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The Gandhara Civilization existed in what is now Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan from the middle of the 1st millennium BCE to the beginning of the 2nd millennium CE. Although multiple major powers ruled over this area during that time, they all had in common great reverence for Buddhism and the adoption of the Indo Greek artistic tradition which had developed in the region following Alexander’s invasions into India.
The Extent of Gandhara
Although mentioned in historical sources at least as far back as the reign of the Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great (r. c. 550-530 BCE), Gandhara was not known to have been geographically described in detail until the pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang, 602- 664 CE) in the 7th century CE. He visited the region during the tail end of the Gandhara civilization, after the time when it had achieved its greatest feats and was falling into decay. Following ancient Buddhist sources, he described quite accurately the area and its various cities and sites, being the first known account that survives to the modern day and indeed which helped in identifying the remains found in this region during modern times as being of Gandharan origin.
It has been speculated that Gandhara was a triangular tract of land about 100 kilometers east to west and 70 km north to south, lying mainly to the west of the Indus River and bounded on the north by the Hindukush Mountains. The extent of Gandhara proper actually included the Peshawar valley, the hills of Swat, Dir, Buner, and Bajaur, all of which lie within the northern boundaries of Pakistan.
However, the bounds of Greater Gandhara (or regions where the cultural and political hegemony of Gandhara held sway) extended towards the Kabul Valley in Afghanistan and the Potwar plateau in the province of Punjab in Pakistan. Indeed, during certain times, the influence spread as far as Sindh where remains of a stupa and Buddhist city are still visible built over the even older remains of Mohenjo-daro. Well-known cities of the Gandhara include Takshasila (Taxila), Purushapura (Peshawar) and Pushkalavati (Mardan), where remains have been discovered and continue to be found to this day.
Arrival at Islamabad international airport in Islamabad, our guide and driver will meet you upon your arrival at the international/domestic arrival gate (OR at your location). After meeting with our staff, drive to the hotel in Islamabad.
Day to explore Taxial heritage / archaeology sites. Visit Taxila museum, Jaulian Buddhist Stupa & Monastery, Dharmarajika Stupa And Monastery, Mohra Moradu Buddist Stupa & Monastery, Sirkap Remains, Jandial Remains,
Drive to Peshawar, arrive and visit Mahabat Khan Masjid, Sir Cunningham Clock Tower, Shahi Bagh, Qissa Khwani Bazaar, Bala Hisar Fort (if allowed by authority), Bab-e-Khyber, Jamrud Fort
Drive to Swat Valley. Enroute we will visit Takht-i-Bahi (UNESCO heritage list) and the nearby ruins of Sahr-i-Bahlol.
Day to explore Swat valley. Today we will explore the beautiful Swat valley (commonly called Switzerland in Pakistan) with many Buddhist heritage sites, including Butkara stupa (2nd century BCE), Shingardar Stupa, Nemogram (2nd–3rd century A.D), Amluk Dara Stupa (2nd–3rd century A.D), Najigram Stupa & Monastery and if time allows we will visit more Heritage sites.
Drive back to the capital of Pakistan, depending on your flight time, if time allows then we will explore the twin city “Rawalpindi and Islamabad” later drive to the airport and fly to your destination.