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.
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.
Most Important Archeological
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
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.
Famous People in History
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.
Universities of the World is also Present in Taxila
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.
Wide Streets and Well-Built Houses
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.
The Taxila archaeological site is located in the province of Punjab, Pakistan, about 30 km north of the Capital Territory of Islamabad. It lies off the famous and historical Grand Trunk Road. The modern archaeological region of Taxila is composed of 18 sites of significant cultural value which were inducted as a whole into the UNESCO world heritage umbrella in 1980 CE.The region is of particular interest when one looks at its ancient role as being a waypoint for the movement of caravans and even today it still holds the same function as in the 6th century BCE. This continuing function of the site as a waypoint tells us about the urban pattern of ancient Taxila (being more or less unchanged since antiquity) and how that affects development and the spread of crafts, settlements and markets as well as an institutional framework which develops as a result of the need to manage the surrounding population.lthough the region fell out of favor with the increase in sea trade in later times, the preceding centuries of occupation meant that a massive amount of archaeological data still remains in the region which has been slowly and gradually unearthed from the British era down to the present day. ruins location
Pre-History of Taxila Ruins
The beginnings of human occupation in the area can be traced back to the microlithic hunters of the period before 3500 BCE, most importantly at three important caves discovered in 1964 CE by Elden Johnson of the University of Minnesota at Bhamala, Mohra Moradu and Khanpur. Particularly at the Khanpur cave, 2.9m (9 ft 7 inches) of cultural deposit was found dating from 900 CE all the way back to the stone age.
Agricultural Communities Developed
Early agricultural communities developed around 3500-2700 BCE as is evidenced from the small mound of Saraikala - "small" being relative as it is 305 m (1000 ft) east to west and 610 m (2000 ft) north to south - excavated by Ahmad Hasan Dani, a pioneering archaeologist of Pakistan. This site contains evidence of stone, bone and handmade pottery. The stone objects include microliths, axes and maceheads along with parallel-sided blades, side and end scrapers, and assymetrical flakes and arrowheads. Ground stone tools are also found such as chisels as well as saddle querns, grinders and pounders for daily use. Bone tools belonging to five categories have been found including awls, perforators, spatulas, points and pressure flakes. Pottery is the third industry with the earliest examples being almost all handmade and divided into four subcategories.
Bronze Age Begins
The Bronze Age begins in the region around 2700-2100 BCE and is also evidenced at Saraikala with no break between the end of the neolithic to the Bronze age deposits. There is even a transitional period between the two ages which includes mixed implements of neolithic and bronze age varieties. history of texila ruins
According to mythology Taxila is said to have been founded by the son of the brother of the legendary hero Rama, and stood on a hill that commanded the river Tamra Nala, a tributary of the Indus. It is held to have been an important cultural centre since inception, and the Mahabharata was reported to have first been recited here. The site of the first city at Taxila is known now as the Bhir Mound.
The city of Taxila, known in antiquity as Takhshasila, was a renowned site of Buddhist Gandhara, especially after Ashoka's rule and in the 1st century CE Kushan era. The name Taxila is a Greek approximation of the original name. In Aramaic the city is known as Naggaruda, the 'City of Cut Stones' which is also the Buddhist name for the city, at least if taken literally i.e. taks meanining to cut or fashion something, which implies this name. However, in the same vein sila is also related to "sira" meaning "head" in Buddhist traditions and relates to the story of the Boddhisattva who voluntary had himself beheaded in sacrifice to a local Brahman in the city of Bhadrasila which the Buddha, while relating this story, is said to have linked to Taxila. The city of Sirkap also has a similar meaning i.e. sir or head and kap, to cut but this has not been proven satisfactorily yet.
Chu-cha-shi-lo is the Chinese name given to the region found in the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims. In Sanskrit, it is known as Takshasila, Takkasila or Takhashila and was also said to be the land of the Takhshas-a serpent race who could change their form at will to mingle with humans. Another Brahmanical tradition relates that it was the capital city of Taksha, son of Bharata, who was installed here as king.
Worlds First Universities and Flourished
The ancient city was revered as having one of the world's first universities and flourished during the 1st to 5th centuries CE as part of the civilization of Gandhara under various rulers. A variety of subjects were taught there, including mathematics, sciences, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, politics, literature and military sciences although it was not an institutionalised center of learning but rather a combination of religious plus secular studies centered around monasteries.
Situated on "The Royal Highway" (as termed by the Greek Megasthenes) It was connected to Pataliputra (modern day Patna) in the north eastern reaches of the Mauryan Empire, western Asia (through Bactria), across the Indus River at Hund and through Kashmir with Central Asia by way of Srinagar, leading down to Haripur. This allowed a steady influx of people from all over the Asiatic regions into the area in the form of traders, settlers, merchants, preachers and invaders.
The stupas came to represent the zenith of buddhist architectural achievement in the region and of course, as with the artwork, they are also meant solely to promote the religious power structures. The stupas themselves were decorated with uncountable relief panels and friezes depicting religious stories and events further solidifying their role.
Some of the most prominent stupas include:
- This is the largest Buddhist establishment in the Taxila region and dates from the time of Ashoka, the great Mauryan emperor who united India in the 3rd cent BCE and is known in some Buddhist sources as Dharmaraj, the name which the site itself is associated with.
- It is firmly believed by most scholars that Dharmarajika is one of the locations where the remains of the Buddha himself were buried and this makes it a relic depository stupa or Dhatu-Garbha stupa. Ashoka had an afinity to Taxila due to his governership of the area during the time of his father Bindusara and hence also chose this as one of the locations to re-inter the remains of the historical Buddha.
- The current site is the second reconstruction over the original Ashokan stupa, the first one occuring in the post earthquake period in the Kushan era (1st Cent CE) and the other much later. The original stupa was presumably smaller and humbler over which the existing dome was established, with radiating support walls like wheel spokes holding up the dome itself. The dome is 45 feet in height inside a 150 ft square having a diameter of approximately 115ft on average, not including the processional path.
The legend associated with this stupa connects it to Kunala, son of Ashoka. Kunala was then governor of Taxila and his step mother lusted for him. He rebutted her advances and in her rage she sent a fake missive by Ashoka to Taxila asking the administrators to blind Kunala. Kunala accepted the punishment even though he was guiltless, and afterwards led the life of a wandering mistrel, singing the story of his misfortune anonymously. He managed to make his way to Ashoka while wandering India, and Ashoka, upon hearing the song knew it to be his son and the story to be the truth and accepted him back, after which Kunala's sight was miraculously restored at Bodh Gaya.
The Stupa at Taxila was established to commemorate that legend although the existing remains cover an older stupa which has not been dated yet. The latest remains are dated to the 3rd-4th Cent CE. ARchitectural highlights
Decline of the Metropolis
Although the general view has been that the White Huns or Hephthalites were the cause of destruction in Gandhara, subsequent evidence has shown this to not be the whole case. During the time when the White Huns were gaining ascendency, there was a revival in the Brahamanic religion in India proper and Vishnu and Shivaite cults were gaining prominence. This was seen as a resurgence of the old faith as a response to the 1000-year dominance of Buddhism in the region, a religion that had become a shadow of its former self, with the decadence and opulence of the monasteries and stupas overtaking its original message.
- At this time Buddhism had traveled far north into China and in India itself the strength of Hinduism was waining. The incoming White Hun rulers, although perhaps not physically disruptive to the region, were nonetheless religiously inclined towards Shivaism, and it is for this reason that their patronage of Buddhism in Gandhara was nonexistent. Since the entire character of this region was based around the unifying element of Buddhism and monastic life, an almost sudden decrease in royal patronage led to the vast and opulent monasteries with their scores of students and monks being unable to sustain themselves. The urban nature of Taxila declined as the unifying religion became less and less stable and eventually, not due to force but due to a simple lack of resources, the monastic complexes of Taxila along with the urban life they generated, fell into disrepair and decay, as mentioned by XuanXang in his chronicles dating from the 7th century CE.
- Nonetheless even though the Urban life vanished, the rural life of the region continued even up to Mughal times, with the nearby Margala pass continuing to serve (to this day) an important route from East to West as it did in antiquity.
- Although the physical remains of Gandhara disappeared from Taxila as their lifeblood was sapped away, its geographical nature continued to keep it occupied in parts, with the name being converted to the modern Margala (via Persian language during the Mughal era) and the urban pattern being replaced by the fortified hill outposts which dot the landscape today. Indeed even the current place names such as Jaulian (Seat of Saints) and Bhir-Dargahi (from "Pir" or saint meaning 'Sacred home of the Saint') show that its religious nature continued to shift even as the entire cultural landscape changed. Indeed even today there are shrines of Muslim saints in close proximity to or in some cases (like Mohra Moradu) right within the older monastic establishments. This shows that while the outward signs of Taxila as a center of Gandhara civilization did indeed vanish, the soul of Taxila as a spiritual center lived on, adapting itself to a new paradigm. Decline of the metropolis
Created By: Mohsin Riaz
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