ADA held the fourth dialogue in its “Do You Know Your City” series on April 11th 2019, at CECOS University, Peshawar. Peshawar is a city with a rich history, which is not as publicized as other provincial capitals. The event focused on the history and development of this city with conversation going back to the days of the Kushan Empire (1st century AD). Speakers at the event included Dr. Nida Ullah Sehrai, Mohammad Khalid, Majid Khan, Maria Aslam & Adnan Khan.
Dr. Nida Ullah Sherai set the tone of the talk by relegating the historical context of Peshawar in South Asia. He presented a historical account of who maintained control of Peshawar and its importance; beginning with the Greeks who were succeeded by the Persian speaking Parthians, all the way to the Kushans under the leader Kanishka. Peshawar became the capital under the rule of the great Kanishka, a devout Buddhist whose contributions to the architecture of the city can be seen in the Kanishka Stupa in Peshawar and various other monuments. This trajectory covered the influx and immersion of various beliefs that travelled through this area to various parts of the subcontinent.
Tracing the history of Peshawar from the arrival of Alexander the Great, Sehrai stated that Peshawar was the route taken to enter the sub-continent during the time of his conquest. Following this, Peshawar became the summer capital of the Kushan Empire, a Central Asian empire that took over much of what is present day Afghanistan and South Asia. Sehrai also spoke of some of the important buildings that were present in Peshawar during that period, including temples and sites of worship. Currently, the problem of demolition of temples is a very pertinent issue in Peshawar as number of temples, which are of incredible historical significance, are under threat after falling into disuse.
Architect Mohammad Khalid, uncovered many important facts of what the city had inherited post-partition, the structures that have been lost due to negligence, and the absence of authorities on heritage, archeology, and historical sites. A comparison of the number of buildings that held significance as heritage sites and of those that are presently left revealed that only 20 percent of heritage sites have survived so far. He further elaborated on the efforts of conservation and the Antiquities Act to be enforced. Architect Majid Khan highlighted the erosion and disappearance of green areas in the city of Peshawar, a cruel irony for a city once dubbed as the city of gardens. The disappearing native plants and dense forestry have paved way to the concrete jungle, while massive infrastructure development has further eroded the green belts of the region.
Maria Aslam presented the ADA journey, the signature series DYKYC held at various cities and the inaugural ADA Awards. She announced ADA’s intentions of holding more collaborative projects with the academia of the northern region. Architect Adnan Khan, head of CECOS Architecture thanked the audience and made a special mention to Bluebird Paints for making the event possible.