Vanished Buddhist site rediscovered in Pakistan

Press Trust Of India, August 27, 2011

Islamabad, Pakistan -- A Gandhara Buddhist site, which was lost to the world due to neglect after it was excavated more than a century ago, has been rediscovered in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Officials of Directorate of Museums and Archaeology in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and Tourism Corporation managed to identify and re-ascertain the exact location of the famous Shahjiki-Dheri Gandharan Buddhist site, local media reported.

An official said, located outside the Gunj Gate of the old Walled City of Peshawar is a site of extraordinary archaeological importance where an imposing 'stupa' a structure than contained revered Buddhist relics once stood.

The now urbanised area, known as Akhunabad, presents a sorry picture of a once renowned historic site said to be was one of a kind in Asia.

The stupa is said to have been built during the reign of Kushan Emperor Kanishka in the first century AD.

A Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang visited the site during 629AD-645AD and called it the 'tallest architectural building' in this part of Asia. It is estimated that the stupa was equivalent to a present day 13-storey-tall building.

With the decline of Buddhism in the region, the traces of the stupa and monastery faded away.

An official said that subsequent excavation work yielded priceless Gandharan statues and other objects which are on display in museums around the world. When the excavation work stopped, the significance of the area was forgotten.