Editor’s Note: Rare black & white photos of Bannu dating back to 1913 are in the last portion of this page.
Brief History: Bannu city is the Headquarters of Bannu District, located in the valley of the Kurram river in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (Formerly NWFP). It is located at a distance of 190 Km south of Peshawar. Bannu is a very old city, founded in ancient times; however, the present location of the downtown Bannu was founded by Lieutenant (later Sir) Herbert Edwardes in 1848 as a military base. The city was named as Dalipnagar (1848) and then Edwardesabad in 1869. The city’s name was changed to Bannu in 1903. (Encyclopedia Britannica).
Bannu city had two main parts; the walled city and the Cantonment area. You will find the details of both parts in the subsequent paragraphs. Bannu Division was created in 1990 but was abolished by the administrative reforms of 2000. The inhabitants of Bannu are known as Bannuchi. They have their origins traced back to Arabia, coming from the Khost and Ghazni provinces of Afghanistan.
The history of the district is quite old. The earliest known village settlement in the Bannu region is the archaeological site of Sheri Khan Tarakai. There were many historical relics found at Akra mounds dating back to about 300 BC. Some of the relics depict the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. There are also relics left behind by Central Asian invaders en route to the sub-continent. After the annexation of the Punjab (then it also included the NWFP, now KPK) by the British, the valley was administered by Herbert Edwardes. When NWFP Province was created in 1901, Bannu became an important District of the Province.
The population of Bannu is mostly ethnic Pashtun. The Bannuchi tribe dominates the city. The main tribes are: Bannuchi, Wazir, Mehsud, Dawar, Marwat and some of Bangash. Pashto is the main language spoken in Bannu, specifically Khattak dialect, but significant number of people speaks Punjabi Language (Saraiki, Hindko and Majhi dialects). Urdu being National language is also spoken and understood.
Map of Bannu
The Walled City of Bannu. Bannu was a walled-city and the entry was only possible through several gates. These gates were used to be closed at night. Local residents of Bannu used to call this wall as “Kot Di Baan” in their own language. This wall is now almost removed except towards Mandan, Meryan and Hinjal sides. These gates include Lakki Gate (named after the town of Lakki Marwat), Preedy Gate (pronounced Praiti), Railway Gate (opens towards Railway Station), Katcheri Gate (opens towards District Courts), Meryan Gate (named after Maryen village), Qasaban Gate (named after butcher shops), Hinjal Gate, Phoori Gate, Huwaid Gate (named after village Huwaid), Sokarri Gate (named after village Sokarri), Mandan Gate (named after village Mandan), etc.
In 1998, a young boy was shot dead in cold blood by a policeman. The town erupted in violent protests and all the gates except two were burnt down by the protesters. A few lives were also lost. So violent was the disorder that Bannu was placed under curfew – the first ever, they say, in its long history.
Railway Gate, Bannu in 2002
Meryan Gate, Bannu. Photo by m.i.toor.
A Closer Look of Meryan Gate, Bannu Showing the Plaque. Photo by Omer Wazir.
Mandan Gate, Bannu
Lakki Gate Mosque at Bannu. Photo by M. Imran Khan, Fatma Khel.
Bannu Cantonment Area. A large Fort is situated in Bannu Cantonment area. It is called “Edwardes Fort” (Formerly known as “Duleep Singh Fort”).
Signboard at the Entrance of Bannu Cantt. Photo by zkbk86.
A Video of Bannu
Defunct Railway Station of Bannu. Bannu city was once connected to the main railway network by the Narrow Gauge line to Mari Indus which is 130 kilometres away. That journey took nine hours, whereas the journey by road took only 3 hours. Being a loss for the railway, this section was closed in the early 1990s. It is now a defunct railway station in shambles. Photo by Salman Rashid.
Akra: The Lost Civilization. Ruins of “Akra” are located near Bharat village, about 9 Km away from Bannu. This 2500 years old (Estimated from the human bones found from the site) ancient city was once very vibrant had its own civilization. Sufficient historical information is not available as to when the city was destroyed. ‘Akra’ is a Greek word which means a high place. The ruins are situated on a number of earthen mounds (Spread over 133 acres) , the largest is 250 feet high, while the surrounding area is plain. Probably it got the name because of its high location.
Some epitaphs in Greek language, Greek coins, a great quantity of baked bricks and other antiques are found from the ruins sporadically.These have been preserved in Lahore, Peshawar and London Museum. The study of these antiques and coins shows that probably some of the governors of Alexander had conquered the city. Besides these, some coins containing the names of Hindu Rajas in Sanskrit language and with distinct Hindu marks, and some idols were also found here. Some kiln-baked small earthen heads of Buddha were also found.
It can thus be concluded that Akra was basically a Greek city which was later inhibited by some Hindus and Buddhists as well. The city had a combination of mixed Greek, Hindu and Buddhist cultures and was destroyed by some ancient invader.
The history buffs can read a complete book on Akra here: Akra: The Ancient Capital of Bannu
See a video of Archiaologist site of Akra.
Some Artifacts Found at the Archaeological Site of Akra, Bannu. Only a few artifacts, found from the ruins of Akra, have been shown in the following photo. Most of the artifacts were taken away by the British rulers and kept in British Museum, London.
The Remains of the Main Mound at Akra, Bannu in 1994
The Earliest Sketch of Akra, Bannu, 1848-49
Why the Bannu City was Called Edwardesabad? Major General Sir Herbert Benjamin Edwardes (1819–1868) was an English administrator, soldier, and statesman, who in February 1847, aged 28, was detailed on special duty as Political Agent to Bannu region, to improve the district’s tax-revenue yield to Lahore (The area was under Punjab. NWFP Province was created much later in 1901), much lessened by evasion and non-payment by locals. Backed by a small force of Sikh troops, he completely reformed the administration, settled local feuds, built roads and canals and encouraged agriculture. He established the town of Bannu in 1848 and named it as Dalipnagar. It was named after his death in his honour as Edwardesabad in 1869. The name was finally changed to Bannu in 1903. (Encyclopedia Britannica.)
An Artistic Sculpture at Durrani Children Park. Photo by thewaseems.
Mandan Park. Photo by zkbk86.
Bannu Sports Complex. Photo by thewaseems.
Qazi Mohib Hockey Stadium, Bannu. Photo by thewaseems.
Open Air Salons in Bannu. Photo by m.i.toor.
A Horse Decorated by a Tonga Owner in Bannu
Bannu Library, Located in the Centre of Bannu City. Photo by m.i.toor.
District Library Bannu . Photo by S. Kashif Tabibani.
A View of Tanchi Bazar, Bannu. The round water tank is also visible, probably the bazar derived its name from it.
Sculpture with Allah’s Name at Bazar Ahmed Khan Chowk. Photo by thewaseems.
General Bus Stand, Bannu. Photo by thewaseems.
Main Gate of Bannu Woolen Mills Ltd. Photo by zkbk86.
The Newly Constructed Church of the Holy Name at Bannu. Photo by Shiraz Hassan.
Gul Nawaz Hospital, Bannu. Photo by Sufian Hashmi.
Administration Block of University of Science &Technology, Bannu. University started functioning in 2005. For more details see the official website of the university: University of Science &Technology, Bannu.
Central Library at University of Science & Technology, Bannu.This library has been constructed recently with the efforts of Lt Col (R) Ilyas Mirza (1st SSC, Engrs/Avn), a native of Bannu, with donations (mostly from USA). It is on 20,000 sq ft, having a female section, an Auditorium, main Reading Hall, librarian office, Conference Room, store, Reproduction Section, wash rooms and a place for namaz.
It is fully furnished with some computers but has shortage of books. It is appealed to the visitors of this website and the residents of Bannu to donate some books. Please send the books to :-
1. Mr. Inamullah Khan
The Deputy Registrar (Academics)
University of Science & Technology, Bannu,
Main Campus, Township,
2. Lt Col (R) Ilyas Mirza, Rawalpindi
Mobile # awaited ??????????????????/
Interior View of Central Library University of Science and Technology, Bannu. Photo contributed by Lt Col (R) Ilyas Mirza.
Bannu Campus of NWFP University of Engineering & Technology. Photo by thewaseems.
Government Post Graduate College, Bannu. Photo by zkbk86.
Bannu Medical College. Photo by Hussain Ahmad Faizy.
Government Degree College No. 2, Bannu. Photo by thewaseems.
Akram Khan Durrani College, Bannu. Photo by M.Usman Khan.
Army Public School and College, Bannu
Govt College of Technology, Bannu. Photo by ismail ktk.
A Convoy of Army Vehicles at Rest in Bannu, 11 August 1938
A Small Bridge Between Bannu and Miran Shah, 11 August 1938
Army Convoy Between Bannu and Kohat, May 1938
Convoy at the Road Between Bannu and Kohat, May 1938
Army Convoy on Bannu-Miran Shah Road, May 1938
Cattle Market, Outside the City Wall of Bannu
Hawkers Selling Chittai, Matting, in Bannu Market
Overflow of Cattle by One of the City Gates, Bannu, 1914
March Past by Soldiers at Bannu Parade Ground on New Year’s Day, 1914
Hindu Sadhus Sitting in the Mid-day Sun in Bannu, 1913. In this photo two Hindu Sadhus are sitting in the mid-day sun with fires round them.
An Old Photo of Bannu Railway Station, 1913
A Hockey Match in Bannu in 1913
Bannu Town in 1913. This photo was taken from outside the town. The wall around the city is clearly visible in the pic.
A Train at Bannu Railway Station
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