The Khyber Pass

The Khyber Pass , also known as the Khyber Pass, is a mountain pass, which joins Afghanistan and Pakistan. The pass is lying at an elevation of 1,070 m or 3,510 ft.

The Khyber Pass: An Overview

The Khbar Pass is one of the important mountain passes in the world. Since very old times, the Khyber Pass has been used as a crucial branch of the historic Silk Road. It functioned as a significant route for business between Central Asia and South Asia. The Khbar Pass also serves as a major site for armed forces. The pinnacle of the pass is situated at 5 km (3.1 miles) within the territory of Pakistan. The summit is named as Landi Kotal. Afterwards, the pass traverses the northeastern segment of the Safed Koh Mountains. The Safed Koh Mountains are a stretch of the Hindu Kush Mountain Range to the extreme southeast.

In Hebrew Language, the world Khyber stands for a fort.

The coordinates of the Khyber Pass are 34°8′5.83″N and 71°5′41.74″E.

The Khyber Pass is wholly situated in Pakistan.

The territory is occupied by Pushtuns or Pathans, quite violent mountain clans that speak the Pushtu language. In terms of cartography, the pass is a portion of Pakistan, but the Government of Pakistan has never tried to govern the area. The Pashtun clan leaders are in charge of everything.

The Pathan zone covers the boundary of Afghanistan and Pakistan. 40% of the Pushtun population stays in Afghanistan and 60% of them inhabit in Pakistan. In the territory of Afghanistan, they are the biggest tribal community at 40% and this is the reason why they have often controlled business and commerce and the government.

Clogged to outsiders?

Some tourists have informed recently that they were declined approvals to visit from Peshawar to the Khyber Pass, and informed the only alternative was a flight, on the basis of apparently intense menaces to outsiders: others have mentioned that only those tripping through and traversing the boundary are granted permissions. Whatever the case may be, you should get ready to devise substitute strategies if you are planning to travel to Afghanistan.

History of Khyber Pass

In a number of editions of the Indo-Aryan Migration Theory, the Indo-Aryans began relocating to India through the Khbar Pass. Documented incursions through the Khyber Pass started with the invasions of Alexander the Great and Darius I. These invasions also consist of subsequent Muslim attacks to South Asia, ending with the setting up of the Mughal Empire in 1526. The British Army attacked Afghanistan from India and took part in three Afghan battles; in 1839-42, 1878-80, and 1919.

George Molesworth, an associate of the British Armed Forces in 1919, abridged “Every stone in the Khyber has been soaked in blood.

Rudyard Kipling, the famous novelist, termed it as “a sword cut through the mountains.

Towards the north of the Khyber Pass, the territory of the Mullagori clan is situated. Towards the south of the pass, the Afridi Tirah is located as the residents of the rural areas in the pass are Afridi tribal. Across a number of centuries, the Pashtun tribes, specifically the Afghan Shinwaris and the Afridis have considered the pass as their own territory and imposed a duty on tourists for secure demeanor. As this was a source of their revenue for an extensive period of time, opposition to defiance to the power of the Shinwaris has frequently been severe.

For tactical purposes, following the culmination of the First World War, the British Armed Forces constructed a profoundly engineered rail track in the course of the pass. The Khyber Pass Railway ran from Jamrud, close to Peshawar, to the Afghan boundary close to Landi Kotal was introduced in 1925.

During the Second World War, solid tank barriers or dragon’s teeth were put up on the ground of the basin because of the British’s apprehension of a probable German attack on India .

The Khbar Pass was well known to many Japanese and people of the Western world who visited it in the periods of the hippie trail, boarding a bus or vehicle from Kabul to the boundary of Afghanistan. Near the border post of Pakistan, tourists were recommended not to go astray from the path since the place was then a scarcely regulated Federally Administered Tribal Region. Subsequently, following customs procedures, a rapid daytime trip through the pass was offered. Tombstones left by the divisions of British Military Forces and hillside citadels are seen from the main road.

The region of the Khyber Pass has been associated with a fake weaponry industry, manufacturing different types of firearms that are branded to arms collectors as Khyber Pass Copies. Blacksmith’s forges and steel of neighboring areas are the principal raw materials used to manufacture these guns.

The Pathans have overwhelmed the most powerful ground forces of their day twice. When Alexander the Great wished to go over the pass, he was unable to control it for many weeks till the time he enticed one of the regional tribal chiefs into helping him in opposition to those who were obstructing him. At the pinnacle of British authority during the rule of Queen Victoria, the Khbar Pass served as the boundary of the British Raj. Great Britain was involved in a number of battles against the Pathans and was never able to conquer the territory entirely. During the first Afghan battle, an army of 16,000 entered the territory and only one could return alive. Pashtuns were also enrolled into the British Armed Forces, where they served as outstanding fighters.

Since 1980, Pashtuns have been battling the Russian army, other forces of Afghanistan, the U.S. and other allied armies, the Pakistani Military Forces and one another.

The Pashtuns supplied the majority of the supporters of Taliban. Most of them are still (middle of 2009) severely defying different initiatives taken by the United States of America and allied army and/or the Government of Pakistan to regulate the territory. If Osama Bin Laden is still surviving, this is the place probably where he is hiding.

Going over the Khyber Pass has always been like an escapade. At present, it would be extremely risky for majority of tourists.

Present Conflicts

During the most recent battle in Afghanistan, the Khyber Pass was used as an important path for reallocating NATO army in the Afghan stage of clashes. Understanding this, the Taliban tried to clog the path in the latter part of 2008 and former part of 2009, getting the Taliban into clashes with the Government of Pakistan.

In the month of February 2009, a bridge, which was situated 15 miles northeast of Peshawar, was destroyed by radicals apparently belonging to or backed by the Taliban. In spite of the fact that it was not regarded as a significant strike to the allied combat attempts, it stimulated the initiatives to procure other itineraries for provision, some of which may move across Iran in the end. Nevertheless, the present public opinion is that the new itinerary for delivery will move through several nations in Central Asia towards the north of Afghanistan.

Vanquishers and Commanders

The generals who moved over the Khyber Pass all headed military forces to the east in the invasion of India, not including Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Chandragupta Maurya, Sir Donald Stewart, and George Pollock who got across in the opposite way:

  • Alexander the Great
  • Cyrus the Great
  • Demetrius I of Bactria
  • Chandragupta Maurya
  • Muhammad Ghori
  • Mahmud Ghaznavi
  • Qutlugh Khwaja
  • Genghis Khan
  • Babur the Tiger
  • Tamerlane
  • Humayun
  • Ranjit Singh
  • Nader Shah Afshar
  • Shah Jahan
  • George Pollock
  • Ahmad Shah Durrani
  • Sir Donald Stewart, 1st Baronet

Khyber Pass Copy

A Khyber Pass Copy is a gun made by small home-based gun makers in the Khyber Pass territory amid Afghanistan and Pakistan. The cause why they are named so is since the Adam Khel Afridi, who reside close to the pass, were traditionally the most dynamic weapon makers on the boundary.

The region has had a long history of manufacturing home-based replicas of weapons without official permission, utilizing any substances that are available - typically, railway tracks, bits and pieces of automobiles, and other forms of discarded metal. The character of these firearms differs broadly, varying from as excellent as a factory-manufactured model to severely hapless. Popular models of the Khyber Pass Copy include the following:

  • Martini-Enfield
  • Martini-Henry
  • AK-47 Rifles
  • Lee-Enfield Rifles
  • Tokarev TT-33s
  • Webley Revolvers
  • Browning Hi-Powers
  • Colt M1911s

These are mostly replicas of the guns and weapons used by the British Army.

The characteristic model of Khyber Pass AK is an embossed AKM receiver in 7.62x39 caliber, equipped with the trilateral folding stock, characteristic of AKS-74 rifles in Russia.


The regional language of the pass is Pashto. However, a large number of people speak in Dari of Afghanistan and Urdu of Pakistan. A limited number of people speak English.


The closest cities and townships on the itinerary that moves across the pass are Peshawar in Pakistan and Jalalabad in Afghanistan. The Landi Kotal town is situated over the pass.

How to visit

Other than tracks which the regional inhabitants can use securely, the only path in or out is through the highway across the Khyber Pass. From the city of Peshawar to Torkham (the frontier town), you have to get a written approval from the authority concerned and tour with a sentry carrying weapons.

You can avail taxis and buses from either sides of the boundary.

Last Updated on 02 February 2011