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Bannu (Urdu: بنوں; Pashto: بنو [ˈbanu], in the local Pashto dialect called Bana) The City of the Bannu District is located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. It is an important trade centre. Bannu city was erected by Sir Herbert Edwardes in 1848, and was formerly called Dullipnagar and the fort as Dullipgarh, and then name of the city changed to Edwardesabad and the fort named as Fort Edwardes in 1874. The name was again changed as 'Bannu' in 1902 when Bannu was separated from Punjab and included in the territorial boundaries of NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). The town of Bannu lies in the north-west corner of the district. It was a military base, especially in actions against Afghanborder tribes, and still stationed with troops till this day. The town is located 79 miles (127 km) south of Kohat, and 89 miles (143 km) north of Dera Ismail Khan.
A thorough research has been done recently by the Archaeologists at the ruins of Akra and Sheri Kla. Of the early history of District Bannu prior to 1000 BC, nothing can be stated with any certainty beyond the fact that it remained a part of Khurrasan and that its inhabitants were Hindus settled around Akra area (not built by them), followed by occupation of the land by the Achaemenian Dynasty and the inhabitants thus adopted Parsis religion; and that later on, the country was formed an integral portion of the Graeco-Bactrian Empire of Kabul from time to time who first adopted Greek Mythology,and then were followers of Budhism during their late periods. Hindu Shahi Rulers were Hindus who remained in possession of the land until invasion by the Ghanavids followed by the Muslims dynasties. In 1802-1808 AD, it was for the first time annexed to Punjab in a treaty between Shah Shujah of Kabul and Maharaja Ranjith Singh. This is sufficiently testified by relics of antiquity, which, have from time to time been discovered in the district.
Subsequent to the attacks by the Muslim General Muhallib bin Abi Suffra in 664 AD, from Khurrassan, Hindus had colonized the place for 200 years ago, calling it Sat Ram, and remained in possession until Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni destroyed it and them. Coins and other antiquities establish the settlement here of Hindus, Parsis, Budhists, and of races acquainted with Greek art, also of Muhammadans in later times. The timeline events have been investigated into and given in the book ‘Tarikhe Aqwame Bannu’ which have added to the history since all the doubts have been nullified with proofs in the said book. Further discoveries of relic’s antiquities from Til Kafor Kot, add to the presence of the Hindus in the area.
The ruins of Til Kafir-Kot lie a few miles to the south of the debauchment of the river Kurram into the Indus, upon a spur of the Khissor hills, which enters the Isakhel tahsil from the neighbouring district of Dera Ismail Khan. They occupy a commanding situation immediately overlooking one of the channels of the Indus. The outer walls composed of immense blocks of stone, some 6 feet by 3 wide and 3 deep, with the exposed side smoothly chiselled are of great strength. In the centre are the remains of several Hindu temples or sanctuaries, the domes of which are very perfect, with steps leading up to them. The carving, representing idols and other designs, both inside and outside, is in a good state of preservation. No pottery, bones, or coins, are believed to have been yet found among these ruins. In Mianwali there at Mari is a picturesque Hindu ruin crowning the gypsum hill there locally called Maniot, on which the "Kalabagh Diamonds" are found. Its centre building served as a Hindu temple. The ruins themselves have once been extensive. The temples are very similar in style to those at Til Kafir-Kot, but larger and better preserved in two cases. The massive fortifications are however what make Til Kafir-Kot chiefly remarkable. The stone used in building the temples both at Kafir-Kot and at Mari is a kind of travertine full of petrifaction of leaves, sticks, grass, etc. etc. It is said to be found in the neighbourhood of Khewra in the Salt Range.
The above, together with two sentry-box-like buildings near Nammal, and several massive looking tombs constructed of large blocks of dressed stone in the Salt Range, comprise all the antiquities above ground. There can be no doubt many remain concealed beneath the surface which accident alone will reveal. Thus the encroachments of the Indus, and even of the Kuram near Isakhel, often expose portions of ancient masonry arches and wells. The only other antiquity worth mentioning is a monster "bauli" at Van Bhachran which is said to have been built by order of Sher Shah Surri. It is in very good preservation, and is similar to those in the Shahpur district.
Within historical times, Bannu had never been a theatre for great events, nor had its inhabitants ever played a conspicuous part in Indian history except during the Durrani and Sikh period and the second half of the 20th century (during the British time). The secret of its insignificance was that it lies off all the great caravan routes between Hindustan and Kabul. No doubt that the valley has been occasionally traversed by conquering armies from the west; but in fact such armies first debouched upon either by the Khyber or the Kurram route, which latter commences at the head of the Miranzai Valley in the Kohat district. Thus Timur Lang (Tamerlane) when in 1398, marched via Bannu and Dang Kot on the Indus into the Punjab, came by this Kurram "route," and a century later (1505 AD) when Babur ravaged Bannu, his army had advanced by the Khyber Pass to Kohat and thence to Bannu. The only advantage to the armies passing through this territory was that they camped here for some time since the area was lush green and the animals of the columns had to be grazed at grassy lands, it being the utmost requirement of logistics, i.e. horses, camels and cattle. It therefore seems erroneous to write of Bannu as being a "highway" between India and Kabul. Under the circumstances it appears only reasonable to attribute the historical un-importance of Bannu due to its isolation. Mahmud of Ghazni ravaged the district, expelling its Hindu inhabitants, and reduced the country to a desert. Thus there was no one to oppose the settlement of immigrant tribes from across the border from Khurrassan.
TIME-LINE HISTORY OF BANNU VALLEY
ARRIVAL OF THE TRIBES IN BANNU VALLEY
The order of their descending from areas around Bannu was as follows:
1. The Bannuchis who in 1285 AD displaced the three small tribes of Angal, Mangals and Hannis, as well as a settlement of Khattaks, from the then marshy but fertile country on either bank of the Kurram.
2. The Niazis, who some hundred and fifty years later spread from Tank over the plain now called Marwat, then sparsely inhabited by pastoral Jats.
3. The Marwats, a younger branch of the same tribe, who within one hundred years of the Niazis colonization of Marwat area, followed in their wake, and drove them farther eastward into the countries now known as Isakhel and Mianwali, the former of which the Niazis occupied after expelling the Awans they found there, and reducing the miscellaneous Jat inhabitants to quasi-serfdom.
4. Lastly, the Darweshkhel Wazirs, whose appearance in the northern parts of the valley as permanent occupants, is comparatively recent, dating only from the close of the 18th century, and who had succeeded in wresting large tracts of pasture lands from the Khattaks and Bannuchis, and had even cast jealous eyes on the outlying lands of the Marwats, when the beginning of British rule put a final stop to their encroachments.
- Jats and Awans of Bannu
- Syeds of Bannu
- Hindus of Bannu
- More about the tribes in Bannu
THE LEADING FAMILIES OF BANNU
Clarification as To the Categorization of Families in Bannu
Some families in Bannu have been classed as leading families, front-line families and progressing families, with difference in them defined as under.
The leading families are those who attained distinction in Bannu prior to the Durranis domination of the area, politically and social recognized by other sister clans as well, and thereafter continuously recognized as leading families by the British as well. Some of these families acted and are still acting as front-line families too. They are only a few in numbers in all the three tribes.
The front-line families are those who by virtue of their political status after 1900 AD, and were even accepted as leaders among the three tribes, who from time to time exercised political influence as well as status de tribes. They are a few among the Marwats and Bannuchis and none among the Wazirs.
The progressing families are those who by virtue of their hard work either raised themselves to a political distinction among their clans or in the community; or otherwise had obtained distinct service positions in the government sector;, or exercised a partial political influence, since 1947 till this date.
Many tides and waves that came upon the leading families of Bannu either turned them gradually into ashes or otherwise made them to exercise painstaking in uplifting the standard of their lives. None in Bannu came up with a golden spoon in his mouth but what he exerted for was achieved by him. The present weakening of the families as compared to the past are related to the generic lessening of their manpower due to genetic problems OR carelessness, lake of education, spending of luxurious life in their limited available land inherited by them, excessive hospitality as lambardars of their villages, and internal prolonged feuds. Many of them do realize that the importance of time, wealth, education and mental and physical exertion to achieve their goals in social and political life were not achieved by them or their ancestor; some mainly blaming their forefathers who spent lavishly in their youth. Yet, one thing is worth mentioning here that they somehow did not walk on the manly footprints of their forefathers who gained through exertion and not through merrymaking and that they ate what was left to them and still eating those what were earned by them. The preaching of ulemas to their forefathers that they should not educate themselves or that they shall not accept government services as firangis were kafirs, was an unseen blow on their heads the taste of which is being suffered by their existing successors.
Every drop of rain falling on ground does not flourish fertility and every pond of water is not used. So is the case of some human beings in Bannu who though prosperous cannot be taken as important as integral parts of the society since they never attributed to the collective cause for the district. Families do matter and blood counts in analyzing the personality of a man. It is said that many attain dignity by virtue of indignity in hidden ways. But there are persons in this part of the district who died of starvation but never left the essence of honour that had been the principal base of their life. In this regard, one name comes up, i.e. the great Dilasa Khan of Daud Shah, a man of great honour, who died in isolation but never threw down his sword on ground in the face of the Sikhs and then before the British. Likewise, many appeared on the soil of this land who preferred to die an honourable death in silence and did not expose the insanity of some environmental issues that flourished around him or suddenly taken over by insanity.
Every man who is financially strong cannot be taken as a man of principles and dignity, although his apparent status may be an appealing one. Indignity does not make a prolonged dignity of someone but a prolonged dignified way of living and dealing makes a person an integral part of the written history. An individual cannot make a family alone; many in lines are considered together inclusive of his sons and grandson. Some men in history, at the soil of Bannu, had acquired distinction by their personal merit. Their places were filled by their sons; however, some of them had neither the strength nor the individuality of character which rendered one man worthy of being a chief over his fellows. And this went on even if the chief was not intelligent or otherwise lacked resources. He, once imposed, was accepted by the respective community because he was successor to his father.
The following paragraphs show as to how the different sections of the tribes, had and have, their ways of living.
99.5% of people in Bannu are Sunni Muslims.
Bannu was the terminus railway station of Bannu-Mari Indus Narrow gauge (762 mm or 2 ft 6 in) railway line. This railway line was closed in 1991.
Tarikhe Aqwame Bannu (Author: Jahangir Khan Sikandri)
Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh Edition)