Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rawalpindi - Taxila, Part 2

Tour date: July 2010

I wish to touch a little bit on the ancient city of Taxila in part 2 of 2 of my tour. Taxila illustrates a different stages in the city developments on the Indus that was mostly influenced by Persia, Greece and Central Asia. The city became an important Buddhist centre of learning from the 5th century BC to the 2nd century AD.  

July was a hot summer month in Pakistan and the heat can easily be felt in Rawalpindi. Lucky for us that the car can be parked so near to the ruin site. The archaeological sites provides seat for the tourist to rest and hide from the hot summer sun under the shades of trees within the compound. Nominal entrance fee was paid when we visited the museum. 

Taxila is a vast ruin complex which includes a Mesolithic cave, 4 settlement sites namely, Saraidala, Bhir, Sirkap and sirsukh, a number of Buddhist monasteries of various periods and the Muslim mosque and madrasas of the medieval period. Below photo was taken with the driver who was kind enough to carry my backpack at 1 of the Buddhist monastery.

Taxila is one of the important archaeological sites in Pakistan. 18 of its sites are on UNESCO World Heritage list. The city dates back to the ancient Gandharan city of Takshashila, an important Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist center of learning. The Buddhism travelled to the far east from this region. The Persians, Greeks under Alexander the Great, Central Asians (Tamerlane the Great and his descendants) and Hindus (Asoka) all subsequently left their mark in their attempt to conquer the world.

I was trying a meditation post by those ancient Buddha disciples on their meditation trees in below photo. Though it's hot, a strong wind on that day added pleasure and comfort to our long walks. 

A closer view inside the ruin Jaulian monastery.

The main ruins of Taxila are divided into 3 major cities, each belonging to a distinct time period. The oldest is the "Hathial" area dated between 6th century BC to the late 2nd millennium BC. The second city is located at Sirkap and was built by Greco Bactrian kings in the 2nd century BC. The last city of Taxila is at Sirsukh which relates to the Kushan Kings.  

In addition to the ruins city, a number of a Buddhist monasteries and stupas also belong to the Taxila area. Some of the important ruins of this category include the ruins of the stupa at Dharmarajika, built by Maurya emperor, Asoka. According to local custom, bone and tooth fragments from the Buddha were buried. This monastery also possessed a Greek style statue of Aphrodite which was unearthed. 

After a visit to Dharmarajika, we also visited the monastery at Jaulian, the monastery at Mohra Muradu in addition to a number of stupas. 

There is little shade at Taxila and may be very hot depending on the month of your arrival. Hence, bring water, a hat and a sunblock to cover yourself from the heat stroke. However, some spots is rich in greenery with fountains. 

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