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BANNU HISTORY

BANNU HISTORY

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THE BRIEF TIMELINE HISTORY OF BANNU

This is a brief of history of Bannu prepared and presented to BANNU.COM by Jahangir Khan Sikandri from the English version of his book ‘Tarikhe Aqwame Bannu’ (History of the Tribes of Bannu). The original text of his research work is contained in a huge volume of publication (four volumes) which contains the detailed timeline authentic history narrating all events that occurred on the soil of Bannu and the history and pedigree tables of all villages of Bannu (386 villages, 1800 families’ pedigree tables). Here, only a few important events have been narrated by him for the general knowledge of the reader. The website administrators are thankful to him for the provision of this brief. .

 Introduction

The history of Bannu runs parallel to the history of Gandhara. Nothing is more clearly known about it in the Bronze Age and earlier. However, a recent archaeologists’ research on the fossils at different sites reveals that cavemen had lived here more than half a million years ago. Many writers have written a vague history which is neither authentic nor informative.

The Clans and Sub-clans of Bannuchis

There are 120 sub-clans of the Bannuchis (including the generations of Shittak). Total numbers of villages are 386 in Bannu which include the villages of Marwats and Wazirs as well. Bannuchis are descendant from one Shittak (or Shithak), a son of Karan who was the fifth son (probably an adopted one) of Kais bin Abdur Rashid. The generations of his (Karan) other sons are the Afridis, Mehmands, Khattkas, Masuds, Wazir, Bangash and Dilazaks etc. Shithak was born in the era of Mehmud of Ghazna and lived at Shawal. His seventh or eighth generations had forcibly occupied Bannu in 1285 AD; the story of whom has been given in the succeeding paragraphs.

Explanation of the Word 'Bannuchi' (or Bannusi)

Except Marwats and Wazirs, other families including the generations of the sons of Shithak that occupied Bannu, are called Bannuchi (Bannusi) irrespective of their race, religion and caste. The word Bannuchi does not apply to any particular tribe living in Bannu now, even not to the generations of Shithak. During the Ghorids, Temurids and Mughals period, this name only applied to the Kivis, Surranis, Zelum and Haved, the sons of Bano, the first wife of Shithak. Shithak was the son of Karran, in the fifth lineage from Qais bin Abdur Rashid. In other words, the term Bannuchi means 'A settled person from Bannu, except Marwats and Wazirs'. Bannuchis are divided into six categories;

Native Afghan Bannuchis

This name is used for the generations of the sons of Shithak i.e. Haved, Zelum, Surrani and Kivis. They are known so since they had originally possessed this land in 1285 AD. They are about 40 % of the total population of Bannuchis.

Colonized Afghan Bannuchis

This name applies to those Afghans who subsequently settled in Bannu with the Native Afghan Bannuchis. They are about 3 % of the total population in Bannu.

Native Saddat Bannuchis

This name applies only to the saddats of Sheikhan, the descendants from Sheikh Shah Mohammad Rohani who assisted the Native Afghan Bannuchis during their efforts to subdue the valley of Bannu , in 1285 AD. They are about 10 % of the total population of Bannuchis.

Colonized Saddat Bannuchis

This name applies to those saddat families who subsequently settled in Bannu with Native Afghan Bannuchis or Native Saddat Bannuchis. They are about 7 % of the total population of Bannuchis and scattered through in almost all the Bannuchis’ villages.

Khidmatgar Bannuchis

This name applies to those persons who settled in different villages of Bannu as tradesmen and farm-labourers. Major inflow of such persons had been from Punjab during the Durrani and Sikh periods. Some among them settled here during the British era too. They are about 36 % of the total population of Bannuchis, scattered through out in almost all the Bannuchis’ villages.

Ordinary OR Domiciled Bannuchis

This name applies to those people who are not from any of the above mentioned categories but they were settled in Bannu in different periods. For example, the third generation of the mahajirs from India are now called Domiciled Bannuchis. Non Muslims or non Pashtoons also fall in this category. They were initially settled in Bannu city during the British era and subsequently purchased some land in different villages too. They are about 4 % of the total population of Bannuchis.

AKRA.

The ruins of Akra are situated nine kilometres from Bannu city, in the area of Bharat village. These ruins are in the shape of earthen mounds, the largest being 250 feet high. On these mounds there are scattered broken clay vessels. The British took much interest to unveil the secrets of the mounds. In 1869, the British archaeologists bored a forty feet deep hole in the largest mound and examined the soil in the laboratory. Nonetheless, they could find nothing interesting except clay and some pieces of decayed human bones. The presence of human bones revealed that almost 1700- 2500 years ago, the inhabitants of this area used the largest mound as their burial ground. It was considered that the disposal of dead at this place had been on similar pattern as had been practised in Kafiristan where dead were placed on high grounds for vultures and other wild birds to eat the flesh away. The human bones were then collected by their relatives and placed in chambers, one above the other, followed by closing of the main entrance with a big stone. However, one fact has been doubtlessly established that here lived Parsees for a long period of time. The tests further revealed that Calcium Phosphate was a major constituent of the soil, due to the decayed human bones.
In 1878, a peasant from village Bharat uncovered a big stone, while he was ploughing in the field, next to the largest mound of Akra. The British Administration sent the stone to an archeologist of Saint Petersburg School to find the meanings of the words inscribed in Sanscrit language, on the stone. The stone was so much worn out that the said Professor could not decipher the words correctly. General Cunningham has mentioned that had the words been readable, it could have discovered one more link to the history of Bannu (See ‘The Archeology Survey Report of India ’ written by General Cunningham; pages 24 to 30 of chapter 14 of the report). Later on, the stone was placed in Lahore Museum .
In 1880, the British archaeologists manually dug the largest mound to a considerable depth and found some small earthen heads of Buddha that were properly heated in kilns to make non-abrasive. They also found a few other full figured images of Bhudha chiselled out from sandstones. Digging of the mounds continued till 1920, uncovering many gold and copper coins that belonged to the Greek-Bactrian kings namely Apollodotus, Menander, Phelozenus and Eukratides; coins of Vema Kadhphesus, Mayus, Azas, Haverki and Kanerki; Brehman Shahiya kings namely Samantha Deva and Sial Pathi; and the Muslim kings namely Sabuktagin, Mehmud of Ghaznavi and Altamish. These coins are now part of the national heritage and are kept at the Lahore , Peshawar and London museums.
The other discovered items include many pieces of sange sulemani of the Greek-Bactrian period; gold bangles used by the Sakas; rings of blue sapphire used by the Parthians and Sassanis; and beads of some valuable stones used by the Buddhists and the Muslims. These discoveries ascertain the history, from the Achaemenians period to the Ghaznavids period.
Hither to, it was a dilemma to find out how the name 'Akra' was attributed to these mounds. Some writers have mentioned that the old name of this area was Saatram. A cruel ruler of this land forcibly married his daughter, namely Setha, to a black slave. Setha cursed the people and the land. Consequently, rain of stones came upon the land and everything was destroyed. Other historians have mentioned another story about a cruel king who raped his daughter. The heaven could not tolerate this incident and there came upon them a rain of stones that destroyed everything. This is a story probably elaborated by the Hindus of Village Bharat. Nonetheless, the Muslims believe that at one occasion a rain of stones came on people of prophet Luth. See the Quran, ( Surat Hud: Ayat 74-82 and Surat Ankabut: Ayat 28-35).
Prophet Luth’s people were living in the plains of Sodom and Gomarrah in Pelestine, most probably located in the plain east of the Dead Sea (Bahr-e-Luth). These people had deeply involved themselves in sodomy and other evil’s deed. Prophet Abraham had sent his nephew (Prophet Luth) to them but they disobeyed him and went deeper and deeper into sin. Two angels in the shape of handsome young men came to Luth in the evening and became his guest by night. The inhabitants of Sodom in their lust for unnatural crime (sodomy) invaded Luth’s house but were repulsed. In the morning when it was still dark, the angels warned Luth to escape with his family and none to look back. Then Allah brought upon the two cities a shower of brimstone that destroyed all the inhabitants of the said cities (including the wife of Luth who looked back) and toppled the plain. The story has been narrated at many places in the Quran. But, it has been clearly elaborated in the above two Surats.
At another occasion, on the army of Ibrahah (the Governor of Yemen) who intended to invade Khana-e-Kaaba, and just before his attack on Makkah, flocks of Ababeel (small black birds) came and threw small stones on the soldiers and elephants of Abrahah. The Muslims do believe that no other incident of such nature occurred to any other tribe or nation. See the Quran, (Surat Al-Fil: Ayat 1-5); the story of the army of elephants.
This incident happened during the period of the birth year of Prophet Muhammad (sallellaho alaihey wa sallam). In Tafsir Ibn Kathir, it has been mentioned that Abrahah Al-Ashram, the Governor of Yemen, was a Christian who on behalf of the king of Ethopia built a house (church) in San’ah (the capital of Yemen ) and named it Al-Qulais. At that time, Yemen was a part of Ethopia. Abrahah wanted to call the Arabs to perform pilgrim there in San’ah instead of the Ka’bah, with the intention of diverting the trade and benefits from Makkah to Yemen . So far as the construction of Al-Qulais was concerned, there was no church of its like at that time. Then a man from the Quresh tribe of Makkah came there and was infuriated by it. So he relieved his nature (stool and urine) in it, soiled its walls and went away. This made Abrahah angry and he raised an army to invade Makkah and demolish Ka’bah. He had in that army thirteen elephants and amongst them was a very big elephant called Mehmud (Mamooth). In the event of marching on Makkah, some camels of Abdul Muttalib bin Hashim, the grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad (sallellaho alaihey wa sallam), were apprehended by the army of Abrahah. Subsequently, these were released after negotiation by Abdul Muttalib with the leading men of Abrahah when it was concluded by Abrahah that the fate of Ka’bah would be decided by him at all costs that in no way had anything to do with the retention of the camels by his army. Abdul Muttalib replied to Abrahah that Ka’bah is the house of Allah and that not the Quresh but Allah protects it. Abrahah finally marched on towards Ka’bah and reached the valley of Muhassir near Makkah where it was suddenly overtaken by flocks of birds (ababeels), flocks after flocks, air-raiding that army with small stones slightly bigger than a lentil seed and perished the soldiers and elephants with a total destruction, including Abrahah who died of injuries in his flesh due to hits by the said stones, while retreating.
Another story of Akra runs to the effect that a survivor from stones-rain was a dog who headed towards the west. It was pelted with stones in its efforts to escape. However, it was successful in escaping the wrath of the God; but as a consequence, a line of mounds was formed extending towards west. However, it is just a story told by some layman and not any scholar and seems to have been evolved to explain an unfathomable fact by the local people. In April 1848, When Lt Edwardes visited Akra on his way to the Marwat area, he asked the peasantry of Village Bharat," who lived there on those mounds". The gathering replied, "Kafirs lived there".
Being deeply involved for fifteen years in research work on the history of Bannu, I (the author) did not believe in the stories that had no logical basis. The following pages would reveal to the reader the actual history pertaining to these mysterious mounds;
During the period of King Kaykaus of the Kayani dynasty, Bano, the sister of Rustam (the jehan pehlawan) got the area as a dowry and expanded the built-up area with further construction. The area got its name from her, i.e. Azer Bano and is still known with a slight deformation of the word as ‘Bana’. The subsequent construction on this site may be attributed to the Achaemenians who called it Thathagush; it being one of 128 provinces of Cyrus the Great (a ruler of Persia - Iran ). Attacks and counterattacks on this high ground, shows its importance as compared to the surrounding areas. Phillip, a general of Alexander the Great, burnt the fort located on the highest mound after an armed resistance from the locals. A proper walled fort or a check-post type fort was constructed by Greek Bactarian ruler namely Eukratides who named it 'the Fort of Eukra'. This name over a period of time changed into Akra and exists to this day. The area of the largest mound, during the Achaemenian period, was spread up to many acres. The first cutting of this high ground, after the Ghaznavids, was carried out by the local inhabitants on its northeast and south sides since its soil contained calcium phosphate, a rich constituent for growing of crops, more effective than the household urea. The side towards Lehra River got washed away as a natural phenomenon due to seasonal floods in the river. It was converted into irrigable fields during the Sikh and Durrani periods. Hence the vastness of the high ground, through a period of one thousand years, has now shrunk to an area of almost one acre only. The area to the west of Lehra River was also made irrigable by the inhabitants of Village Bharat during the Sikh period.
The ruins of Akra are situated nine kilometres from Bannu city, in the area of Bharat village. These ruins are in the shape of earthen mounds, the largest being 250 feet high. On these mounds there are scattered broken clay vessels. The British took much interest to unveil the secrets of the mounds. In 1869, the British archaeologists bored a forty feet deep hole in the largest mound and examined the soil in the laboratory. Nonetheless, they could find nothing interesting except clay and some pieces of decayed human bones. The presence of human bones revealed that almost 1700- 2500 years ago, the inhabitants of this area used the largest mound as their burial ground. It was considered that the disposal of dead at this place had been on similar pattern as had been practised in Kafiristan where dead were placed on high grounds for vultures and other wild birds to eat the flesh away. The human bones were then collected by their relatives and placed in chambers, one above the other, followed by closing of the main entrance with a big stone. However, one fact has been doubtlessly established that here lived Parsees for a long period of time. The tests further revealed that Calcium Phosphate was a major constituent of the soil, due to the decayed human bones.
In 1878, a peasant from village Bharat uncovered a big stone, while he was ploughing in the field, next to the largest mound of Akra. The British Administration sent the stone to an archeologist of Saint Petersburg School to find the meanings of the words inscribed in Sanscrit language, on the stone. The stone was so much worn out that the said Professor could not decipher the words correctly. General Cunningham has mentioned that had the words been readable, it could have discovered one more link to the history of Bannu (See ‘The Archeology Survey Report of India ’ written by General Cunningham; pages 24 to 30 of chapter 14 of the report). Later on, the stone was placed in Lahore Museum .
In 1880, the British archaeologists manually dug the largest mound to a considerable depth and found some small earthen heads of Buddha that were properly heated in kilns to make non-abrasive. They also found a few other full figured images of Bhudha chiselled out from sandstones. Digging of the mounds continued till 1920, uncovering many gold and copper coins that belonged to the Greek-Bactrian kings namely Apollodotus, Menander, Phelozenus and Eukratides; coins of Vema Kadhphesus, Mayus, Azas, Haverki and Kanerki; Brehman Shahiya kings namely Samantha Deva and Sial Pathi; and the Muslim kings namely Sabuktagin, Mehmud of Ghaznavi and Altamish. These coins are now part of the national heritage and are kept at the Lahore , Peshawar and London museums.
The ruins of Akra are situated nine kilometres from Bannu city, in the area of Bharat village. These ruins are in the shape of earthen mounds, the largest being 250 feet high. On these mounds there are scattered broken clay vessels. The British took much interest to unveil the secrets of the mounds. In 1869, the British archaeologists bored a forty feet deep hole in the largest mound and examined the soil in the laboratory. Nonetheless, they could find nothing interesting except clay and some pieces of decayed human bones. The presence of human bones revealed that almost 1700- 2500 years ago, the inhabitants of this area used the largest mound as their burial ground. It was considered that the disposal of dead at this place had been on similar pattern as had been practised in Kafiristan where dead were placed on high grounds for vultures and other wild birds to eat the flesh away. The human bones were then collected by their relatives and placed in chambers, one above the other, followed by closing of the main entrance with a big stone. However, one fact has been doubtlessly established that here lived Parsees for a long period of time. The tests further revealed that Calcium Phosphate was a major constituent of the soil, due to the decayed human bones.
In 1878, a peasant from village Bharat uncovered a big stone, while he was ploughing in the field, next to the largest mound of Akra. The British Administration sent the stone to an archeologist of Saint Petersburg School to find the meanings of the words inscribed in Sanscrit language, on the stone. The stone was so much worn out that the said Professor could not decipher the words correctly. General Cunningham has mentioned that had the words been readable, it could have discovered one more link to the history of Bannu (See ‘The Archeology Survey Report of India ’ written by General Cunningham; pages 24 to 30 of chapter 14 of the report). Later on, the stone was placed in Lahore Museum .
In 1880, the British archaeologists manually dug the largest mound to a considerable depth and found some small earthen heads of Buddha that were properly heated in kilns to make non-abrasive. They also found a few other full figured images of Bhudha chiselled out from sandstones. Digging of the mounds continued till 1920, uncovering many gold and copper coins that belonged to the Greek-Bactrian kings namely Apollodotus, Menander, Phelozenus and Eukratides; coins of Vema Kadhphesus, Mayus, Azas, Haverki and Kanerki; Brehman Shahiya kings namely Samantha Deva and Sial Pathi; and the Muslim kings namely Sabuktagin, Mehmud of Ghaznavi and Altamish. These coins are now part of the national heritage and are kept at the Lahore , Peshawar and London museums.

The Parthians, Pehlavis, Ephtalites, Sassanis and Kidarites Period

Although no significant events have been on record, the coins discovered from Akra reveal that Bannu went in the control of Mithradotus and remained under the Parthians till 88 BC when it was captured by Maves, a chief of the Saka tribe, after a fierce battle at Bannu. In 77 BC Maves died. His generals remained at daggers-drawn with each other that resulted in bloodshed among the Sakas. Finally, Azes-I succeeded in defeating all other chieftains in a fierce battle and was crowned as king in 57 BC, exercising control over Gandhara, some parts of the present Afghanistan , Balochistan, Punjab and Hind. His son Azelus succeeded him in about 40 BC; followed by his son Azes II whose coins have been discovered in abundance from the mounds of Akra.

In 5 BC, the Pehlvai and the Parthian tribes came in power in Sistan and Aracochia whose chief namely Gondophares defeated Azes-II in 24 AD and deprived him of his kingdom. However, it has not been ascertained whether Bannu was under the control of the Sakas during the last days of Azes-II or not. It is also presumed that Bannu might have gone into the hands of the chief of Ghazna who was from the Pehlvai tribe and was paying a regular tribute to the Parthian king namely Venos Parthy. The last king of this dynasty namely Pakorus was defeated by the Koshani chief namely Kajula Kadphises at Taxila in 65 AD. He was crowned as king. He was succeeded by his son Vema Kadphises in 78 AD whose coins have been found from the Akra dunes. From these events it gets confirmed that Bannu was also ruled by the aforesaid Koshani kings and their successor namely Kanishka who titled himself as `Shah-e-Gandhara`. After Kanishka, the other kings known in this series are Vasishka, Kanishka-II, Huvishka and Vasudeva. When Vasudeva died in 225 AD, his kingdom was disintegrated and then fully captured by Ardashir Sassani, an Iranian king. Bannu also went under the control of the Sassanian dynasty till 365 AD after which the said kingdom was assaulted by Kidara, the chief of the Kidarite dynasty who, in 368 AD, took over the control of Gandhara and the surroundings including Bannu (then locally called as Akra). The coins of Kidara and his two successors namely Pero and Behram have been found from the dunes of Akra during the British era. Between 427AD and 457 AD, the Kidarites had a few fierce battles with the Ephthalites (White Huns) and subsequently lost their territorial control on many parts of the kingdom including Bannu. The chief of the White Huns was Toramena who was succeeded by his son Mihiragula in 502 AD, with his capital at Sialkot .

The Shahiyas Period
With the death of Mahira Gola in 542 AD, the dynasty collapsed in 568 AD when the Sassanians attacked his kingdom. The area of Bannu eventually went under the control of the Sassanian dynasty till the end of the 6th century. Subsequently, it was taken over by the Turk Shahiya dynasty either through a battle with the Sassanian kings or otherwise due to the submission of the local inhabitants to the Turk Shahiya. The Turk Shahiyas were also later on known as the Kabul Shahiyas and their kings titled as Rutbil or Zunbil.

The Akra.

 The Kayanis and Achaemenian Period
The first known historical event at this land is attributed to the era of Kaykaus, the king of Persia , when Rustam of Iran, a great wrestler of that period, took over as the Governor of Zablistan. At that time, area up to Multan including was a part of Zablistan. Later on, Rustam rested the area of Bannu as a dowry upon his sister namely Bano who constructed a small fort and a small city in the present area of

Kakki Bharat. The fort was called Azar Bano (Azar means a 'city' in the old Persian language). During the Achaemenian period, the present territorial boundaries of Bannu, Waziristan, Dera Ismail Khan, Dadikia (Kakars in Balochistan), Gandhara (Paktia to Attock including Kurram belt) and Aparithia (Afridis belt) remained as a part of the state of Thatagush during the era of `Cyrus the Great`, with its headquarters at Pashkalavati (now known as Charsada). After Darius, when Xerexes-I took over as the mighty king of the Achaemenian dynasty, he deputed Austees as governor of the said part. At that time, areas of present Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan and Waziristan were made as parts of a province known as Satagidaya, with its subsidiary military headquarters at Bannu. Maybe that the name ‘Satagidaya’ was a proxy name of Azar Bano or that Bannu was even then known by the same first name of ‘Bana’ since no authentic confirmation has been so far obtained in this regard. Herodotus, the first known Greek historian, has mentioned in his memoirs that the inhabitants of Satagidaya were Paktues (Pakhtoons?) and that they were Aryans cum Parsees, worshipping fire and sun. His memoirs, however, counter the present research on the Pakhtoons who are believed to have been of the Jewish origin (amongst the ten lost tribes of Israel ) living with the Aryans on bilateral relations when they were deported to Afghanistan from Babul. Leaving all the presumptions on this topic for the readers to speculate as many historians presume that Pakhtoons are ancient Aryans or Jews; some believe still believe that they are descendants from Aryans who intermarried with the Jews.

The Greeks Period
In 327 BC, when ‘Alexander, The Great’ conquered the present territory of Afghanistan , he marched on with two columns towards Gandhara. A major column led by him entered through the Khyber Pass and a small flanking column led by his general namely Phillip marched from Jalalabad to Dursamand and then attacked the Azar Bano fort; burnt it and then razed it to the ground. Subsequently, the same General (Phillip) was appointed as a Satrap at Taxila, by Alexander the Great; to look after the territory conquered by him. Phillip ruled Bannu till 324 BC. Soon, he was killed by a few rebellions. He was succeeded by his son namely Eudamius, who had the blessings of ‘Alexander the Great’

The Mauryans Period
In 317 BC, Chandra Gupta of the Mauryan dynasty defeated Eudamius in a battle and took over Gandhara and Satagidya. The Mauryans ruled Bannu till 232 BC. Coins and other remains obtained by the Archeologists from Akra dunes in Kakki Bharat, Bannu, reveal that the inhabitants of Bannu were Buddhist during the Mauryan era.
In 232 BC, after Asoka’s death, A Greek general namely Eunedius took over the control of Gandhara, Aparithia, Satagidaya as well as present Ghazni, Qandahar and Kabul . Nevertheless, these areas were captured again by the Mauryan king namely Brohidat who reigned till 222 BC. The Greeks who had control of a few parts of Afghanistan are historically known as Greek Bactrians.

The Greek-Bactrians Period
In 185 BC, Greek Bactrian king Eutedium captured area from Bactria to the River Indus and established its capital at Bactria . In 180 BC, his son Demetrius took over as his successor who appointed Menandar as the governor of the area between River Kabul and River Indus. In 175 BC, another Greek-Bactrian general namely Eukratedius defeated Demetrius and captured the area between Bactria and Aracochia. Bannu was then under the control of Menandar who had appointed another Greek Bactrian general namely Appolodotus as the governor of Satagidaya and some parts of Gandhara up to Kabul . Later on, Bannu fell in the hands of Eukratedius when Menandar had a battle with Appolodotus as the later had shown inclination towards his rival king -- Eukratedius. To meet with any aggression by Menandar, Eukratedius erected a fort at the old site of the fort near present Kakki Bharat which was named after him as Eukra, later on known to the world as Akra and is still famous by the same name. This fort was manned by his son Heleucus who succeeded his father as king when Eukratedius died in 159 BC. After the coronation, Heleucus appointed Pheleuzenus as the mighty governor of Bannu (Satagidaya), Tal, Parachinar and Hangu areas, establishing his seat at Bannu.
In 152 BC, Heleucus was defeated and pushed towards Taxila by the Saka tribe after capturing Bactria . Upon this, Pheleuzenus declared his small kingdom as independent and neutral. In 135 BC, Le Syas, a successor to Heleucus, seized the said kingdom from Pheleuzenus and annexed to his kingdom, with his headquarters established at Taxila. He left fairly strong force at Akra to handle any expected aggression from Bactria .

Another story of Akra runs to the effect that a survivor from stones-rain was a dog who headed towards the west. It was pelted with stones in its efforts to escape. However, it was successful in escaping the wrath of the God; but as a consequence, a line of mounds was formed extending towards west. However, it is just a story told by some layman and not any scholar and seems to have been evolved to explain an unfathomable fact by the local people. In April 1848, When Lt Edwardes visited Akra on his way to the Marwat area, he asked the peasantry of Village Bharat," who lived there on those mounds". The gathering replied, "