Peshawar is one of the oldest cities of Pakistan. The word Peshawar itself is taken from one of the most ancient languages of our time. It is derived from Sanskrit word Purushapura that means ‘city of men’. The city lived true to its name and till this date has many legends and stories associated with it. Peshawar is full of historic places made in different eras as early as those of Muslim invasion in subcontinent. One of such mesmerizing places with a celebrated account is Bala Hisar Fort.
The fort was built in 16th century during the reign of Mughal emperor Zahir-ud-din Babar and was named as Qila Balal Hisar by Pashtun King Taimur Shah Durrani. Literal meaning of Qila Bala Hisar is ‘fort of extreme heights’. The name was given it to in correspondence to its geographic standing and architect. Qila Bala Hisar was designed in a way that its face is directly towards the sunlight making it an ideal location for Peshawar’s cold winters. Moreover, it stands on high mound of northwestern corner of Peshawar city in a way that it can give a decent view of entire city.
Majorly because of its strategic position and the panoramic view that it can give to the administrators of the fort, Qila Bala Hisar has been the center of attention for almost every invader. Initially, Mahmud Ghaznavi garrisoned the fort, and then it was Pashtun King (Taimur Shah Durrani) who used it as his winter capital, followed by Sikhrulers and British royals. Lately it has been the headquarters of Frontier Corps (Pakistan Army).
Another fact that makes Bala Hisar Fort center of attention is its spiritual aspect. The spiritual affiliation of Sikh community with the fort is immense as the fort has got the honor of been the host of their Guru. It was after the Sikhs conquered the fort that their first Guru, Guru NanakDev specially visited the fort and spent a few days there. Hence, it can be conveniently said that the importance of Qila Bala Hisar in history is immense. Even after more than four centuries, the charisma with which the majestic fort stands adds to its glory and dominance in twenty-first century as well.