Rehabilitation of archaeological sites can promote tourism in the province-Imran

Rehabilitation of archaeological sites can promote tourism in the province-Imran

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief, Imran Khan has said that rehabilitationand renovation of archaeological and heritage sites can help promote tourism byattracting tourists to contribute to the provincial exchequer.

Speaking at a functionheld in connection with the discovery of ruins of 14-metre long Mahatma Bhuddaat Bhamala village in Haripur district on Wednesday, Imran Khan said that peacehad been restored and the international tourists can come here to visit thescenic places and archaeological sites in Pakistan, particularly KhyberPakhtunkhwa.

Khyber PakhtunkhwaAssembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, provincial Chief Secretary Muhammad Azam Khan, SecretarySports, Tourism, Archaeology and Youth Affairs Muhammad Tariq, DirectorArchaeology Dr Abdul Samad and a number of foreign envoys including Sri Lanka,Austria, Korea, Mauritania and others were present on the occasion.

Directorate ofArchaeology and Tourism Department had jointly organized the briefing on thediscovery of ruins of 14-metre long Bhudda at Bhamala village in Haripurdistrict for the foreign dignitaries.

“Switzerland is a smallcountry, but its budget is more than Pakistan which is earned from the tourismsector,” the PTI chairman told the gathering.

Imran Khan said tourismhad developed owing to the restoration of peace as more and more foreigntourists are coming to Pakistan especially KP to visit serene places andheritage sites.

He said that ruins ofBudhism of China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Korea and others were existedhere and followers of the religion in those countries could come here to visit theirworship places.

Briefing thedignitaries, Chief Secretary Muhammad Azam Khan said that provincial governmenthad dismantled encroachment near archaeological sites in the province.

He said that work wasgoing on rehabilitation and renovation of heritage sites in Swabi, Mardan,Bannu, Peshawar and elsewhere in KP to attract tourists and developarchaeological tourism.

He vowed thatprovincial government had taken tangible steps for theprotection and preservation of the archaeological sites.

It merits to mentionhere that the Buddhism ruins are located in the village of Bhalama along theHaro river and the foothills of Murree, a colonial era townlocated on the Pir Panjal Range.

Bhamala Stupa is aruined Buddhist stupa that was listed in the National Heritage in 1980 and nominatedin UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The inclusion of the stupa in this list is ofvital importance.

Bhamala is not only famousfor a cross-shape stupa and monastery built dated back to 4th century CE but itwas also a first destination for trade caravans of Silk Route. It is vivid fromthe small votive stupas built along the Haro river on its both the sides.

Bhamala stupa is anarchaeological site and is also known as Bhamala Buddhist Complex.

The first excavation ofBhamala site was started in early 1930-31 by Sir John Marshall during which, themain cross-shape stupa and 19 other small votive stupas and a number of monasterieswere discovered.

However, the excavationof Bhamala ruins was restarted by the Archaeology Department of HazaraUniversity in collaboration with the Wisconsin University of United States in2012-13.

Keeping in view itsimportance, the Archaeology and Museum Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with thecooperation of Hazara University re-launched digging of sites for the discoveryof ruins in 2014, which continued till 2015-16.

During this period,important discoveries were found including the death site of 14-metre longMahatma Bhudda, stupa (B), small chapels of lime made stupas besides hundredsof artefacts belonging to three-five centuries CE.

Moreover, clay madeBhuddas, copper and silver coins and iron made tools dated back five century CEwere also discovered during the excavation.

At the end of fivecentury, Kaidar Kushan was defeated by the White Huns attackers. It not onlyended the trade and routes but also deprived the monasteries from thegovernment supervision.

It was the economicfall that forced the followers of Buddhism to leave the far-off monastery. Thatwas why the decline of this monastery started.

The Cross-shape stupathat is considered to be the biggest one was discovered during the excavationconducted by John Marshall.

The access to the mainstupa had been made from all the four sides through steps. There are lion andelephants sketches engraved under the east-western and north-southern steps.

The shape of main stupais cruciform and it is the biggest surviving example of this shape in Taxilaand Gandhara region.

There are about 19 butsmall votive stupas in courtyard surrounding the main stupa. The floor isdecorated with clay tiles having embroidery and floral engravings.

There are alsodifferent lime-made statues under the cross-shape statue highlighting the sightof death of Mahatama Buddha.

The statue has now beenput on display at the Taxila Museum. The ruins of cross-shape statues could befound in Shaji Ki Dheri in Peshawar, Seri Behlol in Mardan. They had been fadedwith passage of time but the statue in Zar Dheri in Mansehra is somewhat in abetter condition.

Bhamala site enjoys a unique status because of itssize and structure in Taxila and Gandhara for it carries death scene of Buddha.