Category Archives: PAKISTAN

1,300-Year-old Hindu temple discovered in Northwest Pakistan

1,300-Year-old Hindu temple discovered in Northwest Pakistan

1300-year-old Hindu Temple of Lord Vishnu was discovered in Swat district of Pakistan. It is the first temple of Gandhara civilisation discovered in Swat district.

It has been discovered by Pakistani and Italian archaeological experts at a mountain in northwest Pakistan’s Swat district.

According to the reports, the archaeologist excavated a Hindu temple at Barikot Ghundai in Northwest Pakistan. Fazle Khaliq of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Department of Archaeology said that the temple discovered is of God Vishnu.

The discovery was made during an excavation at Barikot Ghundai.(Italian Archaeological Mission to Pakistan )
Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme being within Vaishnavism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism.

The temple is estimated to have been built the Hindus 1,300 years ago during the Hindu Shahi period, the archaeologist said.

The Hindu Shahis of Kabul Shahis, a Hindu dynasty which ruled the Kabul Valley (eastern Afghanistan), Gandhara (modern-day Pakistan), and present-day northwestern India from 850-1026 CE may have built the Hindu temple in the region.

During their excavation, the archaeologists also found traces of cantonment and watchtowers near the temple site.

The archaeologists have also found a water tank near the excavated site, which is believed to be used by the Hindus for bathing before offering their prayers at the temple.

Khaliq further added that Swat district is home to thousand-year-old archaeology sites and the traces of the Hindu Shahi period have been found for the first time in the area. Several Buddhist temples and worship places are also present in the Swat district.

Dr Luka, the head of the Italian archaeological mission, said this was the first temple of the Gandhara civilisation discovered in Swat district.

Only recently, newly discovered Buddha statue in Pakistan was ruined by Islamists

In July 2020, a newly discovered Buddha statue was smashed into pieces by local construction workers and a Muslim cleric on Saturday in Pakistan.

The relic was discovered while digging the foundation for a house in the Pashtun-dominated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Mardan district in Pakistan.

A video of the act showed the construction workers, along with a Muslim cleric, smashing the Buddha statue using a sledgehammer. They were seen walking over and destroying the life-sized Buddha status while expressing their acrimony against Buddhism, which they consider anti-Islam.

According to reports, the statue was destroyed on the order of a local Muslim cleric, who ruled that it is against Islam. ‘Your nikah would cease to exist and you will no more be a believer if the statue isn’t disposed of’, the cleric told the people at the site, who then followed his orders to destroy the priceless relic, which was accidentally discovered in a good condition.

In July 2020, in a similar incident, the ancient Buddhist rock carvings in the Chilas area of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK)’s Gilgit-Baltistan was desecrated by Islamists, who painted Pakistani flag and slogans on the rock-cut art.

According to reports, the incident came to light when the locals of Gilgit-Baltistan posted images on social media platforms. The Islamists had vandalised the rock carvings by writing Islamic slogans on the rock-art that belonged to 800 AD.

An Ancient society is 2,500 years older than the Egyptian Pyramids

An Ancient society is 2,500 years older than the Egyptian Pyramids

Ancient Egypt may appear as the epitome of an advanced early civilisation to many by its impressive pyramids and complex rules. However, recent research reveals the civilization of the Indus Valley in India and Pakistan, known for its well-planned settlements and outstanding art, before Egypt and Mesopotamia.

With its impressive pyramids and complex rules Ancient Egypt may seem to many the epitome of an advanced early civilisation. However, new evidence suggests the Indus Valley Civilisation in India and Pakistan, famed for its well-planned cities and impressive crafts, predates Egypt and Mesopotamia

Experts now assume that it is 8,000 years old – 2,500 years older than commonly believed – and still considered one of the oldest cultures in the world. Their study also sheds new light on why the seemingly flourishing civilization collapsed.

A team of researchers from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Institute of Archaeology, Deccan College Pune, and IIT Kharagpur, have analyzed pottery fragments and animal bones from the Bhirrana in the north of the country using carbon-dating methods.

‘Based on radiocarbon ages from different trenches and levels the settlement at Bhirrana has been inferred to be the oldest (>9 ka BP) in the Indian sub-continent,’ the experts wrote in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal. 

They used also used ‘optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) method’ to check the dating and investigate whether the climate changed when the civilization was thriving, to fill ‘a critical gap in information … [about] the Harappan [Indus Valley] civilization.’

While more tests are required, the study suggests the Indus Valley Civilisation pre-dates those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which are also famed for their impressive ability to build organized cities.

It’s thought the civilization spread across parts of what is now Pakistan and northwest India in the Bronze Age and at its peak, some five million people lived in one million square miles along citadels built near the basins of the Indus River.

‘Based on radiocarbon ages from different trenches and levels the settlement at Bhirrana has been inferred to be the oldest (>9 ka BP) in the Indian sub-continent,’ the experts wrote in Nature’s Scientific Reports journal
Indian caretaker Hirabhai Makwana inspects the ancient bricks at the drainage site in the ancient town of Lothal. While more tests are required, the study suggests the Indus Valley Civilisation pre-dates those of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which are also famed for their impressive ability to build organised cities

Pottery and metals discovered at various ancient sites in the region indicate the people were skilled craftsmen and metallurgists, able to work copper, bronze, lead, and tin, as well as bake bricks and control the supply and drainage of water.

Anindya Sarkar, a professor at the department of geology and geophysics at IIT Kharagpur, told International Business Times: ‘Our study pushes back the antiquity to as old as 8th millennium before present and will have major implications to the evolution of human settlements in Indian sub-continent.’ 

The archaeological sites at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan, show the ancient people were adept town planners and farmers.

Discovered in the 1920s, the Unesco site of Mohenjo-Daro is one of the largest and most advanced settlements of the Indus Valley Civilisation, with streets arranged round rectangular brick houses, two large assembly halls, a market place, public baths, and a central well.

Individual households got their water from smaller wells and wastewater was channelled into main streets, with some more lavish properties boasting their own bath and a second storey.

It’s thought the civilization spread across parts of what is now Pakistan and northwest India in the Bronze Age and at its peak, some five million people lived in one million square miles along citadels built near the basins of the Indus River
Indian caretaker Hirabhai Makwana inspects the ancient bricks at the Acropolis site. Experts have previously suggested the seemingly successful and advanced civilization was gradually wiped out when the Indus River dried up as the result of climate change

Experts have previously suggested the seemingly successful and advanced civilization was gradually wiped out when the Indus River dried up as the result of climate change. There are many other theories too, including an Aryan invasion, catastrophic floods, changing sea levels, societal violence, and the spread of infectious diseases.

But the team has come up with a new theory.

‘Our study suggests that the climate was probably not the cause of Harappan decline,’ they wrote.

While the ancient people relied upon heavy and regular monsoons between 9,000 and 7,000 years ago to water their crops, after this period, evidence at Bhirrana shows people continued to survive despite changing weather patterns.

‘Increasing evidence suggests that these people shifted their crop patterns from the large-grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species of small millets and rice in the later part of declining monsoon and thereby changed their subsistence strategy,’ they continued.

However, changing the crops they grew and harvested resulted in the ‘de-urbanization’ of cities and no need for large food storage facilities. Instead, the people swapped to personal storage spaces to look after their families.

‘Because these later crops generally have a much lower yield, the organized large storage system of mature Harappan period was abandoned giving rise to smaller more individual household-based crop processing and storage system and could act as a catalyst for the de-urbanization of the Harappan civilization rather than an abrupt collapse,’ the team wrote. 

Chinese built a dam to submerge engraved heritage rocks of Buddhism in Gilgit Baltistan

A resident of the area, Araib Ali Baig, wrote, “The art of rock carving is present in all regions of Gilgit Baltistan, mainly in the districts of Diamir, Hunza and Nagar and Baltistan”. “Speaking specifically of Baltistan, these engravings can be seen on former settlements and popular old routes along the Indus and Shyok”.

This is how China is ruining Buddhist treasure in Pakistan Occupied Ladakh

Since the Chinese company develops Diamer-Bhasha, a dam in Pakistan’s Gilgit – Baltistan region occupied Ladakh, most of the Buddhist relics in an around some of the ancient villages would be submerged.

The dam has come as an end to the rich Buddhist culture and treasure that was dominant before the 14th and 15th centuries when forced conversion by Muslim invaders from Central Asia started in the region.

However it is interesting to know that even the local Muslim population is criticizing the construction of the dam and destruction of Buddhist heritage.

Ancient Buddhist rock inscriptions in Gilgit Baltistan

The local population says that the Buddhist relics found in most of the villages in a form on engraved symbols on rocks, Gautam Buddha’s statues made of rocks among many other artifacts. These could help in making the region of the occupied areas as self-dependent by promoting tourism.

The controversy erupted in Gilgit Baltistan soon after the Pakistan government on 13 May signed Rs 442 billion contract with a Chinese company for the construction of the dam that would submerge about 50 villages uprooting a large chunk of the population.

The Diamer-Bhasha Dam is located on the Indus River in northern Pakistan between Kohistan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Diamer district in Gilgit Baltistan.

Many Muslim residents of the area have on the social media joined the debate against the destruction of the rich heritage that the dam would cause in the area.

One of them remarked that “the wealth of Indic history spanning over millennia will soon be submerged under waters of the dam in Gilgit Baltistan”.

A resident of the area, Araib Ali Baig, wrote, “The art of rock carving is present in all regions of Gilgit Baltistan, mainly in the districts of Diamir, Hunza and Nagar and Baltistan”. “Speaking specifically of Baltistan, these engravings can be seen on former settlements and popular old routes along the Indus and Shyok”.

The project will destroy a number of petroglyphs that are the talking rocks of the region. Unplanned development activities, commercial painting practices, chalk on the walls, hatred of local people for these pre-Islamic sculptures, and apathy from government departments have also led to the rapid disappearance of these historic rock art, said a comment.

Baig commented, “Inscriptions which were destroyed during the conversion of the local population to Islam in the 14th and 15th centuries AD. Even today, these inscriptions are easy to find in the villages located mainly on the east bank of the Indus, but they are in a state of disrepair”.

“Yes these sculptures belong to Buddhism. They can attract millions of tourists across the globe. Irrespective of religion we should preserve this ancient heritage”, commented another resident of POJK.

An archaeologist of the area, Dr. Ahmad Hasan Dani has classified these rock engravings into four categories. The oldest category includes rock carvings dating from at least two millennia BC and even dating back to the fifth or sixth millennium BC.

Such engraved rocks are of great heritage importance and the Buddhist spiritual and temporal leader Dalai Lama during a recent visit to Leh had called for preserving these ancient rocks scattered along the Indus River and other places in the Ladakh union territory (UT).

Dalai Lama made the appeal when he came to know that the ancient rocks with inscriptions of the Kushan period and the Bronze Age were decaying due to negligence.

Such rocks are scattered throughout Ladakh but the largest cluster of rocks carrying inscriptions and images of animals, hunting scenes, human giants, masks, and various other themes is in the Murgi-Tokpo Village that was properly preserving these.