Buddhist Sites, Pakistan
Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol:
Taxila or Takshashila university that dates back to the reign of the Kushan dynasty was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1980.The kingdom of Gandhara lasted from the 6th century BC to the 11th century AD. It attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century AD under Buddhist Kushan Kings.The existence of large number of Buddhist stupas and monasteries in Gandhara is very sacred for Buddhists and an important part of Pakistan's historic culture.Besides Taxila, other neighbouring districts of Mansehra, Swabi, Mardan, Swat, Peshawar and Khyber Agency also possess similar sites, including edicts of emperor Ashoka (304 BC-232 BC)Tourism to these sites flourished during 1990s, when a large number of scholars, pilgrims and cultural enthusiasts from across the world flocked to Pakistan.
I have uploaded one photograph of a small statue of the 'Fasting Buddha' below. This statue was discovered in the archaeological sites in the North West frontier province (NWFP).
Buddhist civilization flourished in parts of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. whereas the statues of Buddha have been desecrated in the Taliban's Afghanistan (at Bamyan), Pakistan’s SWAT Valley of NWFP (some 100 miles north of Peshawar) still boasts of several sites, especially at its southern entrance near capital Saidu Shareef. All of the sites are still intact due mainly to the peaceful nature of swat's inhabitants.
There, amongst other archaeological relics, you can still find a giant statue of fasting Buddha engraved on a rock of limestone. The nearby town of Marghazar with a royal palace also wears the same white color.
The area constituting Mardan district is a part of the Peshawar valley, which first appears in the history as part of the Gandhara kingdom. 14kM from Mardan lies the ancient ruins of Gandhara Civilization at the hills of Takht Bhai.The hills are 152-meter (500 feet) high.The monastry of Takht-i-Bahi was first mentioned by General Court, the French officer of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1836.Takht-i-Bahi is the most impressive and complete Buddhist monastery in Pakistan.
From the top of the hill behind monastery one can look down across the plains as far as Peshawar on one side and up to the Malakand Pass and the hills of Swat on the other.This site has produced fragmentary sculptures in stone and stucco that indicate the highly developed sculptural sense of their creators.
A large natural freshwater and beartiful lake, the largest in Pakistan, with extensive reed-beds, particularly in the shallow western and northern parts is a combination of two natural lakes called Sonheri and Keenjhar. Keenjhar Lake supports a very diverse flora and fauna, and is an extremely important breeding, staging and wintering area for a wide variety of waterfowl. Mid-winter waterfowl counts in the four winters 1986/87 to 1989/90 averaged 140,000 (maximum 205,000 in 1987/88). The place has been developed into a resot with boating and fishing facilities. Accommodation is available at the lake-side motel. It is two hours drive and 115 kms away from Karachi.
This monastery dates from the 1st century, and was in use till the 8th century. It lies on to of a hill, and as it was very hot that afternoon it was a very thirsty climb, but well worth, as the picture proves.
At the Jaulian site you can see the remains of some stupas and remains of a monastery.
The beautifully decorations of the stupa bases