To find fun things to do in Peshawar, you must know Peshawar.
Fake news has pushed Peshawar’s image into a basket case of terrorism, drugs, lawlessness, and regressive Pathan tribesmen – but that is untrue.
- Also, see Travel Advisories for Pakistan
I know the fun Peshawar to be the historic, beautiful, friendly, enterprising city that has not found a good administrator, yet.
Also, Peshawar has the prettiest ladies in all of Pakistan.
History of Peshawar City
Ancient travelers to Peshawar,
- Hu Xian in the 5thCentury recorded it as “Fulasha”
- Xuangzang in the 7th century called it “Bulasha.”
- Al Biruni in the 10th century called it “Purushawar” “city of men”
- Peshawar was the first hinterland town with some semblance of civility and that’s why Mughal rechristened it to “Pesh-awar,” “(the city) that first arrives.”
The city of Peshawar’s documented history starts somewhere 500 BC.
It has remains of Kushan Dynasty’s largest construction ever, a Buddhist stupa called Kanishka Stupa of 2nd Century BC, at Shaji ki Dheri.
This city of Peshawar was the first stop for anyone coming from the west into India through Khyber Pass.
You know every trader and conqueror came through Khyber because at one point in Khyber Pass, Ali Masjid, the pass was 3 meters wide only.
All other routes to India were too dry and dangerous to even contemplate.
- Read the history of Attock Khurd
The Culture of Peshawar
Peshawar had seen many invaders.
Persians, Greek, Central Asians, Hindus, Afghans, Mongols, Sikhs, and then British have all footprints in Peshawar.
None of the rulers felt the need to build a protective wall around the city – because it was impossible to do so.
Hu Xian, a 5th-century Chinese traveler indicated that only the royal palace was housed in a fort-like complex.
The same fort was reconstructed and expanded by various rulers to be renamed a Qila Bala Hisar “the high fort.”
- Also, see Attock Fort, Khyberpakhtunkhwa
The city of Peshawar has changed hands so many times from various religions and cultures, it is a treasure trove of religious and cultural history.
Just one site Gor Khatri, which houses the old governor’s palace and Hindu temple has revealed several layers of ancient artifacts of several religions in a 20 meters dig.
- It is said to have the original bowl of Buddha
- It is said to have the ritual ablution pond of Gorakhnath Hindu Order
How to get to Peshawar from Islamabad
To get to Peshawar from Islamabad, it is best to take the motorway. This way you can get there in 2.5 h, you drive fast.
PRO TIP 1
People joining the motorway from the suburbs of Peshawar will never leave the fast lane even if they are driving at 40 kph – swerve around them – this is the Khyberpakhtoonkhwa way.
High-quality Hashish or Weed
Everyone will tell you that if you want real Hashish, you would have to get it from Peshawar city and ask for stuff from Tirah Valley.
This natural nerve relaxant with its light green hue as attracted stoners from worldwide for ages, as Peshawar has been a key stop on the hippie trail of the 1960s.
One puff of a well-prepared joint and you would be in the seventh heaven with your 70 virgins.
Fun things Peshawar – Shopping
If you like shopping then, you must visit the smugglers market in Hayatabad, called Karkhano.
Afghan traders import from Karachi port anything that Pakistani traders cannot themselves and have it moved into Karkhano on mule back – tax-free.
You can find the best toiletries, beautify products, electronics, car accessories here – straight from Western countries.
Also, Peshawar’s old Bazar inside the city has smuggled spare parts of high-end vehicles, including engines, frames, and wheels all in one place.
To get your local guns, try
- Daudson’s Armory at Kohat Road, Peshawar
- Gunsmiths at Dara Adam Khel.
Things to buy in Peshawar
- Kaptan Chappal, Imran Khan’s own.
- Gur or Jaggery has dried fruits embedded in it.
- Guns, God, and Guts – Pathan people have plenty of.
- Hashish (I do not recommend it, though)
- Imported Alcohol (I do not recommend this either; do not shoot the messenger)
- Imported Car Spares You can go in with your busted up Toyota Jeep and come back with a swanky new Prado, all in a few days.
History of Khyber Pass and Tribal Areas
Peshawar has been lawless because the mountains toward the West of Peshawar had too many natural hideouts to protect insurgents or brigands.
The Sikh tried building Jamrud Fort at the Western inlet to Peshawar and the British tried to fortify Khyber Pass with multiple structures, still, the problem of hideouts remains.
British Raj tried reinforcing the perimeter of Peshawar with Saragarhi fort near Tirah, and you know what happened to that experiment – it was a route.
God Bless Ipi Faqir for that
This is the only time in Peshawar’s 2500 years recorded history that an attempt has been made to civilized and mainstream the lawless band lands of tribal areas around Peshawar – through political means.
Now Peshawar will get the peace and stability it deserves.
Things to do in Peshawar, Day-1
Relaxing in the Gardens of Peshawar
I know the top fun thing in Peshawar is visiting gardens. Namely,
- Islamiyah College Gardens, by far the absolute best.
- Jinnah Park
- Shahi Bagh
- Askari Park
- Hayatabad Park
Marvel the Architecture of Islamia College Peshawar
What people do not know is that the gardens outside the main administrative block of Islamia College are like paradise, itself.
Although the guards at the gate do not allow unsolicited entry, if you manage to get someone to let you in, the architecture of the building and fruit trees and manicured gardens look like a Mughal Royal still lives here.
I am astonished at Peshawar University’s unimaginativeness and dysfunction, that they seek bailouts from the government every year, while they have the best gardens and architectural complex anywhere in the province.
The Mughal, Buddhist, and Hindu syncretic style of architecture still has water sprouts with images of tigers – like Buddhist temples.
The moment you drive into Peshawar University, peace and tranquility greet you.
I feel IQ and civility level around me jump up several notches.
Look around Khyber Medical College
Do not forget to pass by Khyber Medical College, as the female students there are the most sought-after brides in the whole of the Subcontinent.
If any place combines beauty and brains – it’s here in Khyber Medical College Lecture Halls.
Special Services Group (SSG) Para Training School
From the Peshawar University drive on the Special Services Group Para Training School and book a full tour of their premises.
- Para training zip line
- Shaheed Monuments
- Heli jump repelling
- Rigging Hanger
- The para jump wind tunnel is the only one in Pakistan and is the wildest fun thing in Peshawar.
Golf at Army Gold Club, Peshawar
Play Golf at Peshawar Army Golf Course for Rs 1500 only
Fun playing golf is a thing in Peshawar on weekends
It is open to everyone, including civilians.
- Also, see Rawalpindi Golf Club
PRO TIP 2
You would have to know someone in the Army to get an entry to Para Training School Peshawar, but it is worth it.
Best Restaurant to eat at Peshawar
The top fun thing in Peshawar is food.
When you get hungry in the afternoon, drive up to Hayatabad main gate and try this menu from the same location.
- Beef Tikka from Tikka Corner, Hayatabad, under the overpass
- Chappal Kabab from Jalil Kabab House, Hayatabad
- Kabuli Pulao from Habibi Restaurant
- Fresh Juice and Ice Cream from Hamza Food Corner
- Pizza from New Yorker Pizza
Historical Places in Peshawar City, Day-2
History and Heritage is a super fun thing to do in Peshawar.
Now that you are refreshed, visit the following heritage and history sites
- Peshawar Museum for its most precious artifacts of Gandhara Persian Rule period (600BC).
- Cunningham Clock Tower, completely designed and built by British Colonial Authorities
- Mahabat Khan Mosque, built in the 17th century by Peshawar’s Mughal ally was used to hang rebels by the Sikh.
- Dargah Pir Rattan Nath Hindu Temple, Hashtnagri the only fully functional temple of Peshawar
- Sethi Manzil, Sethian da Mohalla, Peshawar with original wood carvings and façade intact.
- See Old City Lahore
- Chowk Yaadgar, where protestors against Colonial atrocities led to British shooting close to a hundred protestors dead.
- Kissa Khwani Bazar is the ancient bazaar where tales from the beyond were shared by caravan crews.
- Kotla Mohsin Khan is the ceremonial gate, which represented the boundary of Peshawar city.
- Gor Khathri heritage site and Hindu Temple is where Theravada Buddhism and Gorakhnath Hinduism originated.
- All Saints Church, the only church in Pakistan, known to have been converted from a mosque and still looks like one.
- Rahman Baba Ziarat Shrine, a tribute to the Humanitarian Pushto Poet
“You ask me, my love, about my tears,
But you do not see my fears that agonize my heart
If not for your infidelity torturing me cruelly,
My sorrows would have departed
How can your lovers be joyful?
If loving for you is like worshiping idols”
- Also, see Top Pakistani Songs’ lyrics
- Pushkalavati Charsadda Museum, is a tribute to Hariti Devi and Panchika, legendary Buddhist figures who were converted to Buddhism right here by Lord Gautama Buddha himself.
- Also, see Supreme Court Museum
Have dinner at Charsi Tikka house Namak Mandi, with your family and do not worry, there is no charas served here – if you do not ask for it.
Which hotel to for the night in Peshawar?
Get an Airbnb apartment room for the night as you can get food at every street corner.
Try finding one inside the Cantonment for security reasons,
Peshawar Trip Plan for Day-3
Oh, the scary fun of driving through tribal areas, checking out things on the way out of Peshawar.
Next day, plan a trip along the Khyber Pass to see these historical places
- Jamrud Fort, which the Sikh tried to fortify once, was overrun by regrouped tribal fighters.
- See Kusak Fort
- Shagai Fort, in the middle of Khyber Pass, right on the road.
- Ali Masjid, the narrowest point of Khyber Pass that all armies coming into India from Greek to Persians to Central Asians had to pass through.
- Michni Post, The best viewing spot to look deep into Afghanistan
- Sphola Stupa at the doors of Peshawar, the Buddhist religious site where caravans would stop over while coming from and going to Afghanistan in 1500 years ago.
- Torkham border with Afghanistan, besides drugs, guns, stolen vehicles, and electronics, this Bazar has the best vehicle pawn shop anywhere else in Pakistan.
- Khyber Safari Train; Although this train only runs for foreign guests, the track it winds through is still frozen back in time 300 years ago – a shame that Pakistani people can’t enjoy this because of the sheer ineptness.
Add this to Khyber List too, if possible.
- Warsak Dam; If you still have the energy to explore more then drive 45 min to Warsak Run of the mil power plant on the outskirts of Peshawar and,
- See Mangla Dam
- Gun Market Dara Adam Khel; also see the gun markets of Dara Adam Khel
- Sararogha fort, where brave Pakistan Army soldiers fought a desperate last stand against mercenaries of Afghanistan
PRO TIP 3
You would need Pakistan Army’s permission to move about in Peshawar and around it, but if you try to blend in and dress decent, you can easily move about.
The best places to see and enjoy in Peshawar are still very much in the Army dominated areas of the city, but with new routes coming up, and city politicians showing more ingenuity, the city’s hidden genius will reveal itself soon.
I still love Peshawar the best among the cities of Pakistan, Quetta is a close second.
Now you know nearly all the fun things in Peshawar, go get them, tiger!
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