Tuesday 21 December 2021

147. Monuments of the Gandhara Civilization at Taxila - 07 (Giri Fort & Stupa)

Of all the archaeological sites at Taxila, Giri is perhaps the most difficult to reach. Because you have to park your car at least half a kilometer before the Giri Fort and walk through a pass with a stream of cool clear water flowing through it. A wonderful place for fans of natural beauty. The fort has only been partially restored; a section just in front of the restored part is still barely visible. The walls of the fort are also not easily visible. It was constructed probably in the 5th century AD and as the name suggests, was used for defence. The distance from the Taxila museum is a little over 7 kilometers. The area is secluded and beautiful and is surrounded by hills and is very calm and peaceful. It lies within the limits of the capital territory. The Giri fort is located at 33°43'40.6"N, 72°52'49.7"E.

A view of the Giri Fort. (23.11.2021.)

Steps and walls have been restored. (23.11.2021.)

A small valley amidst hills where Giri Fort existed. (23.11.2021.)

Some parts of the site still have to be excavated. (23.11.2021.)

The Giri Stupa is located on the hill at the top right. 

A view of the Giri fort from the stupa. (23.11.2021.)

This site has two parts, one is the Giri Fort and the other is a stupa on a nearby hill. But this stupa and the adjacent monastery have still to be excavated and maintained. So to the disappointment of a visitor there is nothing but a heap of rubble at the site of the stupa. The nearby monastery too is mostly buried.  It is located at 33°43'41.6"N, 72°53'00.2"E.
Stupa at Giri. (23.11.2021.)

Ruins of the monastery. (23.11.2021.)

A narrow path leading to the stupa on the hill. (23.11.2021.)

A spring on the way to the stupa. (23.11.2021.)

A view of the Giri fort from the stupa hill. (23.11.2021.)

Horses enjoying their natural surroundings. (23.11.2021.)

Unlike some other Gandhara sites at Taxila, this is a little out of the way and difficult to reach. And the excavation too is incomplete. However, it isa good place for the enthusiasts of old ruins, especially for those who have interest in these Buddhist sites. For those having interest in hiking and trekking it could be an enjoyable experience.
Tariq Amir
December 21, 2021.

Note: Giri Fort and Stupa are marked in yellow. Other Gandhara sites are marked in red. You can find details on the same blog. 

Friday 17 December 2021

146. Monuments of the Gandhara Civilization at Taxila - 06 (Jandial Temple)

So far in my previous posts, we have visited many monuments of great historical, religious and cultural value of Gandhra Civilization. But Jandial temple is very different from all those sites. It is also located in Taxila but it is unique in the sense that unlike other sites of Taxila, it is not a Buddhist Stupa or monastery. It was a temple dedicated to fire worship by the followers of Zoroastrianism. Its Greek architecture also set it apart from other buildings and monuments of Taxila. Only one of its kind has yet been discovered in Pakistan. Even in the whole of south Asia, there is no other example of a similar building, a Zoroastrian temple built in Greek style of architecture.  

The temple is located at 33°45'52.1"N, 72°49'43.7"E, at a distance of about 650 meters north of Sirkap city, about 2.5 kilometers from the Taxila Museum. Like other monuments of Taxila it is also included in UNESCO's world heritage sites. It was probably built in the 2nd or 1st century BC. Famous Greek philosopher Apollonius of Tyana came and stayed here in 44 AD. He described it in detail and highly praised its design and architectural beauty.

The board at the site informs that the site was excavated by Ghulam Qadir in 1912 – 13, under the direction of Sir John Marshall. It measures 158 by 85 feets, thus occupying an area of about 1/3 acre. It was constructed on an artificial mound and has all the characteristics of a Greek Temple, like front columns, porch, entrance hall, sanctuary, and back chamber. All around the temple is a passage of uniform size, with windows and at regular intervals for air and light. The back chamber is entered through the backdoor. Limestone and kanjur (a porous sedimentary stone) were the main materials used to build the structure. The walls were once covered with plaster, but all had fallen apart a long time ago. The pillars and columns were made with sandstone.

Jandial Temple (25.11.2021.)

The base of the two columns. (25.11.2021.)

The temple is located on an elevated surface. (25.11.2021.)

The western wall of the temple.  (25.11.2021.)

View from the southwest.  (25.11.2021.)

View from the southeast. (25.11.2021.)

The inner sanctuary. (25.11.2021.)

Space between the temple and the outer walls. (25.11.2021.)

Muhammad Munir (25.11.2021.)

Tariq Amir (25.11.2021.)

I strongly suggest that if you ever plan to visit Taxila, to see its marvels, make sure that you do not miss it. It is very easy to reach and the beauty of the surroundings will make the visit more pleasant and memorable.

Tariq Amir

December 17, 2021.


Note: Janidial is marked in yellow, while other Gandhara monuments are marked in red. Please visit my blog for the posts related to them.

145. Monuments of the Gandhara Civilization at Taxila - 05 (Jinnan Wali Dheri & Badalpur)

I hope you have seen my previous posts about some of the most famous sites of the Gandhara Civilization like DHarmarajika, Mohra Moradu, Pipplan % Jaulian. Remember all these sites are on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites and are worth visiting. In this article, I shall take you on a tour of another archaeological and heritage sites of Taxila. Its name is as interesting as the place itself is. It is called Jinnan Wali Dheri i.e. the mound of the jinns/demons. It is a well-preserved site like most of other Buddhist sites around Taxila. 

Jinnan Wali Dheri is located at 33°47'14.7"N, 72°51'48.1"E. It has the same pattern as other Buddhist sites and this too consists of two distinct parts, a big stupa in the west and a monastery in the east. Another similarity is that like other sites it too covers an area of about one acre. It must have been a standard size of religious complexes in those days. However, I noted one difference, unlike Mohra Moradu and Jaulian or most of the other similar sites; it is not located on a hill or elevated surface. It is located on a lower surface as compared to the surrounding ground.

The excavation was carried out from 2004 – 2006. A huge stupa was found with dimensions of 10 x 10 meters. The base of the stupa was decorated with plaster images of Buddha. In addition, two smaller votive stupas also have been found. Votive stupas were built by people to show their devotion and gratitude. These are found at all Buddhist sites. In Dharmarajika and Jaulian you can see dozens of such small stupas. 

The main stupa. (25.11.2021.)

One of the two votive stupas. (25.11.2021.)

A view of the main stupa. (25.11.2021.)

The monastery is in the right and the stupa in the left. 

View of the stupa from the south. (25.11.2021.)

A view of the stupa from north. (25.11.2021.)

Eastern wall of the enclosure of the stupa. (25.11.2021.)

View from the southwest. (25.11.2021.)

The monastery is square in plan and consists of 17 cells. A water tank was discovered in the middle of the monastery. All the constructions were estimated to be done from the 3rd to 5th century AD, the golden period of the Gandhara civilization during the Kushans era.

The entrance of the monastery. (25.11.2021.)

Courtyard of the monastery, with the water pool in the middle. (25.11.2021.)

Rooms of the monastery. (25.11.2021.)

A room with niches in the walls. (25.11.2021.)

View of a room. (25.11.2021.)

Spacious courtyard of the monastery. (25.11.2021.)

Monastery. (25.11.2021.) 

On your way to Jinnan Wali Dheri, about 700 meters before reaching there, on the same road you will find another archaeological site, known as Badalpur. This site too is a Buddhist stupa and a monastery. But so far it has not been excavated. So there is not much to see. But hopefully when it is excavated and restored. it too would be a big attraction for the tourists. The coordinates of this site are 33°46'54.7"N 72°52'03.8"E.


Jinnan Wali Dheri is a well maintained site surrounded by beautiful orange orchards, about ten kilometers from the Taxila Museum. The artifacts excavated from this site, like statues, coins, etc. are on display in the same museum. So whenever you make a plan to explore the wonders of the Gandhara Civilizations, do not miss it. A visit to this place along with nearby sites like Jaulian, Mohra Muradu, etc. would make a wonderful day trip.                                                                          

Tariq Amir

December 17, 2021.


Note: The map shows the locations of Jinnan Wali Dheri and Badalpur in yellow. The other sites are marked in red.