Discovering Pakistan

5, 000 years of Civilization & Culture

Invasion of India by Alexander the Great

Alexander of Macedon, after conquering all of present-day Turkey, Egypt, the Eastern Mediterranean, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, set his sights on what the Greeks considered the frontier of the known world – northwest India, or modern Pakistan.  He crossed the Khyber Pass around 327 BCE, fought mercilessly with the “warlike” Pashtun tribes of Bajaur and Swat, enjoyed the hospitality of the king of Taxila, and engaged in one of the most epic battles of his career with the Punjabi king Raja Paurava (Porus) at the Jhelum River, before sailing down the Indus via Multan and Uchh and returning west.

The tales of Alexander’s exploits in India have been recorded by many Greek and Roman historians of the Classical Period. Though these accounts tend to be one-sided, they portray the first substantial (albeit violent) contact between the people of Europe and the Indian subcontinent. Vestiges of Greek culture in the lands conquered by Alexander can be seen to this day in modern Pakistan.

Map of Alexander's march through Pakistan

Map of Alexander’s march through Pakistan

Below are excerpts from J.W. McCrindle’s “Invasion of India by Alexander the Great, as described by Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus, Plutarch and Justin”.

A Description of India

Curtius Rufus, History of Alexander the Great (1st century CE)

Alexander breaks a peace treaty at Massaga and captures Aornos

Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica (1st century BCE)

[Massaga was a town in Swat Valley, possibly modern Chakdara. Aornos, also in Swat, was the site of Alexander’s last siege, and has been identified as the  mountain Pir-Sar by archaeologist Aurel Stein]

Alexander arrives in Taxila, defeats and then befriends King Porus (Raja Paurava) at the Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum),  and mourns the death of his horse Boukephala

Arrian,  Anabasis (2nd century CE)

Account of Battle with Porus, as described by Alexander in his letters

Plutarch, Life of Alexander (1st century CE)

Alexander destroys the city of Sangala (Sialkot), and watches a dog & lion fight in the kingdom of King Sophites

Curtius Rufus, History of Alexander the Great (1st century CE)

Alexander is seriously wounded at the capital of the Malloi tribe (Multan); Alexander interviews the Gymnosophists (“Naked Philosophers”) of Taxila

Plutarch, Plutarch, Life of Alexander (1st century CE)

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