Saturday 19 August 2023

171. Shah Allah Ditta Caves & a Baoli - Islamabad!

Islamabad the capital city of Pakistan is a new city, but this area has a long history going back thousands of years to ancient times. The earliest civilization of this region was known as the Gandhara civilization. Its main city Taxila is located not far away from the city. Now almost the outskirts of this rapidly expanding city. Taxila is famous for its great stupas, monasteries, and many other archaeological sites. I covered most of these sites in my previous posts. One of the sites associated with Buddhist religious and cultural sites is Shah Allah Ditta caves. This site is located within the boundaries of the Islamabad Capital Territory and close to the modern residential areas of D13. The caves are situated at  33°43'18.09"N,  72°54'54.45"E

According to some general information available on different sites, the site was originally used by Buddhist monks for many centuries, starting around 400 BC. That is quite possible as the area lies in the heart of Gandhara civilization and the nearest stupa is located only 2 kms to the west on top of the hills. A trail leads to the stupa, but I did not visit the place. So cannot confirm the condition of the trail. However, the ascend is nearly 200 meters, which is considerable. 

The caves of Shah Allah Ditta. (31.07.2022.)

The caves are set in a very beautiful place, covered with verdant trees and foliage. The scene captivates your senses and soothes your nerves. The whole setting is very serene and peaceful. Lush green hills surround the place as if protecting it from the tumults of the outside world. 

A gorge in the west of the caves. The Ban Faqiran Stupa is located in the same direction. 

After the influence of Buddhism faded in the region, Hinduism became popular. This place too came under the use of Hindu Sadhus and reportedly they lived here up to 1947. The garden at the caves is still known as Sadhu Ka Bagh i.e. Garden of the Sadhu. 

A pond filled with spring water. 

Iftikhar and Obaid are closely inspecting the waterworks at Shah Allah Ditta. (31.07.2022.)

Ruins of old dwellings of sadhus and monks. 

The caves. (31.07.2022.)

Another cave. (31.07.2022.)

A spring flows out of the hills and irrigates the adjoining fields. (31.07.2022.)

Sadhu Ka Bagh.  (31.07.2022.)

On the way to Shah Allah Ditta.  

Obaid ur Rehman. (31.07.2022.)

Tariq Amir, the writer. (31.07.2022.)

Passing through D-12, on the way to Shah Allah Ditta. (31.07.2022.)

The caves are not the only attraction in the area. Up in the hills, at a distance of about 3.5 kms, is another historic structure. It is a baoli; stepwell. Again no authentic information is available, like when and by whom it was constructed. The road to the baoli, is very scenic and you can have a wonderful view of Islamabad City below. Needless to say that the surroundings are very beautiful. Some resorts are available and can provide a place for rest and dining. The Baoli is located at  33°43'48.05"N,  72°55'35.59"E.

Obaid taking shelter under a tree in warm and humid weather. (31.07.2022.)

It is a small Baoli, actually the smallest one I have ever seen. Its location suggests that once it was a busy trail used by people to cross the Margalla Hills. It is made of carved stones and still supplies water to the local people. It is in good condition and brimming with water, which suggests that people pay good attention to its maintenance. 

A view of Islamabad. (31.07.2022.)

From the left: Tariq, Obaid and Iftikhar. (31.07.2022.)

It is a very nice picnic spot for a day out to relax and enjoy in serene atmosphere, amidst lush green Margalla Hills. Hikers can also enjoy the walking tracks in the area. Some restaurants and resorts are open to serve the visitors. You can enjoy your dinner, in this peaceful atmosphere, while enjoying the beautiful scenery all around. 

Tariq Amir
August 19, 2023.

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