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Khyber Pass

Looking back towards Pakistan, on the Pakistan side of the Khyber Pass
Elevation 1,070 m (3,510 ft)
Location
Location Pakistan/Afghanistan
Range Safed Koh
Coordinates 34°5′35″N 71°8′45″E / 34.09306°N 71.14583°E / 34.09306; 71.14583Coordinates: 34°5′35″N 71°8′45″E / 34.09306°N 71.14583°E / 34.09306; 71.14583
Khyber Pass
Mountain passes of Afghanistan
The Khyber Railway. With a Pakistan Railways HGS 2-8-0 at front and rear a charter train climbs the Khyber Pass through a series of zig-zags to gain height.
An advertisement card from 1910 depicting Khaiber Pass.

The Khyber Pass, (also spelled Khaiber or Khaybar; Pashto: د خیبر درہ) (altitude: 1,070 m or 3,510 ft) is a mountain pass that links Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Throughout history it has been an important trade route between Central Asia and South Asia and a strategic military location. The summit of the Khyber Pass is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) inside Pakistan at Landi Kotal and it cuts through the northeastern part of the Safed Koh mountains which themselves are a far southeastern extension of the Hindu Kush range.

Contents

History

In some versions of the Aryan migration theory, the Indo-Aryans migrated to India via the Khyber Pass. Recorded invasions through the Khyber begin with the conquests of Darius I and Alexander the Great and also include later Muslim invasions of South Asia, culminating with the establishment of the Mughul Empire from 1526. The British invaded Afghanistan from India and fought three Afghan Wars in 1839-42, 1878-80, and 1919. George Molesworth, a member of the British force of 1919, summarised: "Every stone in the Khyber has been soaked in blood." Rudyard Kipling called it "a sword cut through the mountains."

Afghan chiefs and a British Political officer posed at Jamrud fort at the mouth of the Khyber Pass in 1878.

To the north of the Khyber Pass lies the country of the Mullagori tribe. To the south is Afridi Tirah, while the inhabitants of villages in the Pass itself are Afridi clansmen. Throughout the centuries the Pashtun clans, particularly the Afridis and the Afghan Shinwaris, have regarded the Pass as their own preserve and have levied a toll on travellers for safe conduct. Since this has long been their main source of income, resistance to challenges to the Shinwaris' authority has often been fierce.

For strategic reasons, after the First World War the British built a heavily engineered railway through the Pass. The Khyber Pass Railway from Jamrud, near Peshawar, to the Afghan border near Landi Kotal was opened in 1925.

The Pass became widely known to thousands of Westerners and Japanese who traveled it in the days of the Hippie trail, taking a bus or car from Kabul to the Afghan border. At the Pakistani frontier post travelers were advised not to wander away from the road, this being the barely controlled Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Then, after customs formalities, a quick daylight drive through the Pass was made. Monuments left by British Army units, as well as hillside forts, could be viewed from the highway.

The area of the Khyber Pass has been connected with a counterfeit arms industry, making various types of weapons known to gun collectors as Khyber Pass Copies, using local steel and blacksmiths' forges.[1][2]

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Current conflicts

During current war in Afghanistan, the Khyber Pass has been a major route for resupplying NATO forces in the Afghan theater of conflict. Recognizing this, the Taliban attempted to choke off the route in late 2008 and early 2009, bringing the Taliban into conflict with the Pakistani government.[3]

In February of 2009, a bridge 15 miles northwest of Peshawar was blown up by militants presumably sympathetic to or sponsored by the Taliban. While it was not considered to be a major strategic blow to the allied war effort, it invigorated efforts to secure additional supply routes, some of which may ultimately run through Iran. However, the current general consensus is that the new supply route will pass through various central Asian republics to the north of Afghanistan. [4]

Conquerors and generals

The commanders who crossed the Khyber Pass all led armies eastward in the conquest of India, except for Chandragupta Maurya and Ranjit Singh who crossed in the opposite direction.

See also

Further reading

  • Molesworth, Lt-Gen. G.N., Afghanistan 1919 (Asia Publishing House, 1962). This book describes in detail the author's passage (Prince Albert's)|Somerset Light Infantry]].
  • Victor Bayley CIE CBE. "Permanent Way through the Khyber", Jarrolds (1934). In an article illustrated with photos, the author describes the construction of the railway. The book was reprinted in 1998 by Gyan Publishing House, India as Adventure through Khyber in a breach of copyright.
  • In "Sorrow Rides a Fast Horse" by Dorothy Gilman Butters (Ladies Home Journal, September, 1962) a mother, grief-stricken from the death of her husband, takes her two children on a whirl-wind trip around the world. In the Khyber Pass, her family and their elderly guide are captured by bandits. They don't want just the money, the food and the donkeys. They want the woman and the children. The guide says sadly “It must by your qismat—your fate—to stop here.” She says harshly, “My qismat? Tell this man I must travel like the wind—that is my qismat. Tell him that Sorrow rides behind me on a fast horse—if he listens closely, he may hear the hoof beats. Tell him that if he captures me, he will capture Sorrow as well—because where I go Sorrow goes and where I stop, Sorrow will stop.” The bandits confer. Their leader finally makes a statement. The guide translates: “He says it has been a hard year, with many people dead in their village. Sheep have sickened and died. He says they do not wish for more Sorrow. If Sorrow follows behind you then you must leave these mountains at once. You must not stop even to sleep.” To ensure their prompt departure, the bandits guide them through the Khyber Pass.

References


Khyber Pass
Elevation 1,070 m (3,510 ft)
Location
Location Pakistan/Afghanistan
Range Safed Koh
Coordinates 34°8′5.83″N 71°5′41.74″E / 34.1349528°N 71.0949278°E / 34.1349528; 71.0949278Coordinates: 34°8′5.83″N 71°5′41.74″E / 34.1349528°N 71.0949278°E / 34.1349528; 71.0949278

The Khyber Pass, (Pashto: د خیبر درہ, Urdu: درۂ خیبر) (altitude: 1,070 m or 3,510 ft) is a mountain pass that links Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Throughout history it has been an important trade route between Central Asia and South Asia and a strategic military location. The summit of the Khyber Pass is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) inside Pakistan at Landi Kotal and it cuts through the northeastern part of the Safed Koh mountains which themselves are a far southeastern extension of the Hindu Kush range.

Contents

History

In some versions of the Aryan migration theory, the Indo-Aryans migrated to India via the Khyber Pass.[citation needed] Recorded invasions through the Khyber begin with the conquests of Darius I and Alexander the Great and also include later Muslim invasions of South Asia, culminating with the establishment of the Mughul Empire from 1526. The British invaded Afghanistan from India and fought three Afghan Wars in 1839-42, 1878-80, and 1919. George Molesworth, a member of the British force of 1919, summarised: "Every stone in the Khyber has been soaked in blood." Rudyard Kipling called it "a sword cut through the mountains."

Political officer posed at Jamrud fort at the mouth of the Khyber Pass in 1878.]]To the north of the Khyber Pass lies the country of the Mullagori tribe. To the south is Afridi Tirah, while the inhabitants of villages in the Pass itself are Afridi clansmen. Throughout the centuries the Pashtun clans, particularly the Afridis and the Afghan Shinwaris, have regarded the Pass as their own preserve and have levied a toll on travellers for safe conduct. Since this has long been their main source of income, resistance to challenges to the Shinwaris' authority has often been fierce.

For strategic reasons, after the First World War the British built a heavily engineered railway through the Pass. The Khyber Pass Railway from Jamrud, near Peshawar, to the Afghan border near Landi Kotal was opened in 1925.

During WWII concrete "dragon’s teeth" (tank obstacles) were erected on the valley floor due to British fears of a German tank invasion of India.[1]

The Pass became widely known to thousands of Westerners and Japanese who traveled it in the days of the Hippie trail, taking a bus or car from Kabul to the Afghan border. At the Pakistani frontier post, travelers were advised not to wander away from the road, as the location was then a barely controlled Federally Administered Tribal Area. Then, after customs formalities, a quick daylight drive through the Pass was made. Monuments left by British Army units, as well as hillside forts, could be viewed from the highway.

The area of the Khyber Pass has been connected with a counterfeit arms industry, making various types of weapons known to gun collectors as Khyber Pass Copies, using local steel and blacksmiths' forges.[2][3]

Current conflicts

During the current war in Afghanistan, the Khyber Pass has been a major route for resupplying NATO forces in the Afghan theater of conflict. Recognizing this, the Taliban attempted to choke off the route in late 2008 and early 2009, bringing the Taliban into conflict with the Pakistani government.[4]

In February 2009, a bridge 15 miles northwest of Peshawar was blown up by militants presumably sympathetic to or sponsored by the Taliban. While it was not considered to be a major strategic blow to the allied war effort, it invigorated efforts to secure additional supply routes, some of which may ultimately run through Iran. However, the current general consensus is that the new supply route will pass through various central Asian republics to the north of Afghanistan.[5]

Conquerors and generals

The commanders who crossed the Khyber Pass all led armies eastward in the conquest of India, except for Chandragupta Maurya, Ranjit Singh, George Pollock and Sir Donald Stewart who crossed in the opposite direction.

See also

Pakistan portal

Further reading

  • Molesworth, Lt-Gen. G.N., Afghanistan 1919 (Asia Publishing House, 1962). This book describes in detail the author's passage (Prince Albert's)Somerset Light Infantry.
  • Victor Bayley CIE CBE. "Permanent Way through the Khyber", Jarrolds (1934). In an article illustrated with photos, the author describes the construction of the railway. The book was reprinted in 1998 by Gyan Publishing House, India as Adventure through Khyber in a breach of copyright.
  • In "Sorrow Rides a Fast Horse" by Dorothy Gilman Butters (Ladies Home Journal, September, 1962) a mother, grief-stricken from the death of her husband, takes her two children on a whirl-wind trip around the world. Shortly after crossing from Iraq into Iran, her family and their elderly guide are captured by bandits. They don't want just the money, the food and the donkeys. They want the woman and the children. The guide says sadly “It must by your qismat—your fate—to stop here.” She says harshly, “My qismat? Tell this man I must travel like the wind—that is my qismat. Tell him that Sorrow rides behind me on a fast horse—if he listens closely, he may hear the hoof beats. Tell him that if he captures me, he will capture Sorrow as well—because where I go Sorrow goes and where I stop, Sorrow will stop.” The bandits confer. Their leader finally makes a statement. The guide translates: “He says it has been a hard year, with many people dead in their village. Sheep have sickened and died. He says they do not wish for more Sorrow. If Sorrow follows behind you then you must leave these mountains at once. You must not stop even to sleep.” To ensure their prompt departure, the bandits guide them through the mountains to Kermanshah.

References


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Closed to foreigners?

A few travelers have reported lately that they were refused permits to travel from Peshawar to the Khyber Pass, and told the only option was flying, based on perceived heightened threats to foreigners... others have said that only those traveling through and crossing the border are issued permits. In any case, be prepared to make alternate plans if you must visit Afghanistan. 26/05/08

The Khyber Pass is the main route between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The pass itself is entirely in Pakistan.

The only alternate route is the Bolan Pass further south, between Kandahar and Quetta, which crosses the same mountain range, is more dangerous, and is only open at this time for locals and aid workers.

Understand

The area is inhabited by Pathans or Pushtuns, rather fierce Pushtu-speaking hill tribes. On the map, it is part of Pakistan, but the Pakistani government has never really controlled it. Pathan tribal chiefs run everything.

Pathan territory spans the border. 60% of them live in Pakistan, 40% in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, they are the largest ethnic group at 40% or so and have often dominated government and business.

The Pathans have twice defeated the greatest armies of their day. When Alexander the Great wanted to cross the pass, he could not manage it for several weeks, until he bribed one of the local chieftains into assisting him against the ones who were blocking him. At the height of British power in Queen Victoria's reign, the Khyber was the border of the Raj. Britain fought several wars against Pathans and never completely subdued the area. In the first Afghan war, a force of 16,000 went in and one man came out alive. Pathans were also recruited into the British military, where they were excellent soldiers.

Since 1980, Pathans have been fighting Russians, various other Afghans, American and allied forces, the Pakistani army....and each other.

The Pathans provided most of the adherents of Taliban. Many are still (mid 2009) fiercely resisting various efforts by US and allied forces and/or the Pakistani government to control their area. If Osama bin Laden is alive, this area is where he is most likely hiding.

Crossing the Khyber has always been something of an adventure. Today it would be far too adventurous for most travelers.

Talk

The local language is Pushtu, but many people also speak Pakistan's Urdu or Afghanistan's Dari. A few speak English.

Cities

The nearest towns on the route that goes over the pass are Jalalabad in Afghanistan and Peshawar in Pakistan.

At the top of the pass is the town of Landi Kotal.

Get in

Except for trails which only locals can use safely, the only way in or out is via the main road through the pass.

From Peshawar to Torkham (the border town) you are required to obtain a permit and travel with an armed guard.

Taxis and buses are available on both sides of the border. See the Afghanistan and Pakistan pages for detailed info on crossing the pass.

See

At the top of the pass is the town of Landi Kotal, famous for smuggling everything from consumer electronics to cocaine. Attractions for the truly intrepid tourist include weapons factories and hashish warehouses.

Itineraries

The pass is on the Istanbul to New Delhi over land itinerary, though the current recommended route avoids it.

Stay safe

This area, as of mid-2008, is definitely not safe. See War zone safety for suggestions.


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

KHYBER PASS, the most important of the passes which lead from Afghanistan into India. It is a narrow defile winding between cliffs of shale and limestone 600 to 1000 ft. high, stretching up to more lofty mountains behind. No other pass in the world has possessed such strategic importance or retains so many historic associations as this gateway to the plains of India. It has probably seen Persian and Greek, Seljuk, Tatar, Mongol and Durani conquerors, with the hosts of Alexander the Great, Mahmud of Ghazni, Jenghiz Khan, Timur, Baber, Nadir Shah, Ahmed Shah, and numerous other warrior chiefs pass and repass through its rocky defiles during a period of 2000 years. The mountain barrier which separates the Peshawar plains from the Afghan highlands differs in many respects from the mountain barrier which intervenes between the Indus plains and the plateau farther south. To the south this barrier consists of a series of flexures folded parallel to the river, through which the plateau drainage breaks down in transverse lines forming gorges and clefts as it cuts through successive ridges. West of Peshawar the strike of the mountain systems is roughly from west to east, and this formation is maintained with more or less regularity as far south as the Tochi River and Waziristan. Almost immediately west of Peshawar, and stretching along the same parallel of latitude from the meridian of Kabul to within ten miles of the Peshawar cantonment, is the great central range of the Safed Koh, which forms throughout its long, straight line of rugged peaks the southern wall, or waterdivide, of the Kabul River basin. About the meridian of 71 E. it forks, sending off to the north-east what is locally known as a spur to the Kabul River, but which is geographically only part of that stupendous water-divide which hedges in the Kunar and Chitral valleys, and, under the name of the Shandur Range, unites with the Hindu Kush near the head of the Taghdumbash Pamir. The Kabul River breaks through this northern spur of the Safed Koh; and in breaking through it is forced to the northward in a curved channel or trough, deeply sunk in the mountains between terrific cliffs and precipices, where its narrow waterway affords no foothold to man or beast for many miles. To reach the Kabul River within Afghan territory it is necessary to pass over this water-divide; and the Khyber stream, flowing down from the pass at Landi Kotal to a point in the plains opposite Jamrud, 9 m. W. of Peshawar, affords the opportunity.

Pursuing the main road from Peshawar to Kabul, the fort of Jamrud, which commands the British end of the Khyber Pass, lies some r r m. W. of Peshawar. The road leads through a barren stony plain, cut up by water-courses and infested by all the worst cut-throats in the Peshawar district. Some three miles beyond Jamrud the road enters the mountains at an opening called Shadi Bagiar, and here the Khyber proper begins. The highway runs for a short distance through the bed of a ravine, and then joins the road made by Colonel Mackeson in 1839-1842, until it ascends on the left-hand side to a plateau called Shagai. From here can be seen the fort of Ali Masjid, which commands the centre of the pass, and which has been the scene of more than one famous siege. Still going westward the road turns to the right, and by an easy zigzag descends to the river of Ali Masjid, and runs along its bank. The new road along this cliff was made by the British during the Second Afghan War (1879-80), and here is the narrowest part of the Khyber, not more than 15 ft. broad, with the Rhotas hill on the right fully 2000 ft. overhead. Some three miles farther on the valley widens, and on either side lie the hamlets and some sixty towers of the Zakka Khel Afridis. Then comes the Loargi Shinwari plateau, some seven miles in length and three in its widest part, ending at Landi Kotal, where is another British fort, which closes this end of the Khyber and overlooks the plains of Afghanistan. After leaving Landi Kotal the great Kabul highway passes between low hills, until it debouches on the Kabul River and leads to Dakka. The whole of the Khyber Pass from end to end lies within the country of the Afridis, and is now recognized as under British control. From Shadi Bagiar on the east to Landi Kotal on the west is about 20 m. in a straight line.

The Khyber has been adopted by the British as the main road to Kabul, but its difficulties (before they were overcome by British engineers) were such that it was never so regarded by former rulers of India. The old road to India left the Kabul River near its junction with the Kunar, and crossed the great divide between the Kunar valley and Bajour; then it turned southwards to the plains. During the first Afghan War the Khyber was the scene of many skirmishes with the Afridis and some disasters to the British troops. In July 1839 Colonel Wade captured the fortress of Ali Masjid. In 1842, when Jalalabad was blockaded, Colonel Moseley was sent to occupy the same fort, but was compelled to evacuate it after a few days owing to scarcity of provisions. In April of the same year it was reoccupied by General Pollock in his advance to Kabul. It was at Ali Masjid that Sir Neville Chamberlain's friendly mission to the amir Shere Ali was stopped in 1878, thus causing the second Afghan War; and on the outbreak of that war Ali Masjid was captured by Sir Samuel Browne. The treaty which closed the war in May 1879 left the Khyber tribes under British control. From that time the pass was protected by jezailchis drawn from the Afridi tribe, who were paid a subsidy by the British government. For 18 years, from 1879 onward, Colonel R. Warburton controlled the Khyber, and for the greater part of that time secured its safety; but his term of office came to an end synchronously with the wave of fanaticism which swept along the north-west border of India during 1897. The Afridis were persuaded by their mullahs to attack the pass, which they themselves had guaranteed. The British government were warned of the intended movement, but only withdrew the British officers belonging to the Khyber Rifles, and left the pass to its fate. The Khyber Rifles, deserted by their officers, made a halfhearted resistance to their fellow-tribesmen, and the pass fell into the hands of the Afridis, and remained in their possession for some months. This was the chief cause of the Tirah Expedition of 1897. The Khyber Rifles were afterwards strengthened, and divided into two battalions commanded by four British officers.

See Eighteen Years in the Khyber, by Sir Robert Warburton (1900); Indian Borderland, by Sir T. Holdich (1901). (T. H. H.*)


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Simple English

[[File:|thumb]] The Khyber Pass (also called the Khaiber Pass or Khaybar Pass) (Urdu: درہ خیبر) is the most important pass between Pakistan with Afghanistan; National border Pass (International). It is the National Pass of Pakistan, and connects the frontiers of Afghania.

Throughout history it has been an important trade route between Central Asia and South Asia, and a strategic military place. The actual pass summit is 5 kilometers inside Pakistan at Landi Kotal. The pass cuts through the Safed Koh mountains which are a far southeastern extension of the Hindu Kush range.the height of the khyber pass is 1,070 and width is 140m


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