Taxila, also known as the Ancient Gandhāran city of Takshashila, is an ancient site in the Punjab Province of Pakistan dating back as far as the sixth century BC.
One of the factors which make Taxila such a significant archeological site is the fact that, over its five century lifespan, it witnessed the evolution of numerous civilizations, including the Persians, Greeks and Hindus. It was also an important site in the development of the art of Gandhara.
Taxila itself is actually made up of a complex of ruins, including the Khanpur Mesolithic cave, several Buddhist monasteries, medieval mosques and four settlements called Bhir, Sirkap, Saraidala and Sirsukh. In particular, Bhir was probably the earliest settlement in Taxila and, in its excellent condition, boasts street structures, house foundations and stone walls. Alexander the Great conquered Bhir during his victorious route through Taxila.
Sirkap, which was probably founded by the Greeks in the second century BC and destroyed by the Kushanas in the first century AD, also offers a wealth of both religious and cultural archeological finds, particularly as relates to its Hellenistic structure.
Taxila is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a great place to discover the roots of Buddhism, the art of Gandhara and the ancient culture of the subcontinent. If you’re only planning a day’s visit, the Taxlia Museum is probably the best place to get an overview and to see some of the relics as well as the artwork.
Who is the founder of Taxila University [of ancient India]?
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. TakshaShila considered the ancient world’s first international university (c. approx. 400-500 BCE to 550 CE].
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.”
Within a decade after Alexander’s death, Taxila was absorbed into the Mauryan empire founded by Chandragupta, under whom it became a provincial capital. However, this was only an interlude in the history of Taxila’s subjection to conquerors from the west. After three generations of Mauryan rule, the city was annexed by the Indo-Greek kingdom of Bactria. It remained under the Indo-Greeks until the early 1st century BCE. They were followed by the Shakas, or Scythians, from Central Asia, and by the Parthians, whose rule lasted until the latter half of the 1st century CE
At the time, TakshaShila was described as the wealthiest city in India. The campus attracted students from faraway places like China, Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Babylonia and Greece. It is believed that students started their studies at Takshashila at around age 16, after they had completed their primary education at home, and secondary education in the Ashrams. Education was considered sacred an ancient Sanskrit quote says “स्वगृहे पूज्यते मूर्खः स्वग्रामे पूज्यते प्रभुः। स्वदेशे पूज्यते राजा विद्वान्सर्वत्र पूज्यते॥” (A fool is worshiped at his home. A chief is worshiped in his town. A king is worshiped in his kingdom. A knowledgeable person is worshipped everywhere). Education was accordingly undeniable to even the poorest students. Admissions were based on merit and financial support was often provided by the community or through work-study arrangements.
The university accommodated a student body that numbered upwards of 10,000 with two out of three applicants rejected. The campus had 300 lecture halls plus laboratories, an observatory and a huge library that spanned 3 buildings. The university thrived for approximately 9 to 10 centuries, with a resurgence under the rule of King Kanishka, until its destruction in the 6th century CE.
During its time TakshaShila attained recognition as an important center of learning for Vedic and Buddhist studies, as well as for mastering various arts and sciences. Nearly 2,000 master-teachers taught an array of at least 68 topics at the ancient university. Courses covered the fields of science, mathematics, medicine, politics, warfare, astrology, astronomy, music, dance, religion, vedas, grammar, agriculture, surgery, commerce, futurology, and philosophy. Among the more curious subjects were the art of discovering hidden treasure, decrypting encrypted messages, the Vedas and the Eighteen Arts, archery, hunting, and elephant lore. TakshaShila University was specialized in the study of medicine, as it was a place in which Ayurvedic medicine and surgery could be studied for up to seven years before graduation.
The process of teaching was very thorough. Until a unit was mastered completely, the student was not allowed to proceed to the next. The curriculum for any given subject was considered complete when the teacher was satisfied with the student’s level of achievement. True knowledge, not examinations, was considered essential to complete one’s studies. It was understood that knowledge was its own reward. Thus, no convocations were held upon completion, and no written degrees were awarded.
Remarkably, no external authorities like kings or local leaders sought control over the curriculum at TakshaShila. In fact, in most cases, the schools were located within the teachers’ private houses. With complete autonomy in their work, teachers had the freedom to teach who and what they liked, without conforming to a centralized syllabus or doctrine. With each master teacher able to form his own institution, a variety of paradigms and perspectives could be heard. In exchange for their knowledge, the teachers were exempted from taxes, and they were given generous sums of money during various sacrifices and rituals throughout the year.
Charaka, the famous ancient Ayurvedic physician was an alumnus of TakshaShila. He simplified an older Ayurvedic work called Agnivesha Samhita into the Charaka Samhita and also incorporated his research into the region’s flora and fauna. He is ascribed the famous quote “A physician who fails to enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding can never treat diseases.” Jivaka, the great physician to Gautama Buddha and an expert in pulse reading studied Ayurveda in TakshaShila University for seven years. He specialized in panchakarma, marma and surgery. He cured the Buddha’s nadi vran, worked with the great classic beauty Amrapali to retain her youthful countenance via many amazing operations on her using marma points and surgical procedures, and invented a cure for filariasis. Panini, the famous Sanskrit grammarian and author of Ashtadhyayi, to whom Professor Noam Chomsky attributes the origin of linguistics, was also a product of TakshaShila. Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Empire, was another famous alumnus of TakshaShila. Chanakya (a.k.a. Kautilya, Vishnugupta), the prime minister of the Mauryan Empire and mentor to Chandragupta Maurya (and the third most famous management consultant in India after Krishna and Shakuni) is believed to have composed the Arthashastra (which consists of 15 books) while studying at TakshaShila circa 300 BCE. This work was deemed by social and economic historian Max Weber as one of the greatest political statecraft books of the ancient world, covering the topics of economic policies, state intelligence systems, administrative skills, military strategy, political duties and statecraft. TakshaShila University’s famous researchers and teachers also include Vishnu Sharma, the author of the great book that teaches the art of political science in the form of simple beautiful stories called the Pancha Tantra, Jotipala, commander-in-chief of Banaras, with great proficiency in archery and military science and Prasenajit, the enlightened ruler of Kosala.
TakshaShila was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 and is located near Rawalpindi in modern-day Pakistan.
In 1905, the Horana Buddhist English school was established under the programme of opening of Buddhist schools, launched by the Ceylon Buddhist Theosophists and Col. Henry Steel Olcott. The school was established on a small plot of land provided by Sathis Wimalasekara.
The school was relocated to a plot of land donated by philanthropist Arthur V. Dias during the 1930s. The Horana Buddhist English School was renamed as the Taxila Buddhist English School, following a proposal by W. K. S. Fonseka, a teacher at the school and endorsed by then principal W. F. Sirisena.
As a result of the educational reforms proposed by the C. W. W. Kannangara committee in 1943, 54 central colleges were established throughout the country. Moreover, a demand arose that the government take over Taxila Buddhist English school and make it a central college. 
Under the patronage of the Minister of Education, C. W. W. Kannangara, on 6 May 1946, Taxila Buddhist English school was converted into Taxila Central College. 
The first principal was Thomas Newton Silva. The school shifted to the present venue in 1954. After the shift of venue Taxila Central College became an above grade six school, leaving the primary section at the old venue as a different school. The shift occurred while Edmund Dias was the principal. 
Principal E. D. K. Abeysekara was appointed in 1958 and recorded the longest tenure as principal, except for that of H. K. A. Abhayapala.
A hostel was established gathering 200 students, and physical resources were developed during this period. Electricity and water facilities were included among the major facilities.
Science scholars were admitted during this era. In 1958 the school got laboratory facilities and the science classes for ordinary level examination were initiated in 1960. In 1961 Taxila initiated the Advanced Level Science Section.
Field Study Centre Edit
In early 1979, a field study center was established at Taxila Central College, Horana to occupy the closed down hostel building to house the field study center. The first Field Study Camp was held on 3 August 1979 as an environmental project of the Kalutara District five year educational plan (1979-1983). Education Department and the Ministry of Education supported very much to build up the center
By 1981, the field study centre was a fully fledged environmental studies laboratory. The Ministry of Education promoted the novel idea of outdoor activities related to the environment and allocated funds to carry out the study camps. Several three day residential camps were held during every school term. The environmental studies done in these camps were based on the rich biological diversity of Kaluganga-Basin.
The deputy principal, Ranjith Wijenayake, has produced and directed a number of stage plays on behalf of the school. Four of them (Asarana Kathandarayak, Nena Saha Pena and Diriya Mawa) represented the school at national level competitions. 'Diriya Mawa'(a translation of Bertolt Bretcht's Mother Courage and Her Children) won the second place at the State School Drama Festival- 2012. That drama won 14 awards as well.
Swimming pool Edit
In 2004, according to the proposal by Captain of the Police Life Guard W. S. Bandula, the swimming section of the school was started as a sport event. It was started by Ramyalatha Mayadunna.
A request was sent to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka, from the school. The pool was donated by Rev. Kyuse EnShinjo - Founder of the Nethbutshu Buddhism Sect in Japan, with collaboration of the secretary of Prime Minister.
The Swimming pool complex opened on 29 June 2009.
Laboratory complex Edit
The lab opened In 1962. Its three sections were Chemistry, Physics and Agriculture. In 1986 these became a Chemistry Lab, Physics Lab, Botany Lab and Zoo Lab. Later the Zoo lab closed and the Botany lab became the Bio lab. The new O/L science laboratory was established In 2005.
Field Study Centre Edit
- Studying Camps
- One-Day Workshops(For grade 6-21 students)
- 3-Day Workshops(For A/L Students)
- Co-ordination centre for A/L Projects
This contains a butterfly park, fish pond, collection of aquatic plants and afforestation.
The school offers Grade 6 to Grade 13 Classes with three sections in Advanced Level Step Called Science Section (Combined Mathematics and Biology), Art Section and Commerce Section. More than 3,500 students study in these sections.
'Prathibha' is a variety show in which all the grade 6 children participate commenced in 2003. It is held annually on the last day of December. Almost three thousand children have participated so far.
'Nirupana' is an educational procession made up of hundreds of representations of social and cultural phenomena. Though the form is like a traditional procession, the content is entirely educational and creative. This is the peculiar annual event of grade 7 students and it started in 2008.
'Nirmani' is an open stage variety show of grade 8 children. It commenced in 2008. It is unique in the sense that the items displayed are the creations of the children. It is held before thousands  of children on the last day of the second term. Ranjith Wijenayake was instrumental in introducing those three events.
Students of Taxila Central College are divided into four houses, named after kings in Sri Lankan history. Each house has its own colour.
The early history goes back to Alexander the Great, who came to the region in 327 BC and built a ship in the region of Karachi for traveling other regions of the world. Before Alexander, the region was ruled by different rulers, including Malavas, Kaikayas, Kambojas, Yaudheyas, Pauravas, Kurus, Daradas, and Madras.
After the decline of the Achaemenid Empire, the region was ruled by many other dominant forces, including the empire of Kushan, Mauryan Empire, Gupta’s Empire, Hindu-Shahis, Turks, and Indo Greeks.
In the 7th century, Rajpoots took hold of the district, followed by the Ghaznavid Dynasty when Mehmood GHaznavi of Ghaznavids came to the near areas of Punjab and invaded Hindu Shahis in Kabul.
After Ghaxnavid Dynasty, the Mughals and Delhi Sultanate ruled the main regions of Punjab, including Taxila, till the invasion of British rulers who took the most ancient and popular status of Buddha and placed them in the museums abroad.
Takshashila – World’s Oldest University
More than 2700 years back a huge university existed in that ancient India where over 10,500 students from all across the world came for higher studies.
This was the TakshaShila university of ancient India (wrongly spelled as Taxila today). During its times this university was the IIT and MIT of the world, where the students from all across the world used to come to attain specialization in over 64 different fields of study like vedas, grammar, philosophy, ayurveda, agriculture, surgery, politics, archery, warfare, astronomy, commerce, futurology, music, dance, etc. There were even curious subjects like the art of discovering hidden treasure, decrypting encrypted messages, etc
Students were admitted to this university at the age of 16 after they had completed their basic education in their local institutions. Every single graduate who passed out of this university would become a well sought after scholar all across the subcontinent!
Admission into this university was purely based on merit. The students would opt for electives and then would do indepth study and research into their field of choice.
Some of the students who graduated out of the Takshashila university included the great political master Chanakya (also called Kautilya/Vishnugupta who not only authored the world’s finest work till today on political duties, statecraft, economic policies, state intelligence systems, administrative skills and military strategy, called the Artha Shastra which consists of 15 books, but who also guided Chandragupta Maurya as a mentor who founded the Great Mauryan Empire, and also served as the prime minister of the Mauryan Empire!)
In fact Chanakya is known to be the third most famous management consultant in India after Krishna and Shakuni. Krishna is at the top with his successful guidance of the Pandavas in Mahabharatha. Shakuni is at the second position for successfully guiding his camp of Kauravas, without Shakuni’s consultancy, Kaurvas were nothing!
Then comes Chanakya who guided Chandra Gupta Maurya to lay the foundations of the great Mauryan Empire. The Great Indian emperor Ashoka was the Grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. You can read an earlier article of mine on Ashoka here .
Takshashila , the place where this university existed, is currently in Pakistan, and gets its name from Taksha, who was the son of Bharatha (the brother of Rama). Taksha ruled over the kingdom of Taksha Khanda which even extended beyond modern day Uzbekistan, and Tashkent -the present day Uzbek capital also gets its name from Taksha/Takshashila. Click here to see a collection of modern photographs of Takshashila.
Panini was another great product of this university. He was an expert in language and grammar and authored one of the greatest works on grammar ever written called Ashtadhyayi. Ashtadhyayi means eight chapters and is more complicated and at the same time highly technical and specific defining the features and rules of Sanskrit grammar, like how we have modern day books on computer programming languages like C/C++.
Another great student from Takshashila university was Vishnu Sharma , the author of the great book that teaches the art of political science in the form of simple beautiful stories called the Pancha Tantra (meaning the five techniques). It is said that Vishnu Sharma wrote these stories in order to convert three dumb princes of a king into able political administrators within a span of six months!
Charaka, the famous ancient Indian ayurvedic physician was a product of Takshashila university. He originally authored the Charaka Samhita (simplifying an even older ayurvedic work called the Agnivesha Samhita) which along with Sushrutha Samhita, Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hrudayam forms the root of modern Ayurveda. Charaka said, A physician who fails to enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding can never treat diseases .
Jivak was another genius who came out of the Takshashila university. He was a doctor and an expert in pulse reading (understanding the health status of the body by just listening to the person’s pulse!). He studied Ayurveda in Takshashila University for seven years. His areas of specialization was Panchakarma, Marma and Surgery.
Jivak was the personal physician of Buddha and also cured the Nadi Vran of Buddha! He also worked with the great classic beauty Amrapali and ensured that she retained her youthful countenance and performed many amazing operations on her using only Marma points and surgical procedures! He also invented a cure for Filariasis. There are over 15000 handwritten manuscripts of Jivak’s expertise passed on by generations to their children and are still preserved in India even today.
As an ancient sanskrit quote says
A fool is worshiped at his home.
A chief is worshiped in his town.
A king is worshiped in his kingdom.
A knowledgeable person is worshipped everywhere
Below are two pieces of episodes from the great television serial ‘Chanakya’. The conversation is in ancient Hindi with a 100% Sanskrit touch. You can read a summary of the Chanakya’s life history here . Note that Chanakya lived between 350-283 BCE.
In the first video below Chanakya is lecturing about the duties of a teacher, he himself being a teacher, says that the duty of the teacher is to ensure that the students are aware of their social responsibilities. In times of an external threat to the nation, it is also the duty of the teacher to fight the aggression and invasion making complete use of his military, intelligence and organizational skills. He also says that the safety of the country has a higher priority than the administration, and if it is observed that the political administration of the country is moving against the national interests, then it becomes the duty of a teacher to rebel against the administration and to reinstate a new administration that truly cares for the country and the society.
In the second video below Chanakya rebels against the King Ambi (the one who is seen on the horse) and warns him against allying with the Greek invaders to fight against Indian kingdoms, saying he will have to face dire consequences if he does so. It should be noted that it was Chandragupta Maurya who later under the able guidance of Chanakya wipes out all traces of Greek invasion from India, and builds the mighty Mauryan Empire.
Chanakya explaining national interests and the duties of a teacher and citizens
Chanakya warns the king Ambhi who visits his gurukul (school), against allying with the Greek
Taxila (Old Indian Takshaçila, Greek Ταξίλα): the ancient capital of the eastern Punjab, the country between the rivers Indus and Hydaspes. The site consists of several parts, which belong to the Achaemenid, Greek, and Kushan periods.
That Taxila was very famous, can be deduced from the fact that it is mentioned in several languages: in Sanskrit, the city was called Takshaçila, which may be interpreted as "prince of the serpent tribe" in Pâli it was known as Takkasilâ the Greeks knew the town as Taxila (Ταξίλα), which the Romans rendered as Taxilla the Chinese called it Chu Ch'a-shi-lo. The ruins are some 30 kilometers northwest of modern Islamabad.
The town commanded the Indian "royal road" (Uttarāpatha), which connected Gandara (the valley of the river Cophen, modern Kabul) in the west to the kingdom of Magadha in the Ganges valley in the east. Another important route was the Indus river from Kashmir in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south. To fully understand the importance of Taxila, it must be noted that the Khunjerab pass between Kashmir and Xinjiang (the current Karakoram highway) could already be crossed in Antiquity therefore, Taxila was also connected to the Silk road between Babylonia in the far west and China in the far east.
Taxila was founded in the seventh or sixth century BCE, according to legend by a son of the brother of the legendary hero Rama. The first town was situated on a hill that commanded the river Tamra Nala, a tributary of the Indus. It was an important cultural center and it is said that the Mahabharata was first recited at Taxila. This site is currently called Bhir. The residential area was in the east the western part of the town seems to have had a ceremonial function. If the "Pillared hall" was indeed a sanctuary, as is maintained by several archaeologists, it is the oldest known Hindu shrine.
Taxila was the capital of a kingdom that was called Hinduš (or Indus-country) and consisted of the western half of the Punjab. It was added to the Achaemenid empire under king Darius I the Great, but the Persian occupation did not last long. There are no archaeological traces of the presence of western armies in the Punjab, although in 2002, archaeologists have claimed to have found a Persian building. note [The Pakistani newspaper Dawn (24 March 2002) suggests that the throne hall of raja Ambhi had been identified.]
When the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great occupied Gandara and the Punjab in 326, the Indian kingdoms had already regained their independence. King Ambhi of Taxila, who is called Taxiles ("the man from Taxila") and Omphis in the Greek sources, had invited Alexander in 329, because he needed support against king Porus (Indian: Puru) of Pauravas, a state that was situated in the eastern Punjab. Alexander did what he had been asked to do: he defeated Porus on the banks of the river Hydaspes (modern Jhelum). However, he unexpectedly allied himself to Porus, and forced Ambhi and Porus to reconcile themselves. Leaving the region, he left behind an occupation force of Macedonian and Greek veterans under a satrap named Philip. When this man was murdered in 325, Alexander sent a Thracian named Eudamus to share the reign with Ambhi.
Alexander died on 11 June 323, in far-away Babylon. Immediately, the veterans in the eastern satrapies decided to fight themselves a way back to Greece. They were defeated by an army commanded by Peithon, the newly appointed satrap of Media. For the time being, all remained quiet in the east, but many Europeans had died, and the grip of the survivors on the eastern periphery, which had never been very firm, became very weak indeed. In 316, king Chandragupta of the Mauryan dynasty of Magadha (321-297) could conquer the Indus valley. Taxila lost its independence and became a provincial capital.
Chandragupta was succeeded by Bindusara. His son Ashoka was governor of Taxila until 269, when he succeeded his father. Ashoka became famous for his religious policy: he stimulated Buddhism wherever possible. At Taxila, the existing monastery, which was situated on the other bank of the river, was abandoned. Two new monasteries were built to the east. The Dharmarajika monastery, where Ashoka buried several relics of Buddha, is still famous for its stupa.
In 184, the Greeks, who had maintained a kingdom in Bactria, invaded Gandara and the Punjab again. From now on, there was a Greek king living in Taxila. His name was Demetrius. The town was rebuilt on the plains on the other bank. This second Taxila, now called the Sirkap ("severed head"), was built according to the Hippodamian Plan, that is: according to Greek fashion, like a gridiron. The largest sanctuary, now called "apsidal temple", measured 70x40 meters. The Sun temple and a sanctuary known as "shrine of the double-headed eagles" are near the apsidal temple.
Demetrius' kingdom consisted of Gandara, Arachosia, the Punjab and a part of the Ganges valley. It was a multi-ethnic society, in which Greeks, Bactrians, western Iranians and Indians lived together. Greek religious practices, Iranian cults, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism are all known from second-century Taxila. For example, there was a Zoroastrian sanctuary at Jandial, directly north of Sirkap, while the city itself boasted all kinds of sanctuaries.
After 110 BCE, the Punjab was gradually taken over by the Sacae. This is a common name for the nomad tribes of Central Asia, who always tried to invade the territories to their south, such as Bactria. They had been kept away since the age of king Cyrus the Great, but had ravaged the Graeco-Bactrian kingdom in c.130 and had finally settled in Drangiana, which was henceforth called Sacastane or Sistan. At the beginning of the first century BCE, they launched raids on Gandara and infiltrated in the southern Indus valley and settled in Taxila.
In the second half of the first century BCE, the Parthians became interested in the region and started to take over the Greek petty kingdoms of Gandara and the Punjab. One of the Parthian leaders, living in Taxila, was named Gondophares. According to an old and wide-spread Christian tradition, he was baptized by the apostle Thomas. Although the story is impossible - Gondophares was king before Jesus was born - it documents that adherents of several religions lived together in Gandara and the Punjab. There may indeed have been an audience for a representative of a new Jewish sect, even when Gondophares died before Thomas was born.
Another visitor was a Greek philosopher named Apollonius of Tyana. A description of Taxila can be found in the Life of Apollonius of Tyana by the Greek author Philostratus. In section 2.20 he writes that the town is as big as Nineveh and was fortified like the Greek cities.
In ca. 80 CE, the Yuezhi nomads or Kushans took over the area. Again, Taxila was refounded, this time even further to the north. This third town is known as Sirsukh. It must have looked like a large military base. The wall is 5 kilometers long and no less than 6 meters thick. From now on, Taxila was visited by Buddhist pilgrims from countries as far as Central Asia and China. There were many sanctuaries and monasteries in the neighborhood, like Jaulian and Mohra Moradu.
The city was badly damaged when the Huns invaded the Punjab in the fifth century, and never recovered.
This stupa is located in a complex that is fairly well preserved and contains a monastery as well as a votive stupa. The monastery was once a double storey building with 27 rooms for the students, along with a pool having steps on all sides, a kitchen as well as a large assembly hall. It was initially built in the 2 nd century AD, with renovations being done over the years.
Sculptures Built on Jaulian Stupa in Taxila
Jaulian Stupa is another 2 nd century AD establishment of the Buddhists and is surrounded by the ruins of a monastery as well as a university. The complex is built on a hill overlooking Taxila. Its most prominent find is the statue of a Healing Buddha which has a hole in its navel from a time when people used to put their fingers in the hole while praying for a cure from various ailments.
Pakistan - Taxila A land of Greatest Mountains & Colorful Culture - A Complete Guide to Pakistan Basic Info History Climate Places to Visit Slide Show Search Tours
Taxila is the most important Buddhist sites in Pakistan housing about 50 archeological remains from the 2nd century BC to 6th century AD. Taxila was discovered in 1911 - 1922 by Sir Joh Marshal who has been regarded as the discoverer of many other archeological sites including the Indus Civilization's Moen Jo Daro & Harrappa.
Taxila is situated 40 Kilometers away from Islamabad and Rawalpindi. As one drives to Peshawar on grand Trunk road just after Margala pass there is a sign of Taxila Remains on the right.
The archeological sites of Taxila include buildings and Buddhist Stupas from 5th century to 6th century AD. 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 shards similar to burnished red wares (or 'soapy red wares') recovered from early phases at Charsadda, and may date between the 6th century BCE and the late 2nd millennium BCE. Bhir Mound dates from the 6th century BCE. The second city of Taxila is located at Sirkap and was built by Greco-Bactrian kings in the 2nd century BCE. 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.
How to tour Taxila
Taxila can be visited as an excursion from Islamabad or can be seen enroute to Peshawar or to Besham either way it is best to see the archeological remains of Sirkap and Julian first which are the most important one. Sirkap is the citadal of the city and was a planned city having multicultural people living in it. When you visit Sirkap you can see the interesting style of masonry from Kashan period to the last period of 6th century when the city was destroyed by the while Huns. You will also see some well marked structures which include temples markets and halls the most important of them is the double headed eagle's temple which was a memorial to celebrate all the groups of cultures living in the city.
Julian is a 300 meters easy climb you will see a well preserved monastery and the main Stupa beautifully decorated with the statues of Buddha and other deities. THe local guide will explain all the important aspects of the monastery and Stupa. Julian was the place where Sanskirat script was invented and it was a well known college in its times (2nd to 6th century AD)
After visiting Julian & Sirkap it will be best to see the museum which is well organized and houses some of the most important
SITUATION OF T AKSH AS IL A (TAX I LA) ON THREE GREAT . TRADE-ROUTES (By Sir John Marshal)
THE city of Takshasila or Taxila， as it has more familiarly been known to Europeans ever since Alexander the Great's invasion of India, was situated at the head of the Sind Sagar Doab between' the Indus and Jhelum rivers and in the shadow of the Murree hills where they die down into the western plain. To be more precise it was a little over 20 miles north-west of the modern city of Rawalpindi and close beside the railway junction of Taxila, where the main line of the North-Western Railway is joined by a branch line from Havelian in the Haripur valley. Here also, in ancient days, was the meeting-place of three great trade-routes: one, from Hindustan and Eastern India, which was to become the ‘ royal highway' described by Megasthenes as running from Pataliputra to the north-west of the Mauria empire the second from Western Asia through Bactria, KapisI and Pushkalavati and so across the Indus at Ohind to Taxila and the third from Kashmir and Central Asia by way of the Srlnagar valley and Baramula to Mansehra and so down the Haripur valley.
These three trade-routes, which carried the bulk of the traffic passing by land between India and Central and Western Asia, played an all-important part in the history of Taxila, for it was mainly to them that the city owed its initial existence as well as its subsequent prosperity and greatness and it was due to their diversion or decline, when trade contacts with foreign countries were interrupted, that Taxila sank eventually into insignificance.
SIGNIFICANCE OF TRADE-ROUTES FOR EARLY HISTORY OF TAXILA
This matter of trade-routes has an intimate bearing on the question of the date of Taxila's foundation. In the prehistoric days of the Indus civilisation, before roads and vehicular traffic had been developed, the urban population of the Panjab was almost wholly dependent for its transport and communication on the navigable rivers, which flow generally in a direction from north-east to south-west, and it was only on the banks of those rivers that human settlements of any considerable size could be
Double Headed Eagle's temple Taxila
Taxila Museum is one of the oldest museums in Pakistan it has some of the most valuable Buddhist relics and statues from 2nd century BC to 6th century AD. The articles that are displayed are very high value and present the master craftsmanship of the Gandhara art.
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.
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 ‘