The Khyber Pass (Pashto: د خيبر دره, romanized: De Xēber Dara, lit.'Valley of Khyber' [d̪ə xebər d̪ara]) is a mountain pass in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, on the border with the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. It connects the town of Landi Kotal to the Valley of Peshawar at Jamrud by traversing part of the White Mountains. Since it was part of the ancient Silk Road, it has been a vital trade route between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent and a strategic military choke point for various states that controlled it. The Khyber Pass is considered one of the most famous mountain passes in the world.[1]

Khyber Pass
د خیبر درہ (Pashto)
درۂ خیبر (Urdu)
تنگه خیبر (Dari)
The pass connects Landi Kotal to the Valley of Peshawar.
Elevation1,070 m (3,510 ft)
Traversed byPakistan N-5.svgN-5 National Highway; Khyber Pass Railway
LocationBetween Landi Kotal and Jamrud
RangeWhite Mountains (Spīn Ghar, Safēd Kōh)
Coordinates34°04′33″N 71°12′14″E / 34.07570°N 71.20394°E / 34.07570; 71.20394
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu) تنگه خیبر (Dari) is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu) تنگه خیبر (Dari)
Location of Khyber Pass
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu) تنگه خیبر (Dari) is located in Pakistan
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu) تنگه خیبر (Dari)
Khyber Pass
د خیبر درہ (Pashto)
درۂ خیبر (Urdu)
تنگه خیبر (Dari) (Pakistan)
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu) تنگه خیبر (Dari) is located in Afghanistan
Khyber Pass د خیبر درہ (Pashto) درۂ خیبر (Urdu) تنگه خیبر (Dari)
Khyber Pass
د خیبر درہ (Pashto)
درۂ خیبر (Urdu)
تنگه خیبر (Dari) (Afghanistan)


The Khyber Pass with the fortress of Ali Masjid in 1848

The Khyber Pass runs through a range of arid hills forming the last spurs of the Spīn Ghar Range, and is characterized by a winding gorge flanked by shale and limestone cliffs that rise up to 600-1000 feet (180-300 meters) high.[2]

The pass is threaded by a caravan track and a hard-surface road. The highest point in the pass is Landi Kotal, which is an important market center.[3]


During the times of Indus Valley civilisation (3300 BCE – 1700 BCE) the Khyber Pass through Hindu Kush provided a route to other neighbouring empires and was used by merchants on trade excursions.[4] From 1500 BCE, Indo-Iranian peoples started to enter in the region from Central Asia after having passed the Khyber Pass.[5][6]

Historical invasions of the Indian subcontinent from Central Asia have been predominantly through the Khyber Pass, including those of Scythians, Parthians, Kushans, Huns, Turks, and Mongols.

Prior to the Kushan era, the Khyber Pass was not a widely used trade route.[7] The Khyber Pass became a critical part of the Silk Road, a major trade route from East Asia to Europe.[8][9] Through the Khyber Pass, Gandhara (in present-day Pakistan) became a regional center of trade connecting Central and South Asia.[10]: 74 

The Sikhs under Ranjit Singh captured the Khyber Pass in 1834. The Sikh general Hari Singh Nalwa, who manned the Khyber Pass for years, became a household name in Afghanistan.[10]: 186 [11] A common phrase at the time described the length of what was then India as "Khyber to Kanyakumari".[12]

For strategic reasons, after the First World War, the government of British India built a heavily engineered railway through the Pass. The Khyber Pass Railway, from Jamrud, near Peshawar, to the Afghan border near Landi Kotal was opened in 1925.

During World War II, concrete dragon's teeth were erected on the valley floor due to British fears of a German tank invasion of India.[13]

Bab-e-Khyber, the entrance gate of the Khyber Pass

Current conflictsEdit

The pass was serviced by the Khyber Pass Railway, currently closed.

During the War in Afghanistan, the Khyber Pass was a major route for resupplying military armament and food to NATO forces in the Afghan theater of conflict since the US started the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Almost 80 percent of the NATO and US supplies that were brought in by road were transported through the Khyber Pass. It was also used to transport civilians from the Afghan side to the Pakistani one.

In January 2009, Pakistan sealed off the bridge as part of a military offensive against Taliban guerrillas. This military operation was mainly focused on Jamrud, a district on the Khyber road. The target was to “dynamite or bulldoze homes belonging to men suspected of harboring or supporting Taliban militants or carrying out other illegal activities”.[14]

This increasingly unstable situation in northwest Pakistan made the US and NATO broaden supply routes through Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan). Even the option of supplying material through the Iranian far southeastern port of Chabahar was considered.[15]

In 2010, the already complicated relationship with Pakistan (always accused by the US of hosting the Taliban in this border area without reporting it) became tougher after the NATO forces, under the pretext of mitigating the Taliban's power over this area, executed an attack with drones over the Durand line, passing the frontier of Afghanistan and killing three Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan answered by closing the pass on 30 September which caused a convoy of several NATO trucks to queue at the closed border.[16] This convoy was attacked by extremists apparently linked to Al Qaida which caused the destruction of more than 29 oil tankers and trucks and the killing of several soldiers.[17] NATO chief members had to issue a formal apology to the Pakistani government so the supply traffic at this pass could be restored.[citation needed]

In August 2011, the activity at the Khyber pass was again halted by the Khyber Agency administration due to the more possible attacks of the insurgency over the NATO forces, which had suffered a period of large number of assaults over the trucks heading to supply the NATO and ISAF coalitions all over the frontier line.[18] This instability made the Pakistan Oil Tanker Owners Association demand more protection from the Pakistani and US government threatening not to supply fuel for the Afghan side.[citation needed]


Cultural referencesEdit

A number of locations around the world have been named after the Khyber Pass:

Other references include the following:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wright, Colin. "Maliks of Khyber Pass". Retrieved 2023-03-07.
  2. ^ Arnold, Guy (2000). World Strategic Highways. Taylor & Francis. p. 214. ISBN 978-1-57958-098-8.
  3. ^ Alter, Stephen (2001). Amritsar to Lahore: A Journey Across the India-Pakistan Border. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-8122-1743-8.
  4. ^ (Princeton Roadmap to Regents, p. 80)
  5. ^ Mohiuddin, Yasmeen (2007). Pakistan: A Global Studies Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 36. ISBN 9781851098019.
  6. ^ Cite error: The named reference humshehri.org2 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ Tarn, William Woodthorpe (2010). The Greeks in Bactria and India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108009416. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  8. ^ Insight Guides Silk Road. Apa Publications (UK) Limited. 2017. p. 424. ISBN 9781786716996.
  9. ^ Arnold, Guy (2014). World Strategic Highways. Routledge. p. 12. ISBN 9781135933739.
  10. ^ a b The Khyber Pass: A History of Empire and Invasion. Union Square Press. 2008. ISBN 978-1-4027-5696-2.
  11. ^ Nalwa, Vanit (2009). Hari Singh Nalwa, "champion of the Khalsaji" (1791-1837). New Delhi: Manohar. pp. 318–. ISBN 978-81-7304-785-5.
  12. ^ a b Rajghatta, Chidanand (27 June 2017). "Attock to Cuttack, PM Narendra Modi causes a stir". The Economic Times. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Introducing The Khyber Pass". 2009-03-24. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  14. ^ Oppel Jr, Richard A. (2 January 2009). "Pakistan Briefly Reopens Key NATO Supply Route". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 May 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  15. ^ "Pakistan and Afghanistan". Institute for the Study of War. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  16. ^ "Pakistan Reopens Khyber Pass To US/NATO". Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  17. ^ Karin Brulliard (October 9, 2010). "Pakistan reopens border to NATO supply trucks". Washington Post Foreign Service. Archived from the original on 9 February 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  18. ^ Ahmad Nabi (August 17, 2011). "Nato supplies via Khyber Pass halted due to security". Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  19. ^ "Khyber Pass Trail at Mugdock Park". Trailforks. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  20. ^ Khyber Pass Map Archived 2011-10-30 at the Wayback Machine. (2013-03-01). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  21. ^ "Khyber Pass Delhi". Google Maps. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  22. ^ "MGF City , Khyber Pass , North Delhi". Archived from the original on 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
  23. ^ "East's Eden". Kingston upon Hull City Council. September 2002. Archived from the original on 2013-05-17.
  24. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1001519)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  25. ^ McNally, Frank (20 February 2013). "An Irishman's Diary". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  26. ^ "OpenStreetMap". OpenStreetMap. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  27. ^ "New subway to replace Kings Cross "Khyber Pass"". This Is Local London.
  28. ^ a b National Geographic Society (2011-11-21). "The Khyber Pass". National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2019-08-07. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  29. ^ "The Ballad of East and West". Archived from the original on 2019-08-22. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  30. ^ "Where was 'Ghosted' filmed? All 'Ghosted' filming locations". Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  31. ^ "Where was Ghosted filmed?". Retrieved 2023-04-27.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit