“It’s about place. You can’t get a sense of place from a bag of sand and dry, crinkly palm leaves,’ I explained, ‘This is where it happened – this is the place, whether by choice or by happenstance.” I gazed across the smooth landscape, imagining what must have gone through the minds of those who were forced to battle in this now-peaceful farmland.
Our destination was Jalalpur Sharif, a town located about 17 miles south of the city of Jhelum. A small village along the Jhelum River, Jalalpur Sharif sits at the foothills of the dry, desolate Salt Range. The town is one of the cities that historians believe may have been close to Alexander’s Battle of the Hydaspes. It also is believed by many scholars to be built on the site of one of two cities that Alexander founded after winning the battle.
In May 326 B.C., Alexander the Great, the Macedonian-born king of Greece and the land from the Mediterranean to Central Asia, fought Porus, the raja of the land stretching from Gujrat to the Punjab, on the banks of the Hydaspes River (modern-day Jhelum River). These two accomplished generals faced-off in an epic battle for the times – a battle that nearly ended Alexander’s legendary career. We were in search of the town that was a marker for where the Battle of the Hydapses occurred. We wanted to view the land where this legendary battle unfolded, to understand this famous ancient battle in the context of the landscape where it took place.