• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
  • default color
  • blue color
  • green color
Home Articles spotlight on khyber pass
spotlight on khyber pass

Spotlight on Khyber Pass


Text and photographs by Sajid Mehmood Qazi


Every nation has certain architectural monuments or a unique geographical entity reflecting the historical and cultural evolution of the people. For Pakistanis, Khyber Pass not only symbolizes the socio-cultural roots of the invading forefathers, but also reflects the strength of their perceived racial and religious spirituality over the rest of the South Asia region.

Since times immemorial, various invading armies and ambitious generals have used the Khyber Pass to enter the Indus Valley. These invaders left distinct marks of their religion, culture and social attitudes on the lives of the local inhabitants. One can sample the different periods of history with a single visit to the area.

Starting at the ancient point of entry to Afghanistan, -–– the Khyber Pass at Jamrud Fort Bab-i-Khyber (“Door of Khyber”) passing Shagai Fort, Ali Masjid, Landi Kotel, Hashish Bazaar and high up to Torkhum Pass crossing the Suleman hills and culminating at the famous Khyber Rifle Mess –– the experience is soaked in history and culture.

After crossing the Bab-i-Khyber, stay for a few moments at Shagai Fort. Shagai literally means hurling of stones. According to folklore, catapults and guns were placed at Shagai overlooking Bigyari Gorge.

The fort is located 2,300 feet above sea level and is a feat of civil engineering. It was constructed by British Indian Army Sappers and Miners in 1927-28, to ensure safety of Peshawar Landi Kotel road –– rail link and to exert imperial influence by showing the presence of troops in the Khyber Agency.

Located at a distance is Ali Masjid, another fascinating old structure tracing its origin to the arrival of Hazrat Ali in this part of the world. The meandering road is full of many surprises for the visitors.

A quick briefing by an officer of the Khyber Rifles at the Michni Post overlooking the Pak Afghan border is a literal run-down of the history and culture of the area. The nearby Khyber Rifles Mess house’s many rare paintings, photographs and artefacts symbolizing the unique geographical entity of the surrounding valleys. The perfectly functioning sundial clock along with the “under arrest” and chained tree reflects the imperial hubris and its various manifestations.

For those who want to revive their knowledge of the history and culture of the area, and for those who would like to share and pass on our common heritage to their children, a trip to the Khyber Pass valley will be a day well spent.