Significance of Nowshera district

Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was founded by ‘Zain Khan Koka’ (زین خان کوکا)۔ Emperor Jahangir in his ‘Tuzk’ (تُزک) mentioned that while crossing the Indus river during 1016 Hijri (1607-8 AD), Zain Khan Koka built a fort on the southern side of ‘Kama‘ (River Kabul) and named this new settlement as ‘Nau-Shehra’.

On the other side of the river Kamah (River Kabul), there is a fort built by Zain Khan Koka during the time of his tenure subjugating the Yousaafzai Afghnas. Zaini Khan Koka called the said fort ‘Nau-Shehra’. A sum of Rupees 50,000 has been spent on the construction. It is said that emperor Humayun used to hunt rhinoceros in this region.

The Tuzk-e-Jehangiri (Memoirs of Jehangir), Henry Beveridge’s translation, page 102)

Zain Khan was the son of Akbar’s wetnurse and thus received the title “Koka” which means foster brother. He was an accomplished musician besides being a military leader. In 1585 he was made one of the leaders of the Mughal forces fighting to bring the Yusufzai Afghan tribe under Mughal control. In 1596 he was made governor of Kabul.

Old Nowshera has situated at a short distance to the east of present-day Nowshera cantonment with the present-day town of Nowshera to its north and on the left bank of River Kabul.

(‘On a Foreign Approach to Khushhal‘ by Dost Muhammad Khan Kamil, page 139)

The fort is also mentioned in the reign of Shahjehan. During the 14th regnal year (1641 AD) of the fatter, Dilir Khan – the ‘thanedar‘ of Nowshera, was killed along with his kith and kin by the Yousafzai Afghans.

Muslim rule was first introduced to this region by a former Turkish slave-soldier (mamlūk – مملوک) named Sebüktigin (سبکتگین), who gained control of Peshawar in 988 CE. His son, Maḥmūd of Ghazna (محمود غزنوی), invaded northern India several times between 1001 and 1027 and brought a large area of the present-day Nowshera into the boundaries of the Ghaznavid dynasty. Beginning in the late 12th century, the region was held successively by the Ghūrid sultanate (غوری سلطنت), by various Muslim Afghan dynasties, and then by the Mughal dynasty. After the invasion of the Iranian ruler Nādir Shah in 1738, the territory remained under the loose control of the Afghan Durrānī clan. Beginning about 1818, invading Sikhs from the Punjab region of India increasingly secured control of the Nowshera territory until the establishment of the British empire in 1849.

The cantonment stretches along the right bank of the Kābul river on a sandy plain, 3 miles in diameter, and is surrounded by low hills on all sides except the north, which is open towards the river. The garrison now consists of one British infantry regiment, two Native cavalry and four infantry regiments, a mountain battery, and a bearer corps, belonging to the Peshāwar division of the Northern Command. The Kābul river is crossed by a permanent bridge of boats, whence roads lead to Mardān and Chārsadda. The iron road and railway bridge across the river was opened on December 1, 1903. The village of Naushahra Khurd, west of the cantonment, and the large village of Naushahra Kalān, on the north bank of the Kābul, are both outside cantonment limits. The head-quarters of the Naushahra tahsīl, with the police station, are in the former, 3 miles from the cantonment. The town contains a Government dispensary and a vernacular middle school, maintained by the District board.

The Imperial Gazetteer of India

Nowshera is situated in the central Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. It is bordering Peshawar, the provincial capital, in the west, Charsadda in the northwest, Mardan in the east, Swabi in the east-west, Attock district of the Punjab province in the southeast, Orakzai district in the southwest, and Kohat district in the south. Hence, its strategic geographic location comprised Nowshera one of the most significant districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Nowshera is also unique owing to three different military cantonments located in its jurisdiction.

The name of the district is locally known as “Naukhaar” (نوخار), or “Naushaar” (نوشار) among its native dwellers. The total area of the Nowshera district is 1,748 square kilometers. Until 1988, Nowshera was a sub-division (Tehsil) of the Peshawar district. However, Nowshera became a district in 1988.

Pakistan air force academy, Military college of engineering (NUST), National institute of transportation (NUST), Engineers center, Pakistan locomotive factory, and export processing zone (EPZ) are some of the major facilities situated at Risalpur, Nowshera district.

About nowshera

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