Taxila city is 35 km, which is 20 minute drive from Islamabad towards the northwest where the civilization of Gandhara exist
Taxila original name was Takshasila. After being destroyed 3 times by the earth quake it was made earth quake proof. Its name was change from Takshasila to Taxila where the word tax means to cut and sila means stone cut of stone city
Taxila is one of richest South Asia archeologist site.
Taxila is a testament to Buddhism. The Buddha himself spent 40 years in life traveling and teaching in this part of Pakistan and many says that it is from here the modern Buddhism takes its roots. The Greeks came to Taxila under the banner of the conqueror, Alexander the great.
Buddhism religion finds its roots in the subcontinent so it is not surprising that some of the best archeologist figures for Buddhism are in Pakistan. Taxila is one of the greatest.
Taxila Museum is located 35 km from Islamabad on the Grand Trunk Road to Peshawar. Founder of the museum is Sir John Marshall, who was then the director Genral of Archeology in India. He was behind the Greek style concept of the museum.
It has many significant finds from the Taxila site. And is perhaps few of the museums in the world that tells the story of Europe meeting the Far East. Museum is most noted for its Buddhist sculpture with features that were created when Alexander the great visited here in some 2400 years ago.
This is a site museum and its collection consists of objects from the period 600 B.C to 500 AD. Related to Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions objects discovered from three ancient cities are more than twenty Buddhist stupas and monasteries and Greek temples. The collection of Stone Buddhist sculpture from the first to the seventh centuries in Pakistan is called Gandharan Art. There are 5000 objects displayed, including stone, stucco, terracotta, silver, gold, iron and semiprecious stones.
The material has been presented in the six galleries of the museum. In the middle of the halls are table showcases & other objects have been exhibited in the wall showcases as well.
As we enter the museum, there is a main big hall, which has a complete stupa from the Buddhist monastery of Mohra Moradu to showcase. Archaeological map of Taxila is present on its left side. Table showcases exhibit small finds. The wall show cases schist stone sculptures on the two sides. The museum presents scenes from the life of the Buddha and examples of Gandharan Art. Red sand stone sculptures, two sandstone sculptures have also been displayed.
The second hall to the left has stucco sculptures from Mohra Moradan in the wall showcases and Buddhist sculptures brought from Julian monastery. On the floor are glazed tiles of the Kushana period.
In the third hall they have stucco heads on the hall showcases. The heads show different faces and hairstyles. The big Buddha heads are typically Gandharan in style.
Through the main hall, we can enter a small fourth hall, which has silver and gold jewelry and coins of the local kings in the display. The gold jewellery is in foreign as well as local styles.
In the fifth small hall the first object is an Aramaic inscription of King Asoka. Then we see a series of inscription written in Kharoshthi and also in Brahmi on paper. Then we see small terracotta figurines and a small terra cotta ceremonial tank model. On the opposite wall there are iron objects; arrowheads, nails, horse strips and plough.
Finally when we enter the last sixth hall, on the wall showcases we see silver glasses of different shapes, bowls and spoons, toilet trays, small pottery pieces, bowls and plates of terracotta and pottery arranged for distillation. On the floor are big storage jars, pestle and mortar and saddle querns.
It is one of the best museum in the whole world. Its timings are from 8 30 to 530 in summer and from 9-4 in winter.
The Greeks came to Taxila under the banner of the conqueror, Alexander the great. They built Taxila 1st city and called it Sirkap. The city was first of its kind in South Asia using the same building style that was found in the Asian Greek capital of Athens. Today all that is left is roads and building foundations. Sirkap history spends for over 1000 years that involves different empires conquering and rebuilding it.
It is the second major ancient city at Taxila. It is known as Sirkap after the name of a wicked character of a folk legend, “Raja Rasalu and seven demons” that is said to have lived on this site. The excavation of this old city was carried out by H. Hargreaves during 1912-1930 under the direction of Sir John Marshall and in 1944-45 by Sir Mortimer Wheeler and his colleagues.
Sirkap is part of the larger archaeological complex at Taxila, now located in the modern state of Pakistan, in the province of Punjab. The archaeological complex at Taxila, of which Sirkap is one site, is located about 22 kilometers to the west of Islamabad, and about 25 kilometers to the northwest of the city of Rawalpindi.
The great city was one time termed the greatest university for law, history and medicine on subcontinent. And the ancient city architectural design plans was so ahead of its time that it was put to use when Islamabad was built some 50 years ago.
It was a well planned city islamabd is built on this design. It has 2 cities beneath it which is still to be dugged. When in 1912 digging was carried out, just to show the signs of 2 cities under it, on one corner of the city 3 layers were digged which represents 3 periods
Archaeologists have identified three phase
1-The first, Demetrian phase of the Greek city, second century AD.(picture, bottom)
2- The Saca period, until an earthquake in ca. 30 CE. (Picture, center)
3- The Parthian period (picture, thin layer at the top).
The city is heavily influenced by Greek city planning principles. The streets of the city were more regular than those at Bhir, and the houses were mostly made of coursed stone. There were temples, houses, shrines, and stupas. A stupa is a funeral mound, usually associated with the death and nirvanas of Buddha. Buddhists always were the main religious group, and we find many stupas in Sirkap.
A straight line, dividing the 1200 m long town into two halves. The private houses were constructed of rubble masonry covered with mud plaster. Usually, they had a small court, a second floor and a flat roof. After the earthquake that marks the break between the Indo-Scythian and Indo-Parthian periods, many houses were rebuilt with stronger walls and deeper foundations.
THE MAIN ROAD OF SIRKAP
The city is dominated by the main street along, which small rooms are meant for shops. As we enter the gateway,we see the refuse the walls just inside, and than the passage bends and we have the inner guard rooms before we reach the main street
There were sakas people who believed in sun god. When the city was digged, a statue of a sun god was found. When Parthian came they changed the place and used it as a sun dile. It’s been called a “SUN TEMPLE” because the residents used it to know the timing ,standing in front of the temple to see where the shadow of sun comes in different angles and identifying the timings.
On the left side of Sun temple there is the solid drum of a round stupa, is also called private stupa because it was built in a house. When it was digged, the statue of a dancer was found Raqasa
After the earthquake that destroyed the city in 30 AD, the Buddhist shrine was built in spacious courtyard.The round part was probably in use for a small stupa, but no traces of it remain.
It is a sect of Hindus who believe in a mahaveer. When mahaveer died his ashes were divided into different parts. One part of ashes is inside it. When city was dugged, some temples of mahaveer were found which are now in Taxila museum. Some inscriptions regarding jain mark were also found
Juliann Buddhist Monastery
Its real name was Jaye Walian means place of Walian. It is included in the Gandharan civilization as one of the best educational city. People from different parts of the world used to come here to learn Buddhism.
Buddha sculptures found here were more than anywhere and were in better condition. Before 600 BC Julian University was on its peak. It was created in a top hill mountain which was 100 m above the ground. What is let over now, one can find signs of kitchen, bathrooms dining room and places of worship there. Many stupas were built here. Places of worship are covered with roofs of steel. At that time whenever monks’ type people used to come here to worship main stupa than just as a favor before going back they used to build one small stupa. Here statues of Yunnan god Atlantes are also found about which it is said that he is holding skies in his own shoulders.
Main statue of Julian which is mahatma statue is known as statue for health, people of Buddhism believe that when an ill person out his finger in the belly button of it and pray for his health then he gets fit. Around main stupa there are about 21 more stupas Julian University was burned by Mongol tribal in 400 century and after 1000 of years these signs were found by South Korean experts. By promoting Historical places like Julian, tourism can be enhanced which in turn will also help Pakistan economy.
Dharmarajika Stupa (2nd century AD)
The earliest Buddhist monument in Pakistan.It’s an archeological site situated about 2km from Taxila Museum.
It was built by Asoka to enshrine the relics of lord Buddha at the time of its re distribution to enshrine them in a number of other stupas at different places , it is referred that king asoka opened 7 original old stupas and collected memento to accept thousand of stupas and dharmarajika stupa is one of them.
The stupa is situated in a circular structure and is about 15 meter high, raised on a plate form.
The passage to the ruins at hillock from the main the main road is very fine and lush green with lots of trees and there seems to be a small stream from the old times of Asoka, used to for water supply to the resident of the shrine and monastic areas.
Dharmarajika Stupa is one of eight shrines constructed in the 3rd century BC during the reign of Emperor Asoka of the Mauryan dynasty to house relics of the Buddha. The shrine gradually 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
Shrine of Double Headed Eagle :
There is a double headed eagle shrine along the main street of sirkap. Nobody knows its original name. It is called shrine of double headed eagle because of the bird on the arch that has two heads. The alexander’s army also left the cultural imprint on this shrine. The pediment of the shrine is of classical greek architecture. Indian culture influence can also be seen especially on the outer side of the shrine.
The ruins of the city were first discovered in 1913 – 1925 by the Sir John Marshall and it continued uptill 2002 by different archeologists. The ruins form a town of irregular shape. Bhirmound remained very important city as it was the centre of administration, education, trade. Bhuddhism became an important religion during the period of Ashoka – The grandson of chandargupta. It was also provincial capital during mauryan dynasty.
Jandial Temple :
It is one of the most unique buildings in Central Asia. It closely follows the structure of classical temples of Greece. It consists of a central shrine with four Ionic columns supporting a porch. Two variations are noted in temple layout at Jandial : Firstly, the roof of the temple was supported by a wall that had 20 windows instead of the Greek colonnade. Secondly, the place of the tower was traditionally reserved for a chapel. It is probably the only or atleast one of the very few greek temples in the subcontinent.
Nicholson Monument :
There comes a monument enroute the historical city of taxila. The monument was constructed in honour of brigadier general Nicholson who was a famous british military figure. It is situated at the Tarnol pass or Margalla Pass. It was constructed in 1868. It is about 40 feet high monument. There is also a small memorial fountain at the base of the hillock on which the Memorial stands.Besides these places, there are also no. of other places that can be visited while one is in taxila. No. of good restaurants, hotels and motels have been build and they provide good facilities. E.g Ghandhara hotel, Ghandhara restaurant, PTDC motel.
There are also hindu temples located in the heart of town. These were the temples built by Ram rakhi in memory of her husband Bhaghat Lal.
Summing up : Taxila is a ‘ city of secrets and rich history ‘