Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Buddhist attractions in Pakistan

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Pakistan is incredibly rich with Buddhist heritage. If the country was any safer, it would be crawling with Far Eastern pilgrims: Chinese, Koreans, Thais, Malays, Japanese and also many from Sri Lanka. Just take Taxila, for example. At every corner, literally behind every bush, there is an important relic connected with the great Buddha. Here are stupas, monasteries and temples - many of them known only to the serious researcher and obviously also to the committed Buddhist pilgrim.

Not very far away, near Rewat on National Highway 5 or Grand Trunk Road, is the lesser known but very important Mankyala stupa attributed to Kanishka, the great Kushan king. Then we have Takht Bahi; and we have the monasteries and stupas of Swat. Of special interest in Swat are the several rock carvings of Buddha. Peshawar is yet another important Buddhist centre, especially so because of the priceless content of its Museum.

If you go up north to Chilas on the Karakoram Highway, you have this series of rock carvings left behind by Buddhist pilgrims passing along this route two thousand years ago. In Lahore, any Buddhist would give an arm and leg to simply be permitted worship in front of the Fasting Buddha in the Museum.

I name only a few from a great abundance of Buddhist holy sites. Interestingly, the country is very fortunate to have their concentration around major urban centres.

There is yet another aspect that has never crossed the mind of our so-called tourism promotion wizards. This is the route over the Broghal and Darkot passes that was used by the Korean general Kao Hsin-Chih when he was serving the T'ang dynasty of China in the middle years of the 8th century.

About twenty years ago, my friend Akhtar Mammunka of Indus Guides asked me to prepare an itinerary for Korean tourists. But by then the Taliban had taken over Afghanistan and the resulting uncertainty put paid to the idea of selling an exciting special interest tour to the Koreans.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 09:57,


At 8 April 2013 at 15:18, Blogger Sajini Chandrasekera said...

I have heard many times before that Pakistan have the touch of the Buddhist heritage and it was nice to read more about it through this post.

At 8 April 2015 at 15:09, Anonymous C Koefoed-Nielsen said...

If it were safer it would indeed be an amazing tourist attraction, I would love to spend time roaming there. I hope "militants" will refrain from wrecking anything worth visiting in the meantime. One day, hopefully....!

At 8 April 2015 at 17:59, Anonymous muhammad athar said...

Taxila is free of any danger. One can easily room aroud and enjoy with seaing monoment. There are no of statue in side the small built up area

At 9 April 2015 at 20:57, Blogger Teeps said...

Which stupa is shown in the title photo?

At 10 April 2015 at 08:50, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

This is the one in the Khyber Pass, a few kilometres on westward from Ali Masjid.


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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

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