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Gautama Buddha statue carved in stone, Gandhara, Taxila

Re-Telling The Stories Of The Ancient Civilization of Gandhara

As part of the Rawalpindi Arts Council’s efforts to introduce the present generation to the world’s oldest civilization, the Gandhara festival will take place later this month.

There will be a two-day Gandhara festival at the Gandhara Centre, Taxila Museum, and a five-day art exhibition at the Rawalpindi Arts Council from January 31 to February 4.

Through exhibitions, panel discussions, and storytelling sessions, the festival aims to preserve the region’s cultural heritage.

In what is now northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Gandhara civilization flourished between the middle of the first millennium BCE and the beginning of the second millennium CE.

Gandhara civilization covered the present-day districts of Taxila, Peshawar, Swat, Kohat, Dir, Bajaur, and Mardan in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Greek historians report that Taxila, the central city of the Gandhara civilization, was densely populated and extremely fertile.

Gandhara is a Sanskrit word that means two things: the land of fragrance and the land of water. The people of Gandhara were industrious and practiced agriculture.

Taxila, a strategically located city at the center of ancient trade routes, suffered repeated ownership conflicts and was destroyed and rebuilt repeatedly over the centuries.

In 326 BC, Alexander the Great launched an attack on this part of the world. He brought with him a strong Greek influence.

During the British invasion of 1914, an important box containing the ashes of Gautama Buddha was discovered in Taxila.

The ashes of Siddhartha Gautama, more commonly known as the Buddha, were sealed in 14 chests and preserved in 14 different regions, including Peshawar, Lahore, and London.

Buddha’s statues were made of a unique stone from the Swat, Dir, and Buner mountains.

According to Rawalpindi Arts Council Director Waqar Ahmed, the Gandhara Festival and Gandhara Art Exhibition aim to promote ancient culture.

He said the Gandhara festival will feature an art exhibition, a book fair, a folk dance, and a Sufi night. The provincial Minister for Sports and Culture, Malik Taimoor Masood will inaugurate the event.

There will also be a documentary on the history of the Gandhara civilization.

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