Guide to Historic Taxila

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Taxila, on the eastern side of the Indus, lay as the main city of Pother plateau, in the heart of the rival kingdoms, the greatest of the kings was Porus, whose kingdom spread out on the fringe of the Salt king Abhisares in Hazara area, and the third was Astes, the king of the eight Aryan tribes located at the western capital of Gandhara at Pushkalvati (modern Charsadda ) and the last was the kingdom of Massagain the Panchkora (the land of the Kuru-Panchala tribe ) valley north of the Malakand Range. Only one king Taxila, where Alexander stayed for five days. Curtius Refuse of the first century A.D. gives detail:

"" The sovereign of the territories on the other side was Omphis (Amble ) who had urged his father to surrender his kingdom to Alexander on Alexander,s ,s approach he went to meet him at the head of an army equipped for the field. He had even brought his elephants with him, which, posted at the short interval amidst the ranks of the soldiery, appeared to distant spectator like towers. Alexander at first thought was not friendly but a hostile army that approached, and already ordered the soldiers to arm themselves, and the cavalry to divide to the wings, and was ready for action. But the Indian prince, on seeing the mistake of the Macedonians, put his horse to the gallop, leaving orders that no one else was to their stir from the place. Alexander like wise galled forward, not knowing whether it was an enemy or an enemy or a friend he had to encounter, but trusting for safety perhaps to his valor, perhaps to the other’s good faith.they met in a friendly spirit, as for as could be gather from the expression of each one’s face but from the want of an interpreter to converse was impossible. An interpreter was therefore approached, and the barbarian prince explained that he had come with his army to meet Alexander that he might at once place at his disposal all the forces of his empire, without waiting to tender his allegiance through deputies. He surrendered, he said, his person and his kingdom to a man who, as he knew, was fighting not more for fame than fearing to incur the reproach of perfidy."

Aryan describes the memorable scene at Taxila: "He (Alexander was received in a friendly manner by Taxila, the governor of the city, and by Indians of that place; and he added to their territory as much of adjacent country as they asked for, Thither also came to him envoys from Abhisares, king of the mountaineer Indians, the embassy including the brother of Abhisares as well as the other most notable men. Other envoys also came from Doxares, the chief of the province, bringing gift with them. Here again at Taxila Alexander offered the sacrifices which were customary for him to offer, and celebrated a gymnastic and equestrian contest. Having appointed Philip son of Machates, viceroy of the Indians of that district, he left a garrison at Taxila. Curtius adds further information: "when therefore, he (Taxila) had entertained Alexander for three days with lavish hospitality, he showed him on the froth day that quantity of corn he had supplied to Hephaestion's, s troops, and then presented him and all his friend with golden crowns, and eight talents besides of coined silver. Alexander was on exceedingly gratified with his profuse generosity that not only sent back to Omphis (King of Taxila) the presents he had given, but added a thousand talents from the spoils which is carried, along with many banqueting vessels of gold and silver a vast quantity of Persian drapery, and the thirty charges from his own stalls, caparisoned as when ridden by himself. Plutarch add: "The philosophers  gave him no less trouble than the mercenaries (on previous occasions), because they reviled the prince who declared for him and account he hanged many of them".

One such philosopher was Kauthila, whose student was Chandragupta Maurya. Plutarch says: Androcottos himself, who was then but a youth, saw Alexander himself .Justin adds: having offended Alexander by his boldness of speech and having been ordered by that King to be put to death, he saved himself by swiftness of foot."

Jandial, Sirkap and Bhir

Where did Alexander and his troops stay in Taxila and where was he welcomed by Ambhi? Fortunately we have one desecration of a temple by Apollonius of Tyana, born about the beginning of the Christian era, who visited Taxila:

"just outside the walls was a temple of near a hundred feet, of porphyry, and in it a shrine, small considering the size of the temple and it many columns, but still very beautiful. Round the shrines were hung picture on copper tables, representing the feats of Alexander and Porus. The elephants, horses and soldiers, and armours were portrayed in a mosaic of orichalcum, silver, gold and oxidized copper, the spears javelins, and swords in iron ; but the several metals were all worked into one another with so nice a gradation of tints, that all the picture they formed, in corrections of drawing, vivacity of expression, and trustfulness of perspective, remind one of the noble character of porus, for it was not till after the death of Alexander that he placed them in the temple and this, though they represented Alexander as conqueror, and himself as conquered and wounded, and receiving from Alexander the Kingdom of Indian."

This temple was certainly built than Alexander but the associations with him is so suggestive that the temple spot had something to do with Alexander’s statu in Taxila. This temple is today located at Jandial, half a mile north of Sirkap site, and consists of a Greek plan with Ionic columns, having an inner shrine and an outer vestibule. On three sides is a corridor, but in the stead of columns we have a wall pierced with windows. From this spot to the oldest city on Hathial Mound lay the open ground, where the later the Greeks built the city of Sirkap. On this open ground Alexander’s troops appear to have camped and hence it become important for the later Greeks.

Finally the contemporary city was at Bhir Mound, where Alexander must have been welcomed by the Ambhi, no important building was discovered by the Sir John Marshall here worthy of such a reception. But Sir Mortimer wheeler discovered important jewellery in his excavation here.the recent excavation has revealed the structural remains of important building, one of them could be palace, where Alexander was possibly entertained. This building was wide spacious room with unusually thick walls that are distinguished from all other constructions in Bhir Mound time discovered after the Indus Civilization, again pointing to the unique feature of the site. It appears that this spot continued to receive importance until its last days when the later Greeks built their on constructions.


Plan of Jandial

Photo of the new excavations.

Photo of Alexander from his coins.

Photo of the excavations at Bhir.

Some Greek figures from Taxila.


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