Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan

Pakistan has been the cradle of four ancient civilizations including Mehergarh, Harrapan, Indus Valley, and Gandharan Civilization. The Buddhist Heritage in Pakistan in the form of the Gandhara Civilization flourished from 300 BC to 900 AD. During this period, numerous dynasties ruled this land (Pakistan and Afghanistan) and nearly all dynasties were linked to Buddhism as a religion.

The ancient state of Gandhara flourished in southern Afghanistan along the Kabul River and in northern Pakistan along River Indus and Swat. It was bounded to the north and west by Hindukush and Suleiman Mountains while Koh Safed bordered the south.

The political and cultural domination of Gandhara spread from the Potohar plateau of today’s Pakistan to Bamiyan and Kabul in Afghanistan. The political history of Gandhara states that it witnessed the rule of several powers including Achaemenids from 600 ̶ 400 BC., Greeks from 326 ̶ 324 BC., Mauryans from 324 ̶ 185 BC., Indo-Greeks from 190 ̶ 110 BC., Scythians- Parthians from 110 BC ̶ 80 AD., Kushans from 100 ̶ 450 AD., White Huns from 450 ̶ 850 AD. (and were also responsible for the extinction of Buddhist heritage), Hindu Shahi from 850 ̶ 990 AD. and Muslim Rule began in 1025 AD – up to medieval Indian history.

The rich Gandhara heritage remained buried for centuries until it was unearthed in the late 19th century. At the crossroads of Asia, Gandhara constantly saw people from all walks of life including invaders, traders, pilgrims, monks, and every other type of traveler. The relics dug out from the ruins by archaeologists cover a vast area at various locations.