A Historical City of Swabi
The name of Hund is a variation of the word Hind which in Sanskrit means “the water”, for it’s proximity to the Indus River. In history books it is written with different spellings and all of them are phonetically similar to each other. Auhind, Wayhind, Awand, Wand, Widhanda Pura, Wadhan Pur and Wudbhanda pur are just a few.
In the Shahnama of Firdausi it is written as Mehind. Arab historians wrote that Wehind was the capital of Gandhara. Rashid-ud-Din adds that this place was so important for Mongols that they called it Karajang.
The only native writer who uses the abbreviated form of the name is Nizamudin who in his Tabakat Akbari says that Mahmud besieged Jaipal in the fort of Hind in 1002 CE.
Importance of Hund
Why was Hund so important for the ancient invaders like Alexander of Macedonia? The answer lies in its Geography.
The River Indus on this point is the narrowest and shallowest to cross. Secondly, this area is at the foot of Swat and in ancient times the shortest rout of invaders as well as the traders from China and Persia was through the mountains of Kunar and Bajawar.
Moreover, this rout was used by the Buddhist monks from Tibet to bring the religious teachings to this wild country. This whole area is fertile with rich soil producing not only wheat and other grains but plenty of fruit and vegetables. It was an ideal place for any kingdom to have their Capital and garrison.
In the spring of 326 BCE, Alexander of Macedonia reached the formidable River Indus crossing the mountains of Afghanistan, which the historian Arrian describes as "bigger than any river in Europe, a mighty stream which imposes its name upon the country as it flows down to meet the sea".
Arriving at the pre-arranged meeting point at the town of Ohind the Macedonian Army was reunited as Alexander met up with two of his generals, Hephaestion and Perdiccas whom he had sent ahead with half his forces through the Khyber Pass, to gather supplies and bridge the river.
The bridge must have been strong enough to pass the whole army, consisting of some 64,000 infantry, 12,000 cavalry and a baggage train including supplies, siege equipment and camp-followers, which must have stretched for miles.
The Raja who controlled the area at that time was no other than Ambhi who welcomed the Macedonians as he was at war with Porus (the king at Jehlum) Arrian calls it “Embolium” or Ambhi’s country. There are a few places’ echoing the name of Ambhi; Ambaar, Ambh Darband and Ambela.
The rise and fall
In the first Century CE warrior tribes from across the Amu (Oxus) entered the north of Afghanistan and established themselves as the lords of north India. They were known as Kushans and their famous king Kanishka patronized the Buddhist religion. Subsequently, Hund attracted large number of Buddhist monks and priests.
The last ruler of the Kushana dynasty was Vasudeva in the 3rd Century CE when present day Afghanistan and North West of India was divided in to small parts and struggle for power prevailed. These fiefdoms were attacked from across the Oxus as well as Pars (Iran) by Sassanians.
A power share followed with Kidaras, known as small Kushanas accepted the over lordship of the Sassanians. Hund was then with the Shahis and the people living there were either Brahmans or Buddhists.
In fifth century, the Ephthalites or White Huns, from Central Asia came to power. Sung-Yun, the Chinese pilgrim, visited the region in 520 CE when the Huns were in power. It was made the capital of Gandhara by Hindu Shahi kings. According to Hiuen Tsang, who visited this area in the seventh century, there were no traces of the old Kushana rulers.
Huen Tsang (602-664 AD) traveled from Peshawar which he calls Polusha, about 33 miles to the south east, to U-tokia-Hancham which is transcribed as Udakhanda. This is the first mention of Hund or Ohind identified by the historians. In the time of Heun Tsang the city was (20 Li) about 3 miles in circuit and increased in size during the Brahman dynasty.
The famous English Archeologist Alexander Cunningham had a thorough survey of the place and his reports at the end of the 19th Century describe the Hund and surrounding area as “littered with the ruins of Buddhist monasteries and temples. In the sands at the foot of the cliff, which are mixed with the debris of the ruined houses, the gold washers find numerous coins and trinkets, which offer the best evidence of the former prosperity of the city.”
The continual discovery of Indo Scythian coins is a sufficient proof that the city was already in existence at the beginning of the Common Era.
In 1841CE a personal narrative of the famous British traveler and explorer Alexander Burns was published in which he describes findings of Hund Inscriptions on marble pieces which “proved to be Sanscrit” and when sent to Calcutta to be deciphered. They were carved between 7th and 8th Centuries and referred to the “powerful Turuschas (Turks) as foes overcome by the nameless hero whom it celebrates.
The stone inscriptions proved the struggle of the Indians with the Tartar tribes. Among the remains numerous coins belonging to the Indo-Scythian and Hindu Shahi Rulers, jewelry and other articles of immense historical value have been found.
It seems that during the next two centuries some people in Hund were either converted to Islam. Hudud-ul-Alam Jozjani’ (completed in 982 CE) describes that “Wehind is a big city and its Raja Jaypal is a Vassal of the Raja of Qannauj and a few Muslims are inhabited there.”
In 985 CE an Arab Historian Bashari Muqaddisi writes about Hund and says that it is bigger than Mansura, the land is flat and there are beautiful gardens. Alberuni writes in his history of India that Indus River passes from the plains of Wehind.
At the end of the 10th Century, Subktagin and in the beginning of the 11th century his son, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni conquered Hund. It was the first Cantonment of the Ghaznavi Empire by the River Indus. Mahmood took over this place from Hindu Shahi dynasty who appointed his favorite slave Ayaz the Governor of this area. It was here that Ayaz died and buried. Yes, the famous Ayaz is buried in the village of Toorlandai near Hund.
Hund was the scene of another historical event in the 13th Century when Mohammad Khwarazam Shah was pursued by the Mongol army headed by Genghis Khan. A defeated and broken Khwarazam Shah with a few of his soldiers fought on the banks of Indus and in the end he put his horse in the water. The Mongol Archers aimed at him when Genghis Khan beckoned them with the words that, “there goes the brave one”.
By the 16th Century Hund had lost its strategic importance after Attock was chosen by the Mughals to build a strong fort and a bridge. Abul Fadl, the historian of Mughal King Akbar writes in Akbarnama, “Man Singh has put up his camp near Hund on the banks for River Indus facing Buner. In old times there was a big city but now there are ruined hills which tell the story of that period.
In the last two years of the 20th Century, new excavations by the Archeological department and UNESCO, in Taxila uncovered 15 feet deep in the ground, pottery of Neolithic age, which indicates that in 1200 to 1100 BC there were cities in the area. Similar excavations are needed in the Hund and Lahore. Unfortunately, the whole area is not only neglected, but ruthlessly destroyed in the name of development.
According to the locals of Swabi, a contractor of Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway had demolished a hillock of archaeological importance at Hund by removing earth from it. The hillock known as “Chapai” was a valuable site for the students of archaeology.
The archaeologists claimed that during the period of Alexander the Great, this artificial earthen hillock was built as a “High Mark” to give signals by lighting lantern to those crossing the river at night.
1. Cabool, personal narrative. Alexander Burnes 1841. Page 92,93.
2. Taxila, a historic city by Ahmad Hasan Dani . (1986) Sang-e-Meel Publications Lahore. 1991. p 43. 153
3. Ancient Geography of India, Alexander Cunningham. Edited by S.M Sastri Patna University 1924. P 65-66-67
4. Tazkira, the origins and History of the Pathans. Khan Roshan Khan. 1983. Roshan Khan & co. Karachi.