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TAKHT BHAILast Updated: Wednesday September 28, 2005 05:43:48 PM



TAKHT-I-BHAI, a Buddhist monastery 9 miles Northwest of Mardan on the road to Swat. Near Takht-i-Bhai is the most impressive and complete Buddhist monastery in Pakistan. The main buildings of the Takht-i-Bhai complex are the monastery and stupas founded in the 1st century AD and abandoned in the 6th century. Surrounding the monastery on the ridge above it are the ruins of private houses, some of them three stories high.

         The name of Takht-i-Bhai means the hill of springs. There is considerable evidence to show that during the Buddhist period there were numerous springs on the hill here, which have now dried up. Around 200 AD when Raja Varata was the king of Gandhara. Takht-i-Bhai was the capital of the kingdom - The stupa on the site was found to contain square court surrounded by a series of cells, which accommodated the images. In the center of the court was an altar, access to which was through a flight of steps an inscription in Kharoshthi characters by the Parthian king Gandophernes dated 46 AD was found. The richness of the sculptures recovered from the site indicates a very high standard of art in sculpturing had been reached in the region in the beginning of the Christian era. From Takht-i-Bhai one can either continue on up to Swat or return to Mardan and continue east on the ancient trade route.

        From Mardan on the road east to Swabi, after 8 miles at Shahbaz Garhi, there is the sign of the Ashoka inscriptions. There are 14 edicts written on the two rocks, 12 on the big one and two on the small. Throughout his empire, Asoka's inscriptions were written in the local script. So the Shahbaz Garhi and Mansehra inscription were in the Kharoshthi, the local Gandharan script, which is derived from the Aramaic scripts used in Iran.



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