Gandhāra was an ancient region in the Peshawar basin in the far north-west of the ancient Indian subcontinent, corresponding to present-day north-west Pakistan and north-east Afghanistan. The center of the region was at the confluence of the Kabul and Swat rivers, bounded by the Suleiman Mountains on the west and the Indus River on the east. The Safed Koh mountains separated it from the Kohat region to the south. This being the core area of Gandhara, the cultural influence of “Greater Gandhara” extended across the Indus river to the Taxila region and westwards into the Kabul and Bamiyan valleys in Afghanistan, and northwards up to the Karakoram range.During the Achaemenid period and Hellenistic period, its capital city was Pushkalavati Later the capital city was moved to Peshawar by the Kushan emperor Kanishka the Great in about 127 AD.
Gandhara’s existence is attested since the time of the Rigveda (c. 1500 – c. 1200 BC), as well as the Zoroastrian Avesta, which mentions it as Vaēkərəta, the sixth most beautiful place on earth created by Ahura Mazda. Gandhara was one of sixteen mahajanapadas (large conglomerations of urban and rural areas) of ancient India mentioned in Buddhist sources such as Anguttara Nikaya. Gandhara was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC. Conquered by Alexander the Great in 327 BC, it subsequently became part of the Maurya Empire and then the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The region was a major centre for Greco-Buddhism under the Indo-Greeks and Gandharan Buddhism under later dynasties. It was also a central location for the spread of Buddhism to Central Asia and East Asia. It was also a center of Hinduism.