Academic journal article Journal of Asian Civilizations

From Pushkalavati to Charsadda Via Hashtnagar

Academic journal article Journal of Asian Civilizations

From Pushkalavati to Charsadda Via Hashtnagar

Article excerpt


The present-day Charsadda, one of the capitals of Gandhara, is known by different names in its long and rich history. The most prominent among them are Pushkalavati, Hashtnagar and now Charsadda. This paper discusses the historical evolution of these names in a comprehensive way according to historical and archaeological evidences.

The district of Charsadda, known in early history as Pushkalavati, is situated in the center of Peshawar valley From the time immemorial, its economy is agricultural based, which is depended on the availability of sufficient quantity of river water, drawn from the rivers flowing in its terrain. The Swat and Kabul rivers meet here and its numerous branches enrich the lands of this area, making it really the bread basket of the Peshawar valley. Moreover, in ancient past commercial routes leading to east and west passed through this land. It was indeed because of its geographical location, that the armies of Alexander the great thought it necessary to conquer it and establish a Macedonian garrison on the point close to the meeting point of Kabul and Swat rivers. The subsequent Mauryans, Indo-Greeks, Scytho-Parthians, Kushans, Kushano-Sassanians, White Huns and the Hindo-Shahis held their rule here, traces of which could be seen in their many settlements found throughout the Charsadda District.

The area with its different names in different ages has been mentioned in various literary sources. Similarly there are several archaeological sources that have either direct link with the area or connected with the ancient history of the land in one way or the other. The land of Charsadda District is mentioned with various names, but three of these e.g. Pushkalavati, Hashtnagar and Charsadda are attested through ancient and medieval literary sources. In which conditions these names evolved and for how long these remained in use is discussed in the following pages.


This name with its variants of Pushkaravati, Pukkala-vati, Pukkalaoti, Peukhlaoti, Peukela, Peucolaitis, Peukelaotis, Peukelas, Pokhala, Pushkala and Pushkara is mentioned in different Greek, Hindu and Buddhist literary sources. How ancient is the name Pushkalavati is though difficult to guess, however the name for the first time appeared in the Hindu Puranic accounts. It is also mentioned in Raghuvamsha, Brhatsamhita, Markandeya-purana and Adbhuta-sagara (Marshall & Vogel 1902-03: 143). The Ramayana, one of the Indian epics, credits Bharata, the brother of Ramachandra, with the conquest of a land on both sides of the Indus and the foundation of the two cities, Taksha and Pushkala named after his two sons (Dani 1963: 9).

The Hindu classical literature also sometimes gives us glimpses of the ancient history of this land. Vaidya, while discussing the two ancient epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana throws light on the name of Pushkalavati; he narrates events from Ramayana thus;

Yuyudhana uncle of Bharata advised Rama to conquer the country on both sides of Indus which was in the possession of the Gandharvas (an aboriginal tribe) and Bharata accordingly set out from Ayodhya with a large army accompanied by his two sons. He reached the Kekaya country in one month and a half shows that taking the average march of an army to be 14 miles a day that country was 630 miles from Ayodhya, not an unreliable figure. Bharata and Yuyudhana combined conquered the country about the Indus and Bharata's sons founded the two towns of Takshashila and Pushkalavati in the two regions on either side of the Indus. Bharata established his sons in those kingdoms and returned to Ayudhya. These two towns are well known in Greek history as Taxila and Peukhlaoti which Alexander visited and former of which tendered its submission to him while he took the latter by force. (Vaidya 1933: 256).

Taking hints from Mahabharata, Vaidya while informing us about the principal tribes of the Punjab further says about Pushkalavati;

Geographically the Balhika, the Madra and the Gandhara country was the Punjab proper along the slopes of the Himalayas between the Kabul river and Sutlaj with the important towns of Shakala (Sagala of Alexander) said in the Mahabharata to be the capital of the Madras, Takshashila and Pushkalavati. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.