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Remains From The Kushan Era: Discovery Of A Square Buddhist Stupa

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MANSEHRA: The stupa at Bado Dheri Gandhian near Mansehra is one of the important discoveries of the 21st century, owing to its unique architecture. The discovery is unique in terms of its material, construction techniques and design.

Head of the Department of Arachaeology at Hazara University, Shakirullah Khan, explains that the heritage site has great potential to attract cultural and religious tourists at a national and international level. The site is possibly linked to the Buddhist civilization of the Kushan era and the heritage site is spread over about 50 kanals (approximately 6.25 acres).

Dr. Shakirullah notes that that the stupa is square in shape its rubble stone wall has a finishing of Kanjur stone.

The Archaeology Department of Hazara University, Mansehra, discovered the Buddhist remains during an excavation under its first scientific field investigation at the site in August 2019, with the financial support of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) under a project funded by the National Research Program for Universities (NRPU).

Bado Dheri is located on the left bank of Gandhian stream, between the Karakoram Highway and the newly constructed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Road. Having remained at the mercy of the antique dealers since long, the site was damaged and looted.

The first season archaeological investigation at the site has brought to light many important ancient remains (i.e. terracotta potsherds, bones, charcoals, stone pestles and grinding stones).

But the most important discovery from the site is the Buddhist Stupa constructed of stones in rubble masonry.

Traces of a kanjur face added to the earlier core of the stupa were also noticed – suggesting later additions to the structure. “Although no inscriptions, records and coins have yet been unearthed to assign a proper date to the site, scientific analysis of organic matter will help to establish a complete cultural profile of the site,” Dr. Shakirullah Khan says.

The archaeological field investigation at Bado Dheri provided an opportunity to students of Archaeology and Tourism to get some much-needed practical exposure in Field Archaeology and Cultural tourism,” he adds.

The dig took part as part of an effort initiated by the HEC to rescue the site before its complete destruction at the hands of illegal diggers.

Further work on the material uncovered during the excavation is ongoing. Scientific analysis of samples thus unearthed will be able us to put these important ruins in the proper context of the Kushan era and the history of the region. Some 200 students took part in the excavation of the site.

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