Rain damages ancient Buddhist heritage site in Taxila

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Recent rains in the country have not only created hurdles for human life, but old heritage sites are also being affected by the storms. First, the small wooden entrance gate to the Shahi Qila in Lahore was damaged due to the rain and now the rains have damaged an ancient Buddhist heritage site in Taxila.

As per details, the double-headed eagle Stupa located at Sirkap is crumbling fast. An architectural marvel, the double-headed eagle Stupa is made of Kanjur stone and was originally plastered with lime.

The second city of ancient Taxila, Sirkap is significant in the archaeological history of Pakistan as it is among three of the 18 Buddhist sites of the Taxila valley with intact sculptures. The site which has relics dating back to the Achaemenid, Greek and Kushan periods has been classified as World Heritage Site by the Unesco.

According to the curator of Taxila Museum, Sirkap was founded by the Bactrian King Demetrius, who conquered the region in the 180s BCE. The city was expanded by Gondophares who also built the famous double-headed eagle Stupa and the Temple of the Sun.

Apart from the double-headed eagle Stupa, the recent torrential rains have also caused severe damages to scores of priceless stucco sculptures of the Buddhist period (2–5th century AD).

The government and others responsible have not taken the necessary measures to preserve and protect these heritage sites, which these sites may soon cease to exist if things continue to be like this.

Irshad Hussain, the deputy director of the archaeology department, said the department was facing a shortage of staff from the last 15 years as no recruitment has been made and employees were retiring every year after reaching their age limits. He said after the 18th amendment the site had been handed over to the provincial government. However, he added that the department had planned to erect a protective roof over such endangered stupas to save them from natural elements such as rain.

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