Work on ancient Buddhist residences under way in northwest Pakistan

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The Stupa Chamber at the heritage site. (AN photo)
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The Stupa Chamber at the heritage site. (AN photo)
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Construction work under way at the residential portion of the heritage site. (AN photo)
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Spaces for niches for lighting in rooms. (AN photo)
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Entrance to the World Heritage Site of Takht Bhai in Mardan district. (AN photo)
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Staff checking identity of the visitors before entry to the site. (AN photo)
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Construction work under way at the residential portion of the heritage site. (AN photo)
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Construction work under way at the residential portion of the heritage site. (AN photo)
Updated 22 April 2018

Work on ancient Buddhist residences under way in northwest Pakistan

  • Conservation of the site, discovered in 1836 by a French army officer, will ‘promote a soft image of Pakistan’
  • This famous archaeological site at Takht Bhai was included in the World Heritage List in 1980 by the UN

TAKHT BHAI, Pakistan: Conservation work has begun on an important 2,000-year-old Buddhist monastic site which will be a popular spot for families and tourists as well as historians and Buddhists from around the world.
At an altitude of 500 meters, the Takht Bhai archaeological site not only offers visitors a glimpse into the ancient times but also serves as a popular picnic and tourist spot.
The site is located about 2 kilometers east of the Takht Bhai bazaar in Mardan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, once known as the heart of the Gandhara civilization.

It is about 65 km to the north of Peshawar, the capital of KP.

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 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Archaeology has started work on Zone B of the famous archaeological site at Takht Bhai, which the United Nations included in the World Heritage List in 1980.




The United Nations declared the venue a World Heritage Site in 1980. (AN photo)

“Zone A was a 2,000-year old Buddhist monastery while Zone B was their residential area,” said senior archaeologist of the directorate Habibullah Khattak.

He added that the coins discovered from the area were from the period of Parthian king Gondophares in the 1st century AD.

He said that Buddhist civilization had spread to other parts of the world from Gandhara state.

Takht Bhai site is an ancient land and is very important for research purposes, said Khattak.

“Through conservation of this site, we also promote a soft image of Pakistan,” he said. “People from our country are known as people of Gandhara in the modern world.”

He said the Buddhist civilization was destroyed by Hindus in the 7th century.

Qaiser Khan, project director of the site’s Zone B, said that the project commenced on July 1, 2017, and will conclude by the end of this year.




Entrance to the meditation centers of monks.​ (AN photo)

The project has different components such as conservation, archaeological work, cleaning and awareness, for which separate budgets are released.


“The budget is released quarterly. During the past nine months, Rs6 million ($51,903) has been spent on conservation alone,” he added.
Research officer of the KP Archaeology Directorate Nawazud Din told Arab News that the ancient site of Gandhara civilization was discovered in 1836 by a French army officer named General Cort. Excavation work on the site started in 1872 during the British rule in the 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.


Pakistan begins anti-polio drive to vaccinate 30 mln children 

Updated 26 October 2020

Pakistan begins anti-polio drive to vaccinate 30 mln children 

  • More than 200,000 frontline workers will participate in door-to-door program to immunize children below five years of age 
  • Nearly 80 new cases of polio have been reported since January this year 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday began an anti-polio drive to vaccinate nearly 30 million children in 128 districts across the country as part of a campaign which ends on November 1. 

For the purpose, 210,000 frontline workers will participate in the door-to-door initiative to immunize children below five years of age, a statement released by Pakistan Polio Eradication Program (PPEP) said on Monday. 

It added that during smaller campaigns launched in July and August, frontline workers had been trained in anti-COVID-19 precautionary measures, such as proper use of face masks, regular hand washing, and maintaining a safe social distance during the door-to-door visits. 

“Polio workers have been trained in COVID-19 protocols...and the anti-polio campaign would be utilized to raise awareness about preventive measures against coronavirus as well,” it said. 

All polio activities in Pakistan came to a halt when the World Health Organization (WHO) decided in late March that they should be suspended to avoid placing communities and frontline workers at the risk of contracting COVID-19. 

Pakistan resumed its anti-polio drive on July 20, after a four-month break and in smaller numbers, with the campaign used to raise awareness about the coronavirus disease as well.

According to the WHO, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio continues to be a threat, with Pakistan reporting 79 new cases since January this year. 

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus, mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. 

“Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunizations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free,” the PPEP statement said.