Call to construct protective wall around Buddhist stupa

by Dr Ramzan Abdullah, Pak Observer, January 19, 2013

Taxila, Pakistan -- The local and foreign tourists have called upon UNESCO and federal as well as provincial government to take stock of the construction of wall around earliest Buddhist stupa and monastery known as Dharmarajika Stupa dated back to second century AD near Taxila by private developers as tourists entrance has been completely restricted leaving no place to visitors.

Dharmarajika Stupa is one of eight shrines constructed in the 3rd century BC during the reign of Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty to house relics of the Buddha. The shrine gradually expanded, reaching its largest size in the 2nd century A.D. The name Dhararajika stupa comes from an inscription of the time of the Parthian ruler Azes. The main stupa was probably built by Dhararaja, a title of the Mauryan emperor Asoka. The site is divided into two parts: the stupa area in the south and his monastic area in the north.

The main attraction on a raised terrace, approached by four flights of steps. It was long known as Chir Tope because in the 19th century it was torn asunder (Chir) and the relics robbed by a French general of Ranjit Singh. The foundation consists of a wheel of spokes (Dharam-Chakra). Around the stupa is a paved ambulatory passage outside we have a number of votive stupa erected later by the pilgrims.

On the floor of the main stupa three hoards of coins were found, as a ritual burial by the visiting pilgrims. The coins belong to the Scythian, Parthian, Kushana and Indo-Sassanian rulers. The votive stupas are of different kinds, from one of which a relic casket was recovered and presented to Sri Lanka in 1924. In between can also be seen small chapels containing Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of stucco.

The whole construction here continued to the end of the seventh century A.D. when Buddhism declined and meets its doom for lack of patronage. Keeping in view its importance and significance, UNESCO owned it, declared the site as “world cultural heritage” in 1984 while Government of Pakistan notified them as “protected sites” under the Antiquities Act 1975. It is important to mention here that Section 22 of Antiquities Act 1975 prohibits any structure or construction within 200 feet of protected sites’ outer portion. The rule stats” Not withstanding any thing contained in any other law for the time being in force, no development plan or scheme, or new construction or, or within, distance of two hundred feet of a protected immovable antiquity shall be undertaken without approval of the Director General”.

The construction of wall by the private developers at the entrance of earliest Buddhist stupa and monastery known as Dharmarajika Stupa dated back to 2nd century AD has banned the entry of the domestic and foreign tourists, already collapsed tourism sector of the country. On the local and foreign tourists’ complaints when this reporter visited the site, it was observed that local developer has erected concrete wall and a huge gate at the entrance of site completely banning entrance to the site.

The sign board installed by the department at the entrance of the site for information and guidance of tourists and visitors has also been removed at throw away at nearby poultry farm and the site seems some private building rather than an ancient site. Local and foreign tourists wander on the road leading to the site in search of the site which is available on the guide map for the tourists but not present on the spot. Vjwal Prodhar, a tourist from Nepal has said that he was stunned to see that a wall has been erected by non-government elements around Buddhist site.

He said it has great religious importance to Buddhists and such construction is like trashing its sanity. He said that UNESCO should take stock of the sorry state of affairs. Sukan Yacha, a tourist from Thailand expressed his utmost grief over restricting the entry of the tourists at the Buddhist site. He said that the site has great religious importance to the followers of Buddhism and such act has hurt their sentiments.

Akongi, a tourist from Japan said that after visiting the site it looks like that it is personal property rather that the world cultural heritage. He said that it seems that national and international organizations who claim to be custodians of the world cultural heritage have turned blind eye to the issue due to reasons best known to them. He said that the situation is intolerable to the Buddhists and the Buddhist organizations should play their role to free the site from personal “captivity”.

I came from Rawalpindi along with my some friends who came from Multan to see the ancient sites at Taxila and we travel five times on the road but failed to find the stupa. Said Asad Shah, a local tourist. He said that it is ridiculous that information sign board has been removed from the site and the authorities are in deep slumber over the issue. Dr Aneesa Khan, another tourist who came from Islamabad has condemned the apathy of the department of archaeology, provincial and federal government turning their back to this serious issue and looking the whole issue as idle spectator. She said that construction of wall and installing a gate at the entrance is like making this world cultural heritage site as personal property.

When contacted Deputy Director Department of Archaeology Irshad Hussain said that the matter has been brought into the notice of the local administration and Revenue Department and it would be resolved after demarcation of land. He said that the entrance of the tourists would be ensured and approach road to the site would be made with the consultation of private developer with the help of Revenue Department soon.

It may be recalled here that the Supreme Court of Pakistan on August 6, 2007, had ordered removal of all encroachments in and around the archeological sites throughout the country. The order was passed by apex court while hearing an identical matter of Lahore city under Human Rights case No. 179 of 2007. In the case, the two-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice M. Javed Buttar, has directed the Punjab government to remove encroachments from historical places within three months.

The court also directed the chief secretaries of all the four provinces to take proper action to remove the encroachments around the historical places in their respective provinces. Subsequently all the Chief Secretaries were directed by the federal government with regard to court’s directives.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: