Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol
Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol
The Buddhist monastic complex of Takht-i-Bahi (Throne of Origins) was founded in the early 1st century. Owing to its location on the crest of a high hill, it escaped successive invasions and is still exceptionally well preserved. Nearby are the ruins of Sahr-i-Bahlol, a small fortified city dating from the same period.
Ruines bouddhiques de Takht-i-Bahi et vestiges de Sahr-i-Bahlol
L'ensemble du monastère bouddhique de Takht-i-Bahi (ou « trône de la source ») a été fondé au début du Ier siècle. Grâce à son emplacement sur la crête d'une haute colline, il a échappé aux invasions successives, ce qui explique son état de préservation exceptionnel. Les ruines voisines de Sahr-i-Bahlol témoignent de la présence d'une petite ville fortifiée datant de la même période.
الآثار البوذية في تختي باهي وبقايا سحري بهلول
تأسست مجمّع الدير البوذي في تختي باهي (او سلطة المصدر) في بداية القرن الاول. وبسبب موقعه على قمة تلة عالية، لم تستطع الاجتياحات المتتالية النيل منه، ما يفسّر حالته الاستثنائية. أما الانقاض المجاورة في سحري بهلول، فهي تشهد على وجود مدينة صغيرة محصّنة تعود الى الفترة نفسها.
Руины буддийского монастыря Тахти-Бахи и города Шахри-Бахлол
Буддийский монастырский комплекс Тахти-Бахи («Трон Сотворения») был основан в начале I в. Благодаря расположению на вершине высокого холма, он уцелел при повторяющихся вторжениях захватчиков, и сохранился до наших дней в исключительно хорошем состоянии. Поблизости находятся руины Шахри-Бахлол, небольшого укрепленного города, относящегося к тому же периоду.
Ruinas búdicas de Takh-i-Bahi y vestigios de Sahr-i-Bahlol
El conjunto monástico budista de Takht-i-Bahi (Trono de los orígenes) se fundó a principios del siglo I. Su emplazamiento en la cima de un alto cerro le salvó de las invasiones sucesivas de la región, lo cual explica su buen estado de conservación. En sus cercanías se hallan las ruinas de Sahr-i-Bahlol, una pequeña ciudad fortificada de esa misma época.
Boeddhistische ruïnes van Takht-i-Bahi en overblijfselen van de naburige stad Sahr-i-Bahlol
Het boeddhistische kloostercomplex van Takht-i-Bahi (Troon van de oorsprong) werd in het begin van de 1e eeuw gesticht en daarna steeds uitgebreid. Het ligt op een 152 meter hoge heuvel, ongeveer 80 kilometer van Peshawar en 16 kilometer ten noordwesten van de stad Mardan. Door de ligging op een heuveltop ontsnapte het klooster aan opeenvolgende invasies en is het tot nu toe uitzonderlijk goed bewaard gebleven. In de nabijheid zijn de ruïnes van Sahr-i-Bahlol te vinden, een kleine versterkte stad die uit dezelfde periode dateert. In 1871 werden er veel sculpturen gevonden op Takht-i-Bahi. Sommige tonen het leven van de Boeddha.
Outstanding Universal Value
The Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol are one of the most imposing relics of Buddhism in the Gandhara region of Pakistan. The inscribed property is composed of two distinct components both dating from the same era.
The Buddhist Ruins of Takhi-i-Bahi (Throne of Origins) are a monastic complex, founded in the early 1st century A.D., is spectacularly positioned on various hilltops ranging from 36.6 metres to 152.4 metres in height, typical for Buddhist sites. The complexes cover an area of around 33ha.
The Buddhist monastery was in continual use until the 7th century AD. It is composed of an assemblage of buildings and is the most complete Buddhist monastery in Pakistan. The buildings were constructed of stone in Gandhara patterns (diaper style) using local dressed and semi-dressed stone blocks set in a lime and mud mortar.
Today the ruins comprise a main stupa court, votive stupas court, a group of three stupas, the monastic quadrangle with meditation cells, conference hall, covered stepped passageways and other secular buildings.
The second component, the Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol, is located approximately 5 km away in a fertile plain. The Sahr-i-Bahlol ruins are the remnants of a small ancient fortified town of the Kushan period. The town is set on an elongated mound up to 9 metres high and surrounded by portions of the defensive walls in “diaper” style characteristic of the first two or three centuries A.D. The area covered is 9.7 hectares.
Criterion (iv): The Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol in their setting, architectural form, design and construction techniques are most characteristic examples of the development of monastic and urban communities in the Gandharan region between the 1st to 7th century AD.
Due to the location of on the Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi on high hills, it escaped successive invasions and is exceptionally well preserved.
The boundaries of the ancient fortified city of Sahr-i-Bahlol are well defined with part of fortification walls still intact although in deteriorated condition. The site is increasingly threatened by encroachments, although the growth of settlements occurred already prior to 1911, when they were declared protected monument under the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act. Houses have been built directly on top of the ancient ruins and only remnants of the perimeter wall survive. The present boundaries of the property are considered inadequate due to the increasing urbanisation.
The inscribed property is also threatened by a number of other factors including uncontrolled vegetation resulting in one of the main causes of decay, inadequate drainage, and lack of security to prevent unauthorized animal and human encroachment and illegal digging. Pollution from local factories and vehicular traffic is also a serious threat adding to the deterioration of the site.
The Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi has high authenticity of setting as it continues to occupy its original hilltop location. Authenticity of form and design has been preserved and the layout of the monastic complex and buildings are visible. Authenticity of materials as well as traditions and techniques of construction is retained in the stone construction in Gandhara patterns (diaper style). The stone sculptures were removed to the Peshawar Museum and the stone inscription of the Gondophares is preserved in the Lahore Museum.
The neighbouring ancient city remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol is endangered by urban expansion. The original sculptures from the site have been removed and are housed in the Peshawar Museum. The Management Plan notes the lack of documentation and the lack of a skilled workforce of artisans trained in the traditional techniques of diaper pattern.
Protection and management requirements
Both component parts of the Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol were identified as protected monuments under the Ancient Preservation Act (1904) and subsequently under the Antiquity Act (1975) of the Federal Government of Pakistan. Proposals are under consideration to amend and strengthen the Antiquities Act. The Takht-i-Bahi ruins are owned by the federal Department of Archaeology, and the Sahr-i-Bahlol ruins are private property, owned by the local Khans.The government has established a Sub Regional Office with appropriate professional, technical and watch ward staff and have allocated financial resources through an annual budget. As well a public sector development programme is provided to maintain and preserve the site by regular and rigorous repair and conservation programmes. Management responsibilities lie with the Provincial Department of Archaeology (Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) situated in Peshawar. A Master Plan for the Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol was prepared in 2011. Intended as a working document for site custodians, it is also designed to provide a detailed holistic framework for the conservation of the inscribed property and sets out principles for management by means of a prioritized plan of action covering a number of areas of concern from site conservation to visitor management.The threat of urbanization identified above, indicates that the boundaries of the property are inadequate. As a result a revision of the property boundaries is being seriously considered along with the intention to acquire the land around the site and to create a larger buffer zone. In an effort to control urbanization, the entire mountain area of 445 hectares was recently declared the “Archaeological Reserve” by the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. There remains a need for more adequate documentation of the remains and for enhanced capacity building for craftsmen in traditional building techniques.
The Buddhist ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and the neighbouring city remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol are among the most characteristic of this type of structure.
The Buddhist monastic complex of Takht-i-Bahi (Throne of Origins) is situated on top of a 152 m high hill, about 80 km from Peshawar and 16 km north-west of the city of Mardan. It was founded in the early 1st century AD, and was successively occupied and expanded from that time until it fell into disuse through the discontinuation of charitable endowments in modern times. Owing to its location on the crest of a hill, it escaped the invasions of the Huns and other antagonistic peoples, leaving it today with much of its original character intact. The name Takht-i-Bahi derives from the spring on the hilltop and is literally translated as 'Spring Throne'.
The complex, the most impressive and complete Buddhist monastery in Pakistan, consists of four main groups:
- the Court of Stupas with a cluster of stupas beside the main stupa in the middle courtyard, embellished with a series of tall niches to enshrine Buddhist statues;
- the early monastic complex with residential cells around an open court, assembly hall and refectory;
- the temple complex with a main stupa in the middle of a courtyard adorned with statues niches similar to the earlier stupa court;
- the tantric monastic complex with an open courtyard in front of a series of dark cells with low openings for mystical meditation, in keeping with tantric practice.
In 1871, many sculptures were found at Takht-i-Bahi. Some depicted stories from the life of the Buddha while others, more devotional in nature, included the Buddha and Bodhisattava.
The Court of Stupas is surrounded on three sides by open alcoves or chapels. The excavators were of the view that originally they contained single plaster statues of the Buddha sitting or standing, dedicated in memory of holy men or donated by rich pilgrims. The monastery to the north was probably a two-storey structure consisting of an open court, ringed with cells, kitchens and a refectory.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC