ARFA KARIM PRIDE OF PAKISTAN

Thursday, January 14, 2010

SKARDU PAKISTAN


SKARDU PAKISTAN




Skardu Town as seen from the Skardu Fort

Skardu land of Saka people, is the principal town of the region Baltistan and the capital of Skardu District, one of the districts making up Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan.

Skardu is located in the 10 km wide by 40km long SkarduValley, at the confluence of theIndus river (flowing from near Kailash in Tibet and through neighbouring Ladakh before reaching Baltistan) and theShigar River. Skardu is situated at an altitude of nearly 2,500 m (8,200 feet). The town is surrounded by grey-brown coloured mountains, which hide the 8,000 metre peaks of the nearby Karakoram range.

Tourism, trekking and mountain expedition base

Skardu, along with Gilgit, are the two major tourism, trekking and expedition hubs in the Northern Areas. The mountainous terrain of the region, including four of the world's fourteen Eight-thousander peaks (8,000m and above), attracts the attention of tourists, trekkers and mountaineers from around the world. The main tourist season is from April to October; outside this time, the area can be cut off for extended periods by the snowy, freezing winter weather.

Accessible from Skardu by road, the nearby Askole and Hushe Valleys are the main gateways to the snow covered 8,000 m peaks including K2, the Gasherbrums, Broad Peak and the Trango Towers, and also to the huge glaciers of Baltoro, Biafo and Trango. This makes Skardu the main tourist and mountaineering base in the area, which has led to the development of a reasonably extensive tourist infrastructure including shops and hotels. However, the popularity of the region results in high prices, especially during the main trekking season.

Treks to the Deosai Plains, the second highest in the world (at 4,100 m or 13,500 feet) after the Chang Tang in Tibet, either start from or end at Skardu. In local Balti language, Deosai is called Byarsa, meaning 'summer place'. With an area of approximately 3,000 square kilometres, the plains extend all the way to Ladakh and provide habitat for snow leopards, ibex, Tibetan brown bears and wild horses.

SATPARA DAM PROJECT:- is a project inagaurated in 2002 and to be completed by december 2010. It is 7 kms away from skardu city and its altitude is 8,700 feet moreover it will also pond the water about 90,000 acre feet. The main source of water is melting ice of DEOSAI PLANES during summer season. It is multipurpose project, which produce 13 Megawatt hydel generation, irrigate 15,000 acre land and also provide 13 cusecis drinking water daily to skardu cilty.

Client of SATPARA DAM PROJECT is WATER AND POWER DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (WAPDA), Engineer is PAKISTAN ENGINEERING SERVICES (PES), 90 percent project is completed under the supervision of Chief Residential Engineer (CRE) S.TAHIR.HUSSAIN of SHAHU KHEL. The major contractor of civil work DESCON and irrigation work contractor is CENTRAL CHINA POWER GROUP (CCPG) of China.

The town and the local people

The town has developed along the main road passing through it and to either side of this road is situated the New Bazaar (Naya Bazaar), with hundreds of shops offer almost everything (trekking supplies, souvenirs, local goods, etc.). To the west one finds Yadgar Chowk (with local monument) and from there, the quarter behind Naya Bazaar, to the right hand side is the older Purana Bazaar. Travelling west from Naya Bazaar is a polo ground and next to that, Kazmi Bazaar.

Skardu appears remote, dusty town at first glance, but the mixture of people here make it colourful and ethnically diverse. The crowded streets are mainly populated by Balti Tibetans and many of the local neighbourhoods (mohallahs) have names that reflect this too (i.e. Khache-drong, Khar-drong, Olding, Kushu-bagh, Pakora, Thsethang, Sher-thang, Nagholi-spang etc.). Due to this strong presence, Skardu has sometimes been referred to as the little Tibet of Pakistan.

However, many other ethnic groups are present in Skardu including Shins, Pashtuns, Punjabis, Hunzakuts and even Uyghur, due to the close proximity of Baltistan to the respective regions. Since the creation of Pakistan people of various ethnicities from various regions of Pakistan have emigrated here.

All the above ethnic groups are devout Muslims. This includes the Balti-Tibetans, who converted from Tibetan Buddhism in the 16th century (the only sizeable group of Tibetans to have undergone such a conversion). Shia Islam has a strong presence in Skardu.

Famous personalities of Skardu valley. S.Mehdi Shah, present chief minister of BaltistanProvince. Sheikh Nisar of Gamba. Fida Mohamad Nashad of Hussain Abad. Wazir Shakeel Agha of Ali Abad. Syed Ahmad Ali Shah of Gamba.

Entrance to the Skardu Fort

Weather and climate

The climate of Skardu during the summer is moderated by its mountain setting and the intense heat of lowlandPakistan does not reach here. The mountains also block out the summer monsoon and summer rainfall is thus quite low. However, these mountains result in very severe winter weather. During the April to October tourist season, temperatures vary between a maximum of 27°C and a minimum (in October) 8°C. However, temperatures can drop to below -10°C in the December-to-January midwinter period. The lowest temperature of the year can reach -25°C

Shangrila Resort, Skardu

Transport

Skardu is accessible by two methods, road or air. The normal road route into Skardu is via the Karakorum Highwayand a linkroad into the SkarduValley from it. There are also four or five other road links toKashmir and Ladakh. Alternatively, there are normally one or two flights daily between Skardu Airportand Islamabad. The high cost of air travel means that road travel via the Karakorum Highway and the link road onward to the Skardu Valley is often the preferred option of locals and tourists alike.

The climate can have adverse affects on transport in and out of the Skardu Valley, as Skardu becomes snowbound during the winter months. Often the roads in and out of Skardu (and otherNorthern Areas locations) can be blocked for weeks at a time depending on conditions (though two to five days is more normal), sometimes leaving air travel as the only feasible alternative. However, air travel in winter is also subject to disruption due to the unreliable Skardu weather and flights can occasionally be delayed by several days.

Satpara Lake

Skardu Fort (Kharphocho Fort)

Skardu Fort or Kharphocho Fort lies on the eastern face of the Khardrong or Mindoq-Khar ("Castle of Queen Mindoq") hill 15 metres or 40 feet above Skardu town. The fort dates from the 8th Century CE and contains an old mosque probably dating back to the arrival of Islam in the 16th Century CE. The fort provides a panoramic view of Skardu town, the Skardu valley and theIndus River. The fort was built by Rmakpon dynasty rulers of Baltistan and it was a seven storey building. It was burnt down by Sikhs in the 18th Century CE.

Kharphocho (Skardu) fort was built on a design similar to that of Leh Palace and the PotalaPalace in Lhasa, Tibet. The name Kharpochhe means the great fort — Khar in Tibetan means castle or fort and Chhemeans great.

Skardu Road

Cricklewood's North - South avenue takes its name from the fort of the same name.

Lakes near Skardu

There are three lakes in the vicinity of Skardu. In local Balti-Tibetan language, a lake is a thso ortso.

Kachura Lakes






There are two Kachura Lakes—the less well known Upper Kachura lake and the more famous Lower Kachura Lake, better known as Shangrila Lake. Lower Katsura lake is home to the Shangrila Resort hotel complex (possibly the reason for the lake's alternative name), built in a Chinese style and another popular destination for tourists inPakistan. The resort has a unique style of restaurant, set up inside the fuselage of an aircraft that crashed nearby. Kachura lake 18m from Skardu.Kachura Lake is famous for its deep blue waters. There are numerous places to visit and things to do near Kachura Lake, situated near Skardu in the northern area.

Satpara Lake


Sadpara Lake is Skardu Valley's main lake, supplying water for Skardu town, and reputedly one of the most picturesque lakes in Pakistan. In 2002, the Government of Pakistan decided to build a dam on the Satpara Lake allocating Rs. 600 million ($10 million) to the Satpara Dam project, two years later in 2004. Progress on the project has, however, been slow. Satpara Lake is 6m from Skardu. Satpara Lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes in the country offering trout fishing, and row boating.

Indus River



It is the longest river in Pakistan and the twenty-first largest river in the world, in terms of annual flow, on the Indian Subcontinent.

Nanga Parbat Peak

While Flying to Skardu from Islamabad, we viewed the awesome, snow covered Nanga Parbatpeak. The name literally means “the naked mountain”. It is the ninth highest(second highest ofPakistan, K-2 being the first) mountain on Earth. It is a part of the Himalayan Range. It is is 8,126 metres (26,660 ft) high.

Wild Life of Deosai National Park


Deosai Plains make up one of the last frontiers of natural habitat for the Himalayan brown bear, a creature that once roamed the mountains freely. The Deosai National Park was established in 1993 to secure the survival of the brown bear and its habitat. Having long been a prize kill for poachers and hunters, the brown bear, Pakistan’s largest omnivore, now has a hope for survival in Deosai where its number has increased from just 19 in 1993 to 40 in 2005. The Deosai Plains are also home to the Himalayan ibex, red fox, golden marmot, wolf, the Ladakh urial, the snow leopard, and over 124 resident and migratory birds

Birds in the park are: the golden eagle, the lammergeier vulture, the griffon vulture, the laggar falcon, the peregrine falcon, the kestrel, the Indian sparrow hawk, and the snow cock.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

GANDHARA AND BUDDHISM


GANDHARA AND BUDDHISM



























This article is about the ancient kingdom. For various cities or villages named Gandhara.

Gandhāra is the name of an ancient kingdom (Mahajanapada), located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River. Its main cities were Purushapura (modern Peshawar), literally meaning City of Man and Takshashila (modern Taxila).

The Kingdom of Gandhara lasted from c. the 6th century BCE to the 11th century CE. It attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century under the Buddhist Kushan Kings. The Hindu Shahi, a term used by history writer Al-Biruni to refer to the ruling Hindu dynasty that took over from the Turki Shahi and ruled the region during the period prior to Muslim conquests of the tenth and eleventh centuries. After it was conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1021 CE, the name Gandhara disappeared. During the Muslim period the area was administered from Lahore or from Kabul. During Mughal times the area was part of Kabul province.

Geography


Female spouted figure, terracotta, Charsadda, Gandhara, 3rd–1st century BC Victoria and Albert Museum

The Gandhāri people were settled since the Vedic times on the banks of Kabul River (river Kubhā or Kabol) up to its mouth into the Indus. Later Gandhāra included parts of northwest Punjab. Gandhara was located on the northern trunk road (Uttarapatha) and was a centre of international commercial activities. It was an important channel of communication with ancient Iran and Central Asia.

The boundaries of Gandhara varied throughout history. Sometimes the Peshawar valley and Taxila were collectively referred to as Gandhara and sometimes the Swat valley (Sanskrit: Suvāstu) was also included. The heart of Gandhara however was always the Peshawar valley. The kingdom was ruled from capitals at Pushkalavati (Charsadda), Taxila, Purushapura (Peshawar) and in its final days from Udabhandapura (Hund) on the Indus. According to the Puranas, they have been named after Taksha and Pushkara, the two sons of Bharata, a king of Ayodhya.

Ancient Gandhara

Prehistoric Period

Evidence of Stone Age human inhabitants of Gandhara, including stone tools and burnt bones, was discovered at Sanghao near Mardan in area caves. The artifacts are approximately 15,000 years old. More recent excavations point to 30,000 years before present.

To date, no evidence of the Harappan Culture of the Indus Valley Civilization has been found in Gandhara. According to some scholars, the Aryans moved into Gandhara and the rest of North Western Pakistan around 1500BC.

The region shows an influx of southern Central Asian culture in the Bronze Age with the Gandhara grave culture, likely corresponding to immigration of Indo-Aryan speakers and the nucleus of Vedic civilization. This culture survived till 600 BC. Its evidence has been discovered in the hilly regions of Swat and Dir, and even at Taxila.

The name of the Gandhāris is attested in the Rigveda (RV 1.120.1) and in ancient inscriptions dating back to Achaemenid Persia. The Behistun inscription listing the 23 territories of King Darius I (519 BC) includes Gandāra along with Bactria and Thatagush (ϑataguš, Satagydia). In the book "Histories" by Heroditus, Gandhara is named as a source of tax collections for King Darius. The Gandhāris, along with the Balhika (Bactrians), Mūjavants, Angas, and the Magadhas, are also mentioned in the Atharvaveda (AV 5.22.14), as distant people. Gandharas are included in the Uttarapatha division of Puranic and Buddhistic traditions. The Aitareya Brahmana refers to king Naganajit of Gandhara who was contemporary of Janaka, king of Videha.

Gandhara had played an important role in the epic of Mahabharata, as the princess name Gandhari was married to Hastinapur's blind king Dhritrashtra and was mother of Duryodhana and other Kauravas. The prince of Gandhara, Shakuni was against this wedding, but accepted it fearing an invasion from Hastinapur. In the aftermath, Shakuni influences the Kaurava prince Duryodhana and plays a central role in the great war of Kurukshetra which eliminated the entire Kuru family including Bhishma and 100 Kaurava brothers. According to Puranic traditions, this country (Janapada) was founded by Gandhāra, son of Aruddha, a descendant of Yayāti. The princes of this country are said to have come from the line of Druhyu who was a king of the Druhyu tribe of the Rigvedic period. According to Vayu Purana (II.36.107), the Gandharas were destroyed by Pramiti aka Kalika, at the end of Kaliyuga.


Mother Goddess (fertility divinity), derived from the Indus Valley tradition, terracotta, Sar Dheri, Gandhara, 1st century BC, Victoria and Albert Museum

The Gandhara kingdom sometimes also included Kashmir. Hecataeus of Miletus (549–468) refers to Kaspapyros (sometimes interpreted as referring to Kashmira) as a Gandaric city. According to Gandhara Jataka, (Jataka No 406), at one time, Gandhara formed a part of the kingdom of Kashmir. The Jataka also gives another name Chandahara for Gandhara. Buddhist texts like Anguttara Nikaya refer to sixteen great countries (Mahajanapadas) which flourished in the Indian subcontinent during Buddha's time; only two of them, the Gandhara and the Kamboja were located in the Uttarapatha or the northwestern division.

Gandhāra is also thought to be the location of the mystical Lake Dhanakosha, the birthplace of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The bKa' brgyud (Kagyu) sect of Tibetan Buddhism identifies the lake with the Andan Dheri stupa, located near the tiny village of Uchh near Chakdara in the lower Swat Valley. A spring was said to flow from the base of the stupa to form the lake. Archaeologists have found the stupa but no spring or lake can be identified.

Pushkalavati and Prayag

The primary cities of Gandhara were Purushapura (now Peshawar), Takshashila or Taxila) and Pushkalavati. The latter remained the capital of Gandhara from the 6th century BC to the 2nd century AD, when the capital was moved to Peshawar. An important Buddhist shrine helped to make the city a centre of pilgrimage until the 7th century. Pushkalavati in the Peshawar Valley is situated at the confluence of the Swat and Kabul rivers, where three different branches of the River Kabul meet. That specific place is still called Prang (from Prayāga) and considered sacred and where local people still bring their dead for burial. Similar geographical characteristics are found at site of Prang in Kashmir and at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna, where the sacred city of Prayag is situated, west of Benares. Prayāga (Allahabad) one of the ancient pilgrim centres of India as the two rivers are said to be joined here by the underground Sarasvati River, forming a triveṇī, a confluence of three rivers.

Taxila

The Gandharan city of Taxila was an important Buddhist centre of learning from the 5th century BC to the 2nd century.

Persian rule

Cyrus the Great (558–530 BC) built first the "universal" empire, stretching from Greece to the Indus River. Both Gandhara and Kamboja soon came under the rule of the Achaemenian Dynasty of Persia during the reign of Cyrus the Great or in the first year of Darius I. The Gandhara and Kamboja had constituted the seventh satrapies (upper Indus) of the Achaemenid Empire.

When the Achamenids took control of this kingdom, Pushkarasakti, a contemporary of king Bimbisara of Magadha, was the king of Gandhara. He was engaged in a power struggle against the kingdoms of Avanti and Pandavas.

The inscription on Darius' (521–486 BC) tomb at Naqsh-i-Rustam near Persepolis records GADĀRA (Gandāra) along with HINDUSH (Hənduš, Sindh) in the list of satrapies.

Under the Persian rule, a system of centralized administration with a bureaucratic system was introduced in the region. Influenced by the Persians and having access to Western Asian civilizations, great scholars such as Panini and perhaps Kautilya lived in this cosmopolitan environment. The Kharosthi alphabet, derived from the one used for Aramaic (the official language of Achaemenids) developed here and remained national script of Gandhara until third century AD.

By about 380 BC Persian hold on the region weakened. Many small kingdoms sprang up in Gandhara. In 327 BC Alexander the Great conquered Gandhara and the Indian Satrapies of the Persian Empire. The expeditions of Alexander were recorded by his court historians and by Arrian (around AD 175) in his Anabasis and other chroniclers many centuries after the event.

The companions of Alexander the Great did not record the names of Kamboja and Gandhara, rather they located a dozen small political units within their territories. Alexander conquered most of these political units of the former Gandhara, Sindhu and Kamboja Mahajanapadas.

According to Greek chroniclers, at the time of Alexander's invasion hyparchs Kubhesha, Hastin (Astes), and Ambhi (Omphes) were ruling the lower Kabul valley, Puskalavati (modern Charasadda), and Taxila, respectively, while Ashvajit (chief of Aspasios or Ashvayanas) and Assakenos (chief of Assakenois or Ashvakayanas, both being parts of the Kambojas) ruled the upper Kabul valley and Mazaga (Mashkavati), respectively.

Gandhara under the Mauryas


Coin of Early Gandhara Janapada: AR Shatamana and one-eighth Shatamana (round), Taxila-Gandhara region, ca. 600–300 BC

Chandragupta, the founder of Mauryan dynasty is said to have lived in Taxila when Alexander captured this city. Here he supposedly met Kautilya, who remained his chief adviser throughout his career. Supposedly using Gandhara as his base, Chandragupta led a rebellion against the Magadha Empire and ascended the throne at Pataliputra in 321 BC. However, there are no contemporary Indian records of Chandragupta Maurya and almost all that is known is based on the diaries of Megasthenes, the ambassador of Seleucus at Pataliputra. Gandhara was acquired from the Greeks by Chandragupta Maurya.

After a battle with Seleucus Nicator (Alexander's successor in Asia) in 305 BC, the Mauryan Emperor extended his domains up to and including Southern Afghanistan. With the completion of the Empire's Grand Trunk Road, the region prospered as a center of trade. Gandhara remained a part of the Mauryan Empire for about a century and a half.

Ashoka, the grandson of Chandragupta, was one of the greatest Indian rulers. Like his grandfather, Ashoka also started his career from Gandhara as a governor. Later he supposedly became a Buddhist and promoted this religion in his empire. He built many stupas in Gandhara. Mauryan control over northwestern frontier, including the Yonas, Kambojas, and the Gandharas is attested from the Rock Edicts left by Ashoka. According to one school of scholars, the Gandharas and Kambojas were cognate people It is also contended that the Kurus, Kambojas, Gandharas and Bahlikas were cognate people and all had Iranian affinities. According to Dr T. L. Shah, the Gandhara and Kamboja were nothing but two provinces of one empire and were located coterminously hence influencing each others language. Naturally, they may have once been one people. Gandhara was often linked politically with the neighboring regions of Kashmir and Kamboja.

Gandhara under Graeco-Bactrians, Sakas, and Indo-Parthians

Standing Buddha, Gandhara (1st–2nd century), Tokyo National Museum

The decline of the Empire left the sub-continent open to the inroads by the Greco-Bactrians. Southern Afghanistan was absorbed by Demetrius I of Bactria in 180 BC. Around about 185 BC, Demetrius invaded and conquered Gandhara and the Punjab. Later, wars between different groups of Bactrian Greeks resulted in the independence of Gandhara from Bactria and the formation of the Indo-Greek kingdom. Menander was its most famous king. He ruled from Taxila and later from Sagala (Sialkot). He rebuilt Taxila (Sirkap) and Pushkalavati. He became a Buddhist and is remembered in Buddhists records due to his discussions with a great Buddhist philosopher, Nāgasena, in the book Milinda Panha.

Around the time of Menander's death in 140 BC, the Central Asian Kushans overran Bactria and ended Greek rule there. Around 80 BC, the Sakas, diverted by their Parthian cousins from Iran, moved into Gandhara and other parts of Pakistan and Western India. The most famous king of the Sakas, Maues, established himself in Gandhara.

By 90 BC the Parthians had taken control of eastern Iran and in around 50 BC they put an end to the last remnants of Greek rule in Afghanistan. Eventually an Indo-Parthian dynasty succeeded in taking control of Gandhara. The Parthians continued to support Greek artistic traditions. The start of the Gandharan Greco-Buddhist art is dated to about 75–50 BC. Links between Rome and the Indo-Parthian kingdoms existed. There is archaeological evidence that building techniques were transmitted between the two realms. Christian records claim that around AD 40 Thomas the Apostle visited India and encountered the Indo-Parthian king Gondophares.

The Golden Age of Kushan Rule


Standing Bodhisattva or Bodhisattva Maitreya from Gandhara. 3rd century AD Grey schist. Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal

The Parthian dynasty fell about 75 to another group from Central Asia. The Kushans, known as Yuezhi in China (although ethnically Asii) moved from Central Asia to Bactria, where they stayed for a century. Around 75, one of their tribes, the Kushan (Kuṣāṇa), under the leadership of Kujula Kadphises gained control of Gandhara and other parts of what is now Pakistan.

The Kushan period is considered the Golden Period of Gandhara. Peshawar Valley and Taxila are littered with ruins of stupas and monasteries of this period. Gandharan art flourished and produced some of the best pieces of Indian sculpture. Many monuments were created to commemorate the Jataka tales.

The Gandhara civilization peaked during the reign of the great Kushan king Kanishka (128–151). The cities of Taxila (Takshasila) at Sirsukh and Peshawar were built. Peshawar became the capital of a great empire stretching from Bengal to Central Asia. Kanishka was a great patron of the Buddhist faith; Buddhism spread to Central Asia and the Far East across Bactria and Sogdia, where his empire met the Han Empire of China. Buddhist art spread from Gandhara to other parts of Asia. Under Kanishka, Gandhara became a holy land of Buddhism and attracted Chinese pilgrim to see monuments associated with many Jataka tales.

In Gandhara, Mahayana Buddhism flourished and Buddha was represented in human form. Under the Kushans new Buddhists stupas were built and old ones were enlarged. Huge statues of the Buddha were erected in monasteries and carved into the hillsides. Kanishka also built a great tower to a height of 400 feet at Peshawar. This tower was reported by Faxian ([Fa-hsien]), Songyun (Sung-yun) and Xuanzang ([Hsuan-tsang]). This structure was destroyed and rebuilt many times until it was finally destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in the 11th century.

After Kanishka, the empire started losing territories in the east. In the west, Gandhara came under the Sassanid, the successor state of the Parthians, and became their vassal from AD 241 until 450.

Gandhara after invasion by the Huns

The Hepthalite Huns captured Gandhara around AD 450, and did not adopt Buddhism. During their rule, Hinduism was revived but the Gandharan Civilization declined. The Sassanids, aided by Turks from Central Asia, destroyed the Huns' power base in Central Asia, and Gandhara once again came under Persian suzerainty in AD 568. When the Sassanids were defeated by the Muslim Arabs in AD 644, Gandhara along with Kabul was ruled by Buddhist Turks.

The travel records of many Chinese Buddhists pilgrims record that Gandhara was going through a transformation during these centuries. Buddhism was declining and Hinduism was rising. Fa-Hsien travelled around AD 400, when Prakrit was the language of the people and Buddhism was flourishing. 100 years later, when Sung-Yun visited in AD 520, a different picture was described: the area had been destroyed by Huns and was ruled by Lae-Lih who did not practice laws of the Buddha. Hsuan-Tsang visited India around AD 644 and found Buddhism on the wane in Gandhara and Hinduism in the ascendant. Gandhara was ruled by a king from Kabul, who respected Buddha's law, but Taxila was in ruins and Buddhist monasteries were deserted. Instead, Hindu temples were numerous and Hinduism was popular.

Gandhara under Turkishahi and Hindushahi

After the fall of the Sassanid Empire to the Arabs in 644, Afghanistan and Gandhara came under pressure from Muslims. But they failed to extend their empire to Gandhara. Gandhara was first ruled from Kabul and then from Udabhandapura (Hind).

Gandhara was ruled from Kabul by Turkshahi for next 200 years. Sometime in the 9th century the Hindushahi replaced the Turkishahi. Based on various Muslim records the estimated date for this is 870. According to Al-Biruni (973–1048), Kallar, a Brahmin minister of the Turkshahi, founded the Hindushahi dynasty in 843. The dynasty ruled from Kabul, later moved their capital to Udabhandapura. They built great temples all over their kingdoms. Some of these buildings are still in good condition in the Salt Range of the Punjab.

End of Gandhara

Jayapala was the last great king of this dynasty. His empire extended from west of Kabul to the river Sutlej. However, this expansion of Gandhara kingdom coincided with the rise of the powerful Ghaznavid Empire under Sabuktigin. Defeated twice by Sabuktigin and then by Mahmud of Ghazni in the Kabul valley, Jayapala committed suicide. Anandapala, a son of Jayapala, moved his capital near Nandana in the Salt Range. In 1021 the last king of this dynasty, Trilocanapala, was assassinated by his own troops which spelled the end of Gandhara. Subsequently, some Shahi princes moved to Kashmir and became active in local politics.

The city of Kandahar in Afghanistan is said to have been named after Gandhara. According to H.W. Bellow, an emigrant from Gandhara in the fifth century brought this name to modern Kandahar. Faxian reported that the Buddha's alms-bowl existed in Peshawar Valley when he visited around AD 400 (chapter XII). In 1872 Bellow saw this huge begging bowl (seven feet in diameter) preserved in the shrine of Sultan Wais outside Kandahar. When Olaf Caroe wrote his book in 1958 (Caroe, pp. 170–171), this relic was reported to be at Kabul Museum. The present status of this bowl unknown.

Al Biruni writing c. 1030 CE, reported on the devastation caused during the conquest of Gandhara and much of northwest India by Mahmud of Ghazni following his defeat of Jayapala at Peshawar in 1001 CE:

"Now in the following times no Muslim conqueror passed beyond the frontier of Kâbul and the river Sindh until the days of the Turks, when they seized the power in Ghazna under the Sâmânî dynasty, and the supreme power fell to the lot of Nâṣir-addaula Sabuktagin. This prince chose the holy war as his calling, and therefore called himself Al-gâzî (i.e. warring on the road of Allah). In the interest of his successors he constructed, in order to weaken the Indian frontier, those roads on which afterwards his son Yamin-addaula Maḥmûd marched into India during a period of thirty years and more. God be merciful to both father and son ! Maḥmûd utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the mouth of the people. Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion towards all Muslims. This is the reason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benares, and other places. And there the antagonism between them and all foreigners receives more and more nourishment both from political and religious sources."

During the closing years of the tenth and the early years of the succeeding century of our era , Mahmud the first Sultan and Musalman of the Turk dynasty of kings who ruled at Ghazni , made a succession of inroads twelve or fourteen in number , into Gandhar - the present Peshwar valley - in the course of his proselytizing invasions of Hindustan .

Fire and sword havoc and destruction , marked his course everywhere . Gandhar which was styled the Garden of the North was left at his death a weird and desolate waste . Its rich fields and fruitful gardens, together with the canal which watered them (the course of which is still partially traceable in the western part of the plain),had all disappeared . Its numerous stone built cities , monasteries ,and topes with their valuable and revered monuments and sculptures , were sacked , fired razed to the ground , and utterly destroyed as habitations.

Discovery of Gandhara

By the time Gandhara had been absorbed into the empire of Mahmud of Ghazni, Buddhist buildings were already in ruins and Gandhara art had been forgotten. After Al-Biruni, the Kashmiri writer Kalhaṇa wrote his book Rajatarangini in 1151. He recorded some events that took place in Gandhara, and gave details about its last royal dynasty and capital Udabhandapura.

In the 19th century, British soldiers and administrators started taking interest in the ancient history of the Indian Subcontinent. In the 1830s coins of the post-Ashoka period were discovered and in the same period Chinese travelogues were translated. Charles Masson, James Prinsep, and Alexander Cunningham deciphered the Kharosthi script in 1838. Chinese records provided locations and site plans of Buddhists shrines. Along with the discovery of coins, these records provided necessary clues to piece together the history of Gandhara. In 1848 Cunningham found Gandhara sculptures north of Peshawar. He also identified the site of Taxila in the 1860s. From then on a large number of Buddhist statues have been discovered in the Peshawar valley.

John Marshall performed an excavation of Taxila from 1912 to 1934. He discovered separate Greek, Parthian, and Kushan cities and a large number of stupas and monasteries. These discoveries helped to piece together much more of the chronology of the history of Gandhara and its art.

After 1947 Ahmed Hassan Dani and the Archaeology Department at University of Peshawar made a number of discoveries in the Peshawar and Swat Valley. Excavation on many sites of the Gandhara Civilization are being done by researchers from Peshawar and several universities around the world.

Language

Portraits from the site of Hadda, Gandhara, 3rd century, Guimet Museum

The Gandharan Buddhist texts are both the earliest Buddhist and South Asian manuscripts discovered so far. Most are written on birch bark and were found in labeled clay pots. Panini has mentioned both the Vedic form of Sanskrit as well as what seems to be Gandhari, a later form (bhāṣā) of Sanskrit, in his Ashtadhyayi.

Gandhara's language was a Prakrit or "Middle Indo-Aryan" dialect, usually called Gāndhārī. Texts are written right-to-left in the Kharoṣṭhī script, which had been adapted for Indian languages from a Semitic alphabet, the Aramaic alphabet. Gandhāra was then controlled by the Achaemenid dynasty of the Persian empire, which used the Aramaic script to write the Iranian languages of the Empire.

Semitic scripts were not used to write South Asian languages again until the arrival of Islam and subsequent adoption of the Persian-style Arabic alphabet for New Indo-Aryan languages like Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi and Kashmiri. Kharosthi script died out about the 4th century. However, the Hindko and the archaic Dardic and Kohistani dialects, derived from the local Indo-Aryan Prakrits, are still spoken today, though the Afghan Pashto language is the most dominant language of the region today.

Gandharan proselytism

Further information: Silk Road transmission of Buddhism


The Kushan Lokaksema (Ch: 支谶, Zhi Chan), first translator of a Mahayana sutra into Chinese

Gandharan Buddhist missionaries were active, with other monks from Central Asia, from the 2nd century AD in Han-dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD) China's capital of Luoyang, and particularly distinguished themselves by their translation work. They promoted both Theravada and Mahayana scriptures.

  • Lokaksema, a Kushan and the first to translate Mahayana scriptures into Chinese (167–186)
  • Zhi Yao (c. 185), a Kushan monk, second generation of translators after Lokaksema
  • Zhi Qian (220–252), a Kushan monk whose grandfather had settled in China during 168-190
  • Zhi Yueh (c. 230), a Kushan monk who worked at Nanjing
  • Dharmaraksa (265–313), a Kushan whose family had lived for generations at Dunhuang
  • Jnanagupta (561–592), a monk and translator from Gandhara
  • Shikshananda (652–710), a monk and translator from Udyana, Gandhara
  • Prajna (c. 810), a monk and translator from Kabul, who educated the Japanese Kūkai in Sanskrit texts

Gandharan art

Gandhāra is noted for the distinctive Gandhāra style of Buddhist art, which developed out of a merger of Greek, Syrian, Persian, and Indian artistic influence. This development began during the Parthian Period (50 BC – AD 75). Gandhāran style flourished and achieved its peak during the Kushan period, from the 1st to the 5th century. It declined and suffered destruction after invasion of the White Huns in the 5th century.

GANDHARA CIVILIZATION

Seated Buddha in Dhayana Mudra
pose
from Julian Monastery, Taxila

GANDHARA

CIVILIZATION

Pakistan is the land which attracted Alexander the great from Macedonia in 326 B.C., with whom the influence of Greek culture came to this part of the world. During the 2nd century B.C., it was here that Buddhism was adopted as the state religion which flourished and prevailed here for over 1000 years, starting from 2nd century B.C., until 10th century A.D. During this time Taxila, Swat and Charsaddah (old Pushkalavati) became three important centres for culture, trade and learning. Hundreds of monasteries and stupas were built together with Greek and Kushan towns such as Sirkap and Sirsukh both in Taxila. It was from these centres that a unique art of sculpture originated which is known as Gandhara Art all over the world. Today the Gandhara Sculptures occupy a prominent place in the museums of England, France, Germany, USA, Japan, Korea, China, India and Afghanistan together with many private collections world over, as well as in the museums of Pakistan. Nevertheless, the zenith of this Gandhara Art is one and only "Fasting Buddha" now on display in Lahore Museum, Lahore.

Fasting Buddha


Finally, the light of Islam penetrated in this part of the world as early as 7th century AD. from the west with the Arabs and during the 10th century AD from the north with the Turks. Islam replaced the early way of life of worshipping idols and introduced new philosophy of faith in one God. With Islam in came a new culture in this land from Arabia and Central Asia. Hence, a new type of architecture, hitherto unknown in this area, was introduced. Tens of thousands of Mosques, Madrassahs, tombs and gardens were created by the Muslim rulers all over the Sub-Continent. The new style of Islamic architecture prevailed and matured in this land for over a thousand years. The most important contribution of the Muslim rulers to this land, however, is a new language ‘Urdu’ which became the national language of Pakistan since its independence in 1947.

The legacy of our predecessors at the time of our independence, on August 14, 1947, came to us as a treasure which may be called as Pakistan’s national heritage. So rich and diversified is this heritage that Pakistani nation can be proud of its glorious past, be Islamic, Post Islamic or pre-Islamic period as far back as pre-historic times. It is hard to find another country which can produce the treasure of by gone days as can be found in Pakistan. It is now incumbent upon us to treasure our national heritage and save it from further deterioration and theft.

The establishment of NFCH is much appreciated and a great interest is shown by the general public hence since its establishment in 1994 hundreds of proposals were received from different agencies and individuals for the conservation, preservation and publication of the Pakistan’s national heritage. It is hoped that with the continued patronage of the government, the Philanthropists and the Business Community to the NFCH we shall be able to achieve the aforesaid goal.


Stupa from Julian Monastery, Taxila