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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)
Map showing the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, Panjshir is S.No.13

Panjshir (Hindi:पंजशीर, Persian: پنجشیر‎, literally "Five Lions", also spelled as Panjsher) is one of the provinces of Afghanistan.

Origin of name

Variants of name


It is located in the northeastern part of the country. It is surrounded by Baghlan and Takhar in the north, Badakhshan and Nuristan in the east, Laghman and Kapisa in the south, and Parwan in the west.


Sir Alexander Cunningham[1] writes that The names of other peoples and towns of Kapisa are recorded by Ptolemy ; but few of them can now be identified, as we have nothing to guide us but the bare names. The Parsii, with their towns Parsia and Parsiana, I take to be the Pashais, or people of the Panjhir or Panjshir valley. The true name is probably Panchir, as the Arabs always write j for the Indian ch. The modern spelling of Panjshir adopted by Burnes, Leech, and others, appears to be only an attempt to give the Afghan pronunciation of ch as ts in Pantsir. A town named Panjhir is mentioned by the early Arab geographers, and a mountain named Pashai was crossed by Ibn Batuta, on his way from Kunduz to Parwan.[2]

The famous Moroccan traveler and scholar, Ibn Battuta, visiting the area in 1333 writes:

"We halted next at a place called Banj Hir (Panjshir), which means "Five Mountains," where there was once a fine and populous city built on a great river with blue water like the sea. This country was devastated by Tinkiz, the king of the Tatars, and has not been inhabited since. We came to a mountain called Pashay, where there is a convent of the Shaykh Ata Awliya, which means "Father of the Saints." He is also called Sisad Salah, which is the Persian for "three hundred years," because they say that he is three hundred and fifty years old. They have a very high opinion of him and come to visit him from the towns and villages, and sultans and princesses visit him too. He received us with honor and made us his guests. We encamped by a river near his convent and went to see him, and when I saluted him he embraced me. His skin is fresh and smoother than any I have seen; anyone seeing him would take him to be fifty years old. He told me that he grew new hair and teeth every hundred years. I had some doubts about him, however, and God knows how much truth there is in what he says. We travelled thence to Parwan, where I met the amir Buruntayh. He treated me well and wrote to his representatives at Ghazna enjoining them to show me honour. We went on to the village of Charkh (Charikar), it being now summer, and from there to the town of Ghazna. This is the town of the famous warrior-sultan Mahmud ibn Sabuktagin, one of the greatest of rulers, who made frequent raids into India and captured cities and fortresses there."[3]
Ibn Battuta, 1304–1369

In Mahabharata

Panchami River ( पञ्चमी नदी) is mentioned in Mahabharata (VI.10.25)

Bhisma Parva, Mahabharata/Book VI Chapter 10 describes geography and provinces of Bharatavarsha. Vara River (वरा नदी) is mentioned in Mahabharata (VI.10.25). Panchami River is mentioned in Mahabharata (VI.10.25). [4]....of Vara, and the mighty river Panchami, of Rathachitra, and Jyotiratha, and Viswamitra, and Kapinjala;....

पंचमी नदी

पंचमी नदी (AS, p.514) = पंजशीरा नदी अफगानिस्तान में है जिसका उल्लेख महाभारत भीष्म पर्व में है. [5]

In Rajatarangini

Rajatarangini mentions Panchasattra (पंचसत्त्र) as a province, Book V (p.117).


  1. The Ancient Geography of India/Northern India,p.32
  2. ' Travels', p. 98.
  3. Ibn Battuta (2004). Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354 (reprint, illustrated ed.). Routledge. p. 179. ISBN 0-415-34473-5.
  4. हिरण्वतीं चित्रवतीं चित्रसेनां च निम्नगाम (?), रथचित्रां जयॊतिरथां विश्वामित्रां कपिञ्जलाम (VI.10.25)
  5. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.514

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