Published in Khyber.ORG on Sunday, May 1 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)
Publishing Date: Sunday, May 1 2005
In the beginning, the name Mardan was given to a small area after the name of Pir Mardan Shah, a prominent religious figure. Gradually, a large surrounding area came to be known as Mardan. The area constituting Mardan district is part of Peshawar valley, which first appears in history as part of Gandhara Kingdom. Until 1937, Mardan district was a part of Peshawar district. In 1937, Mardan was set up as an independent district after the name of its headquarters town.
The district lies from 34 degrees 05 to 34 degrees 32 north latitudes and 71 degree 48 to 72 degree 25 east longitudes. It is bounded on the north by Burner district and Malakand protected area, on the east by Swabi and Burner districts, on the South by Nowshera district and on the west by Charsadda district and Malakand protected area. The total area of the district is 1632 kilometers.
Mardan district may broadly be divided into two parts, North-Eastern hilly area and south western plain. The entire Northern side of the district is bounded by the hills. In the district, the highest points in these hills are Pajja or Sakra, 2056 meters high and Garo or Pato, 1816 meters high. The southwestern half of the district is mostly composed of fertile plain with low hills strewn across it. It is gradually accepted that this plain once formed the bed of a lake, which was gradually filled up by the load of the river flowing into from the surrounding hills. From the foothills the plain runs down at first with a steep slope, which carried the rainwater to the lower levels and ultimately to the Kabul River.
Generally stream flows from North to the South. Most of the streams drain into Kabul River. Kalpani, an important stream of the district rises in the Baizai and flowing southwards joins Kabul River. Other important streams join Kalpani , such as Baghiari Khawar on the west and Maqam Khawar, coming from Sudham valley and Naranji Khawar from the Narangi hills on the left.
The summer season is extremely hot. A steep rise of temperature is observed from May to June. Even in July, August and September record quite high temperatures. During May and June dust storms are frequent at night. The temperature reaches its maximum in the month of June i.e. 41.50 degree centigrade. Due to intensive cultivation and artificial irrigation, the tract is humid and heat is oppressive. However, a rapid fall of temperature has been recorded from October onwards. The coldest months are December and January. The mean minimum temperature recorded for the month of January the coldest month is 2.09 degree centigrade.
Most of the rainfall occurs in the months of July, August, December and January. Maximum rainfall was recorded for the month of August the rainiest month is 125.85 mm. Towards the end of cold weather there are occasional thunderstorms and hail storms. The relative humidity is quite high throughout the year while maximum humidity has been recorded in December i.e. 73.33 percent.
The present flora of the irrigated areas is exotic. The common trees are mesquite, ber, different species of acacia and jand. The most common shrubs are tarmariax articulata, spands, akk, small red poppy, spera, pueghambrigul, drab grass, eamelthorl and pohli chaulai etc.
The district has a variety of fauna comprising the following:
Mardan is known as the best agricultural area in the country. Its land is very suitable for cultivation of sugarcane and tobacco. The major crops grown in the district are wheat, sugarcane, tobacco, maize, rice, rapeseed and mustard etc. Fruits and vegetables are also grown. The important frits are orange, plum, peach, apricot, pear, rare mango and apple.
The main sources of the irrigation are the canals. The upper Swat canal irrigates, mostly, Mardan district and the lower Swat canal irrigate southwestern part of the district. Besides, irrigation is done by tube-wells and lift irrigation.
The area constituting Mardan district is a part of the Peshawar valley, which first appears in the history as part of the Gandhara kingdom. After invasion of Alexander the Great, the mists of obscurity began to clear up. The armies of Alexander reached the Indus valley by two separate routes, one direct through the Khyber Pass and the other led by Alexander himself through Kunar, Bajaur, Swat and Buner in 326 B.C. After Alexander's departure, the valley came under the rule of Chandragupta, who ruled the valley from 297 to 321 B.C. During the reign of the Buddhist emperor Asoka, the grand son of Chandragupta, Buddhism was the religion, of the Peshawar valley. The valley saw the revival of Brahmanism after the Greeks took over in the time of King Mehanda. The Seythians and Indians followed and retained control of the valley till the 7th century A.D.
Before the close of the 7th century, the Afghans appeared in the valley. At that time Peshawar valley was under the control of the rulers at Lahore. The Afghans joined the Gakkhars who held the country between the Indus and the Jhelum rivers and compelled the Lahore rulers to cede to them the hill country west of the Indus and south of the Kabul River. In the 10th century the area came under the control of the Sultan Sabuktgin who defeated Raja Jaipal, the Hindu ruler of Lahore. Sabuktgin's son, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni ,made this area as the rallying point for his numerous raids into the interior of India. In the 15th century, the Pathans of Ghor overthrew the Ghaznavis and the era of Ghaznavis came to an end. In 1505 the Mughal emperor Babar invaded the area through Khyber Pass. It remained under the rule of the Mughal emperors up to the time of Aurangzeb. During his regime the Pathan tribes revolted and Aurangzeb himself led his army to re-establish his authority but after a hard struggle which lasted for two years (1673-75) he was compelled to agree to the terms, which left the Pathans practically independent. In 1738 came the surrender of Peshawar to Nadir Shah, by which all the territory west of the Indus, which included present Mardan District was ceded by the Mughals to Nadir Shah. Ranjit Singh took Attock in 1814 and Peshawar in 1818. He left Hari Singh Nalwa in command and withdrew himself to Lahore. This valley remained under the control of the Sikhs up to 1849. The Sikhs were defeated by the British Army in the Second Sikh War. Major Lawrence was appointed as the first Deputy Commissioner of Peshawar. From that date Peshawar became an administrative district under the Punjab Government. At that time the present Mardan district was a part of Peshawar district. In 1909 Frontier Province was constituted and in 1937, Peshawar district was bifurcated into Peshawar and Mardan districts.
Mardan district is mainly inhabited by the Yusafzai Pathans but the Lundkhwar valley has sizeable Khattak population. The origin of the Pathans is traced back to two brothers Khakai and Gori who gave their names to the two divisions of the tribes settled near Qandhar. The Khakal were subsequently expelled by the Ghoris and they settled near Kabul about the middle of the 13th century. When they increased in number and acquired wealth they split into three clans, the Yusafzais, Gigyanis and Turklays. At the close of the 15th century, the Yusafzais and the Gigyanis moved to the plains of Peshawar and eventually ousted the Dalazaks and spread into Buner district. They eventually moved into Mardan district and the area came to be known as "Yousafzai Plain".
The other main tribe of Mardan is Khattak. The Khattaks trace decent from Lukman surnamed Khattak, son of Burhan and grandson of Karran. The Khattaks and Yousafzais were in a state of perpetual war with each other before the reign of emperor Aurangzeb. In the time of Aurangzeb, Khushal Khan Khattak ,the great Pushto poet and warrior, fell out with Aurangzeb and made peace with the Yousafzai Tribe. After the construction of Upper and Lower Swat canals from the Swat River, the Mohammad tribes started penetrating in the district. They started as petty tenants of land-lords of the district and gradually by their hard work they replaced many of their landlords. The Mohmmads are mainly found in Shumali Kamalzai and Junubi Kamalzai area of Mardan Tehsil, but are also found in small number all over the district.
Besides these main tribes, some Sayyeds and Gujars are also found in the district. The Gujars are more in number and some historian told that they are the original inhabitants of the area.
The most common diet is bread, which is made of wheat or maize flour. The people of the area are fond of meat, especially various forms of beef cooked in shape of chapli kabab, seekh kabab, tikkas and qahwa (green tea) is popular and is liked by most of the people.
There is significant difference in dress of common people and educated and upper classes. The upper class people are inclined to western dress. The middle and lower classes are generally wearing typical pathan dress, the old lose coat or khalqa has been replaced by the less cumbersome qamiz with blanket and coarse chader during winter season around the body. Among the villagers use of mazari cloth is common for qamiz and shalwar. A chitrali woolen cap is used in winter while a typical light color cap in summer. Chapplies are the most common foot wear. Shalwar qamiz and dopatta is the dress of female. Pardah is universal among women in a form of a printed coarse chadder or plain white chadder or burqa.
The use of ornaments among female is also common in the district. The women adorn themselves with ear rings and bangles with rare use of band quba, which consists of two egg like cups connected by chain or a flat circle shaped gold hanging on forehead.
The villages are divided into Kandis have congested house. Each kandi is further occupied by sub-section. The divisions of Kandis are on the pattern of agricultural lands. Their houses are generally consists of two or three rooms and a court-yard turned as ghollai and varandah. The cattles and poultry are also accommodated beside the shelter for family.
Each Kandi of the village has its own mosque and its own Maulvi and a place of meeting or for public assembly called Hujra. In most cases it is the property of elders of the Kandi; who are expected to feed and give shelter to visitors/ travelers. These Hujras are commonly used for the settlement of public disputes/business beside public meetings. Residents of Kandi assemble there to smoke, hear news of the day and discuss their problems and politics. Now a day the people in service abroad have accumulated sufficient wealth which brought a distinct change in the life of the villagers who construct pacca houses of cement, bricks and timber.
A Tandoor (Oven) is also found for baking bread in many houses and some time women of three or four houses assembled on one Tandoor (Oven) for baking breads on their turn. The houses have huge compound walls around with gates. Chair and tables are used in the houses of well-to-do persons whereas others use the ordinary cot (Charpoy).
Most of the people are farmer in profession in village. They are engaged in agriculture either directly or indirectly. Industrial labor has increased after the establishment of factories in different places of the district. Some people are engaged in business and Government service also.
Religion has a great impact on the culture of people. Most of the people are Muslims. However, there are Hindus, Buddhists and Parsis.
The Sayyeds, Mians and Sahibzadas enjoy special respect amongst the Pathans on account of their ancestry. The visit to shrines or ziarats is very common especially among the women.
The Yousafzai Pathans are lively, brave and hospitable people. They are very courteous towards each other. A slight insult is greatly resented and can result in violence. It is considered permissible to take revenge even from the son or grandson for the wrongs of the father or grandfather. This pattern of life has resulted in extreme insecurity and utter disregard for human life.
There are many forms of greetings and salutations. It is very usual for the Pathans to embrace each other when they meet. This is followed by a chain of inquiries like jor ye (Are you all right), Khushal Ye (are you happy) besides, some other similar expressions of good will.
Frequently the parties have some previous acquaintance before the marriage. The parents of the boy and girl make the choice. Some times after the girl's father agrees to the match, the relatives of the boy take presents to the girl's house and the engagement is announced. On that occasion shots are fired and friends of both the parties congratulate each other. After engagement the boy seldom sees the girl till they are married. The ornaments, cloths for the bride and other articles required for the marriage ceremony are provided by the parents of the boy.
The birth of a boy is an occasion of great rejoicing. The parents of the baby receive felicitations from friends and relatives. The birth of a girl is not welcomed and generally goes unnoticed.
On the death of a person, the women of the neighborhood also join the women of the deceased family in lamentation. After the funeral rites are completed, alms are distributed to the poor at the graveyard. At the house of deceased, the mourners are provided with food by relatives or friends of the deceased's family, as no food is then cooked at home. People continue to come for condolence to the Hujra of the area for three consecutive days.
Festivals and fairs are a part of the Pathan life. The most important festivals are the two Eids. Apart from that, there are weekly cattle fairs in all towns and important villages, at which cattle and other necessities of life are bought and sold.
Shahbaz Garhi is situated on Mardan Swabi Road at a distance of 12 kilometer from Mardan. The Emperor Babar in his book Tuzk-e-Babri has given reference of this monastery. It has also been stated that this village has named with the name of a famous religious person. In the ancient books the name of this village is Varshapura. In 7th century, a Chinese pilgrim Mr. Haven Sang visited this monastery and recorded this polosha in his book.
Kashmir Garh is situated east of Katlang near village Babozai. Nearby the walls of this monastery small broken sculptures are available. It means that Hindu Pandit worshiped here. There is also a swimming pool, which seems to be ashnon.
This site is situated at a distance of 4/5 kilometer in the south west of Jamal Garhi. Most of the sculptures of this monastery are preserved in the Lahore Musuem. It is the ancient city where a village Sawal Dher is now situated.
Jamal Garhi is situated at 13 kilometers from Mardan city and is connected by a metal led road. It is situated in the middle of Takht Bhai and Shahbaz Garhi at equal distance of 12 kilometers from each side.
A company Sappers and Miners explored this site firstly. The Kharoshti inscription was discovered from this site, having main round stupa. The Buddhist inscription discovered from this site preserved in Peshawar Museum. From this monastery the Kharoshti inscription also discovered on which the figure 46 has been written. In 1836 Sikh General has made it Gandaparas. Kahamghum also explore this monastery in 1876. Later on in 1910-11 it has been excavated.
Takht Bhai is situated on Mardan Malakand Road at a distance of 15 kilometers from Mardan. The ancient Buddhist monastery is situated at the height of 5500 feet from the surrounding land. In 1908-9 Sandapora Kharoshti inscription and coins were discovered. This monastery has a large number of buildings, such as conference hall.
This monastery is situated at Mardan Malakand Road at a distance of about 10 kilometers from Mardan. It is situated at a mount. According to the statement of Dr. Spooner and Dr. Arl-Strain, it is a big treasury of Gandahara Art. The 2/3 sculptures of Peshawar Museum have been taken from Sari Behlol site. In the opinion of Archaeologists due to sudden fire burning here the sculpture remained preserved. Coins were also found from this site.
The population of Mardan district has increased about four times since 1951. According to 1998 census it is 1460 thousands as compared to 357 thousands in 1951. The %age increased since 1951 is therefore comes to 3.09 percent. The average annual growth rate of the district is very similar during all the intercensal period. It was 3.03 percent during 1951-61, 3.23 during 1961-72, 2.81 during 1972-81 and 3.01 during 1981-98.
The total area of the district is 1632 square kilometers having population density of 894.7 persons per square kilometer in March, 1998 which was 480 persons in 1981.
The urban proportion of the district is 20.2 percent of the total population where as rural proportion is 79.8 percent. The big urban area is Mardan Municipal Committee with population of 239 thousands. The other urban areas are Takht Bhai Municipal Committee with population 49 thousands and Mardan Cantonment with population of 7 thousands.
The population of the district is almost Muslim who constitute 99.51 of the total population. The main minorities are Ahmadi and Christian who are 0.32 and 014 percent respectively. Other minority is Hindu who are 0.02 percent of the total population. The population of rural and urban area are mostly Muslim which is 99.69 and 98.81 percent respectively. The percentage of minorities i.e. Christian and Ahmadi is greater in urban area which is 0.62 and 0.46 as compared to rural area which is 0.29 and 0.02 percent.
Pashto is the most common mother tongue of the popualation of the district as reported by 98.44 percent. Urdu, Punjabi, Sindi, Balochi, Saraiki the other languages spoken as mother tongue are 0.33, 0.49, 0.02, 0.01, 0.03 percent of the population respectively.
The literacy ratio of the district among the population aged 10 years and above is 36.45 percent. It has increased by 20.50 percentage points since 1981 when it was only 15.95 percent. The male literacy ratio is much higher at 53.50 percent compared to 18.38 percent for female.
The percentage of educated persons like literacy ratio is 36.03 percent of the population aged 10 years and above. Among them 53.15 percent of male and 17.87 percent of females.
Published in Khyber.ORG on Sunday, May 1 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)