Capital of Pakhtunkhwa
The Peshawar Valley Lies between the Khyber Pass and the Indus River , in North West Frontier Province of Pakistan . Girdled on all except its eastern perimeter by a rim of rugged and barren open side against the Indus River. At the Western end of the valley in the shadow of the highest visible peaks and thirty miles from the border of Afghanistan, the ancient town of Peshawar is situated From Which the Valley derives its name. Once the Western terminus of India’s Grand Trunk Road, it is now better known to the world as the eastern terminus of the Afghanistan-Pakistan trade route through the Khyber Pass.
The large basin drains into the Kabul River, Which Rises in Afghanistan, cuts through the intervening mountain range several miles north of the Khyber Pass , and flows straight eastward through the Centre of the valley, collecting the waters of a fan shaped system of perpetual and intermittent streams before it empties into the Indus near Attock. From the Mountains to the Indus is a distance of about fifty miles.
The center of valley is a broad plain ,generally level but with occasional rises and rocky protuberances. Swampy areas still occur along the Kabul River ,but there are no true lakes and springs are rare, occurring mainly in the foothills. Most of the scanty rain falls in the Autumn and in Sporadic bursts through the winter months. Autumn ,Winter and Spring are Relatively mild and humid. The summer is extremely hot and dry and rain is rare. The ground and the air are scorched and some of the perpetual rivers dry up to a trickle . Temperature sometimes reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods. Regular afternoon windstorms burst across the plain in May and June. The Worst Onset of Heat is a mass of hot air which moves through the valley , day and night without ceasing for as long as a week . As a result, the Valley has Pronounced alternation of winter and Summer climate.
While the valley supports a wide range of flora and fauna, of both temperature and tropical kinds, it does not do so with any abundance. Orchards, date groves, and green fields are found growing where men water and tend them , but otherwise there is little natural cover except along the banks of the streams.
Human adaptation to the Peshawar Valley Follows the same General patterns found in northern Indo-Pakistan Sub –continent. Subsistence agriculture forms the base, with wheat , barley, millet, corn ,cotton, peppers and sugarcane being the primary crops. The annual cycle is divided into two Planting and harvesting periods, one for Wheat and barley in winter and another for corn in summer. Planting and harvesting of sugarcane overlaps both the periods. These crops are supplemented with a variety of vegetables, and with clover which is used in conjunction with millet as a fodder . In many villages there are extensive pear, peach and apricot or chards, and grape Vineyards . Tobacco is also an important crop near the town of Now Shera. Wheat, Cotton , pepper and especially tobacco and sugarcane are grown for the market as well as for local consumption.
Most Cultivation is performed by means of crude animal-drawn ploughs and hand tools made of wood and iron. Some Modern tractor-drawn equipment is in use on the estates of the big land owners . Animal manure is important as a fertilizer, and recently considerable interest has been shown In the use of Chemical fertilizers.
Domestic animals are an important part of the agriculture. Small humped cattle and Buffaloes are of primary importance , since they pull ploughs and carts , turn small cane-crushing mills and provide much-needed manure for fertilizer and fuel. Buffaloes and donkeys serve as beasts of burden. Goats, fat-tailed sheep, and fowl are raised for food. Horses are used only for pulling car rages and are therefore, associated primarily with transportation rather than agriculture. All animals are bred in the Villages. The larger animals are either stall –fed or fed with cut fodder in vacant fields of the village. Goats and Sheep are grazed on stubble or in marginal area between the cultivated areas. Hunting , Fishing and the Collecting of Wild honey are popular pastimes , but are otherwise not seriously pursued for a living.
The Pronounced winter - summer alternation in the climate of this region has a visible effect on the agricultural life of the valley. The mild , humid winter is a period of maximum activity, both in the irrigation and cultivation of fields , and in the supplementary tasks of repair of canals and Processing of cane and grain . The summer is a period of relative inactivity , Cultivators doing a minimum of work in the fields and on the irrigation system. The most significant problem in Valley is the water Supply.
In the absence of sufficient rain , dry farming has been supplemented by Irrigation. An ancient system of channels , farming out from the few perpetual streams , has been overlaid during the British by a public system of concrete barrages and arterial canals , from which both publicly and privately constructed channels lead off . Since these government canals are located in the northern half of the valley , sugar – Cane Cultivation is restricted almost entirely to this area. The southern half of the valley has , until recently , received little attention and remains dependent on the old channels and on sporadic rains , as a result of which it is extremely barren over wide areas . After the establishment of Pakistan , the Government of North West Frontier Province attempted to develop the Water system in the southern half by Construction of a barrage on the Kabul River at Warsak.
The extent of water problem can be seen not only in the elaboration of the irrigation system, but also in the supplementary techniques for controlling and utilizing water. The Peshawar valley is a living museum of water-controlling devices. The Persian Wheel, or Arhat, is used extensively in the North-Eastern quarter of the Valley. The Jalar, paddle wheel which is powered by water and simultaneously lifts water in container attached to the blades, is popular where the land is higher than canal. In some of the villages, in the South-Western quarter, one can see local version of the Iranian quant, or underground water channel. Those who can afford it are also experimenting with modern pumping devices.
Human settlement in the valley is oriented primarily to the agricultural patterns of life and to the water supply. Hundred of villages and hamlets are scattered throughout the valley. In the well-irrigated northern half of the Valley, these are dispersed along the vast network of primary and subsidiary channel. In the Southern half of the Valley, which is poorly irrigated, the settlements tend to cluster along the few perpetual rivers and streams.
The typical village is compact, irregular cluster of buildings and walls, with narrow streets and no central square or meeting place. Most buildings are one-storied and made of mud, sun-dried bricks and timber. The village is divided into wards, which are not always physically discrete, but which are never the-less socially distinct. In the most cases the wards are actually separated by alleys or short stretches of open land. The average village includes about eight hundred peoples. A few large villages have between four and six thousand peoples.
The villages are situated close to the cultivation lands which are patchwork of small, irregular plots separated by ridges and interspersed with water channels, cart roads and foot paths. The lands of one village are generally continues with those of several others, and in many cases the boundary is formed by a jointly-used water channels.
The situation in the surrounding hill areas is somewhat different, owing to both geographical and social factor. Settlement is restricted largely to narrow mountain streams can be combined. As a result, the tribal village appears as a series of small walled compounds strung out along the stream.
Interwoven with the agriculture life of the valley is an ancient pattern of industry and trade, in which the village is relatively self-sufficient but still intimately connected with the town, and the town is intern both dependant on the village and on far-flung trade relation with Afghanistan, Central Asia and Sub –Continent. In the villages are found carpenters, blacksmith, weavers, potters, barbers, priest, school teachers, midwives and various other specialists who provide most of the basic goods and services required in a village subsistence economy. One of the most actual felt things is inadequate medical services in the villages. There is some specialization by a particular village, and not all villages have all the necessary skills present, so that exchange of talent and skill between villages help to overcome the short comings. The average village also processes its own product for local consumption. At the same time, it’s the characteristics of most villages that they operate at an extremely low level of skill and complexity, and with the minimum facilities,. In these terms, the transition from village to town is abrupt and striking.
These are four main towns in Peshawar Valley-Peshawar, Mardan, Nowsehra and Charsadda. All except the last actually consist of two distinct part- the “city” which is the old native bazar town, and the “Cantonment” which is recent adjunct consisting of a European style military post with government offices. Each of these serves its separate function. Peshawar is probably the most colorful and romantic of these frontier towns.