Takht-i-Bahi – Pakistan

Takht-i-Bahi, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan

Takht-i-Bahi, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan

Takht-i-Bhai is a Buddhist monastic complex dating to the 1st century BCE. The complex is regarded by archaeologists as being particularly representative of the architecture of Buddhist monastic centres from its era. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

The word Takht Bhai may have different explanations. In Sanskrit, takht means “well” and bhai means “on a high surface”, so the whole word means “well on a high surface”. In Persian, takht means “throne”. The ruins are located about 15 kilometres from Mardan in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. A small fortified city, dating from the same era, sits nearby. The ruins also sit near a modern village known by the same name. The surrounding area is famous for sugar cane cultivation.

The monastic complex likely was founded in the early 1st Century BCE. Despite numerous invasions into the area, Takht Bhai’s hilltop location seems to have protected it from destruction, unlike many comparable early Buddhist monastic complexes. The complex was occupied continuously until the modern era, when charitable funding for the site ended.

Archaeologists have divided the history of the complex at Takht-i-Bhai into four periods, beginning in the 1st Century BCE. This first era continued until the 2nd Century CE, and is associated with the Kushan king Kanishka, as well as early Parthian and later Kushana king. The second construction period, which included the creation of the Stupa Court and assembly hall, took place during the 3rd and 4th Centuries CE. A third construction period, associated with the later Kushan dynasty and the Kidara Kushana rulers, occurred during the 4th and 5th centuries. The final construction period, which saw the creation of the so-called Tantric complex, took place in the 6th and 7th Centuries CE, and was overseen by invading Hun rulers.

The first modern historical reference to these ruins was made in 1836 by a French Officer, the Buddhist remains are in a village named Mazdoorabad. Explorations and excavations on this site began in 1864. The site underwent a major restoration in the 1920s.

Photograph taken with Nikon D100 & 12-24mm lens at 12mm on 29th March 2005.

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