Category Archives: Pakistan

Remains of world’s oldest sleeping Buddha statue unveiled in Pakistan

The base of the sleeping Buddha statue.

from Lion’s Roar
BY HALEIGH ATWOOD| DECEMBER 15, 2017

Officials hope the discovery will encourage tourism and religious harmony.

Last month, the remains of a 1,700-year-old reclining Buddha was unveiled in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The statue measures 48 feet long and is located near Bhamala Stupa, a ruined Buddhist stupa and National Heritage Site. Carbon dating places the statue in the 3rd century AD, reportedly making it the oldest sleeping Buddha remains discovered so far.

“This means a lot for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Archaeology department and shows its professionalism and commitment for the subject,” said Abdul Samad, the director of the province’s archaeology and museums department.

The unveiling was attended by Pakistan’s opposition leader, Imran Khan, who called the archaeological site “an asset for our country.”

Samad said the excavation of the sleeping Buddha remains took almost three years to complete. Sometime in the future, the department plans to reconstruct the entire statue with international help.

Besides the reclining Buddha, archaeologists also found more than 500 Buddhist artifacts at the Bhamala Stupa site.

The region was the centre of Buddhist civilization 2,300 years ago while under the control of Emperor Ashoka (304-232 BCE) during the Indian Mauryan Empire. Discovered in 1929, the Bhamala site is a reflection of the diverse religious history and culture that still exists in Pakistan.

There are more than two thousand Buddhist stupas and monasteries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Most of them are square, the typical Gandharan shape, but the Bhamala Stupa is cross-shaped, which archaeologists believe means the site was used by a different sect of Buddhism. This sect was isolated, but later expanded in Kashmir and became the popular form of Buddhism.

“Pakistan [was] once the hub of religious tourism,” said Samad. “People were coming on a daily basis and visiting these religious places.”

After 9/11, Samad said tourism “almost ended” in Pakistan due to fear of Islamist militancy, but he believes that the discovery of the reclining Buddha will attract visitors once more.

“It’s been almost 18 years since this incident and during this time a new generation of Buddhists has grown up with no knowledge of their religious roots and ancient connections. I believe this discovery will attract them to visit again this much peaceful land.”

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Buddha carving partially destroyed by militants restored in Pakistan

KYODO NEWS By Takuya Hatakeyama, KYODO NEWS – Jun 5, 2017 – 10:12 | Arts, World, All

A Buddha carved on a rock in the Swat district of Pakistan’s northwest has been restored after militants attempted to destroy it in 2007, spurring hopes that tourists will come back to see a sculpture that has watched over the scenic valley for over 1,000 years.

Once disfigured by drilling and a blast, the face of the 6-meter-tall sculpture in Jahanabad, known as the “Jahanabad Buddha,” has now been patched up, the result of repair work that began in 2012 and continued until last fall as part of a project financed through a Pakistani-Italian debt swap agreement.

In September 2007, the militant group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan partially destroyed the rock-carving with explosives, claiming that Buddhist structures go against Islamic teaching that bans worshiping idols.

At that time, the militant group was expanding its area of control from the neighboring Tribal Area, a semi-autonomous area near the border with Afghanistan. After the Pakistani army ended a major offensive against the group in July 2009, many of the more than 2 million people who were displaced have returned. Continue reading

Exploring Swat’s historical Uddiyana Kingdom on foot


A bird’s eye view of the 3rd century Kushan era Buddhist complex at Abba Sahib Cheena in Najigram, Swat. — Dawn

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2017

MINGORA: The natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of Najigram valley mesmerised the members of a women trekking team, who visited Buddhist complex at Abba Sahib Cheena.

The members of the team said that they felt the serenity and taste of cultural heritage for the first time and would continue to explore and enjoy past of the Uddiyana Kingdom by peeping into the vast archaeological ruins mainly located in deep dales on mountains and along the gushing streams.

The women trekkers visited the ancient Bazira city of Alexander the Great and then the third century Kushan period Buddhist complex.

Rehmania Aman, a lecturer in Swat University and a member of the trekking team, said that her inner self filled with curiosity when she entered Abba Sahib Cheena. “When I entered the ancient Buddhist complex, I felt its impacts on our current civilisation,” she told this scribe.

Ms Aman said that natural beauty embodied with rich culture heritage and serenity of the valley was something, which she had not seen anywhere else. She added that architectural features and designs of the Buddhist monuments proved that architects of that time were talented people.

The Buddhist complex is one of the best naturally preserved archaeological sites comprising stupas, viharas and monastic cells, surrounded by residential structures. The land of the site has been acquired by provincial archaeology department and excavation of the site is expected soon.

The women trekkers said that they did not know about the rich cultural heritage of Swat. They said that the visit opened new ways of learning to them.

“I learnt something new and astonishing about the archaeological ruins here in Swat about which our course books and government have not proper information. The archaeological remains are the actual heritage of the land. The education, tourism and archaeology departments must organise trips for students to these places so that our young generation can learn about it,” Sahista Hakim, a journalist, told this scribe. Continue reading

KPK Govt. must save the Buddhist Archaeological site in Haripur (Pakistan) being plundered 

March 25, 2017

TEXT M. M. ALAM

Photos: taken by the digger illegally excavating & destroying the history of pakistan

Karachi: a source privy to newspakistan.Tv has been approached by a man illegally excavating a site in a village named gandaf in haripur (kpk- pakistan).

The man has sent the source few pictures of an ancient remains in his village. He wanted to know what it was.

Our source informed the digger that was an important buddhist archaeological site and property of state.

The digger, saying he was least interested in archaeology, continued his illegal excavation in search of treasures ruining the site in the process.

The following pictures were sent by the excavator and it is up to the government of  kpk to get the treasures back dug out by him. Specially when he intends to sell those priceless asset of the state.

 

[link]

 

This Korean documentary on Gandhara civilisation will show the ‘tolerant face’ of Pakistan

Dawn, AMJAD IQBAL

A Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) team has filmed Buddhist sites in Taxila, Lahore, Peshawar, Swat, Swabi and Gilgit

A two-member Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) team filmed various Buddhist sites of Gandhara civilization, which they will air on South Korean official television .

Lee Heon and Miss Hong, Eun Hee, producers of the KBS, are visiting the ancient sites on the invitation of Dr Esther Park, General Secretary, Gandhara Art and Culture Association (GACA).

Before coming to Taxila the KBS team also visited Lahore, Peshawar, Swabi, Swat and Gilgit and filmed various Buddhist sites.

“I have visited Sri Lanka, Thailand, China and Armenia to record various cultural sites but the potential and cultural diversity Pakistan harbours is unique and significant,” said Miss Hong while talking to Dawn.

“What has really captured me about Pakistan is the kindness of the people here; really they are generous and hospitable,” she added.

Replying to a query, she said it was her first visit to Pakistan and like other foreign media persons she had some misconception about Pakistan but after visiting various cities, she found it an enlightened and diverse country. “Through her documentary she will now show peaceful, tolerant and hospitable face of Pakistan to the world especially to Buddhists across the globe,” she added.

Monk Maranantha, credited for spreading Buddhist teachings across the Korean peninsula in the late 4th century AD, was originally from Chota Lahore in district Swabi, therefore Buddhist followers of Korea have deep-rooted spiritual and religious attachment with Pakistan and this documentary would further strengthen relations between the two countries. Continue reading

Early Buddhist monastery awaits govt attention

The 1,800-year-old Vihara is situated 25 kilometres from Mingora. PHOTO: SHEHZAD KHAN/ EXPRESS

The 1,800-year-old Vihara is situated 25 kilometres from Mingora. PHOTO: SHEHZAD KHAN/ EXPRESS

The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2017.

By Shehzad Khan /
SWAT: An ancient double-domed structure still stands tall near Mingora after having survived the cruel ravages of time, vandalism and official neglect.

The 1,800-year-old Vihara or early Buddhist monastery, was discovered by British archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein. It had been constructed in the second century as a place of worship by Buddhists, when Buddhism was the dominant religion of Swat.

The main building has two domes, one right above the other which led to it being called the double-dome-structure.

Archaeologists have called the structure one of the ‘finest and most unique ancient buildings’ across Asia.

Though the structure remained unscathed during the period of militancy in Swat, its surrounding areas faced a lot of damage.

The double-dome-structure did not lose its importance even during the Hindu-Shahi period, marking an end to Buddhism in Swat. The structure then became the centre for Hindus where they would offer their rituals.

The locals in Swat called the structure ‘Vihara’ — a term the Buddhists pioneered and used for their monastery. Continue reading

Buddhist Civilization remains in Pakistan of great value for Japanese Pilgrims: MD PTDC

By DND – December 19, 2016
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Managing Director Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Abdul Ghafoor Khan has said that Pakistan is the custodian of Gandhara Buddhist Civilizations and there are numerous holy places in Pakistan of great value for Japanese Buddhist people.

During a meeting with Second Secretary of Japanese Embassy Daijo TSUCHIKAWA in Islamabad, he said that due to the restoration of peace and betterment of law and order situation in the country, the Japanese tourist flow is once again showing a remarkable increase over the previous two years.

The MD PTDC said that the significance of Buddhist civilization remains in Pakistan for Japanese people can boost up tourist flow to Pakistan as a result of proper publicity.

Abdul Ghafoor said that it will be 65th Anniversary of Pakistan and Japan’s diplomatic relations next year and we have planned a number of activities in order to celebrate this long-lasting relationship.

“I am surprised to realize that above 20 million tourists visit Japan every year and we are ready to learn from their experience by adopting the strategies of Japan’s tourism industry,” he said.

The PTDC managing director said that the Hasegawa Memorial Public School in Hunza is an initiative of Japan Government for enhancement of skills of local people in fruit cultivation as well as education in the area.

The Japanese government also supported in restoration of Ata Abad Lake.

He told that PTDC’s has already published a few brochures in Japanese language, soft copy of which is also available with PTDC’s website on homepage.

“We will also provide links to Japanese Embassy in Pakistan and Embassy of Pakistan in Japan on our website,” he said.

Abdul Ghafoor further added that we are ready to host visit of Japanese travel writers to write a guide book on Pakistan in their language on the pattern of “Siarnwe Book”, which means a way to walk on earth, which we can see on lonely planet as well.

“We are also planning to prepare a fresh documentary film, which will also be translated in Japanese language for display on travel channels of Japan,” the MD PTDC said. Continue reading