Investigating the Hindu Shahi Kingdom in North-western Pakistan Through Systematic Landscape Survey
Keywords:Hindu Shahi Dynasty, Hund, Landscape Systematic Survey, Watchtowers, Mayar valley, Ghaznavids
This paper investigates the historic kingdom of Hindu Shahi dynasty (circa 822 to 1026 CE) and discusses the results of systematic landscape survey in districts Lower Dir, Swat, Buner and Malakand Agency of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan. During the survey, a total of 2542 square kilometres area was surveyed and a total of 225 archaeological Hindu Shahi sites were recorded. These sites were strategically positioned in difficult terrains, occupying hilltops and slopes, overlooking the surrounding landscapes. The Hindu Shahi sites are located in close proximity to access routes and passes that link the study area with the neighbouring regions. Among the Hindu Shahi structures, a total of 217 watchtowers at 140 sites, are the most frequent and dominant in their respective landscapes. The geographical distribution, physical locations and the nature of structures are indicative of a highly defensive architecture and purpose. The results of the survey demonstrate that the study area is the most densely occupied known region of the Hindu Shahi period. Within the study area, the relatively small Mayar valley in Lower Dir holds a naturally secured location and include a high number of sites and watchtowers. The distinctive nature of the Mayar valley suggests that it might remain the locus of socio-political activities during the Hindu Shahi period.