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Buddhist Trails of Gandhara

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 disappeared.

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 Fasting Buddhanear the 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.

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