Guide to Historic Taxila

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Taxila of Huns and Turki Shahis

After the kushanas Taxila no longer remained seat of government of Gandhara. In this change of government prosperity of the city was much affected. Patronage to Buddhism was lost. As a result the monastery declined but did not finish off. Certainly the conquest of the Huns did not spell doom on the Buddhist establishment, as is opined by Sir john Marshall. The condition of Buddhism can be read in the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims:

Fa Hien writes: there is a country called Chu-ch-shi-lo, (which) in Chinese word is ‘cut-off-head’. Buddha, when he was a come the name. Again going eastwards for two day, we come to the place where he gives his body to feed the starving tiger. On these two stops again are built great stupas, both adorned with every kind of previous jewel. The kings, ministers, and the people of the neighboring countryside with one another in their offering, scattering flowers and lighting lamps without intermission, These and the two stupas before named the men of the district call ‘the four great stupas’"

Hiuen Tsang writes: the kingdom of Ta-ch-shi-lo (Taxila) is about 2000 lie in circuit, and the capital is about 10 lie in circuit. The royal family being extinct, the nobles contend for power by force. Formerly this country was in subjection to Kapisa, but latterly it has become tributary to Kia-shi-lo (Kashmir). The land is renowned for its fertility, and produced rich harvests. It is very full of streams and fountains. Flowers and fruits are abundant. The climate is agreeably temperate. The people are lively and courageous, and they honout the three gems. Although there are many Sangharamas, they have become ruinous and deserted, there are very few priests: those that there very study the great vehicle.

It is only Sung-Yu, who visited Gandhara in 520 A.D. talks of destruction in Gandhara: "This is the country which the Yetihas (Huns) destroyed, and afterwards set up Lac-lih to be king over the country, since which events two generations have passed. The disposition of the king was cruel and vindictive. And he practiced the most barbarous atrocities. He did not believe the of the Buddha, but the loved the worship demons. The people of the country belonged entirely to Brahman casts; they had a great respect for the law of the Buddha, and loved to read the sacred books, when the suddenly this king came into power, who was strongly opposed to anything of the sort. The name of the ruler is corrected as Thunjina( or Tigin). However, in the reign of the second ruler Toraman a donation was made to a Buddhist monastery in the Salt Range. The Huns continued to rule with there Centre in Kashmir until their last king Yudhisthira was overthrown by Chandragupta Muktapida of Kashmir in early 8th century Ad. Taxila become a part of the kingdom of the Kashmir but other regions came under the rule of the Turki Shahis. When Huns Tsang came in the early in the 7th century A.D., the Hun ruler was Khinkhila or Khingala, who had a great respect for him. Still later the Turki shah rule was replaced by a Rajput clan, called Hindu Shahis, generally identified with  jouan (modern janjuas), who built a new system of fortification on hill tops. It is in their time that Giri fort was built in Taxila.

Bhallar, Bhamala and Giri

Bhallar stupa is situated on a route from Mechanical complex to Haripur, having a commanding position on the top of the Sarada Hill, a little beyond the Haro River. This is the tallest stupa in Taxila. This was visited by the Chinese pilgrims, pa Hien and Hiuen Tsang, and they identify it with the spot where Buddha offered his head. This was built in the "medieval period" i.e. post-Hun period. It consists of a tall stupa, surrounded by votive stupas, other shrines and a monastery. Here the Buddhist monk Kumaralabha composed his treatise. The main stupa, which is broken on the northern face, stood on a lofty oblong base, approached by a fight of steps on the east. It consists of a plinth base, a drum, a dome and originally umbrellas. The drum is divided into six or seven tiers and divided into six or seven tiers and is decorated with Corinthian pilasters, freezes and dental cornices.

Bhamala is situated at the very head of the Haro Valley, made beautiful by the bends of the river in the background of surrounding hills having prehistoric caves. The monastic establishment came into existence of coins of Indo assarians and Huns. The nain stupa is unique if its kind, having a cruciform plan, consisting of a tall square base for the dome, above which off-set projections for the steps can be seen on all four sides. The Corinthian pilasters divide the plinth into bays. In one of them was found Buddha in sleeping pose, now in Taxila Museum. The monastery is of the Jaulian type. This is the most charming place for a visit from Khanpur.

Giri: when we follow the route from the Dharmarajika stupa south-south-east we first come to the monastic establishment at Kalawan, the biggest of its kind in Taxila, which had a longest span of life from the time of the Parthians to a late period.

Following the same route we pass through a rocky defile between the old village of Khurram Piracha and Khurram Gujar, enter a secluded valley and arrive in the glen of Giri, which lies on the old route that went across Margalla . Here we have two groups of Buddhist establishments, a fort, a Muslim Ziarat and mosques, all ranging from the early Kushana period to the time of Akbar(1556-1605). The Buddhist constructions fall into two groups- the eastern and the western. The eastern group, which stands just above the spring, consists of a stupa in the north and monastery in the south. The western group consists of a stupa of square shape in the north and a monastery on the east.

To the north of the monasteries lie mosques, Ziarats, and a rocky hill strengthened by a fort wall having semi-circular bastions. Inside there are remains of dwellings and other structures. The fortification belong to a time much later than that of the Huns.



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