Buner: A tract of country on the north-east border of Peshawar District, North-West Frontier Province. Its boundaries are on the north with Swat Kohistan, on the west with Swat and Sam Ranizai, on the south are dependent tribes and Peshawar District, towards its east is the Black Mountain and Hazara District. Political control is exercised by the Deputy Commissioner of Peshawar through the Assistant Commissioner at Mardan. Buner comprises the basin of the Barandu River, which joins the Indus near Amb. The main valley of the Barandu is about 10 miles broad, well-cultivated, and level; and though the side valleys are narrower and less fertile, they are better wooded. The aloofness of the inhabitants, arising from the fact that no trade arteries pierce the country, is very marked. They are, however, recognized by the clans who live between Buner and Peshawar District, such as the Gaduns, Salarzai, Khudu Khel, &c., as the head of their confederacy.
…Buner with the neighboring countries was included in the ancient kingdom of Udhyana, and abounds in archaeological remains of great interest, which date from the Buddhist era. The places most interesting from an archaeological view in Buner, or in the territory of tribes dependent on it, are Mahaban, Banj, Asgram, Panjkotai, Gumbatai, and Girarai. Mahaban has been conjecturally identified with Aornos, the rock besieged by Alexander; but the latest view, that of Dr. Stein, who visited Mahaban under tribal escort in 1904, is that the topography of Aornos is inapplicable to Mahaban, and that the real Aornos, if there be such a place, must be sought elsewhere.
In the same tour Banj was examined; and the suggestion has been made that it is the famous place of Buddhist pilgrimage, at which a shrine was built to commemorate the offering of his body by the Buddha to feed a starving tigress. The buildings described by the Chinese pilgrims are now completely in ruins and all sculptures have been removed. The ruins at Asgram are of some interest, and the place has been identified with the Asigramma of Ptolemy. Buner proper was traversed by Dr. Stein in January, 1898, with the force dispatched for the punishment of the Bunerwals. In the report then published, reasons were set forth for the identification of Panjkotai with the site of the famous Mahawana monastery described by the Chinese pilgrims, of Gumbatai (Tursak) with the Mosu monastery and shrine, and of Girarai with the shrine commemorating Buddha’s ransoming of a dove, also a place of pilgrimage.
Reference: Imperial Gazetteer of India, Provincial Series, North West Frontier Province, Superintendent of Government Printing Press, Calcutta, 1908, Pages 223-224.