A Brief History of Peshawar

‘As far as the eye reached, flowers were in bloom. In spring near Parashawar the fields of flowers are very beautiful indeed’ – Babur

One of the oldest city of the world, Peshawar has been the dominion of many empires—from Central Asia, Persia, and the Mediterranean to a trading centre along the Silk Road, and the meeting place of divergent cultures and peoples in its markets such as the Qissa Khwami Bazaar. Established around 2000 years ago, it was the capital of the Kushan Empire during the 2nd century CE and one of its rulers, Kanishka, built an enormous Buddhist stupa here, which drew pilgrims such as Fa Hsien and made the city a prominent center of Buddhism until the 7th century.

Islam arrived in the region around 1000 CE and remains the dominant faith through today. The city came under Mughal rule when Babur conquered India in 1526 and founded the Mughal Empire. He built a fort here in 1530, and his grandson, Akbar, gave the city its current name. In the mid-16th century, Sher Shah constructed the highway that linked Delhi to Kabul via Peshawar and the Khyber Pass. In 1818, Peshawar was captured by the Indian Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh and then fell to the British. Following independence in 1947, Peshawar became part of Pakistan. Today, it is the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

Getting around in Peshawar, Pakistan

Peshawar is a two-hour drive from Islamabad. It is a populous city and getting around is usually not easy – especially in the inner city. All eyes are on the under-construction BRT Project but till then the mode of transportation is buses, taxis and rickshaws. Buses are were the cheapest but you won’t take the bus unless you have a lot of time and visiting a place which comes on the main road (buses route) they are getting scrapped soon. Otherwise, you will probably have to hire a rickshaw or a taxi. The good news is, Careem and Uber have started operations in Peshawar, So it’s recommended to hire one of them to roam the city.

Food and Drink

For foodies! Peshawar has many eats to offer, but most of them, in a traditional manner and in a traditional setting. Most of the restaurants are predominant with the traditional Pashtun cuisine which is largely based on cereals like wheat and rice as well as a plethora of meat dishes that includes lamb, beef, chicken, and fresh fish. But that’s not it! Peshawrites aren’t non-vegetarian, you will find many dishes of locally grown fresh vegetables.

Peshawar has acquired a good name now in the fast-food industry and is attracting people from around the province for it. Big fast-food giants have gathered here to satisfy the eye and mouth hunger of Peshories and feel them the exotic taste of the Macs and Whoppers.

But that’s not a priority when in Peshawar! Try the traditional cuisine and you will forget about those small little buns. Here are some of the dishes you will not want to miss! To break it down, I have enlisted them according to meal structure.

Breakfast, locally called nāshtā (ناشتہ‬) usually consists of parathas or sheermal or naan and tea served with eggs (boiled/scrambled/fried/omelette) or chole/channa (chickpeas) or halwa poori. Whichever combo you like.
My favourite combo? Tea + Paratha + Egg ~ Tea + Naan + Chole ~ Tea + Halwa poori

Peshawar is full of traditional cuisine! Chicken and Rice are the main food items people love. There is a lot of food you can try but the famous dishes are Kabuli Polao and Karahi-s (whether it’s of Chicken or Mutton). Alternatively, roadside food stalls often sell beans and chickpeas with tandoori rotis.

Peshawar Attractions

For being my hometown, who else can share the best of Peshawar? Being one of the oldest city of South Asia, there are many places full of history; the Khyber Pass, the Qissa Khwani Bazaar and many more.

To start with, the inner city or the Old City of Peshawar would be a good choice.

Masjid Mahabat Khan
Sethi House Museum
Sir Cunningham Clock Tower
Gor Khatri
Qissa Khwani Bazaar

Have a question, comment, or recommendation about something to see and do in Peshawar? Comment below or Contact me!