The Sulaiman Mountains (کوہ سلیمان) and Pashtuns


In Dera Ismail Khan, the highest peak of the Sulaiman mountains range (کوہ سلیمان) is known as Takht-i-Sulaiman at 3,487 metres (11,440 ft). In Balochistan, its highest peak is Zarghun Ghar at 3,578 metres (11,739 ft) near Quetta city. Takht-i-Sulaiman is situated in the territory of Sheranis, near Darazinda village. Legend has it that at Darazinda or ‘Dar-i-zindan” which literally means prison-house, were imprisoned the restive genii, at the orders of King Solomon, after whom Suleiman Mountains range and Takht-i-Sulaiman (height 11,070 feet) are named [1]. Prophet Sulieman, who, as the story goes, once came to Hindustan to marry a lady named Balkis. While returning from India with his bride in a flying throne, the lady requested Sulaiman to stop for awhile, to enable her to take a last fond look at her native land. Thereupon the throne alighted on this peak, which has ever since borne the name of Takht-i-Sulaiman, or Solomon’s Throne.

Koh-i-Sulaiman is known as ‘Kasaey Ghar (کسې غر) among Pashtuns.

The Sulaimanis (سلیمانی) of Sulaiman Mountains

The Suleiman mountains range was generally thought to be the cradle of the Pashtun race and it is supposed that their eponymous ancestor is buried on the Takht-i-Sulaiman. Sulaiman mountains range was highly associated with Pashtun people in medieval times. Pashtuns were sometimes referred to as Sulaimani in India, for example Qasim Sulaimani (a 16th century Pashtun saint belonging to Khalil tribe) and Khwaja Hasan Sulaimani (a 13th century Pashtun saint belonging to Dawi tribe). Arabs almost always referred to them as Sulaimani in the past. Ahmad Shah Durrani had constructed a serai in Mecca for Pashtun pilgrimages in 18th which was known as Rabat al-Sulaimani (the serai of the Sulaimanis) among local Arabs (it was demolished by Saudis in 20th century). Reportedly, Arabs call Pashtuns Sulaimani to this day. The “Census of India” (1911) by British states:

“There is one another name by which the Afghans are known — Sulaimani. It is derived from their home round the Takht-i-Sulaiman, and is that still employed by the Arabs, among the whom the proverb is current ,”Thou art a Suleimani – therefore a thief”. [2]

A Pashtun king residing on the Sulaiman Mountains range in the early 14th century

Sulaiman mountains was seat of some one in early 14th century who was reputed to be the king of Afghans (Pashtuns). Moroccan Travelar Ibn-i-Batuta ( 1304 – 1368) notes;

“.. Their (Afghans’) principal mountain is called Koh-i-Sulaiman. It is related that the Prophet of God Sulaiman (peace be upon him) climbed this mountain and looked out over the land of India, which was [then] covered with darkness, but returned without entering it, so the mountain was named after him. It is in this mountain that the king of Afghan resides” [3]

The Sulaiman Mountains had the reputation of being the ‘true Afghanistan’ in the past

During the reign of Timur Shah Durrani, an Indian visited Pakhtunkhwa and collected information about it for the British East India Company. About Koh-i-Sulaiman or Kasaey-Ghar he writes:

“West of the town of Chaudhwan rises that lofty peak of the Koh-i-Sulaiman or Koh-i-Siyah, called the Takht-i-Sulaiman, giving name to the whole of the stupendous range. The Afghans style it Kesah Ghar, and Kasi Ghar, and also Shu-al. It is a very lofty mountain, and on the summit of it is the place of pilgrimage, known to the Afghan people as the Ziarat of the Patriarch, Sulaiman. It shows itself from an immense distance, and its summit is generally clothed with snow”. 

From the town of Chaudhwan to the Ziarat of Hazrat Sulaiman, on its summit, is a distance of twenty-five kuroh, and the way thither is well known. This great range of mountains intervenes between Kandahar and the Derajat, extending lengthways from the Darah of Khyber and Jalalabad on the north, to Siwi and Dadar on the south, a distance of three hundred kuroh, and in breadth, including its offshoots, one hundred kuroh. Within these limits, forming an extensive territory, there are numerous darahs and plateaus; and it was herein, but specially in into the vicinity of, and around Kasi Ghar, or Shu-al, that the Afghan tribes, according to their traditions, first took up their abode, and subsequently spread out in all directions.

The limits above-mentioned constitute the true Afghanistan; and it is to this tract, and to no other, that the earlier Musalman chroniclers refer under that name.” [4]

The first Europeans who reached the ziarat at Takht-i-Sulaiman

In 1891 two British officers Major Maclvor and Captain A.H.McMahon reached the famous ziarat at the peak of the Takht-i-Suliman and gave the following account of their adventure ;

“We found ourselves on June 28, 1891, at the Pezai spring, on the western slopes of the range — the highest point at which spring water on that side is obtainable. At dawn on the 29th we commenced the actual ascent, and by the evening, after a hard day’s climb, reached the crest-line at the point where the famous shrine is situated. Here we found a couple of rough stone hut shelters erected by pilgrims, in which former visitors had each in turn left cooking-vessels and supplies of flour and rice for the use of them who might come after them. The actual shrine was close by, and within a few yards, but far from a pleasant place to get at. The face of the mountain at this point on the eastern side is a sheer precipice of many thousands of feet. The shrine is some 20 feet down below the edge of the precipice, and consists of a small ledge of rock about 4½ feet long by 3 feet wide, with a slight artificial parapet of rocks on the outer sides, about a foot in height. It is reached by four foot-holes cut or worn away in the rock. The hand and foot-hold is good, but the edge of the precipice appears slightly to overhang the little ledge below, and the sensation therefore experienced in going down or coming up over the edge of the precipice is only equalled by that of seeing some one else do so. All pilgrims apparently do not enter this shrine, but content themselves with looking down into it from above. Those who do descend have a small token in the form of a small piece of stick, which they fix into the interstices of the little rock parapet. Both of us descended, and left our stick tokens. The look down into space from this little ledge does not tempt one to make a very long stay there. 

The crest of the mountain at the shrine is not the highest point, which is at one of the three knob-like peaks at the south end of the crest. These we determined to ascend, if possible, next day, notwithstanding the assurances of our native guides that these peaks were quite inaccessible. After a cold night on the crest, on the ground, where some snow was still lying in patches, we commenced a bard day’s work. Each of the three peaks before us was separated from the place in which we were and from each other by precipitous gaps in the crest-line, and the ascent certainly did not appear hopeful. Without describing the many adventures of the day, it will suffice to say that we both succeeded in reaching the tops of all three peaks, and also, I am glad to say, in discovering a possible way down again—a matter which at one time appeared somewhat doubtful.

This is the first occasion on which Europeans have reached either the shrine or the summit of the peak of the Takht-i-Suliman. No one has, as far as I know, gone up to ether place since. “[5]


1- Indus, Volume-11, Page-15
2- Census of India, Vol-V, p-98
3- “The Travels of Ibn Battuta”, Volume 3, p-590
4- Notes on Afghanistan, by Raverty, p-329
5- The Geographical Journal, Volume 4, Issues 2-6, p-486

Sulaiman mountains
View of Takht-i-Suliman mountain with part of the Lohani Camp at Daraband, 1836. Painting by G.T.Vigne.
Ziarat on the Takht-i-Sulaiman, 1909.
Sulaiman mountains
Takht-i-Sulaiman. Photo courtesy: Zarak Mandokhail
کوہ سلیمان
People offering prayers at the Takht-i-Sulaiman (FR Dera Ismail Khan)


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1 thought on “The Sulaiman Mountains (کوہ سلیمان) and Pashtuns”

  1. Dr Wiqar Shah Kakakhel can only be saying it for either of the two reasons.
    a. His detestation of the Jews. So if he accepts Qassay Ghar and Qais Abdur Rashid to this location; he will find it difficult for him to deny his Bani Isreali ancestry.
    b. to disagree with the commonly believed old history as kicking up controversies has proved to be the easiest way to fame.
    Both ways he is trying to do what even God has not done so far; i.e. change the past.


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