GANDHARA – Garden of the North


My Presentation at the Tourist Guide Training Workshop March 2020                                      at Adventure Complex, Islamabad – Pakistan,
Organized by Sustainable Tourism Foundation of Pakistan

00-Capture Mahajanapad

Main Centers thrived along Indus, Kabul and Suwat Rivers (now Pakistan):
-Puskalavati the capital of Gandhara (now Charsadda),
-Takshasila – named after an early Gandhara king Naga Takshaka (now Taxila) and
– Purushapura (present day Peshawar city)
Centre of learning, art and music and had remained the hub of Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Bactrian and Buddhism from the 6th century BC to the 2nd cAD

Gandhara existed since the time of Righveda (1500BCE) – with traces found evidencing settlement in the Gandhara area since the Stone Age and through Vedic to Zoroastrian, Achimenid, Mauryan, Bactrian Greek, Kushan (535BCE) and ended 1001 at the Battle pf Purushapura.
Gandhara civilizatio has been also mentioned in the epic Mahabharata & Ramayana.

19-Gandhara Female

DNA Evidence, findings through artifacts and objects relates similarity to early Harappa civilization (6000BCE) from 4700- 10,000 years ago. Recent excavations has evidence settlement in the area dating back Mehergarh Civilization, some 30,000 years ago.

01-ancient Lute string instrument


Gandharvas – Original inhabitants of Gandhara area. They were gifted with art and music and said to have invented the seven musical notes.
The word Gandhara itself is derived from the name of one of the seven musical notes in musicology:
Shadaja (SA), Rishabha (Ri), together with Gandhara (GAA), Madhyama, (MAA) and likewise Panchama (PAA); Dhaivata (DHA), (and then) Nishada (NI SA).
Lute was the ancient musical instrument used by natives, probably handed down from natives of ancient Mesopotamia region.
Gandhari was the name of the sister of early Gandhara king Shakuni
The original tribe Gandharvas are found today in a small area of Nepal.

Indo-Aryan regional language PRAKRIT was spoken by Gandharvas.
Later, the language developed Kharoshti script, derived from Aramaic (Achaemenid period). Punjabi, Hindko and Kohistani language is derived from Prakrits.

33-220px-Demetrius_I_MET_coin 10-Gandharan_sculpture_-_head_of_a_bodhisattva

Gandhara Kings (not in order) :
-Dewa king Indra
-king Suvala (his sons were Shakuni, Sauvala, Achala, Vrishaka and Vrihadvala. All were Gandhara chiefs).
-King Nagnajit
-Naga Takshaka.
-Janamejaya (kuru king slaughtered Naga tribe during Krukshetra war)
-king Sudarsana
-king Chitrasena
-Cyrus II – Darius I
-King Bharata (Founder of Taxila)
-Alexander of Macedonia 327BC (Ambhi surrendered ruler of Taxila). Alexander and his troops killed entire population of Barikot & Massaga when resisted by Assakenoi tribe of Suvat valley & Buner.
-Chandragupta Maurya 321BC-185BC. Ashoka spreeded spread of Buddhism.
-Demetrius I (Bactrian Greek king)
-Menander (Indo-Bactrian king) “concquered more tribes than Alexander of Macedonia“ (Strabo-a greek historian)
-Kanishka 78BC – 144AD
-Jayapala (last king) 1001AD

History of Gandhara area: (Timeline Summary)
-Stone Age (8700 – 2000BC) Recent Artifacts relate to Mehergarh 30,000 years ago
-Vedic Ancient Gandharva from 1500BC – 600BC (in Mahabharata/ Ramayana)
-Mahajanapada (6c-4cBC) one of 16 great kingdoms in N.W.Sub-continent)
-Achaemenid (4c-3cBC) Zoroestrian King Ctrus II – Darius I
-Macedonian 327-326BC Invasion of Alexander of Macedonia.
-Mauryan 321BC-185BC Chandra Gupta Maurya-his grandson Ashoka.
-Graeco-Bactrians (75-50BC) King Demetris I
-Kushan (Kanishka of Chinese tribe ruler of Pururshupura) (1cBC/ 78BC-144AD)
-Hephthalite-451AD (white-Huns destruction 470AD)
-Kabul Shahi Decline of Gandhara followed by Mahmood Of Ghaznavi in 1001

TAKSHASILA (Now TAXILA, 32kms N.W.Islamabad, Pakistan)
Earliest settlement 1000BC and became regional capitral since 316BC
UNESCO Heritage Sites.
Asia’s most ancient University – a center of learning, art and music.
Also, Kunala Eye hospital-the first of its kind in Asia.
Ashoka initiated roadside Treeline and setting up Rest-houses (Serai) to facilitate travelers. Prince Sidharta (Buddha) from Nepal visited during Mauryan rule.

The 3 Cities of Taxila: The Land of Opportunities

BHIRMOUND (Crowded City) 800 BC. The First City
Since Achaememid to Indo-Greeks


SIRKAP (severed headed) – The 2nd City
Myth of a demon that devoured humans) 180 – 10 BC founded by Bactrian Greek. Center of Budha teaching. Rebuilt by king Mahender. Defensive wall 6meters thick and 5kms long. Apsidal temple/ 2-Headed Eagle shrine (a remnant of Hellinic-Byzantine-indo art) / Dharmarajika temple. Nearby Jandial Temple and Julian monastery (house and meditation place for Buddhist monks).

SIRSUKH (Peace of mind) 80AD                                                                                                           Founded by Kushan king Kanisha City walls 7kms long-6m thick
Gandhara reached its glorious state during the Kushan kingdom. Greko-Buddhism flourished. Fa Xian – a revered pilgrim from China visited the region on 400AD. He discovered Buddha’s bowl 7-foot in diameter.

02-Fasting Buddha Lahore Museum

Sites excavated by Sir John Marshall (1913-1925), Sir Mortimer Wheeler (1944-1945) and Dr. Mohammad Sharif (1966-1967).

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-11 at 22.44.51

I am accepting a token of appreciation after a 2-hour presentation on Gandhara Civilization.

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-11 at 22.52.50

Participants attending the 10-Day Tourist Guide Skill Course.

00-Gandhara Modern map



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