The Ancient Geography of India/Gandhara

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The Ancient Geography of India: I.
The Buddhist Period, Including the Campaigns of Alexander, and the Travels of Hwen-Thsang
Sir Alexander Cunningham
Trübner and Company, 1871 - India

6. Gandhara or Parashawar

[p.47]: The district of Gandhara is not mentioned by Alexander's professed historians ; but it is correctly described by Strabo, under the name of Gandaritis, as lying along the river Kophes, between the Choaspes and the Indus. In the same position Ptolemy places the Gandarae, whose country included both banks of the Kophes immediately above its junction with the Indus. This is the Kien-to-lo, or Gandhara of all the Chinese pilgrims, who are unanimous in placing it to the west of the Indus. The capital, which they call Pu-lu-sha-pulo or Parashapura is stated to be three or four days' journey from the Indus, and near the south bank of a large river. This is an exact description of the position of Peshawar, which down to the time of Akbar still bore its old name of Parashawar, under which form it is mentioned by Abul Fazl and Baber, and still earlier by Abu Rihan and the Arab geographers of the tenth century. According to Fa Hian, who calls it simply Fo-lu-sha or Parasha, the capital was 16 yojans, or about 112 miles, distant from Nagarahara. Hwen Thsang, however, makes the distance only 500 li, or 83 miles, which is certainly a mistake, as the measurement by perambulator between Jalalabad and Peshawar is 103 miles, to which must be added 2 miles more for the position of Begram to the west of Jalalabad.

The actual boundaries of the district are not de-

[p.48]: scribed, but its size is given as 1000 li, or 166 miles, from east to west, and 800 li, or 133 miles, from north to south. This is, perhaps, nearly correct, as the extreme length, whether taken from the source of the Bara river to Torbela, or from the Kunar river to Torbela, is 120 miles, measured on the map direct, or about 150 miles by road. The extreme breadth, measured in the same way, from Bazar, on the border of the Bunir hills, to the southern boundary of Kohat, is 100 miles direct, or about 125 miles by road. The boundaries of Gandhara, as deduced from these measurements, may be described as Lamghan and Jalalabad on the west, the hills of Swat and Bunir on the north, the Indus on the east, and the hills of Kalabagh on the south. Within these limits stood several of the most renowned places of ancient India; some celebrated in the stirring history of Alexander's exploits, and others famous in the miraculous legends of Buddha, and in the subsequent history of Buddhism under the Indo-Scythian prince Kanishka.

The only towns of the Gandarae named by Ptolemy are Naulibe, Embolima, and the capital called Proklais. All of these were to the north of the Kophes ; and so also were Ora, Bazaria, and Aornos, which are mentioned by Alexander's historians. Parashawar alone was to the south of the Kophes. Of Naulibe and Ora I am not able to offer any account, as they have not yet been identified. It is probable, however, that Naulibe is Nilab, an important town, which gave its name to the Indus river; but if so, it is wrongly placed by Ptolemy, as Nilab is to the south of the Kophes. The positions of the other towns I

[p.49]: will now proceed to investigate, including with them some minor places visited by the Chinese pilgrims.

Pushkalavati or Peukelaotis

The ancient capital of Gandhara was Pushkalavati, which is said to have been founded by Pushkara, the son of Bharata, and the nephew of Rama.[1] Its antiquity is undoubted, as it was the capital of the province at the time of Alexander's expedition. The Greek name of Peukelaotis, or Peucolaitis, was immediately derived from Pukkalaoti, which is the Pali, or spoken form of the Sanskrit Pushkalavati. It is also called Peukelas by Arrian, and the people are named Peukalei by Dionysius Periegetes, which are both close transcripts of the Pali Pukkala. The form of Proklais, which is found in Arrian's ' Periplus of the Erythraean Sea,' and also in Ptolemy's ' Geography,' is perhaps only an attempt to give the Hindi name of Pokhar instead of the Sanskrit Pushkara.

According to Arrian, Peukelas was a very large and populous city, seated not far from the river Indus.[2] It was the capital of a chief named Astes,[3] perhaps Hasti, who was killed in the defence of one of his strongholds, after a siege of thirty days, by Hephsestion. Upon the death of Astes the city of Peukelaotis was delivered up to Alexander on his march towards the Indus. Its position is vaguely described by Strabo and Arrian as "near the Indus." But the geographer Ptolemy is more exact, as he fixes it on the eastern bank of the river of Suastene, that is, the Panjkora or Swat river, which is the very

  1. Wilson's ' Vishnu Purina,' edited by Hall, b. iv. c. 4.
  2. Arrian, - 'Indica,' i.
  3. Arrian, ' Anabasis,' It. 22.

[p.50]: locality indicated by Hwen Thsang. On leaving Parashawar the Chinese pilgrim travelled towards the north-east for 100 li, or nearly 17 miles; and, crossing a great river, reached Pu-se-kia-lo-fa-ti, or Pushkalavati. The river here mentioned is the Kophes, or river of Kabul; and the bearing and distance from Peshawar point to the two large towns of Parang and Charsada, which form part of the well-known Hasht-nagar, or "Eight Cities," that are seated close together on the eastern bank of the lower Swat river.

These towns are Tangi, Shirpao, Umrzai, Turangzai, Usmanzai, Rajur, Charsada, and Parang. They extend over a distance of fifteen miles ; but the last two are seated close together in a bend of the river, and might originally have been portions of one large town. The fort of Hisar stands on a mound above the ruins of the old town of Hashtnagar, which General Court places on an island, nearly opposite Rajur.[1] "All the suburbs," he says, " are scattered over with vast ruins."[2] The eight cities are shown in No. iv. Map. It seems to me not improbable that the modern name of Hashtnagar may be only a slight alteration of the old name of Hastinagara, or " city of Hasti," which might have been applied to the capital of Astes, the Prince of Peukelaotis. It was a common practice of the Greeks to call the Indian rulers by the names of their cities, as Taxiles, Assakanus, and others. It was also a prevailing custom amongst Indian princes to designate any additions or alterations made to their capitals by their own names. Of this last custom we have a notable instance in the famous city of Delhi ; which, besides its ancient

  1. Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, 1836, p. 479.
  2. ibid 1836, p. 394.

[p.51]: appellations of Indraprastha and Dilli, was also known by the names of its successive aggrandizers as Kot-Pithora, Kila-Alai, Tughlakabad, Firuzabad, and Shabjahanabad. It is true that the people themselves refer the name of Hashtnagar to the " eight towns " which are now seated close together along the lower course of the Swat river ; but it seems to me very probable that in this case the wish was father to the thought, and that the original name of Hastinagar, or whatever it may have been, was slightly twisted to Hashtnagar, to give it a plausible meaning amongst a Persianized Muhammadan population, to whom the Sanskrit Hastinagara was unintelligible. To the same cause I would attribute the slight change made in the name of Nagarahara, which the people now call Nang-nihar,[1] or the "Nine Streams."

In later times Pushkalavati was famous for a large stupa, or solid tower, which was erected on the spot where Buddha was said to have made an alms-offering of his eyes. In the period of Hwen Thsang's visit, it was asserted that the " eyes gift " had been made one thousand different times, in as many previous existences : but only a single gift is mentioned by the two earlier pilgrims, Fa-Hian in the fifth century, and Sung-Yun in the sixth century.

Varusha or Palodheri

Hwen Thsang next visited a town called Po-lu-sha, which, I think, may be identified with Palo-dheri, or

  1. Baber's ' Memoirs,' p. 141. — Wood's ' Journey to the Source of the Oxus,' p. 167. — Macgregor's 'Greography of Jalalabad,' in Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, xi. 117, and xiii. 867.

[p.52]: the village of Pali, which is situated on a dheri, or "mound of ruins," the remains of some early town. To the north-east of the town, at 20 li, or 3⅓ miles, rose the hill of Dantaloka, with a cave, in which Prince Sudāna and his wife had taken refuge. The position of Palodheri, which is the Valley of General Court, agrees with Hwen Thsang's distance of about 40 miles from Pushkalavati ;[1] and this identification is supported by the existence of the great cave of Kashmiri-Ghar, in the hill to the east-north-east, and within 3 or 4 miles of Palodheri. Mount Dantalok I take to be the Montes Daedali of Justin, [2] as in the spoken dialects the nasal of the word danta is assimilated with the following letter, which thus becomes doubled, as in the well-known datton, a " tooth-brush," or twig used for cleaning the teeth.

Utakhanda, or Ohind, or Embolima.

From Polusha Hwen Thsang travelled 200 li, or 33 miles, to the south-east to U-to-kia-han-cha, which M. Julien transcribes as Udakhanda, and M. Vivien de St. Martin identifies with Ohind on the Indus. The pilgrim describes Udakhanda as having its south side resting on the river, which tallies exactly with the position of Ohind, on the north bank of the Indus, about 15 miles above Attok. General Court and Burnes call this place Hund, and so does Mr. Loewenthal, who styles Ohind a mistaken pronunciation. But the name was written <arabic> Waihand or Oaihand, by Abu Rihan in A.D. 1030, and Ohind by Mirza Mogal Beg in 1790. To my ear the name sounded something like Wahand, and this would appear to have been the

  1. See No. IV Map
  2. Historiae, xii.7

[p.53]: pronunciation which. Rashid-ud-din obtained in A.D. 1310, as he names the place Wehand[1] According to all these authors Waihand was the capital of Gandhara, and Rashid-ud-din adds that the Mogals called it Karajang. The only native writer who uses the abbreviated form of the name is Nizam-ud-din, who in his ' Tabakat-i-Akbari ' says that Mahmud besieged Jaipal in the fort of Hind in A.D. 1002. But this place is differently named by Ferishta, who calls it the fort of Bithanda, <arabic>. In this last name we have a very near approach to the old form of Utakhanda, which is given by Hwen Thsang.

From all these examples, I infer that the original name of Utakhanda, or Ut-khand, was first softened to Uthand or Bithanda, and then shortened to Uhand or Ohund. The other form of Wehand I look upon as a simple misreading of Uthand, as the two words only differ in the position of the diacritical points of the second letter. General James Abbott, in his ' Gradus ad Aornon,' calls the place Oond, and says that it was formerly called Oora, from which he thinks it probable that it may be identified with the Ora, Ωρα of Alexander's historians.

I have entered into this long detail out of respect for the acknowledged learning of the late lamented Isidor Loewenthal. His opinion as to the name of Ohind was most probably, although quite unconsciously, biased by his belief that Utakhanda was to be found in the modern Attak. But this place is unfortunately on the wrong side of the Indus, besides which its name, as far as I am aware, is not to be found in any author prior to the reign of Akbar. Abul Fazl

  1. There is a place of the same name on the Jhelam, which Moor-croft spells Oin.

[p.54]: calls the fort Atak-Banaras, and states that it was built in the reign of his Majesty. Baber never mentions the place, although he frequently speaks of Nilab. Rashid-ud-din, however, states that the Parashawar river joins the Indus near Tankur, which most probably refers to the strong position of Khairabad. I have a suspicion that the name of Attak, the "forbidden," may have been derived by Akbar from a mistaken reading of Tankur, with the Arabic article prefixed, as Et-tankur. The name of Banaras was undoubtedly derived from Banar, the old name of the district in which the fort is situated. The name of Banar suggested Banaras, and as Kasi-Banaras was the city which all Hindus would wish to visit, so we may guess that this fact suggested to the playful mind of Akbar the exactly opposite idea of Attah Banaras or the " forbidden " Banaras, which all good Hindus should avoid. Or the existence of Katak Banaras[1] (or Cuttack) in Orissa, on the extreme eastern limit of his kingdom, may have suggested an alteration of the existing names of Attak and Banar to Attak-Banaras as an antithesis for the extreme west.

Wehand, or Uhand as I believe it should be written, was the capital of the Brahman kings of Kabul, whose dynasty was extinguished by Mahmud of Ghazni in A.D. 1026. Masudi, who visited India in A.D. 915, states that " the king of El-kandahar (or Gandhara), who is one of the kings of Es-Sind ruling over this country, is called Jahaj ; this name is common to all sovereigns of that country."[2] Now, Chach is the name

  1. ' Ayin Akbari," ii. 194, and Stirling's ' Orissa,' in Bengal Asiat Researches, xv. 189.
  2. Sir Henry Elliot's ' Muhammadan Historians of India,' i. 57. In the new edition by Professor Dowson, i. 22, the name is altered to Hahaj.

[p.55]: of the great plain to the east of the Indus, immediately opposite to Ohind; and as the plain of Banar is said to have been named after Raja Banar it seems probable that the plain of Chach may have been named after the Brahman dynasty of Ohind. It is curious that the Brahman dynasty of Sindh was also established by a Chach in A.D. 641 ; but it is still more remarkable that this date corresponds with the period of the expulsion of the Brahman dynasty from Chichito, or Jajhoti, by the Chandels of Khajura. I think, therefore, that there may have been some connection between these events, and that the expelled Jajhotiya Brahmans of Khajura may have found their way to the Indus, where they succeeded in establishing themselves at first in Sindh and afterwards in Ohind and Kabul.

In the time of Hwen Thsang the city was 20 li, or upwards of 3 miles, in circuit, and we may reasonably suppose that it must have increased in size during the sway of the Brahman dynasty. It would seem also to have been still a place of importance under the successors of Changiz Khan, as the Mogals had changed its name to Karajang. But the building of Attak, and the permanent diversion of the high-road, must seriously have affected its prosperity, and its gradual decay since then has been hastened by the constant encroachments of the Indus, which has now carried away at least one-half of the old town.[1] In the sands at the foot of the cliff, which are mixed with the debris of the ruined houses, the gold-washers find numerous coins and trinkets, which offer the best evidence of the

  1. See No. IV. Map for its position

[p.56]: former prosperity of the city. In a few hours' washing I obtained a bronze buckle, apparently belonging to a bridle, a female neck ornament, several flat needles for applying antimony to the eyes, and a considerable number of coins of the Indo-Scythian and Brahman princes of Kabul. The continual discovery of Indo-Scythian coins is a suficient proof that the city was already in existence at the beginning of the Christian era, which may perhaps induce us to put some faith in the tradition, mentioned by Abul Peda, that Wehand, or OJiind, was one of the cities founded by Alexander the Great.

After the surrender of Peukelaotis, Arrian[1] relates that Alexander captured other small towns on the river Kophenes, and " arrived at last at Embolima, a city seated not far from the rock Aornos," where he left Kraterus to collect provisions, in case the siege should be protracted. Before he left Bazaria, Alexander, with his usual foresight, had despatched Hephaestion and Perdikkas straight to the Indus with orders to "prepare everything for throwing a bridge over the river." Unfortunately, not one of the historians has mentioned the name of the place where the bridge was made ; but as the great depot of provisions and other necessaries was formed at Embolima, I conclude that the bridge must have been at the same place. General Abbott has fixed Embolima at Amb-Balima on the Indus, 8 miles to the east of Mahaban ; and certainly if Mahaban was Aornos the identity of the other places would be incontestable. But as the identification of Mahaban seems to me to be altogether untenable, I would suggest that Ohind or Ambar-Ohind

  1. 'Anabasis,' it. 28.

[p.57]: is the most probable site of Embolima. Ambar is a village two miles to the north of Ohind, and it is in accordance with Indian custom to join the names of two neighbouring places together, as in the case of Attak-Banaras, for the sake of distinction, as there is another Ohin on the Jhelam. It must be remembered, however, that Embolima or Ekbolima may be only a pure Greek name, descriptive of the position of the place, at the junction of the Kabul river with the Indus, where it is placed by Ptolemy. In this case the claim of Ohind would be even stronger than before. That the bridge over the Indus was at, or near, Embolima, seems almost certain from the statement of Curtius, that when Alexander had finished his campaign to the west of the Indus by the capture of Aornos, "he proceeded towards Ecbolima;"[1] that is, as I conclude, to the place where his bridge had been prepared by Hephaestion and Perdikkas, and where his provisions had been stored by Kraterus. I infer that the depot of provisions must have been close to the bridge, because one guard would have sufficed for the security of both bridge and stores.

Salatura, or Lahor

Hwen Thsang next visited So-lo-tu-lo, or Salatura, the birthplace of the celebrated grammarian Panini, which he says was 20 li, or 3⅓ miles, to the north-west of Ohind. In January, 1848, during a day's halt at the village of Lahor, which is exactly four miles to the north-east of Ohind, I procured several Greek and Indo-Scythian coins, from which it may be

  1. Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, 1836, p. 395.

[p.58]: inferred, with some certainty, that the place is at least as old as the time of Panini himself, or about B.C. 350. I have, therefore, no hesitation in identifying Salatura with Lahor. The loss of the first syllable of the name is satisfactorily accounted for by the change of the palatal sibilant to the aspirate, according to the well-known usage of the people of western India, by whom the Sindhu river was called Hendhu and Indus, and the people on its banks Hindus or Indians ; Salatura would, therefore, have become Halatura and Alalur, which might easily have been corrupted to Lahor; or, as General Court writes the name, to Lavor.


[p.58-78]: Not taken

Parashawara or Peshawar

[p.78]:The great city now called Peshawar is first mentioned by Fa-Hian, in A.D. 400, under the name of Fo-leu-sha.[1] It is next noticed by Sung-Yun in A.D. 502, at which time the king of Gandhara was at war with the king of Kipin, or Kophene, that is Kabul and Ghazni, and the surrounding districts. Sung-Yun does not name the city, but he calls it the capital, and his description of its great stupa of king Kia-ni-sse-kia, or Kanishka, is quite sufficient to establish its identity.[2] At the period of Hwen Thsang's visit, in a.d. 630, the royal family had become extinct, and the kingdom of Gandhara was a dependency of Kapisa or Kabul. But the capital which Hwen Thsang calls Pu-lu-sha-pu-lo, or Parashawara, was still a great city of 40 li, or 6⅔ miles, in extent.[3] It is next mentioned by Masudi and Abu Rihan, in the tenth and eleventh

  1. Beal's translation of 'Fah-Hian,' p. 34.
  2. Beal's translation of 'Sung-Yun,' p. 202.
  3. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' ii. 104.

[p.79]: centuries, under the name of Parashawar, and again by Baber, in the sixteenth century, it is always called by the same name throughout his commentaries. Its present name we owe to Akbar, whose fondness for innovation led him to change the ancient Parashawar, of which he did not know the meaning, to Peshawar, or the " frontier town." Abul Fazl gives both names.[1] The great object of veneration at Parashawar, in the first centuries of the Christian era, was the begging pot of "Buddha, which has already been noticed. Another famous site was the holy Pipal tree, at 8 or 9 li, or 1½ mile, to the south-east of the city. The tree was about 100 feet in height, with wide spreading branches, which, according to the tradition, had formerly given shade to Sakya Buddha when he predicted the future appearance of the great king Kanishka. The tree is not noticed by Fa-Hian, but it is mentioned by Sun-Yung as the Pho-thi, or Bodhi tree, whose " branches spread out on all sides, and whose foliage shuts out the sight of the sky." Beneath it there were four seated statues of the four previous Buddhas. Sung-Yun further states that the tree was planted by Kanishka over the spot where he had buried a copper vase containing the pearl tissue lattice of the great stupa, which he was afraid might be abstracted from the tope after his death. This same tree would appear to have been seen by the Emperor Baber in A.D. 1505, who describes it as the "stupendous tree " of Begram, which he " immediately rode out to see."[2] It must then have been not less than 1500 years old, and as it is not mentioned in

  1. ' Ayin Akbari,' ii. 341.
  2. ' Memoirs, translated by Leyden and Erskine,' p. 157.

[p.80]: A.D. 1594 by Abul Fazl,[1] in his account of the Gor-Katri at Peshawar, I conclude that it had previously disappeared through simple old age and decay.

The enormous stupa of Kanishka, which stood close to the holy tree on its south side, is described by all the pilgrims. In A.D. 500 Fa-Hian says that it was about 400 feet high, and " adorned with all manner of precious things," and that fame reported it as superior to all other topes in India. One hundred years later, Sung-Yun declares that "amongst the topes of western countries this is the first." Lastly, in A.D. 630, Hwen Thsang describes it as upwards of 400 feet in height and 1½ li, or just one quarter of a mile, in circumference. It contained a large quantity of the relics of Buddha. No remains of this great stupa now exist.

To the west of the stupa there was an old monastery, also built by Kanishka, which had become celebrated amongst the Buddhists through the fame of Arya-Parswika, Manorhita, and Vasu-bandhu, three of the great leaders and teachers of Buddhism about the beginning of the Christian era. The towers and pavilions of the monastery were two stories in height, but the building was already much ruined at the time of Hwen Thsang's visit. It was, however, inhabited by a small number of monks, who professed the " Lesser vehicle " or exoteric doctrines of Buddhism. It was still flourishing as a place of Buddhist education in the ninth or tenth century[2] when Vira Deva of Magadha was sent to the " great Vihara of Kanishka where the best of teachers were to be found, and which was famous for the quietism of its frequenters," I be-

  1. 'Ayin Akbari,' ii. 165.
  2. Jour. As. Soc. Bengal, 1849, i. 494.

[p.81]:lieve that this great monastery was still existing in the times of Baber and Akbar under the name of Gor-Katri, or the Baniya's house.

The former says, " I had heard of the fame of Gurh-Katri, which is one of the holy places of the Jogis of the Hindus, who come from great distances to cut off their hair and shave their beards at this Gurh-Katri." Abul Fazl's account is still more brief. Speaking of Peshawur he says, "here is a temple, called Gor-Katri, a place of religious resort, particularly for Jogis." According to Erskine, the grand caravansara of Peshawur was built on the site of the Gor-Katri.

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