carvings, beautiful colourful glassworks and a fountain at the centre of the courtyard.

But that’s not it, words cannot make you see the actual marvels of the Haveli. A visit will definitely be necessary and it’s not hard to find guides nowadays.

Chowk Yadgar

Chowk Yadgar (which means Memorial Square) was originally erected in the memory of Colonel C. Hastings in 1883 but was later dedicated to the victims of the 1930 Qissa Khwani Bazaar Massacre. Since then, Peshawar’s this landmark has become a popular spot for religious and political gatherings. On a typical day, it’s simply a place to hang out.

It’s located in the heart of the Old City of Peshawar and as it’s a square, different major roads and sprawling bazaars converge here at this point. Various alleyways from all sides of the surrounding make way to the Chowk Yadgar. To the north lies Ashraf Road – a traders den, to the south, lies the Bazar-e-Abresham or the shawls market, to the east, lies the famous Ghanta Ghar or Clock Tower and to the west is the end of Ander Shehr Street (Inside of the City Street) and the Jewelers Street.

Chowk Yadgar is a good place to start if you want to explore Peshawar’s Old City because most of the famous places can be accessed from here easily. Due to congested nature of the area, it’s recommended to grab a rickshaw instead of your own vehicle.

Sir Cunningham Clock Tower 1900

Sir Cunningham Clock Tower or informally Ghanta Ghar was built in 1900 in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen Empress. It was named after Sir George Cunningham — former British governor and political agent of the province.

Ghanta Ghar stands tall at 26 metres (85 ft) in the crowded street of Peshawar’s Old City near the iconic Chowk Yadgar. And because it’s a few hundred meters apart from Chowk Yadgar, you can’t miss it. The best way to reach here is to drop off at Chowk Yadgar and visit by foot.

Peshawar Museum

Peshawar Museum was built in 1907 and astonishingly, the museum is considered to have one of the largest collections of Buddhist objects in the world — dating from the ancient Gandhara Empire.

Peshawar Museum is well known for its notable collection of ancient Buddhist Gandhara artwork — almost 14,000 items including Buddhist sculptures, figurines and other objects. In ancient times, Buddhism thrived in KPK and this historical place showcases just that.

Peshawar Museum showcases a large variety of things including art, sculptures, coins, manuscripts, statues, ancient books, early versions of the Quran, weapons, dresses, jewellery, Kalash effigies, inscriptions, paintings of the Mughal and later periods, household materials and pottery, as well as local and Persian handicrafts.

Entry fees are nominal and the visit is worthwhile.

Islamia College

Islamia College is the most famous and iconic landmark of Peshawar. This architecturally beautiful university is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in all of Pakistan, and one of the most famous places in Peshawar. Islamia College was founded in 1913 and was named in the will of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The impressive buildings and perfectly manicured landscape of the college make it one of the most popular places to visit in the city, and a much sought after institution to enroll in.

Pakistanis should have no problem strolling through the grounds of the college, but I’ve heard that foreigners may have trouble entering. Considering everything in Peshawar is relatively close by, it’s certainly worth a try to be able to take in this majestic piece of history.

Bab-e-Khyber

Bab-e-Khyber or Gate of Khyber is a famous monument that stands at the entrance to the famous Khyber Pass. The Khyber Pass was an integral part of the Old Silk Road and connects Pakistan with Afghanistan.

It is located at about 15km from Peshawar, on the way to Pak-Afghan border and was completed in 1964. It not a part of the Old City of Peshawar but has a history of being constructed at the Khyber Pass — an important trade route between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Qissa Khwani Bazaar

Qissa Khwani Bazaar (“Story-tellers’ Bazaar”) is another historical locale of the Peshawar’s Old City. Historically Famous for being the place for storytellers in the past, Qissa Khwani bazaar also houses the famous Sethi House which is mentioned in this list.

At Qissa Khwani Bazaar, you will find architecturally beautiful Havelis with Wooden carved Structures, narrow streets and lots of food shops offering juicy paaye, chapli kebabs, and of course: boatloads of kahwa, Peshawar’s signature green tea that’s famous throughout Pakistan.

Those were the most famous things, apart from them, Qissa Khwani Bazaar is a marketplace and you can find pretty much everything.

Shahi Bagh

Shahi Bagh, which literally means “Royal Garden/Park” is another leftover of the Mughal-era in Peshawar. The park is one of the oldest and largest – totals over 100 acres, in Peshawar and has been an important place for social, political and literary gatherings.

Shahi Bagh houses many buildings and recreational sites, including Arbab Naiz Cricket Stadium, Tehmas Khan Football Stadium Peshawar, Peshawar Gymkhana Ground, Pakistan Tennis Club Peshawar, Shalimar Garden and Family recreational and kid fun area.

It has a large fountain at the centre and The Quaid-e-Azam Memorial which aids your visit worthwhile.

I’m still compiling the list until then you can comment the ones that need to be mentioned.


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