Thursday, June 3, 2010


Taxila from Sanskrit: तक्षशिला Takṣaśilā (Pali:Takkasilā, Urdu, Punjabi: ٹیکسلا) is an important archaeological site in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Taxila is situated about 32 km (20 mi) to the north-west of Islamabad Capital Territory and Rawalpindi in Panjab; just off the Grand Trunk Road. Taxila lies 549 metres (1,801 ft) above sea-level.
It dates back to the Gandhara period and contains the ruins of the Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā which was an important Hindu and Buddhist centre. Takṣaśilā, is reputed to derive its name from Takṣa, who was the son of Bharata (the brother of Rama).
Historically, Takṣaśilā lay at the crossroads of three major trade routes:
1. The uttarāpatha, "the northern road" - the later Grand Trunk or GT Road - the royal road which connected Gandhara in the west to the kingdom of Magadha and its capital Pāṭaliputra in the valley of the Ganga in the east.
2. The north-western route through Bactria, Kāpiśa, and Puṣkalāvatī.
3. The Sindu (English: Indus) route from Kashmir and Central Asia, via Śri nagara, Mansehra, and the Haripur valley across the Khunjerab pass to the Silk Road in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south. To fully understand the importance of Takṣaśilā it must be noted that the Khunjerab pass between Kashmir and Xinjiang - the current Karakoram highway - was already traversed in antiquity.
In 1980, Taxila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with multiple locations. Recently it has been ranked as the top Tourist Destination in Pakistan by The Guardian.
The Ruins

The ruins of Taxila consist of many different parts of the city buildings and buddhist stupas which are located in a large area. The main ruins of Taxila are divided into three major cities, each belonging to a distinct time period.

The oldest of these is the Hathial area, which yielded surface sherds similar to burnished red wares (or 'soapy red wares') recovered from early phases at Charsadda, and may date between the 6th century B.C.E. and the late 2nd millennium B.C.E. Bhir Mound dates from the sixth century B.C.E. The second city of Taxila is located at Sirkap and was built by Greco-Bactrian kings in the second century B.C.E. The third and last city of Taxila is at Sirsukh and relates to the Kushan kings.
In addition to the ruins of the city, a number of 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, the monastery at Jaulian, the monastery at Mohra Muradu in addition to a number of stupas.
History of Taxila

Taxila is in western Punjab, and was an important city during Alexander's campaign in ancient India.
Legend has it that Takṣa, an ancient king who ruled a kingdom called Takṣa Khanda the modern (Tashkent) founded the city of Takṣaśilā.[citation needed].However Sanskrit Takṣaśilā, appears to contain the suffix śilā, "stone" with the prefix Takṣa, alluding to Takṣa, the son of Bharata and Mandavi, as related in the Mahabharata.
In the Mahābhārata, the Kuru heir Parikṣit was enthroned at Takṣaśilā.
According to tradition the Mahabharata was first recited at Takṣaśilā by Vaishampayana, a disciple of Vyasa at the behest of the seer Vyasa himself, at the sarpa satra yajna, "Snake Sacrifice ceremony" of Parikṣit's son Janamejaya.[citation needed]
According to one theory propounded by Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, Takṣaśilā is a related to Takṣaka,"carpenter" and is an alternative name for the Nāgas of ancient India.
• c. 518 BCE – Darius the Great annexes Takṣaśilā, to the Persian Achaemenid Empire.
• 326 BCE – Alexander the Great receives submission of Āmbhi, king of Takṣaśilā, and afterwards surrenders to Puruṣa at the Hydaspes.
• c. 317 BCE – In quick succession, Alexander's general Eudemus and then the satrap Peithon withdraw from the Indus.
• 321 BCE-317 BCE Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Mauryan empire in eastern India, makes himself master of northern and northwestern India, including Panjab. Chandragupta Maurya's advisor Kautilya (also known as Chanakya) was a teacher at Takṣaśilā.
• During the reign of Chandragupta's grandson Aśoka, Takṣaśilā became a great Buddhist centre of learning. Nonetheless, Takṣaśilā was briefly the centre of a minor local rebellion, subdued only a few years after its onset.
• 185 BCE – The last Maurya emperor, Bṛhadratha, is assassinated by his general, Puṣyamitra Śunga, during a parade of his troops.
• Early 100s BCE Indo-Greeks build new capital, Sirkap, on the opposite bank of the river from Takṣaśilā. During this new period of Bactrian Greek rule, several dynasties (like Antialcidas) likely ruled from the city as their capital. During lulls in Greek rule, the city managed profitably on its own, to independently control several local trade guilds, who also minted most of the city's autonomous coinage.
• c. 90 BCE – The Indo-Scythian chief Maues overthrows the last Greek king of Takṣaśilā.
• c. 20 BCE – Gondophares, founder of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom, conquers Takṣaśilā and makes it his capital.
• c. 4 BCE - Gaspar (one of Biblical Magi, who visited Jesus soon after his birth) passes through Taxila.
• c. 46 AD - Thomas the Apostle visits King Gondophares IV.
• 76 – The date of and inscription found at Taxila of 'Great King, King of Kings, Son of God, the Kushana' (maharaja rajatiraja devaputra Kushana).
• c. 460–470 CE – The Hephthalites sweep over Gandhāra and Panjab; and cause wholesale destruction of the Buddhist monasteries and stupas at Takṣaśilā, which never again recovers.
Before the fall of these invaders, Takṣaśilā had been variously a capital for many dynasties, and a centre of Vedic and Buddhist learning, with a population of Buddhists, Hindus, and possibly Greeks that may have endured for centuries.
The British archaeologist Sir John Marshall conducted excavations over a period of twenty years in Taxila.
Taxila mentioned in history
The city of Taxila is mentioned by the Chinese monk Faxian (also called Fa-Hien), who visited ancient sites of Buddhism in India. He came to Taxila in 405 CE. In his book "A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, Being an Account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Hien of his Travels in India and Ceylon in Search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline" he mentions the kingdom of Takshasila (or Chu-cha-shi-lo) meaning "the severed Head" (Chapter 11). He says that this name was derived from an event in the life of Buddha because this is the place "where he gave his head to a man".
Xuanzang (also called Hieun Tsang), another Chinese monk, visited Taxila in 630 CE. He mentions the city as Ta-Cha-Shi-Lo. The city appears to have already been ruins by his time.
Ancient centre of learning
Takshashila was an early centre of learning dating back to at least the 5th century BCE. There is some disagreement about whether Takshashila can be considered a university. While some consider Taxila to be an early university or centre of higher education, others do not consider it a university in the modern sense, in contrast to the later Nalanda University. Takshashila is described in some detail in later Jātaka tales, written in Sri Lanka around the 5th century CE.
Takshashila is considered a place of religious and historical sanctity by Hindus and Buddhists. The former do so not only because, in its time, Takshashila was the seat of Vedic learning, but also because the strategist, Chanakya, who later helped consolidate the empire of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, was a senior teacher there. The institution is very significant in Buddhist tradition since it is believed[citation needed] that the Mahāyāna sect of Buddhism took shape there.
Some scholars date Takshashila's existence back to the 6th century BCE or 7th century BCE.[35] It became a noted centre of learning at least several centuries before Christ, and continued to attract students from around the old world until the destruction of the city in the 5th century CE. Takshashila is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya. The famous treatise Arthashastra (Sanskrit for The knowledge of Economics) by Chanakya, is said to have been composed in Takshashila itself. Chanakya (or Kautilya), the Maurya Emperor Chandragupta[37] and the Ayurvedic healer Charaka studied at Taxila
Generally, a student entered Takshashila at the age of sixteen. The Vedas and the Eighteen Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school of military science.
Taxila today

* Fluted cup (Bhir Mound, stratum 1) * Cup with rosace and decoratice scroll (Bhir Mound, stratum 1) * Stone palette with individual on a couch being crowned by standing woman, and served (Sirkap, stratum 5) * Handle with double depiction of a philosopher (Sirkap, stratum 5) * Woman with smile (Sirkap, stratum 5) * Man with moustache (Sirkap, stratum 5)
Present day Taxila is one of the seven Tehsils (sub-district) of Rawalpindi District. It is spread over an undulating land in the periphery of the Pothohar Plateau of the Punjab. Situated just outside the capital Islamabad's territory and communicating with it through Tarnol pass of Margalla Hills.
Taxila is a mix of posh urban and rustic rural environs. Urban residential areas are in the form of small neat and clean colonies populated by the workers of heavy industries, educational institutes and hospitals that are located in the area.
Nicholson's obelisk, a monument of British colonial era situated at the Grand Trunk road welcomes the travellers coming from Rawalpindi/Islamabad into Taxila. The monument was built by the British to pay tribute to Brigadier John Nicholson (1822–1857) an officer of the British Army who died in India during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, also known as the First War of Independence.
The industries include heavy machine factories and industrial complex, ordnance factories of Wah Cantt and cement factory. Heavy Industries Taxila is also based here. Small, cottage and household industries include stoneware, pottery and footwear. People try to relate the present day stoneware craft to the tradition of sculpture making that existed here before the advent of Islam.
In addition to the ruins of Gandhara civilisation and ancient Buddhist/Hindu culture, relics of Mughal gardens and vestiges of historical Grand Trunk Road, which was built by Emperor Sher Shah Suri in 15th-16th centuries, are also found in Taxila region.
Taxila Museum, dedicated mainly to the remains of Gandhara civilization, is also worth visiting. A hotel of the tourism department offers reasonably good services and hospitality to the tourists.
Taxila has many educational institutes including University of Engineering and Technology (UET).


Taxila is an important archaeological site in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It dates back to the Ancient Indian period and contains the ruins of the Gandharan city of Takshashila (also Takkasila or Taxila) an important Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist center of learning from the 6th century BCE to the 5th century CE. In 1980, Taxila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with multiple locations.
Historically, Taxila lay at the crossroads of three major trade routes: the royal highway from Pataliputra; the north-western route through Bactria, Kāpiśa, and Puskalāvatī (Peshawar); and the route from Kashmir and Central Asia, via Śrinigar, Mansehra, and the Haripur valley across the Khunjerab pass to the Silk Road.
Taxila is situated about 32 km to the north-west of Islamabad Capital Territory—and Rawalpindi in Punjab—just off the Grand Trunk Road. Its elevation above the sea-level is 549 meter.

We started our journey from Islamabad and we were planning to camp at Khanpur. On our way we visited three ancient budah sites which are Sirkap, Jaulian and Dharmarajika. I would share some picture along with information of these historic sites.
The city of Sirkap was built by the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius after he invaded India around 180 BC. Demetrius founded in the northern and northwestern Indian subcontinent an Indo-Greek kingdom that was to last until around 10 BC. Sirkap is also said to have been rebuilt by king Menander I.

Sirkap Entry

Sirkap Stupa
The excavation of the old city was carried out under the supervision of Sir John Marshall by Hergrew from 1912-1930. In 1944 and 1945 further parts were excavated by Mortimer Wheeler and his colleagues.
The Dharmarajika is a large Buddhist stupa in the area of Taxila, Pakistan. It is thought that it was established by the Maurya emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE around relics of the Buddha.

Dharmarajika Mound
These structures were reinforced in the following centuries, by building rings of smaller stupas and constructions around the original ones. Several coins of the Indo-Greek king Zoilos II were found under the foundation of such a 1st century BCE stupa.
To reach this site you must take the road on the right side while traveling from Islamabad before the Taxila Museum gate. Along with the stupa other interesting things are the giant feet of Budha, i think they have taken the upper body of the sculpture. You can find some other Budha sculptures here too. I am adding some pictures of this site which are as following:

Dharmarajika Ruins

Dharmarajika Ruins a close view

Dharmarajika Ruins (Water Pool)

Dharmarajika Ruins a very old tree

One of the Giant Feet

Half of the Budha sculpture
Jaulian are the ruins of an ancient buddhistic monastery near Taxila, Punjab (Pakistan), Pakistan.
The ruins at Julian date from the fifth century CE and consist of two main parts. These are 1) the main stupa and 2) the monastery and university of Jaulian. The ruins are situated on a mountain top. The form and building of the university at Jaulian is similar to that of Mohra Muradu that is about 1 Km away.
This site was distroyed by the white Huns in 455 CE. The View of this site the best. Its on the top of a hill and a water canal which i think is coming from Khanpur dam is on the bottom. The overall view is great.

Image of Budha sculpture at Jaulian

A view of university room

Top view of the living rooms and a pool in the center

Assembly Hall


Healing Buddha

Some sort of Burial ground and life stories of Buddha

A view from the top of Jaulian site