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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Pipplan Buddhist Monastery

The approximate location of this site is 33°45'56.66"N, 72°51'57.95"E.
Piplan, the ancient Buddhist monastic establishment in Taxila that was named for the thick peepal trees of the area, is a Buddhist archaeological jewel located in a calm valley that has stayed hidden from local and foreign tourists and the public, despite its unique landscape.
The ancient site lies at the foot of the hills between Mohra Maradu and Julian, the ancient Taxila university. According to Dr Mohammad Ashraf, the former director of the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisation, the site was excavated in 1923-24, under Sir John Marshall, the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India.
Department of Archaeology and Museums Deputy Director Abdul Ghafour Lone said that later, study papers had revealed that archaeologists during the excavation had found the site belonged to two different periods.
Studies conducted by the archaeologists found that to the east is a courtyard of a monastery dating back to the late Partian or early Kushan times. It consists of an open quadrangle in the centre, with a range of cells on all four sides. Mr Lone added that in the middle of the courtyard is the basement of a square stupa.

Former archaeology department deputy director Bahadur Khan explained that the early monastery, which was constructed of diaper masonry, fell to ruin before the 5th century, and a second monastery was later constructed on the western side.
Mr Khan said that according to the research, the second monastery was constructed from heavy, semi-ashlar masonry, and was exceptionally well-preserved. The ruins of the second monastery revealed that it comprised a court of cells on the north side, with a hall of assembly, kitchen and refectory to the south and a converted stupa to the east.
The cells were built on two storeys, and as per the traditional Gandharan style of architecture, consisted of an open quadrangle with cells for monks on all four sides and a pillared veranda.
According to Mr Lone, a now dilapidated stupa in a cell was discovered in the southeast corner of the monastery. The floor of the stupa and the cell in which it stands is around 2ft below the rest of the monastery, leaving little doubt among the archaeologists and researchers that the stupa was originally built in one of the cells of the earlier, Kushan-era monastery and then incorporated into the later one.
A still intact 8ft high stupa stands in a chamber of the monastery. It was tradition to build a memorial stupa inside a cell after the prinirvana (death of a venerable monk). This stupa rises to three diminishing tires, the topmost surmounted by a dome and originally crowned by an umbrella, decorated with lotus rosettes and images of Buddha, while at the base of the dome is a series of seated Buddhas. However, due to a lack of preservation and conservation, the stupa is in shambles.
According to Mr Lone, only one excavation was carried out by British archaeologists before partition, which recovered 26 coins featuring Azes, Kadphises, Kanishka, Vasudeva and Indo-Sasanian rulers. He said the study had revealed that by the end of the 5th century, the Buddhist site met the same fate as its contemporary monastic settlements in the region, resulting in gradual decay due to human and natural agents.
Piplan has been added to the Unesco World Heritage List of the convention concerning the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage, while the Pakistani government has declared the site a ‘protected antiquity’ under the 1975 antiquities act.



Thursday, 19 April 2018


This ruined mosque appears to have been built in the Mughal period (1526-1707 AD)originally referred to as an Eid-Garh.This structure was probably built as a place for prayer to commemorations of a renowned person from the local community and it may be associated with the tomb of Baba Noor Shah Wail to the west. 

The mosque measures 12 meters north-south and may have had a rectangular shape, no indication of the roof have been found. It has five arches in the western wall which are found only in a few other early mosques generally associated with family burial structures. The mosque was constructed with reused Harappan bricks and is built on the top of a massive city wall of the Harappan period (2600-1900 B.C) that enclosed the part of the site called Mound 'AB": The Harappan city wall was constructed of mud bricks with baked bricks facing and superstructures. Conservation of the mosque began after detailed documentation of the original structure and excavation of the adjacent areas. Decayed bricks were replaced and a supporting foundation revetment was built along the existing walls. 

The preserved walls have been strengthened by re-pointing with kanker lime plaster and the arches were constructed Clay plaster has been applied over the eastern face to limit further damage to the underlying Harappan period structures until additional conservation measures can be implemented. Excavation and conservation is made by  Dr. R.H  .Meadow and Dr. J.M.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Bhir Mound

33°44'35.95"N   72°49'17.48"E
Excavations by Marshall at the Bhir mound, the earliest city, reached the natural substrate at a depth of about 5.5 meters (18 ft.) and encountered the remains of four superimposed structures. The earliest, of which little is known because of its depth and destruction by later construction activity, dates to the fifth century b. c.e. at the latest. The second was in occupation during the fourth century b. c.e. and would have witnessed the arrival of Alexander the Great. The third phase corresponds to the period of Mau-ryan control, and the last probably belongs to the period after the decline of the Mauryas and the arrival of the bac-TRIAN GREEKS in the second century b. c.e. The excavations revealed streets, lanes, and domestic houses. The quality of the stone masonry developed over time from fairly rough to a much more compact form, and the walls were covered in a mud plaster strengthened with straw.

Most of the available plans derive from the third period, the Mauryan city The layout of the streets and houses is irregular. It is evident that the main street and various squares were retained throughout the life of the city, whereas houses were leveled and rebuilt on occasion, but on the same site and often following a plan similar to that used for their predecessors. Some lanes branching off the main streets are very narrow. The drains running along the main street were to take rainwater. There was no city sewage system, but each house was equipped with a deep pit to receive human waste. Such latrines were also placed in public squares. There were several types of latrines. They have in common a deep circular well-like hole extending up to seven meters (23 ft.) into the ground. Some were filled with broken pottery shards to allow wastes to filter downward. Others were lined with ceramic rings: One of these held 14 such liners, each 65 centimeters (26 in.) wide. A third type was filled with large ceramic jars one on top of the other, each having the base removed to form one continuous tube. Large stone rubbish bins were also strategically placed in public areas, and excavations revealed broken pottery and animal bones. The houses were a series of large rooms grouped around a courtyard. windows looking onto the street were tall but very narrow. Many rooms were small, and others had a street frontage and were probably shops. One appears to have been the business of a shell worker, since Marshall found much cut shell within.

As might be expected in the excavation of so large an area of an ancient city, many artifacts were recovered. Beads had many forms, with a preference for glass, car-nelian, and agate. Other semiprecious stones included onyx, amethyst, beryl, and garnet. A remarkable hoard of 1,167 silver coins was discovered in the second city, including a silver Persian coin and two coins of Alexander the Great. Among the bronzes, particular attention is given to a third-century b. c.e. bowl made of an alloy containing 21.55 percent tin. This alloy and the shape of the vessel recall those found in the Thai cemetery of ban don TA PHET. Iron was used for weapons, particularly arrowheads, spears, and daggers; for tools such as chisels, adzes, and tongs; nails for construction purposes; and for hoes.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Apsidal Temple Sirkap

The building that is known as the Apsidal Temple is the largest sanctuary of Sirkap, measuring about 70 by 40 meters (230 by 130 ft) (by contrast: the Parthenon in Athens is 70 by 31 meters (230 by 102 ft)). The Apsidal Temple consists of a square nave with several rooms, used by the Buddhist monks, and a circular room, which gives the building its apsidal shape. After the earthquake that destroyed the city in c. 30 AD, the Buddhist shrine was built in a spacious courtyard. The round part was probably in use for a small stupa, but no traces of it remain. Some carvings were probably done by an artist from Greece

Sirkap Jain Temple

A.G. Lone, an archaeologist who discovered BC-era lamps from a Jain temple in the area during 2004 and 2005 at Sirkap. Jain temples and tirtha (pilgrimage sites) are present throughout the Indian subcontinent, many of which were built several hundred years ago

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Waris Shah Mosque Malka Hans Pakpattan

The approximate location of this site is  30°25'27.91"N,  73°16'28.92"E

Waris Shah was born in Jandiala Sher Khan, Punjab, present-day Pakistan into a reputed Sayyid family and was a descendant of Sayyid Muhammad Al-Makki through his son Sayyid Badruddin.[His father's name was Gulsher Shah. Waris's parents are said to have died when he was young. Waris acknowledged himself as a disciple of an ustad from Kasur, namely Hafiz Ghulam Murtaza from whom he received his education. 

After completing education Waris moved to Malka Hans, a village twelve kilometres north of Pakpattan. Here he resided in a small room, adjacent to a historic mosque now called Masjid Waris Shah, until his death

 interior dome view

 front elevation
waris shah Hujra(room)

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

The oldest Stupa in Indian Sub-continent

One round Stupa is present at Sirkap. It is one of the oldest Stupas in the Indian-Subcontinent. It is assumed that this Stupa was uprooted and thrown to its present location by a strong earthquake in the 1st century AD. When the new city was built later, the Stupa was kept by building a protecting wall around it.

1st Century BC Grecian Style Stupa at Sirkap Taxila

The location of the site is 33.755711' N, 72.829391' E

A special Stupa at Taxila is from first century BCE having four Corinthian columns, a quintessential Grecian style of architecture – stand tall at the Sirkap.

There is no niche and stone carving present on front platform, which made it look different from neighboring double headed eagle Stupa.  In platform at corner and along the stairs fluted posts are present. This is common feature in Greek edifices.

Taxila being destroyed three times by earth quake, the super structure of this stupa supposed to be damaged badly after 1st A.D earth quake

The remnant of four columns on platform must have been designed to support super structure.  


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Double-Headed Eagle Stupa at Sirkap Taxila

The location of the site is 33.756458' N, 72.829781' E 

The second city at Taxila is called Sirkap, which means "severed head" and is the name of a mythological demon that is said to have lived on this site. It devoured human flesh and was killed by the hero Rasalu. Sirkap was founded by the Bactrian king Demetrius, who conquered this region in the 180s BCE. The city was rebuilt by king Menander.

A special Stupa at Sirkap is the so-called 'Double-Headed Eagle Stupa'. The pilasters here are of a Greek design, "Corinthian columns". In the middle arch, a Greek temple is shown; in the outer, a shrine of a Hindu design can be seen. On top of these sanctuaries, a Double-headed eagle is seated from which the name of the Stupa has been derived. This motive is rather odd, to say the least, as it is originally Babylonian. It seems to have spread to Scythia, and introduced in the Punjab by the Saka rulers.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Kunala Stupa Taxila

33°45'2.27"N,  72°49'50.49"E
Apart from its historical, religious, cultural and legendary background, in the last 2,000 years Taxila was also famous for eye treatment.
In fact officials with the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DOAM) believe that the Christ Hospital Taxila is continuation of that old historical legendary story narrated by folk tellers.
“The Stupa of Kunala sitting 100-feet high to the south-east of Takshasila city – Taxila’s ancient name – was where the blind would come to pray, and many had their prayers answered,” said an official of DOAM.
The official said Kunala was Emperor Ashoka’s beloved son, who was heir to the Mauryan empire. While he was supposed to be the future king, he was blinded by one of Ashoka's wives, Tishyaraksha, at a young age in jealousy, the official said.
The story of Kunala was related to this magnificent Stupa on the top of Sirkap city, founded by Greeks in 2nd century BC, the official said. “He was called Kunala because his eyes were small but beautiful. He was gifted with a sweet voice. But the jealous queen manoeuvred to order that his eyes be put out. A minister hesitated to execute the order.
“When the prince came to know about the royal order, he insisted on obedience to his father's command and a hot iron was put to his eyes.
He wandered with his wife far from his father’s kingdom,” the official narrated, adding that one day Ashoka recognised his son’s voice in his court. On learning his queen’s treachery, Ashoka ordered to put
her to death and Kunala was restored to the court.
According to DOAM official, Prince Kunala’s eyesight was restored by a famous surgeon who got his education in medicine in Taxila, then famous for training and knowledge of medicines, mathematics, grammar, archery, languages, and astronomy etc.
“Archaeological remains of Kunala's Stupa do not co-relate with the story. The masonry style of this Stupa belonged to 2nd century AD whereas Kunala was appointed in Taxila in 4th century BC,” the official said.
“How it was named as Kunala Stupa was not fully confirmed and needed deeper investigation and study.
But it is a fact that Taxila was known for the best eye treatment in those days,” he said, supporting his story with several antiquities found in Taxila, which were used for eye treatment.
Such surgical instruments were on display in Taxila Museum for public.



Tuesday, 3 April 2018


Taxila is known as the cradle of Buddhist civilisation, with numerous Buddhist sites. But few know that in heart of the great Buddhist civilisation there stands a Zoroastrian temple known as the Jandial Temple.
The Temple was excavated in 1912-1913 by the Archaeological Survey of India under John Marshall. It has been called "the most Hellenic structure yet found on Indian soil
The Jandial temple dates back to 1st century BC, standing on an artificial mound, north of Sirkap City.
The resemblance of this temple to classical Greek temples is striking. The structure of the temple is in limestone and kanjur with plaster on the fa├žade, patches of which are still intact. Kanjur is a porous form of sedimentary stone, used in Gandhara. Some large columns and pillars are constructed with massive blocks of sandstone.
Built in the Scythio-Parthian period, this is believed to be the temple described by Philostratus in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana. According to A.G Lone, a former curator of Taxila Museum, Philostratus may have spoken of this temple when he says “They saw, a temple in front of the wall, about 100 feet in length and built of shell like stone. There were brazen tablets on which were portrayed the deeds of Porus and Alexander”.
Behind the main building is a set of stairs that leads to a platform where a Parthian fire Sanctuary probably existed in the 1st century BC.
Late veteran scholar and historian A.H. Dani, in his book ‘History of Civilisations of Central Asia’ notes that “the remains of a Zoroastrian fire temple were shown from Jandial, said to have been built by the Indo-Parthians”.
Mahmoodul Hasan Shah, assistant director in the federal directorate-general of archaeology and museums, quoting Dr A.H. Dani, said: “The Jandial temple was found at the same place where Alexander the Great erected his tent.”
He said that the Greek rulers of Taxila performed religious ceremonies of their own faith at this temple.
The Temple may have been built in the 2nd century BCE under the Greeks in India (Indo-Greeks). The exact alignment of the Temple with Sirkap leads some authors to think that it may have been built during the main occupation period of the Greek city, and that it may have been the work of an architect from Asia Minor, or from Greece or an architect trained in Greek techniques.
Alternatively, it may have been built under the Indo-Parthians in the 1st century BCE in order to practice the Zoroastrian faith, possibly right after their invasion of Hellenistic lands, using Greek manpower and expertise. Alternatively, it may be the construction of a Greek devotee of Zoroastriasm, at it known that in India the Greeks easily followed other faith, as examplified by the dedication to Garuda made by a Greek envoy on the Heliodorus pillar in Besnagar.
A coin of the Indo-Scythian ruler Azes I was found in the rubbles of the Temple, which may suggest that construction occurred during his reign.
The Jandial Temple may have been the one visited by Appollonius of Tyana during his visit of the subcontinent in the 1st century CE.
"Taxila, they tell us, is about as big as Nineveh, and was fortified fairly well after the manner of Greek cities; and here was the royal residence of the personage who then ruled the empire of Porus. And they saw a Temple, in front of the wall, which was not far short of 100 feet in size, made of stone covered with stucco, and there was constructed within it a shrine, somewhat small as compared with the great size of the Temple which is surrounded with columns, but deserving of notice. For bronze tablets were nailed into each of its walls on which were engraved the exploits of Porus and Alexander."

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Bhamala Stupa

Largest ‘death of Buddha’ statue and first double halo statue found in Gandhara


Bhamala Stupa is a ruined Buddhist stupa and National Heritage Site near HaripurPakistan. The Stupa is different from other stupas found in Gandhara. The ruins date back to the 4th century CE. The ruins are situated very near to the Khanpur Dam. The stupa is cross shaped and looks like an Aztec Pyramid. Bhamala stupa is an archaeological site and is also known as Bhamala Buddhist Complex.

Sir John Marshal first excavated the site in the late 1920s and early 1930s but The site was never studied in depth again. It is nominated at UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The nomination lead to the restoration of the ruins (mainly the Stupa). The site , as of June 2015, is under the control of Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Government of Pakistan. The site is believed to be one of the best preserved sites in the Taxila Valley

According to the current understandings, the shape of main stupa is cruciform and it is the biggest surviving example of this shape in Taxila and Gandhara region. There are about nineteen but small votive stupas in courtyard surrounding the main stupa

According to archaeologists this discovery is the largest statue ever found in Gandhara depicting the death of Buddha as well as a ‘double-halo’ Buddha statue, the first of its kind to have been found at the Bhamala Stupa site.
The rare discovery was made during excavations at the Buddhist stupa and monastery dating back to 4th century AD.
According to Dr Abdul Samad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa director, Department of Archaeology and Museums,  this latest discoveries by the archaeologists have opened new chapters in the history of the ancient Taxila valley civilisation.
“This is one of the few sites in the world to have the cruciform Stupa which was reserved for Buddha himself.”
The death of the Buddha scene is known as ‘Maha Pari Nirvana’. The statue depicting the scene, measures 14 metres in length, and is the largest ever statue of its kind found in the archaeological history of Gandhara civilisation. The image is placed on a 15 metre long platform.
Buddha’s head is missing as the site appears to have been targeted by illegal treasure hunters.
“Other parts of the statue such as the left leg and arms were also found in a damaged condition,” he said.
Other images in terracotta have been found near the Par Nirvana scene. Pari Nirvana scene was exposed from a long chamber to the west of the main Stupa facing towards east. He added that access to this chamber is given through three openings at regular intervals. The chamber is made of stone in semi ashlars masonry. This statue of Buddha with double halos was unique and such a statue had never been found at this site. In the past statues, heads of Buddha statues and coins from the Kushan period had been found at the site.
“In the first leg of this excavation, archaeologists have opened a new chapter in the archaeological history of the Taxila valley. Through the recent discoveries, it has been confirmed that the site dates back to 3rd century CE. Recently discovered Buddha heads are made in baked soil which dates to the third century, rejecting archaeologist John Marshal’s claim from 1930 that the site was from 12th century CE.”
During this leg of excavations, other relics such as a carnelian seal depicting what appears to be the Gaja Lakshmi deity, one of the forms of Hindu goddess Ashta Lakshmi have been discovered. Other relics with Kashmiri influence have added new dimensions to what we know about these ancient civilizations. Several terracotta and stucco Buddha statues and copper coins were discovered at this site which date back to the Kidara-Kushan period (4 to 5 CE). This indicates that Bhamala was not isolated from main Taxila. Material found in Bhamala could improve our understanding of Buddhist culture, development and contact in this region.
The success of the Bhamala Stupa study would also encourage other archaeologists to come to Pakistan.
The Bhamala complex was different from other sites in Taxila valley.
The stupa, shaped like a cross, resembles Aztec Pyramids and such constructions had only been found in Kashmir, in the past. Main stupa was cruciform and there were about 19 small votive stupas in the courtyard surrounding the main stupa.
During the recent excavation, a total of 510 relics were discovered, which included terracotta, stucco sculptures as well as iron objects including nails, hooks, door fittings, hair clips, copper artifacts and 14 coins from the late Kushan period.

 main stupa i 

main stupa is cruciform 
Buddhist  monastery
 Buddhist  monastery

 double-halo’ Buddha statue, 
 main stupa is cruciform 
main stupa is cruciform 
main stupa is cruciform