Khyber Pass Travel Guide

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Tree  arrested by a British Officer still under arrest

Tree arrested by a British Officer still under arrest

Tariq Maqsood Khan

Khyber Pass is perhaps the most famous pass in the world because of its geographic as well as historic importance. Going northwest from the eastern end in Pakistan, the pass starts from near Jamrud and ends west of Torkham, Afghanistan, a winding road. The route passes Fort Maude and Ali Masjid to reach the narrowest point of the pass. The summit is at Landi Kotal, followed by a steep decline to Michni Kandao, Landi Khana and the Afghan border just east of Torkham. Here the gradient becomes easier as the pass exits at Haft Chah onto the Dakka plain. From Dakka, the Kabul River flows back to Peshawar through the Loe Shilman Gorge, a less direct and more difficult route, but the one chosen by Alexander the Great when he crossed over into India in 326 BCE.

Jamrud is at an elevation of 491 m, while the summit at Landi Kotal is 1070 m. A road was built by the British through the Pass in 1879 and a railroad in the 1920s.

 Khyber pass is a  narrow, steep-sided pass, 28 mi long, winding through the Safed Koh Mts., on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border; highest point is 3,500 ft. The routes through it link the cities of Peshawar, Pakistan, and Kabul, Afghanistan. For centuries a trade and invasion route from central Asia, the Khyber Pass was one of the principal approaches of the armies of Alexander the Great, Timur, Babur, Mahmud of Ghazna, and Nadir Shah in their invasions of India. The pass was also important in the Afghan Wars fought by the British in the 19th cent. The Khyber Pass is now traversed by an asphalt road and an old caravan route. A railroad, which passes through 34 tunnels and over 92 bridges and culverts, runs to the Afghan border. Pakistan controls the entire pass.

You may travel by road from Peshawar via Jamrud fort which lies amongst low story hills capped with pickets manned by Khyber Rifles. Also on the way you will see Ali Masjid and the fort with insignia of the regiments that have served in the Khyber. On route is also the Sphola stupa of Buddhist period (2-5 centuries A-D) and Landikotal Bazaar until you reach the border post at Torkham.

For rail enthusiasts, there is also a Khyber railway. It threads its way through 34 tunnels crossing 92 bridges and culverts and climbing 1,200 metres. The British built it in 1920 at an enormous cost of Rs. Two million. Two or three coaches are pulled and pushed by two 1920 model steam engines. At one point, the track climbs 130 metres in less than a mile by means of the famous Changai Spur, a section of track shaped like a "W" with two reversing stations.

Contributors

February 20, 2006 change by tariq5

February 21, 2006 change by giorgio

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