Gandhâra; derived from Sanskrit
word “Gandhar”, literally mean “perfumed”is the name of an
ancient Indian Kingdom in northern Pakistan and eastern
Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of
Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the northern side of the
Kabul River. Its main cities were Purushapura (modern Peshawar)
and Takshashila (Taxila).
The Kingdom of Gandhara lasted from the 6th century BC to the
11th century AD. It attained its height from the 1st century to
the 5th century AD under Buddhist Kushan Kings. After it was
conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1021 AD, the name Gandhara
Gandhâra is also thought to be the location of the mystical Lake
Dhanakosha, birthplace of Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan
Buddhism. The bKa’ brgyud (Kagyu) sect of Tibetan Buddhism
identifies the lake with Andan Dheri stupa, located
tiny village of Uchh near Chakdara in the lower Swat Valley. A
spring was said to flow from the base of the stupa to form the
lake. Archaeologists have found the stupa but no spring or lake
can be identified.
Buddhist art of Gandhara represents both Buddha and his
teaching. The life story of Buddha is the main theme which
provideds inspiration for the different forms of Buddhist art.
The Buddhist art appeared in the region in the first century BC
and lingered on till the eighth century AD.
By the time Gandhara absorbed in to Mahmood of Ghazni Empire,
Buddhist buildings were already in ruins and Gandhara Art had
been forgetton. The history and art of the Gandhara remained
unknown to the inhabitants of the area and rest of the world
until 19th century.