There are a number of world heritage sites present in Pakistan and Taxila is one of them. It is a city situated 31 km to the west of Islamabad and to the 36.40 km to the northwest of Rawalpindi off the Grand Trunk Road. Its other close neighboring cities include Hassanabdal, khanpur and Wah. Wah Cantt and Taxila are twin cities. It is a city with a population of 151000 people according to the 1998 census.
Taxila is among the seven tehsils of Rawalpindi district. It is a city spread in the periphery of the Potohar plateau of Punjab. Taxila was historically known as Takshashila and is a city that dates back to 5 century BCE. The recorded history of Taxila starts from 6th century BC, when this Gandharan kingdom became part of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia.
|Location:||Rawalpindi district, Punjab Pakistan Pakistan|
|Alternate Name:||Takshashila (Sanskrit) Takkasila (Pali)|
|In Urud:||ٹیکسلا شہر|
|Taxila Museum is located:||35 km from Islamabad on the Grand Trunk Road to Peshawar|
|Destroyed:||3 times by the earth quake|
|From Islamabad:||35 km, which is 20 minute drive|
|Reference no. :||139|
|Region:||Asia and the Pacific|
|Archaeologists:||Alexander Cunningham (1863–64), John Marshall (1913–c. 1933), R. E. Mortimer Wheeler (1944–45), Muhammad Sharif (1967)|
|Abandoned:||5th century CE|
|Designate:||1980 (4th session)|
|Takshashila Translated to:||Rock of Taksha|
|Temple:||Sun Temple, Apsidal Temple, Jain Temple, Jandial Temple,|
An overall Punjabi culture prevails in the city with people understanding both English and Urdu languages but speak Punjabi language with a different dialect native to the region. The dressing and food in the city are heavily influenced by those in the Punjab province as a whole and the one factor that helps in distinguishing this city from the rest of the cities in Pakistan is not its food, it’s not its native clothing nor its language but its history. The culture of Taxila as a city is heavily influenced by the cities strong historical background.
Taxila is one of the most important archeological sites in the world. It is a city that is very well known for having strong ties and being the centre of Buddhism in the country. Many statues of Buddha depicting the various stages of his life have been excavated and are currently present both at the Taxila museum as well as various stupas in the city however the best of these statues have been taken abroad and are displayed in museums there.
5 Small Stupas Cities
There are 5 small stupas in the city. The first one being the Dharmarajika stupa, which is locate two miles from Taxila museum. Then is the Glen of Giri, which is about three-and-half miles from Dharmarajika stupa, this is atop the highest peak of the range of hills are two stupas and a fortress built in a cleft near a spring of pure, sweet water. Jaulian is another marvelous complex of chapels, stupas and a monastery with assembly hall, store rooms, refectory, kitchen and bathrooms still very well preserved. Two miles west of Jaulian is another well-preserved monastery at Mohra Moradu. In one of the monk’s cells here there was found a stupa with almost all the details intact. At Jandial, a mile-and-a-half from Sirsukh, is an image-less temple in the classic Greek style, with sandstone columns and cornices.
Statues of other famous people in history such as Alexander the Great and the eminent ruler Asoka are also be found in the city of Taxila. All these statues show great skill and craftsmanship because of the detail and intricacy that went into the making of these statues. Taxila was taken over by Alexander the Great in 327 BC after which it was ruled by the Mauryans. Towards the end, it came under Asoka’s rule during which time it reached the zenith of its development and culture. Eventually, Taxila was taken over and destroyed. The last significant historical period for Taxila was the Gandhara period. It was during this time that Taxila became a world known centre for philosophy and art. The city has a dtrong tourist base and also attracts many tourist from the region of China and Greece, primarily because of it being a centre for Buddhism and Buddhists from all over the world come and visit the stopas in the city because of their religious significance to them.
Oldest Recognized Universities
One of the oldest recognized universities of the world is also present in Taxila. This university came into being in the Gandhara period. At one stage, it had 10,500 students including those from Babylon, Greece, Syria, and China. Experienced teachers taught languages, Vedas, philosophy, medicine, politics, warfare, accounts, commerce, documentation, music, dance and other performing arts, futurology, the occult and mystical sciences and complex mathematical calculations.
Like the historical cities Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, Taxila was also a well-planned city with wide streets and well-built houses as well as stupas for the priests. The royalty of the time lived in splendid palaces in the city. Gold, silver coins and other jewellery items have also been excavated from Taxila. The present day Taxila is not as well maintained as it was in the past with the shops encroaching on the main city roads and the town planning over all has been very poor since after the fall of the Gandhara civilization.
Taxila is famous for its handicrafts which not only reflect the city’s culture but the history of the place as well. Apart from the handicrafts the city’s stone work is also very famous and a small cottage industry for stone works has emerged in the city.
Taxila museum is one of the most famous museums in Pakistan. The artifacts displayed at the museum depict the ancient cultural as well as the history of the area and displays countless artifacts from the Gandhara civilization. The major jewels and statues found in the stupas around the museum are not present in the museum. The city has its own railway station but no airport and the nearest airport lies in Islamabad.
The city of Taxila also has an industrial significance. Pakistan ordinance factory, heavy industry Taxila, cement factories as well as small cottage industry for stoneware, pottery and footwear add to the significance of the city. The industry found in Taxila is important both from the military as well as other commercial reasons.
Taxila is a fairly educated city over all and it was also known as the centre of learning and culture in the past. Taxila was the prime seat of learning in the subcontinent as well. The city has two prominent universities namely HITEC university and university of engineering and technology Taxila. Apart from this several small local school systems are also present. Heavy industries Taxila Education City was a monumental addition to the cities educational institutes.
The politics of the city is dominated by the two prominent families in the city namely the Syed family and the chaudary family.
The historical significance of the city overall has no impact on the lives of the people of the area, there are no ruminants of the Buddhist culture in the lives of the natives of Taxila and they lives are dictated primarily by the Punjabi culture, whether these are their own personal individual lives or their lives in a social capacity.
Taxila is known from references in Indian and Greco-Roman literary sources and from the accounts of two Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, Faxian and Xuanzang. Literally meaning “City of Cut Stone” or “Rock of Taksha,” Takshashila (rendered by Greek writers as Taxila) was founded, according to the Indian epic Ramayana, by Bharata, younger brother of Rama, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. The city was named for Bharata’s son Taksha, its first ruler. The great Indian epic Mahabharata was, according to tradition, first recited at Taxila at the great snake sacrifice of King Janamejaya, one of the heroes of the story. Buddhist literature, especially the Jatakas, mentions it as the capital of the kingdom of Gandhara and as a great centre of learning. Gandhara is also mentioned as a satrapy, or province, in the inscriptions of the Achaemenian (Persian) king Darius I in the 5th century bce. Taxila, as the capital of Gandhara, was evidently under Achaemenian rule for more than a century. When Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 bce, Ambhi (Omphis), the ruler of Taxila, surrendered the city and placed his resources at Alexander’s disposal. Greek historians accompanying the Macedonian conqueror described Taxila as “wealthy, prosperous, and well governed.
The structural remains at Taxila include the Bhir mound area, the palace area at Sirkap, the Jandial and Pippala temples, the Giri fortress, the Mohra Moradu and Jaulian monasteries, and the Dharmarajika, Bhallar, and Kunala stupas (burial mounds). Different types of masonry used in the monuments indicate their period of origin. The earliest remains are those of the Bhir mound. The palace area, modeled on the same lines as its Assyrian counterpart, Nineveh, has several entrances and outer fortifications. It reveals traces of successive settlements, with the oldest parts of the buildings consisting of rubble masonry. A spacious Buddhist temple, several small shrines, and blocks of dwelling houses were uncovered . The shrine of the double-headed eagle is interesting for its pilasters of the Corinthian order on the front and for niches in the interspaces. Other antiquities of the palace area include terra-cottas and potteries; small bronze, copper, and iron objects; and beads, gems, and coins of Indo-Greek, Parthian, and early Kushan rulers.The Dharmarajika stupa, popularly known as Chir Tope, is a circular structure with a raised terrace around its base. A circle of small chapels surround the great stupa. Three distinctive types of masonry in the buildings around the main stupa suggest the contributions of different periods to the building activity. A silver scroll inscription in Kharoshti and a small gold casket containing some bone relics of the Buddha were found in one of the chapels. The inscription refers to the enshrinement of the relics, by a Bactrian named Ursaka from the town of Noacha in the year 136 bce, for the bestowal of health on “the great King, Supreme King of Kings, the Son of Heaven, the Kushana” (probably Vima Kadphises, son of the Kushan conqueror Kujala). That site also contained several statues of the Buddha and bodhisattvas.
The Jandial temple, set up on an artificial mound, closely resembles the Classical temples of Greece. Its Ionic columns and pilasters are composed of massive blocks of sandstone. Built in the Scythio-Parthian period, it is probably the temple described by Philostratus in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana. Though the Jandial temple is not Buddhist, the Jaulian remains are. These include a monastery and two stupa courts.
Taxila city is 35 km, 20 minutes drive from Islamabad moving towards north-west where the civilization of Gandhara exists. While traveling on GT road, after crossing Margalla Hills, just turning left from Taxila bypass at Khanpur Lake road about 4 km there is Taxila Museum. It’s a site museum where the collections of gandhara art are placed, which is about of 600BC to 700BC. Two beautiful & well maintained gardens are also attached with the museum’s building, for visitors to relax and enjoy the natural environment and weather.
The Bhir Mound is the oldest of the ruins of Taxila in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
The ruins of Bhir Mound were excavated from 1913-1925 by Sir John Marshall. The work was continued by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1944-1945 and by Dr. Mohammad Sharif in 1966-1967. Further excavations were performed in 1998-2000 by Bahadur Khan and in 2002 by Dr. Ashraf and Mahmud-al-Hassan.
Ruins of the Town
The ruins of the town form an irregular shape measuring around 1 km from north to south and about 600 meters from east to west. The oldest part or layer of these ruins is from the sixth and fifth centuries BC. The second layer is from the fourth century BC and existed at the time of the invasion of Alexander the Great. The third layer is from the time of the Maurya kings of India (third century BC). The fourth and topmost stratum contains the constructions from time after the Mauryan period.
The streets of the city show that they were narrow and the house plans were very irregular. There is little evidence of planning – most of the streets are very haphazard. The houses had no windows to the outside. They opened towards inner courtyards. The courtyard was open and 15 to 20 rooms were arranged around it.
Dharmarajika Stupa is the earliest Buddhist monument in Pakistan. It was one of eight shrines constructed in the 3rd century B.C. during the reign of Emperor Asoka of the Mauryan dynasty to house relics of the Buddha. Over time the shrine was continually expanded, reaching its largest size in the 2nd century A.D. Now a ruin, the stupa was once coated with lime plaster and gilding, though these have fallen away along with a seven-tier umbrella stone that once crowned the top.
Near the stupa are the remains of vast monasteries that are barely distinguishable but for the foundation stones.