What is Taxila famous for

Taxila ruined city in Punjab, Pakistan

The ruined city of Taxila is located in the Punjab Province in northern Pakistan and is one of the most important archaeological sites in Pakistan. It consists of four urban complexes, in addition to extensive wall remains, entire temple complexes and Pakistan's oldest stupa, Dharmarajka, have been preserved.

The historic city of Taxila in Punjab Province in northern Pakistan once functioned as the capital of the Gandhara Empire, which comprised present-day Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. The archaeological excavation site of the historic city of Taxila is one of the most important in Pakistan and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980.

Taxila is strategically located on the old Grand Trunk Road about 35km northwest of the Pakistani capital Islamabad and is connected by a pass to one of Asia's most important trade routes, the Silk Road. Taxila was already mentioned in the great Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata as Tashashila, "Hill of Taksha".

The historic city experienced its heyday from around 500 BC to 500 AD. In addition to goods, cultures, sciences and philosophies were exchanged in Taxila, which led to the founding of a large university centuries before Christ. There, among other things, the grammar of Sanskrit was written down for the first time and the "Charaka Samhita", the oldest and most important work on the classical Indian healing art of Ayurveda, was written.

Multiethnic city of Taxila

The ruins of Taxila are characterized by the clearly visible influences of different architectural styles of the various rulers. The Hellenistic influence that can be seen in the houses, temples and monasteries of Taxila was brought about by Alexander the Great in 326 BC, even if the Greeks only ruled Taxila for 9 years. The countless edict columns and stupas come from Ashoka, governor of Taxila and later emperor of the first Indian empire who converted to Buddhism. Among other things, he had the Dharmarajka stupa built, probably the oldest in all of Pakistan and Taxila's biggest attraction about 2km from Bhir Mound. The hemispherical 50m wide sacred building was destroyed in an earthquake around 30 AD and then rebuilt.

The first images of Buddha as a human were also found in the region of the Gandhara Empire. The first Buddha statues with faces also had Greek features and shaped Buddhist art in the countries of the Silk Road from the Persian Empire to Japan. The Taxila Valley quickly became a religious center and one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Pakistan.

After Ashoka's death at the end of the 2nd century AD, the balance of power in Taxila changed extremely quickly. Other important cities in the vicinity such as Saraidala, Sirkap and Sirsukh were founded, which today form part of the entire archaeological site of Taxila with the fourth and oldest facility called Bhir Mound.

In the middle of the 5th century, Bhir Mound and the nearby city facilities were destroyed by the Hephthalites ("White Huns"), and since then only ruins have remained of the once glorious trading city. These were discovered in the middle of the 19th century by the British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham and then systematically exposed.

Today the remains of the streets and buildings of Taxila can be seen among the trees and grass. The low walls are evidence of the meticulous urban planning of Bhir Mounds, Sirkaps and Sirsukhs. While there are only a few fragments left in Bhir Mound, life in the past can be well understood in Sirkap. Some of the finds can now be viewed in major museums, such as the statue of a seated Buddha in the Lahore Museum. Unfortunately, the museum in Taxila itself provides little information about the historic city.