Peshawar is one of the historical city of Pakistan and has many historical and worth visiting places. An old portion of this city is known as walled city. This old portion of the city has an area in it named as “Sethi Mohalla”. This mohalla once consisted over two dozen houses but today around one dozen of original houses including Sethi house can be found here. Sethi houses are the unique architectural masterpieces of this walled city of Peshawar that are the blend art and architecture of Central Asia and Gandhara. Haji Ahmed Gul built the first one of them in 1882.
Sethi mohalla was the enclave of Sethis and was named after them, Sethi that means wealthy. All the Sethis living here were rich traders and businessmen. They established their businesses at China, Afghanistan, India, Iran and Central Asia and their trade centers were at Tahkent, Samarqand, Bukhara, Mazar Shareef and other cities of Central Asia. The owners of these houses were famous for their wealth and love for architecture. Sethi family was not only wealthy but they were generous and were involved in the welfare work of Peshawar. They constructed many wells for poor, along with Islamia College mosque and Lady Reading Hospital.
The design of these houses was inspired by the Bukhara’s vernacular architecture. In each of these houses a two basement rooms locally known as tehkhana, upper story, big halls known as dalaan and chinikhana the room where on chimneypieces art and decoration pieces are displayed and fountains can be found. Mirror work was done on the walls and the ceilings were painted for decoration. Combination of woodwork and bricks was used in the building structure and wooden doors and balconies with the carved work on them were used.
The government of NWFP has purchased one of these houses that includes tow portaion one constructed for men and other for women. This house includes twelve rooms, four basements and a fountain. Ceilings have geometrical designs made of colorful glass. Walls were designed with the impressive woodwork. To take sunshine in winters is known as takht-e-Suailmani is a big resting place that is made of wood. Slanting window-shades, wooden cupboards on walls and stairs and chimneys constructed with the red bricks with wooden frames are some beautiful and high up features of the house.
People who lived here were known as Sethi but by sect they were Aroras not Sethis. In 1971, during the Russian Revolution the downfall of Sethis started by the setback of their business that they could never recovered and forced to return to Peshawar leaving the Central Asia.