The stones of Takshasila have a millennia’s worth of stories to tell if you have the time to listen. The town now known as Taxila is located about 35 KM north of Rawalpindi. Declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, it is one of only 6 in the country, and what a heritage it is. The site is steeped in the history of early Buddhism, was significant in the Mauryan and Hellenistic (ancient Greek) period, is mentioned in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and is home to ruins that date back to the 6th century BCE. If standing among the ancient rocks in this ‘city of cut stone’- the meaning of its name, gives visitors a sense of timelessness, it may be because its history as a city goes back to 1000 BCE. That’s three thousand years ago.
Taxila was of importance throughout a large chunk of the history of the Indian subcontinent because of its location at the crossroads of India with central Asia. Today, it’s convenient location right off the Grand trunk road means it’s easily accessible to tourists. Travelers who take this route will be rewarded by a wealth of attractions. These include 5 Buddhist Stupa and monastery complexes, Two fort cities, a medieval mosque, several mounds. There are also Buddhist and Greek relics and even a mound that offers a glimpse into humanities prehistoric past. Taxila also has a great museum filled with some truly precious treasures and an attached gift shop.
The UN declared this a world heritage site because it ‘reveals the pattern of evolution on the Indian subcontinent for more than five centuries’.So go ahead, take a walk through the subcontinents development, and head over to Taxila. For a quick overview of the site, continue below:
Reasons to Go
- Dharmarajika: The great Stupa
- Gandhara art: Some of the worlds best examples of this kingdoms art style are on display here
- Medieval Mosques: Giri mosque and tombs make sure that the Islamic age is represented on this walk through history too
- A view of the earliest days of Buddhism: the sites, relics, and monastery complexes here go back to the very beginnings of Buddhism before it spread through Asia
- UNESCO world heritage site: One of only 6 in Pakistan, this alone ensures its importance and merits a visit
- Follow in the footsteps of ancient scholars: One of the first universities in the world is believed to have been at Taxila. The monasteries were centers of learning and Vedic princes were believed to have been sent here. Arab and Chinese travelers and scholars from around India also visited.
- Sirkap and Sirsukh: Fortified ruined cities
- The Taxila Museum: This contains treasures from the site as well as from other parts of the Indus valley. Historians from around the world would drool over the artifacts that are so easily accessible to travelers in the Punjab area.