ISLAMABAD: To commemorate the World Tourism Day, a Cultural Caravan kicked off on a double decker bus (along with a motorcade) from the modern capital: Islamabad to arrive the ancient capital Taxila in about 1 ½ hours’ time.
Then called in the days of yore: Takshashila, aptly named after Taksha (son of Bharata), the first ruler of Takshashila, which also stood up to its literal meaning: City of cut stone, then located along the eastern banks of River Indus.
Today the city boasts some 30 archeology sites, many designated as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
On the direction of the tourism minister, the caravan organized by PTDC in coordination with local stake holders was participated by members of foreign mission, tourism ministers, MD PTDC, speakers and the media.
The historic Taxila Museum
Delegates are briefed about the museum, which reflect the early style of masonry works. Opened to pubic in April 1928, the tale telling museum is well stocked with some of the finest specimen of Gandhara art.
Excavation begun in 1913 under the supervision of Sir John Marshal and in later years, diggings were carried out at the various sites of ancient Taxila. More than 7,000 objects exhibit in the form of sculptures of Buddha in stone and stucco head and antiquities, including a comprehensive display of relic caskets, house-hold objects, ancient tools, terracotta items, jewellery, and a collection of coins. Also on display, jewellery and ancient fashion ornaments in gold and silver (Greco-Roman design) including bangles, bracelets, necklaces, rings. Part of this room is dedicated to a collection of coins from 6c BC to 6c AD.
East gallery of the museum has an astounding display of objects that proffer an insight into the lifestyle of people of ancient Taxila. A section exhibits rare finding of Kharosthi script, which was used as official Gandhara language. You will be astonished with commonality between then and now: water storing containers, water filter, cooking utensils, pottery, toilet items, working tools, combat weapons and items that echoed a refine civilization.
Jaulian (2ndc AD – 450 AD)
We assembled at the car parking area and began a steep walk up the ancient site of Jaulian, which is located up a 100 meter hillock. Now, in the KPK province, the site was originally built by the Kushan’s in the similar time line of Mohra Moradu.
Jaulian comprises of main stupa, 21 votive stupas and 59 chapels depicting life of Buddha in sculptures. The two level Monastery building complete with 28 rooms, bathing pool, kitchen area serves as a model, as we see today in Thailand and other Buddhist countries.
Home to the oldest and first University in Asia, Jaulian earned fame as the ultimate learning centre for literature, science, art and medicine.
It is here that visitors can see the dilemma of the Cycle of Life: What goes up, comes down. This lost world that endorsed the richness in wealth, art, music, culture and lifestyle through the glory years succumbed into a ruined site after the invasion led by barbaric horse mounted nomadic Huns from Central Asia.
Gandhara Art Village, Taxila
At dusk, we drove to the Gandhara Art Village, which is dedicated to the artisans of Taxila. The World Tourism Day is formally sermonized with a Keynote address by the MD PTDC, Mr. Aftab ur Rahman. He emphasized the significance of tourism and visitors’ economy. Other speakers revealed loopholes and setbacks that deter tourism in Pakistan including weaknesses in the dynamics of international marketing, communication, visa and security issues, lack of infra-structure. The Tourism Minister Mr. Wasi Shah had directed the idea of celebrating the World Tourism Day in the outdoors and in his address, the Minister appreciated the efforts of local tourism related stake holders in holding the event and concluded the event with a big thank you to the participants, who were served with high-tea.