It is curious to note the character of the warfare by which these returned Gandhari recovered possession of their fatherland from their unrecognized kindled, who, retaining still their ancient creed and customs, were to them merely cursed infidels, and fair prey to the sword of Islam.
No less interesting is it to compare the aspect and condition of the country at the time of this conquest, with its flourishing state at the time of the fust Muhammadan invasion, and that of its present prosperity under British rule.
It is a remarkable circumstance in the history of the march of these two Afghan tribes that they were nowhere seriously opposed on the road, and even traversed the now historic Khybar Pass without coming into collision with its Afridi possessors, who were yet infidels, as is proved clearly by a very important piece of evidence, which will be mentioned in its proper place The Yusufzais probably compounded for a passage with the descendants of the neighbours of their own ancestors, and for a while remained stationary on the -waste lands skirting the Khybar hills. Here quarrels ensued with the possessors of the country in respect to the use of its pastures and water channels, and the Yusufzais, discovering their strength, soon took the offensive and forced their opponents to give way. It would appear that though the bulk of the natives were infidels, the provincial and district rulers were Musalmans, and it is probable that it was owing to the support and countenance of these officials, that their invading co-religionists were enabled to carry their aggressive proceedings to a successful issue.
Be this as it may, the Yusufzais, in the course of twenty years' warfare, completely conquered the country which now bears their name And they found the country eminently adapted to then mode of warfare, moving as they did with their families and flocks, and possessing themselves of the pasture lands and townships as they advanced bit by bit.
The country was no longer the civilized, well regulated, populous, and highly prosperous kingdom that it was in the glorious era of the Budhist rule. The numerous ruins of its for mercities and ecclesiastical towns, its monasteries and topes, which cover the country by the score, are the mute and desolate witnesses of its former prosperity and populousness, of the industry of its people, and their civilized and peaceable mode of life The excavations which have been made during recent years in the ruins of "Takht da Bahai" - the Pushtu for "Takhti Vihar" of the Persian, or in our language the "Monastery ridge" - have revealed much that is of historical and archaeological interest, especially in the skill of the architect, and the delicacy and art of the sculptor, and the mode of domestic life of the inhabitants of the country in the years of its prosperity - from the second century before our era to the tenth or eleventh after it Whilst the excavations in the ruins of Sawaldher, Shahri Bahlol, and Jamalgarlii have increased our knowledge, and confirmed the opinion that the Indian sculptors were originally instructed by Greek masters, not a tithe, however, of the ruins of the country have been as yet touched. Swat, Bajawar, and Buner, beyond the border, teem with these silent relics of the past, and the ruins of Nawagram, Khaiki, Paja, and many others, all within our bolder, wait to tell their tale so soon as any one will examine them.
It is the number of these monuments of past ages which serve to guide us in our estimate of the former prosperity and fulness of life of the country in which they are found. That prosperity has passed away with the advent of Islam - with its blighting and destiuctive influences, its bigoted and intolerant law, and its stagnant or retrograde rule.
During the closing years of the tenth and early years of the succeeding century of our era, Mahmud, the first Sultan and Musalman of the Turk dynasty of kings who ruled at Ghazni, made a succession of inroads, twelve or fourteen in number, into Gandhar - the present Peshawar valley - in the course of his proselytizing invasions of Hindustan, He was a fierce bigot and arch destroyer. Fire and sword, havoc and destruction, marked his course everywhere. Gandhar, which was styled the "Garden of the North," was left at his death a weird and desolate waste Its rich fields and fruitful gardens, together with the canal which watered them (the course of which is still partially traceable in the western part of the plain), had all disappeared. Its numerous stonebuilt cities, monasteries, and topes, with their valuable and revered monuments and sculptures, were sacked, fired, razed to the ground, and utterly destroyed as habitations.
Left in this state of devastation and depopulation, the country soon grew into a wilderness, the haunt of wild beasts, and the refuge of robbers The fugitive inhabitants, returning in small numbers to their destroyed homes, gradually repeopled the country and reclaimed bits of the waste. But their numbers were greatly reduced, and the impression they made upon the desolation worked by their Muhammadan enemies was hardly perceptible, owing to the distances at which their restored villages were scattered. The country was overgrown with jungle, and overrun with wild beasts. The wolf, leopard, and tiger hunted the herds of antelope which had made their home in the wilderness, and the rhinoceros wallowed in the marshes that covered the hill skirt to the north and terminated in a small lake not far from the Indus at Topi.
Such was the state of the country when the Yusufzais during the rule at Kabul of Mirza Ulugh Beg - about the middle of the fifteenth century - entered upon its conquest. They seem to have reclaimed much of the waste, and, abandoning their nomadic life, to have quickly settled down in village communities as agriculturalists The change in their mode of life and the cessation of wars had the natural effect of greatly increasing their numbers, and multiplying their wealth in cattle and flocks. So much so that, in the middle of the sixteenth century, when the Emperor Babur passed through their country on his way to Delhi, they were considered an important and powerful people, Babur considered their chief of sufficient rank to enter into alliance with him, to many his daughter, and to take a contingent of twelve thousand of his tribesmen as an addition to his army. The Emperor in his quaint and valuable memoirs records some interesting incidents of his progress through the Peshawar valley, and among them mentions having hunted the rhinoceros at the mouth of the Khybar and in the Bazar marsh before alluded to, and also the tiger at what is now the Attock feriy across the Indus. Both the tiger and the rhinoceros have long since disappeared from this country. But it would appear that the latter was in former centuries a very common animal in the Bazar marshes, for an adjacent pass and valley bear the name of Ambela (the scene of the campaign of that name in 1863-64 against the Wahabi fanatics), which is the antique Persian word for rhinoceros.