The capital of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa (NWFP), is a frontier town, the meeting place of the subcontinent and Central Asia. It is perhaps the oldest living city in this part of Asia – a place where ancient traditions jostle with those of today, and where the bazaar in the old city has changed little in the last hundred years except to become the neighbour of a modern university, some modern hotels, some international banks and one of the best museums in Pakistan.No other city is quite like old Peshawar.
The bazaar within its walls is like an American Wild West movie costumed as a Bible epic. Pathan (Pukhtun or Pashtun) tribesmen stroll down the street, their hands hidden inside their shawls and their faces partly covered by the loose ends of their turbans (they have now been forbidden to walk armed in town). With his piercing eyes and finely chiselled nose, the Pathan must be the handsomest man on earth. Overlooking all the crowded and narrow streets are the massive Balahisar Fort — still used by the army, and the elegant Mahabat Khan Mosque.The railway, built by the British, divides Peshawar’s old town from the Cantonment, laid out by the British after 1850, with wide tree-lined streets bordered by once gracious administrative buildings and spacious bungalows in large gardens.
Clubs, churches, schools, The Mall, Saddar Bazaar and the airport are all part of the British contribution to modern Peshawar. Peshawar University, founded in 1950, and surrounded by University Town, lies to the west on the road to the Khyber Pass. Hayatabad, the newest suburb, is west of the university nearer the Khyber Pass.