Guide to Historic Taxila

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Justin writes about the founder of the Mauryan Empire…. And while he (Vhandragupta Maurya) was lying asleep, after his exertion a lion of great size, having come to him, licked off with hi stung the sweat that was running, and after gently waking him, left him. Being first prompted by this prodigy to conceive hopes of royal dignity, he drew together a band of robbers and instigated the Indians to overthrow the existing Greek government. Sometime after, as he was going to war with the generals of Alexander, a wild elephant of great bulk presented itself before him of its own accord and as tamed down to gentleness, took him his back and become his guide in the war conspicuous infields of battle. Sandrocottus, having thus acquired a throne, was in possession of India when Seleucus was laying the foundation of his future greatness.’’

There was further feather added to the cap of Chandragupta when Seleucus Nikator, in 305-06 B.C. warred with him and "entered into an alliance and marriage affinity with him." Several Mauryan princes were associated with the city of Taxila. In the time of the second Mauryan emperor Bindusara prince Susina was appointed viceroy and then Asoka was sent twice to pacify the Taxilans. In the time of Asoka prince Kunala was appointed viceroy. Then followed Dasaratha and his son Samprati and finally came Salisukha identified with Sophagsenus, with whom Antiochue III(223-187 B.C.) renewed his friendship and left him strong in Taxila.

Bhir and Dharmarajika Stupa

From Hathial Mound on the east of Tamra-nala to Bhir excavations on the west of the nala there is long march. In fact the Mauryan remains are buried at Dibbiyan Mound opposite Hathial and continue through the Taxila Museum site to Bhir. It is in the Museum compound that Marshall discovered his second hoard of Bhir while another hoard of jewellery was discovered in 1945 excavation. This Nauryan material is preserved in Taxila Museum. Apart from these discoveries Mauryan remains can be identified at Kachcha Kot opposite Jandial where black polished pottery has been found. But the most important discovery its an Aramaic Inscriptions(now in Taxila Museum), engraved on an octagonal memorial pillar of white marble, later buried at Sirkap, built into one of the walls of the priest’s quarters, belonging to the shrine of the Double-headed Eagle stupa. The inscription names the King as Priyadarsi, a title of Asoka, and speaks of his moral preaching about non-injury to creatures.

In the new excavation at Bhir the palace structures show square pillerse, probably a reconstruction of the Mauryan time, copying the pillared hall of the Achaemenians.

We leave behind Bhir excavation and follow the road east-word, cross the Tamra-nala, and reach the site of Dharamarajika Stupa – the oldest Buddhist monument in Taxila. We can as well follow the river to Hathial Range, or come vice-versa. On the Hathial Range we have more stupas and monasteries around Uttararama(Northern Monastery).

The name Dhararajika stupa comes from an inscription of the time of the Parthian ruler Azes. The main stupa was probably built by Dhararaja, a title of the Mauryan emperor Asoka. The sit of divided into two parts: the stupa area in the south and his monastic area in the north. The main attraction on a raised terrace, approached by four flights of steps. It was long known as Chir Tope because in the 19th century it was torn asunder(Chir) and the relics robbed by a French general of Ranjit Singh. The foundation consists of a wheel of spokes (Dharam-Chakra). Around the stupa is a paved ambulatory passage outside we have a number of votive stupa erected later by the pilgrims. On the floor of the main stupa three hoards of coins were found, as a ritual burial by the visiting pilgrims. The coins belong to the Scythian, Parthian, Kushana and Indo-Sassanian rulers. The votive stupas are of different kinds, from one of which a relic casket was recovered and presented to Sri Lanka in 1924. In between can also be seen small chapels containing Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of stucco. By the side of the river there is a row of residential cells for monks. In the monastic area there is an accumulation of several monasteries of different period, some of which have stupas in the middle. The whole construction here continued to the end of the seventh century A.D. when Buddhism declined and meet its doom for lack of patronage.

At the stop of Hathial Range there are remains of a Buddhist stupa and a monastery associated later with the name of prince Kunala, son of Asoka. The remains lie on a small rocky eminence well inside the city wall. A third monastery, located at a still higher elevation, is remembered as Hathial monastery. More structures are located on the still lower elevation with the Maha structures continued right upto the foot of the Range. The fortification wall of the Sirkap City over this southern ridge appears to be of later period. However, all these constructions can be associated with Uttararama Monastery.


Dharmarajika stupa.

Kunala stupa.

stucco Buddhas from Dharnarajika Monastery.


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