Whispers of the past: Echoes of a bygone era in Peshawar’s ancient wells

Peshawar  -  In the heart of the old walled city, ancient wells once served as Peshawar’s lifeblood. Although these wells have faded into history, they still resonate with tales of a time when Peshawar’s residents relied on their cool waters to quench their thirst.

Despite the advent of modern conveniences like tube wells, the remnants of these sacred pools continue to whisper stories of a bygone era. Peshawar, steeped in history, cradles a few of these ancient wells. While no longer the primary source of hydration, these wells stand as silent witnesses to a time when residents would congregate to draw refreshing water from their depths. Before the era of tube wells, these wells played a pivotal role in sustaining the city’s inhabitants.

Imagine wandering through the old walled city of Peshawar, and you might chance upon the Sard Chah Gate (literally translated as the Cool Well Gate). Once housing a thriving well, now dry and desolate, this historical gate and its surroundings bear the imprint of more than a century of Peshawar’s rich history. 

Another relic is the Kala Kuie, or “the Well of Kala.” Kala, the esteemed Mashki or water bearer, held a crucial role in the area. With his trusty Mashk, a water-carrying bag made from waterproofed goat skin, Kala not only sprinkled water on the dusty streets but also provided a lifeline to the locals. The tale of Kala Kuie spans almost two centuries, a testament to the city’s resilience in sourcing life-giving water.

The Mashki’s significance was paramount. Long before water-sprinkling vehicles, these municipal employees would commence their morning ritual, contributing to the city’s cleanliness. Kala Kuie’s cool waters were renowned, attracting not only locals but visitors from across the city.

Several other points still house such wells. A well within the Gor Gutri archaeological complex intertwines layers of history with Peshawar’s deepest roots. Within Wazirbagh, a Mughal-era garden established in 1808, lies another ancient well, a silent tribute to Peshawar’s past. 

Upon contemplation, history unveils a world where the past flows like water from these ancient wells. The story of Peshawar is etched in the cool depths of these wells, a city that has always cherished its history.

It’s worth mentioning that over a century ago, water from the Bara region used to be filtered for Peshawarites. Despite this, people still preferred the cool well water in the summer. In the holy month of Ramazan, a simple addition of sharbat and other sweets would make the well water a delicacy, without needing ice.