Ancient murals found in Pakistan

By Saadia Khalid, The News, June 9, 2008

Islamabad, Pakistan -- The remains of more than 2,400-year-old Buddhist era are nurturing silently under the lap of Margalla Hills as the murals of Buddha appeared on the walls of caves at Shah Allah Ditta.

At the distance of 15 kilometres from the main Golra intersection, the site needs immediate attention of the Department of Archaeology and Museums as it possesses not only the relics of Buddhist era but also 8th century AD Hindu period and the 300-year-old Aurangzeb period.

According to archaeologists, the cages belong to Buddhists where monks used to perform their religious rites in isolation and the emergence of murals on the wall support this view.

“The murals were not visible previously but with the passage of time the layers of smoke and dust over the walls washed out and the original came out,” said Ansar Ahmed, an archaeologist.

He said that with the discovery of mural there were chances in the extension of Taxila history which presently goes back to 5th century BC as it appeared that both places are linked with each other in one way or the other.

“The excavation of the site could reveal important structures of the site which would help determine its time period exactly,” he said.

The murals found on the site need immediate attention of the archaeological department as they are in a dilapidated condition and require preservation on immediate basis otherwise they could disappear or become disfigured due to vagaries of weather or even due to vandalism of some religious zealots among the villagers.

Ansar said that few years back during a research work with Professor Dani on the site they found colour pigment from its walls, which suggested that there must be some murals but even after long examination they failed to find any evidence.

It is learnt that during last year the Department of Archaeology and Museums planned to turn the site into a tourist resort and a survey was also conducted in this regard.

Moreover, a natural roadway passing through the caves to Taxila is assumed to be a way used by Alexander the Great. The step wells and mango trees on the way also indicate that they belong to Mughal period.

They planned to do random excavations on the site for the clarity of structures and also to identify the source of fresh water on the premises but nothing practical had been witnessed so far.