The grave of Pari Chehra, once a legendary member of Afghan royalty, has succumbed to the ravages of time, being mired in neglect and land disputes.
A visit to the enclosure at Kohati Gate, where the grave is supposed to lie, revealed no signs as to its presence.
The property can only be accessed from an entrance facing Koochi Bazaar. The crumbling wall of the compound has been blocked by street vendors and their merchandise; the only way to slip through is an opening in the wall of an adjacent cloth shop.
The enclosure is littered with garbage. Visitors will have to make their way through the thick overgrowth of foliage as well. No semblance of a grave is visible in the enclosure, despite close inspection.
Who was Pari Chehra?
“Pari Chehra was Persian King Nadir Shah Afshar’s favourite queen,” says Mohammad Ibrahim Zia, author of a book on the city’s history.
According to him, she accompanied Afshar when he led his forces in a campaign in India in 1739. Zia informs Pari Chehra fell ill during the journey through Peshawar.
“Pari Chehra died and was buried in a garden at the governor’s palace,” Zia said, adding that a beautiful tomb was also constructed for her.
The property dispute
“There used to be five graves inside this enclosure until a few years ago,” said an aged street vendor, who works in front of the enclosure. The vendor, who did not want to be named, said that a dispute had arisen over this property between two parties hailing from the city’s interior.
“One of the parties tried to sell this land to an Afridi tribal elder from Khyber Agency, who with his armed men took over this property,” he said. The graves were completely destroyed then.
The piece of land has high commercial value as it is situated at the junction of City Circular Road and Koochi Bazaar.
Provincial Minister for Archaeology and Sports Syed Aqil Shah, who announced the preservation of Pari Chehra’s tomb a few months ago, was unavailable for comments.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2012.