Tuesday, 14 December 2021

144. Monuments of the Gandhara Civilization at Taxila - 04 (Jaulian)

This is my fourth post about the monuments of the Gandhara Civilization at Taxila. In my previous articles, I gave my readers a brief introduction to the Gandhara civilization, the museum at Taxila, the stupa at Dharmarajika, the holiest of Buddhist sites in this region and Pipplan. In this article, I shall take my readers on a tour of a very beautiful site, called Jaulian, my favourite.

This site is located at 33°45'54.0"N, 72°52'29.5"E, on a small hill, and visitors will have to ascend almost 50 meters from the parking area. Proper stairs have been constructed and the path is safe, without any hindrance or trouble. However, hundreds of stairs will take a test of your stamina. But believe me, this little trouble is nothing compared to what you will find above.

The monuments at Jaulian are highly ornamented and in a better state of preservation. These were constructed during the Kushan period, in the 2nd century AD. During this period the capital of Taxila was at Sirsukh, 2.5 kilometers to the west. This complex covers an area of almost one acre and has two main components, a group of many stupas and statues of Buddha in the west and a monastery in the east. All these stupas have lost their domes and cylindrical drums, but their square bases are still adorned with elaborate stucco reliefs. Some of these figures are some of the best-preserved of their kind.

The monastery closely resembles the one at Mohra Moradu and other sites. The building is almost square in shape, with rooms on its four sides. Besides, the room for living there are assembly hall, storeroom, refractory, kitchen, and a bathroom.

A board at the entrance, briefly tells the history of Jaulian. (25.11.2021.)

The main stupa is well protected in a covered enclosure. (25.11.2021.)

The wall surrounding the stupas. (25.11.2021.)

The path leading to the monastery in the east. (25.11.2021.)

The area between the stupas and the northern wall. (25.11.2021.)

The main stupa is surrounded by dozens of small stupas, called votive stupas, built by devotees to express their devotion and gratitude. Here you will find a greater number of stupas than on any other site. The stupas are not only in very good condition but also are highly decorated and stucco figures can be seen on them. 
The stairs lead to the upper parts of the main stupa. (25.11.2021.) 

One of the best preserved and highly decorated stupa. (25.11.2021.)

Healing Buddha

Seated Buddha figure with a circular hole at the navel and an ex-voto inscription in Kharoshthi beneath, recording that it was the gift of one Budhmitra, who delighted in the law (dharma). The hole at the navel was intended for a suppliant to place his finger in when offering prayers against certain bodily elements. 
The Healing Buddha is widely worshipped in Myanmar, Tibet, China, and Japan. According to popular belief in those countries, some illnesses are effectively cured by merely touching his image or calling out his name. 
Discovery of the image of healing Buddha at Jaulian indicates that the cult was originated from Gandhara around 3rd - 4th century or may be earlier and afterward, it spread over the whole Buddhist World.   

A very well preserved figure of Buddha in its original niche. Almost all other similar statues have been placed in museums.  (25.11.2021.)

As we have noted earlier, a monstery was an integral part of a religious complex, containing a stupa and a monastery, serving as living quarters for monks and students. It was usually constructed in a rectangular shape and a pool of water existed in the open courtyard. The courtyard was surrounded by rooms, quite small by our current standards. 
The courtyard, surrounded by rooms and a pool in the middle. (25.11.2021.)

Assembly Hall (25.11.2021.)

Steward's Room (25.11.2021.)

The stairs to the stupa. (25.11.2021.)

A canal nearby. (25.11.2021.)

The view from above is quite beautiful. (25.11.2021.)

On the way to the top, actually trying to catch my breath. (25.11.2021.)

So we have seen that how wonderful is this site. Actually my most favourite among all I visited around Taxila. It would be negligence on my part if I do not mention the beauty of this area. Lush green fields, with beautiful trees and rolling hills in every direction, are a treat to the eyes. Khanpur, a famous recreation place, is only 11 kilometres away. So plan a trip to this marvellous area and have a memorable day. 

Tariq Amir

December 14, 2021.

Note: Find Jaulian marked in yellow. Other sites are marked in red. You can find posts about other sites on the same blog.