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- Peshawar was the first city that Mahmud selected for the maiden expedition of his holy war against Hind in 1001. This ancient city originally named Purushapura (City of Men), invaluable in the geostrategic realm as the gateway to the historic Khyber Pass, would get a taste of renewed savagery that paled in comparison to its long-forgotten destruction at the hands of the Huns. Purushapura was perhaps the most pre-eminent city of the Gandhara region and retained its fame for nearly half a millennium. The general region was Vaēkərəta, or Gandhara, the sixth (or seventh) most beautiful city on earth created by Ahura Mazda18 himself. It was the crown jewel of Bactria and held sway over Takshashila, perhaps the greatest university town of the ancient world. During the pre-Mauryan period, it was the western capital of the Gandhara Mahajanapada. After Alexander’s death, his successor, Seleucus Nicator, ceded it to Chandragupta Maurya who further enhanced its prestige. It later became the capital of the Kushan Empire with its magnificent Buddhist stupa built by Kanishka. At its zenith, the vibrant Purushapura was an awesome cultural amalgam pulsating with excellence in art, sculpture, architecture and philosophy. Archaeological excavations and extant coinage of the period reveal a picture of an extraordinary cultural and artistic fusion of Hindu, Buddhist and Hellenistic schools. Purushapura was also perhaps the most important centre of the Gandhara School of Art.
- Sandeep Balakrishna - Invaders and Infidels_ From Sindh to Delhi_ The 500-Year Journey of Islamic Invasions. Bloomsbury India (2020)