The Khyber Agency takes its name from the world famous Khyber Pass, which has throughout served as the corridor connecting the Indo-Pak sub-continent with Afghanistan and Central Asia. Khyber itself is a Hebrew word, which means place or castle. There is a fort known as ‘Khyber’ 64 km to the west of medina (Saudi Arabia). This was a stronghold of Jews in the pre-Islamic days. This same Khyber Fort was conquered by Hazrat Ali as the head of an Islamic army. Still Khyber Pass has no connection whatsoever with the Khyber Fort of Arabia. One view is that Khyber got its present name in the past because it enjoyed as strategic an importance as a fort. There is also a small village by the name of Khyber on the road from Peshawar to Landi Kotal. Khyber Pass might have received its name from the Khyber village. But usually by Khyber is meant the Khyber Pass. This pass begins a little distance ahead of Jamrud, from Shadibagiar and ends near Landi Kotal and is about 40 km long. Yet from Jamrud to Landi Khana its length is 48 Km.
|Province:||Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)|
|Administration HQ:||Landi Kotal|
|Area:||2,576 km2 (995 sq mi)|
|Population :||986,973 (2017)|
|Density:||380/km2 (990/sq mi)|
|Time zone :||PST (UTC+5)|
|Borders :||Nangarhar Province to the west|
|Major feature:||Khyber Pass|
|Railways:||Two Trains are routes passed through the Khyber Agency|
|Train # 1:||Khyber Mail Train|
|Train # 2:||Khyber Train Safari|
|Education:||Literacy rate of 34.2%, as of 2007|
|Literacy rate for Male:||57.2%|
|Literacy rate for Female:||10.1%|
|Location:||Located from the Tirah valley down to Peshawar, Pakistan|
|Name :||Khyber Agency|
|In Urdu :||خیبر ایجنسی|
|Majority of the tribes:||Afridis, Mullagoris, Shilmanis, Bangashs and Shinwaries|
|Sports:||People are filled with the cricket spirit, Shahid Afridi also belongs to this area|
|In October 2014,:||launched a military offensive _ named Operation Khyber-1|
|Local Language Name:||Pashto (99.6%) & English & Urdu|
|Coordinates :||33.9405° N, 71.0498° E|
Khyber Agency is named after the world famous Khyber Pass, which has served as the corridor connecting the Asian sub-continent with the Central Asia through Afghanistan. The location of this pass has given the agency and its people worldwide recognition and has made it the focus of attention of historians interested in this part of the world. The headquarters of the agency is located at Peshawar.
Khyber Agency is bordered with Afghanistan, Peshawar city and the Kurram and Orakzai agencies. The total area of the agency is 2,576 square kilometers, with 8.22% of the total area of the agency being forest. The Khyber Agency consists of three tehsils; Bara, Landi Kotel and Jamrud. Khyber Agency has a barren and rugged mountainous terrain. It consists mostly of hilly tracks and mountains, with narrow strips of valleys. It is the meeting place of a series of ranges, such as the Koh-e-Safaid, an off-shoot of the mighty Hindukush Mountains. Lacha Ghar, Karagah Ghar, Surghar, Tor Ghar, Morgah and Kalauch; are some of the mountains located in the agency.
Khyber Agency is the most famous agency amongst seven others in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas ( FATA). Khyber Agency derives its name from the famous Khyber Pass, which has served as a historical trade route, connecting the Asian sub-continent with the rest of Central Asia, via Afghanistan. Because of its geographical location, the agency has a history dating back thousands of years. The Khyber Pass has been used by the Aryans in 1600 B.C., the Persians in 600 B.C., Alexander in 326 B.C. and subsequently, by Changez Khan, Taimurlang, the Mehmood of Ghazni and the Mughals.
More Imformation About Khber Agency
Khyber Agency is a hilly tract with some narrow strips of valleys. It is the meeting place of the series of ranges of the Koh-e-Safaid, an off-shoots of the mighty Hindukush mountains starting from the Pamir, the roof of the world. Lacha Ghar, Karagah Ghar, Surghar and Tor Ghar Morgah and Kalauch ranges are located in the agency. Water is scarce thus the valley has little land suitable for cultivation. Generally, the hills are barren. The historic Khyber Pass is situated at a height of 1,180 meters above the sea level, which starts about 5 kilometers beyond Jamrud Fort. It is a narrow gorge winding up to lofty mountains towards Afghanistan through Koh-e-Safaid range. The highest peak of the mountain in western side of Khyber Agency is about 1,029 meters with 509 meters at its eastern side.
The two rivers flow in the agency are Bara and Kabul. The Bara river flows in the southern part of the agency. The Khajuri plain and the area near Bara River are somewhat fertile. The Kabul River making northern boundary between Mohmand and Khyber Agencies. The Valley of Kabul River is narrow and deep.
Khyber Agency has extreme climate with severe winter and summer seasons. May, June, July and August are the hot months. The maximum and minimum temperature during the month of June is about 40 and 26 degree Celsius respectively. The winter starts from November and continues till April. December, January and February are the coldest months. The maximum and minimum temperature during the month of January is about 18 and 4 degree Celsius respectively. The average annual rainfall is about 400 mm.
Dwelling houses of all the tribesmen are alike and are in the shape of fortresses having towers. The houses are mostly situated on commanding sites on the hills. Sometimes these little forts comprise 10 to 15 houses within the enclosures. In tribal area each family has its own separate dwelling, proportionate in size to the members of the households and their cattle and flocks.Amongst the Khyber tribes, the Afridis are generally dokora (having two dwelling places) as in summer they live high in the hills while in winter they come down along with their families and flocks to the plains to spend the winter months. As regards construction material, the walls of hamlets are always built with stone and mud. Wood is used for doors, windows and ceilings. Entrance to the fortress is through a main gate; while for use of women flock there is a small side door in the wall. As one enters the main gate he finds a vast courtyard with one or two rooms, depending on the social status of the family, for use of guests and male members of the family. There is also a mosque in the same compound. In most of villages only mosques will be found with cemented floor. The interior of a house is very simple with no decoration and furniture. Mostly they keep cattle inside their houses. Every cluster of houses has Hujra where the male member daily discusses their local issues and spends free time. It is also a common place used as a guest room.
Dress & Ornaments
The tribesmen generally wear loose shirt, trouser and turban. A large turban is placed on the head with a chadar or waistband to gird up the loins and from it may be seen obtruding the handle of a knife or a dagger, a pistol and one or two bandoliers hanging cross-wise on the shoulders containing cartridges and a rifle on his shoulder. The women flok generally use black printed cloth. Their working and festival dresses are all the same with the exception that they wear new dress on festival. In winter season a chadar or woolen blanket is used by the males. While in the case of females their dress remains the same.Women use ornaments such as Bangles, Bracelets, Pazeb, Karah, Nath, Golden rings and earrings.
Places of Interest
The Khyber Pass
The prime attraction in this region is the Khyber Pass situated some 5 kilometers to the west from Jamrud. It runs to a length of about 40 kilometers up to Torkham check post at the Pak-Afghan border. For centuries this pass has been witnessing numerous kings, generals and preachers passing through it. Khyber is associated with numerous events in history, which have brought about momentous changes in the annals of mankind. It is a collection of mountain ranges, barren and crazily piled hills; forts of steel and rock stop every vantage point and naked road.
Jamrud Fort, 18 kilometres (11 miles) from Peshawar and at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, is as far as a visitor can go without a permit. To proceed further, foreigners require a permit. This permit is free of charge and can be obtained by applying at the Political Agent’s offices. Let alone foreigners, even Pakistanis have to apply for this permit if they need to visit. Jamrud Fort is visible from a distance like an old battleship. Looking ruggedly majestic with its jumble of towers and loop hole walls, the fort contains the grave of its builder, the famous Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa, who died here in action against the forces of the Amir of Kabul in 1837 AD. The fort; coarsely constructed of stone daubed with mud plaster, was built by the Sikhs in 1823 on the site of an earlier fort. The modern stone arch spanning the road dates from 1964.
Near the narrowest point of the pass, about 15 Km from Jamrud is Ali Masjid and a large fort and a british cemetry. The valley walls bear insignia of British regiments that have served here. In the cemetery here are the graves of British soldiers killed in the Second Afghan War of 1879. This was the famous battle of Ali Masjid. Regimental insignia are carved and painted on to the rock faces at several places along the road, with the Gordon Highlanders, the South Wales Borderers, and the Royal Sussex, Cheshire and Dorset regiments standing in one doughty group. After the gorge, the pass opens out into a wide fertile valley dotted with Pashtun villages. True to form, however, these villages look more like forts, with high, crenellated mud walls running between watch-towers pierced with narrow gun slits. The Ali Masjid Fort is located at the narrowest portion of the Khyber Pass, through which only a loaded mule or Camel could pass till as late as the mid nineteenth century. The fort was built by the British in 1890. The ruins of a Buddhist Stupa can also be seen in the area. There is also a mosque and a shrine in the memory of Hazrat Ali (RA), who visited this place according to a local tradition. There is also a huge boulder which carries the marks of a hand believed to be that of Hazrat Ali (A.S). Even Khyber was named after the Khyber of Arabia, where Hazrat Ali (A.S) accomplished a great deed of valour.
Shpola Stupa, a Buddhist ruin dating from the second to the fifth centuries AD, stands to the right of the road and above the railway at the village of Zarai, 25 kilometres (16 miles) from Jamrud. The Stupa has a high hemispherical dome resting on a three-tiered square base. Some beautiful Gandharan sculptures were found here when the site was excavated at the beginning of this century. Some of the finds are now in the Peshawar Museum. The side of the Stupa lacing the road has been restored.
Landi Kotal, at the end of the railway line and eight kilometres (five miles) from the border, is a smugglers’ town. It is 7 km away from Ali Masjid and is situated 1200 m above sea level. Electrical goods, cloth and drugs are the main commodities in the bazaar below the road to the left. However, with the growth of the Smuggler’s Bazar near Peshawar, this area lost its status of contraband city. But it is still full of shops selling weapons along with electrical goods, etc at unbelievable low prices. The road forks here: right to the Khyber Rifles’ headquarters, left to the border. A viewpoint beyond the town looks out across tank traps of closely packed cement pyramids to the border post at Torkham (Also known as the ‘Dragon’s Teeth’), the last oasis of green before the barren brown of the Afghan plain.
The immigration and customs checkposts are at Torkham; the border town here, which has shops, hotels, cafes, restaurants, banks, bakeries and government offices, most of the buildings are low roofed and seem to huddle together as if for security. A barrier consisting of a waist high barbed wire fence with an opening is now part of the scenery in landti Kotal. There was also numerous signs including a welcome to Pakistan sign a warning to get to Peshawar by nightfall and a small lboard on the afghani side with a few propaganda posters plastered on it in urdu.
On a hilltop to the left of Torkham is the ruined Kafir Fort, a Hindu relic of the ninth century AD. On this ridge in 1919, the British and Afghans fought one of the last engagements of the Third Afghan War. The top of the hill is now Afghan territory, with a commanding view down on Pakistani installations and forts.
The Khyber Train
For rail enthusiasts, the Khyber Railway from Peshawar to Landi Kotal is a three-star attraction. The British built it in the l920s at the then enormous cost of more than two million pounds. It is said that when the British built the railway, the tribesmen used to travel free whereas others had to pay. It passes through 34 tunnels totaling five kilometres (three miles) and over 92 bridges and culverts. Total length of the track is 42 km. Two or three coaches are pulled and pushed by two oil fired engines. At one point, the track climbs 130 meters in little more than a kilometer (425 feet in 0.7 miles) by means of the heart stopping Chungai Spur. This is a W-shaped section of track with two cliff-hanging reversing stations, at which the train wheezes desperately before shuddering to a stop and hacking away from the brink. The Pakistan government has dubbed it as ‘The Khyber Steam Safari Train’. Tourists in bundles apply for the ticket which is booked by appointment only. Groups of 20 to 45 passengers can book one bogey for an all day outing to Landi Kotal and back; a ride lasting ten to eleven hours.