Conservation, excavation work accelerated at Takht Bhai

  • A research officer claims Buddhist civilisation was ‘destroyed’ by Hindus in the seventh century

Directorate of Archaeology and Museums of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has accelerated the conservation and excavation work on 2000-year old ancient Buddhist monastic site at Takht Bhai.

The department has so far completed 20-25 per cent excavation work on Zone-B of the Takht Bhai archaeological site, which is situated at an altitude of 500 metres, not only offers visitors a glimpse into the ancient times but also serves as a popular picnic and tourist spot.

Archaeology Directorate Research Officer Nawazuddin briefed the media persons during a training session, arranged by the directorate in collaboration with the Humanitarian Assistance and Facilitating Organisation (HAFO) at the Takht Bhai. The site was included by UNESCO in the World Heritage List in 1980.

He said that the project commenced on July 1, 2017, and would conclude by the end of this year. The project has different components such as conservation, archaeological work, cleaning and awareness. He said that the Zone A was a 2,000-year old Buddhist monastery while Zone B was their residential area.

He said that the coins discovered from the area were from the period of Parthian king Gondophares in the first century AD. People from different walks of life, including historians, archaeologists and tourists, arrive here while Buddhists from across the world visit it as part of their religious beliefs.

The visitors have to ascend about 300 steps on a hill to reach the archaeological wonder. The official said that the Buddhist civilisation had spread to other parts of the world from the Gandhara state. He said that the Takht Bhai site was an ancient land and was very important for research purposes.

Nawazuddin said that the conservation work aims at to promote a soft image of Pakistan in the world. He said that the Buddhist civilisation was destroyed by Hindus in the seventh century. He told the participants that the ancient site of the Gandhara civilisation was discovered in 1836 by a French Army officer.

Excavation work on the site started in 1872 during the British rule in the Indian subcontinent. “Each visitor is charged Rs20 for an entry ticket. For photographs at the site, a visitor can be charged Rs300, while bridal photography and commercial videography can cost up to Rs30,000 each,” he said.

The official said that the department has initiated several projects, meant to promote archaeological tourism and creating awareness about the ancient era historic buildings and places in different parts of the province. He said that the department has expedited work on the establishment of three new museums in Abbottabad, Kohat and Dera Ismail Khan.