Threats to the Monuments in the outskirts of Peshawar

Sethi Bridge

View of Sethi Bridge Choha Gujar

By Ar. Muhammad Khalid
Associate Professor CECOS University

Peshawar is a historic city and has a living history of 2500 years Peshawar is an ancient city and the gate way to the central Asia which saw the rise and fall of many nations e.g Persians, Greek, Mauryans Kushans, Afghans, Mughals, Sikhs, Britishers etc. left their mark on its soil. which is is verified from the artifacts discovered through the excavation in Gor-ghatri.

The rich historical value of Peshawar is also evident from a number of historic structures and monuments which exist in the old city and the outskirts of Peshawar.These historic structures and monuments define the built heritage of Peshawar which manifest the various influences on the culture of this city and religious, political and social conditions of the people of those times. These Monuments are in the state of deterioration due to enviromental, social, political and other threats. The history and architecture of these monuments are described as follows.

Tomb of Palosi piran belong to Shiekh Imam-uddin is located in Palosi. Palosi is a small village about a mile form agricultural university. It lies on old Michni road which was an old thoroughfare in Mughal period. Sheikh Imam-uddin who was the famous saint of the area and died in 1650AD, but the construction of tomb was started in 1652AD by his disciples Sheikh Abdul Razzaq, Sheikh Abdul Haq and completed in 1658. The tomb stands on a raised platform which has vaulted rooms underneath. The main entrance is on South side which leads directly into Tehkana, the magnificent tomb stands on the terrace consist of high arches on all four sides. The parapet is ornamented with plastered merlons. The dome rest on an octagonal drum.

To the west of tomb there is three domed mosque. The mosque is rectangular in plan with three doorways opening under high arches. The interior of the mosque as well as the central doorway is highly painted in the same style as observable in the tomb manifest that mosque was built at the same time as the tomb.

Situated on the left bank of khwar is a pavilion type structure generally believed to be the tomb of Sheikh Imam Uddin’s wife.

Sethi Bridge at Choha Gujar
The Sethi Bridge choha Gujar is situated in the Village Choha Gujar at a distance of 9km approx. from General Bus Stand and 7km from G.T Road. The village is on the way of Chamkani Road which emerges from Phandu Road near Phandu-ring road junction and has the population of about 4000 person approx, the source of income of the majority of population is farming.. The Village is on the main tract of the Boalies, (water structure having step- well for access) which were built along the famous G.T and Trunk road. Famous mausoleum of suphy poet Rehman Baba accessible at 15-minuets drive from Choha Gujar

The Sethi Bridge in Choha-Gujar displaying a unique example of bridge architecture. The bridge was built by Elahi Baksh Sethi as a welfare work in the last decades of 19th century. It is vigorous, magnificent and serene in character, withstanding the tides of time and tumbling floods of Bara river.

The impressive and dominant features of the architecture are the massive pillars of the bridge. The pillars are slendrical in form; half protruded from massive masonry and arise upward above the road level in from of towers. The towers are toped by bulbous mini-domes and resemble Kos-Minar which were used as milestones in Mughals times.

The whole length of bridge across the river consist of five pairs of tower pillars, which divide the bridge visually into four segments. Each segment is again divided visually in three portions by two small pillars, which have similar cylindrical form but do not extend above the road level. There is a vaulted opening between every two pillars which allows the meandering Bara river to pass though it. The Mughal style pointed arch like vault is the enchanting feature of the bridge.

The natural resources of the site, which can influence the development of tourism in the area, are.

The Bara river
The Bara river is the main attraction and sources of fertility of the region. It also has a very old historical background. The Bara proper has its arise in a valley of the Bara lying on the southern side of Khyber hills, but receive the greater part of its volume as represented in Peshawar from another stream, the Tirah Toi, which collects the water drainage of Tirah valley. In ordinary times, therefore, the Bara river altogether dry, but after raining in Tirah hills, a muddy volume rushes down. A rich alluvial deposit of red clay, very valuable as fertilizing agent is brought down by these floods.

Landscape & Vegetation
The fascinating and delightful scenery of landscape of the village is created by composition of various natural features. The lush green grassy plots along the river bank contrasted with reddish water of river. The meandering paths, green fields, orchids of peach, plumb and apricot fill beautiful colors in the scenery if the area. One of the most attractive feature of the landscape is very old and huge Banayan tree located at a distance of 100-yards from the eastern end of the bridge. The tree which has the spread of Diameter 100′ approx, is believed to be 400 year old.

Sethi Bridge at Chamkani
There is another small bridge found in chamkani located at a distance of 5 km approx. from Choha Gujar. It can also be approached from G.T Road at a distance of 200 meters towards chamkani. It is also thought to be built by sethi family in the same era as, Sethi Bridge in Choha Gujar. The main structure of the bridge consist of a single large pointed arch of span 50′ which gives a magnificent and vigorous look to the bridge.

The bridge is compact in form consist of a road over the big arch and two pairs of massive beautiful ‘shoulders which are slowly curved and tapered off towards the bottom. The bridge is further decorated by low relief floral design in brick masonry of arch-soffit.

The structure and fabric of bridge is still in intact condition and withstanding the tides of Bara river below and the road of modern, heavy traffic above.

The Baoil means the step well. The boils were constructed in areas having scarcity of water, along the old travelers routes for easy accessibility to the natural water level without any need for accessories i.e. wheel, rope, bowl etc. it was also used as stops for postal services to exchange horses and postal staff.

“The Baolis were constructed for long time in various areas of the sub-continent, particularly in Gujrat. “No utilitarian structure in Gujrat, however, illustrates more expressively the artistic atmosphere of the period than the architectural treatment accorded to the step wells (boali), a common feature in the town of western India”. (Percy Brown) the Baoils in Peshawar were constructed on the old route along the existing G.T from Chamkani and Aza Khel were built in late Mughal period while the other baoils were constructed in British period.

Mosque & Baoli in Choha Gujar
It is located in village Choha Gujar near Chamkani at a distance of 8km from ring road/G.T road junction. The structure stands in an agricultural field belong to the famous political figure Mr. Hidayat ullah khan chamkani. It is actually a small mosque, abandoned for a long time, but was famous with the name of Baoil due to availability of water well adjacent to the mosque. The well was also closed some years ago, having no trace at present time. The architectural style of mosque shows that it was constructed in 17th centaury probably in reign of Jehangir.

The mosque consist of a small prayer hall that is divided into three bays. The mosque consist of three arched entrances in front, east side and two arched entrances on northern & southern sides without any door which shows that it was used as place for travelers to stop, pray, and relax for the time being. The outer form of the mosque is dominated by a large central dome with visible octagonal drum. There are octagonal turrets or small minarets on four corners of the buildings. These minarets are in very bad condition with missing upper level and completely destroyed at lower level.

Baoli at Kachoori Daman, Chamkani
It is located at a distance nearly 15 kilometers from Peshawar. It lies in the fields belong to Mian Tariq Khan, on North east side of a small road from Chamkani to Kachoori Daman. It is a two storey pavilion like building, visible from far side as a landmark for Baoli. The ground floor consist of a square room having massive walls with arched entrances on four sides and covered on top by a dome. The upper story consists of a small square canopy like structure. The upper story is approached by a narrow staircase within the thick walls at northern corner.

The trace of well doesn’t exist, as it was filled by the owner few year ago, but the flight of steps start from north west side of the structure shows, that it is located at the end of the steps.

Baoli at Azakhail
It lies at a distance of 200m approx. from the G.T road behind a flour mill near Aza Khail and can be seen from the road in form of an archway used as a landmark. The archway consists of a large multi foil arch and a small recessed pointed arch that is slightly deformed due to outward movement caused by settlement. The lower portion of massive walls of archway was repaired few year ago but is decayed again due the rising damp in the vicinity. The water level of well can be approached from the archway through a staircase on its southern side. The staircase and the well are filled with stagnant water and wild shrubs.

Baoli at Akora Khattak
It is located at a distance of 4km form G.T road starts between Jehangira & Akora City. It is approached through a small road called Chishma road on the way to Mausoleum of Khushal Khan Khattak. The baoli lies at a distance of 1km from western side of road near Bashirabad village.

It is the best example of baolis in NWFP regarding in its magnificent form & scale its was built in British period by Father of Ghulan Farooq, then Governor of East Pakistan. It has the largest well of dia 15 feet and 48 feet depth till water level. The steps to the well starts form eastern side of an archway built as a landmark. One of the prominent features of the baoli is the massive vaulted roof of stone masonry that covers the (45) feet length of the staircase adjacent to the well.

Baoli in Assori Payan
It is located just before Jehangira near petrol pump on the southern side of G.T road from Akora to Jehangira. It is the smallest of all the baolis which has no superstructure as a landmark and is completely filled with debris.
Baoli in FP Textile Mill Jehangira.

It is located in Mola Bukh colony of abandoned, FP textile mill, Jehangira. It is also a good example of baolis built in British time in stone masonry without any structural element above the ground for landmark like other baolis. It has a large well of dia 10.5 feet and depth 38.5 feet. The well is approached on eastern side by long flight of step and is blocked at the end by wild vegetation.

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