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Taxila

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Taxila is an ancient city in Pakistan, just 30kms north of Islamabad.

Understand

Taxila is one of the most important archaeological sites in Pakistan and the world. 18 of its sites are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city dates back to the Ancient Gandhāran city of Takshashila (also Takkasila or Taxila) an important Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist center of learning from the 6th century BC to the 5th century CE. This is the region from where Buddhism travelled to the far east - and Persians, Greeks under Alexander the Great, Central Asians and Hindus all subsequently left their mark. You can watch the sun set from the remains of a Buddhist monastery or wander through the streets of an excavated Persian city in the knowledge that there are two older ones buried below. Today, Taxila is the center of Pakistan's Engineering Industry.

Taxila is home to a vast network of ancient ruins, connected by road. Unfortunately, the museum there is quite small and without much information aside from a brief timeline. You should [read about] the site before you go, as the museum won't tell you very much. There are no dioramas or reconstructions of what the sites looked like, so you'll need to use your imagination.

The main ruins of Taxila are divided into three major cities, each belonging to a distinct time period. The oldest of these is the Hathial area, which yielded surface shards similar to burnished red wares (or 'soapy red wares') recovered from early phases at Charsadda, and may date between the 6th century BCE and the late 2nd millennium BCE. Bhir Mound dates from the 6th century BCE. The second city of Taxila is located at Sirkap and was built by Greco-Bactrian kings in the 2nd century BCE. The third and last city of Taxila is at Sirsukh and relates to the Kushan kings.

Get in

By Air

From Islamabad International Airport

By Road

It is located 30kms north of Islamabad. You can hire a Taxi or a Car.

Get around

Via Taxi or Car

See

The museum costs 200 rupees for foreigners, or about $2.50. To get entrance to the ruins, it's an additional 200 rupees. You may pay at the museum or the ruins.

At the ruins, self-deputized tour guides may begin to show you around. Frequently their English is not very good and they don't really tell you anything you can't read from the signs, then strongly imply that they want a tip. If you want some local color, go ahead, but otherwise tell them to thanks immediately. You may be approached by numerous "guides" at each site. In addition, people selling trinkets like small statues and allegedly old coins may come up to you.

Stay healthy

There is little shade at Taxila and it may be very hot. Bring water, a hat, and sunscreen.

Other sites

  • Taxila Museum dedicated mainly to the remains of Gandhara civilization.
  • Mughal Garden

Eat

  • Gandhara Restaurant
  • DreamLand Hotel & Restaurant
  • Though be advised you may get sick. A better option is to bring your own snacks and eat a meal in Islamabad.

Buy

Along the main highway to and from the various ruin sites there are a number of shacks selling trinkets, pots, and a local phenomenon nicknamed the "Disco cat." The disco cat is a plaster statue of a cat or panther, covered in small square pieces of mirror, much like a disco ball. Small ones should run you 600 rupees, while larger ones can be 2,000 or more. They make a great conversation piece or gift.

Drink

Sleep

No separate accommodation is needed for Taxila, one can easily stay in Islamabad and visit Taxila. But If you still need accommodation in Taxila then there is PTDC motel which is located in front of Museum and certain other rest houses in Taxila.

  • PTDC Motel
    • Though the rooms are basic and can use some extra cleaning, it's an acceptable lodging.
    • Across from the museum.
    • 738 Rs + Tax for a double room with shower. (2007)
  • Gandhara Motel
    • This hotel offers much better value than the nearby PTDC hotel.
    • On Khanpur Road a few hundred meters south of the museum.
    • Tel: +92 (0)51 432 9072
    • mailto:gandhararest@gmail.com
    • This place has 4 new rooms (as of October 2007.)
    • 700/800 Rs for single/double.
    • AC and TV will be added (at an extra cost of around 300 Rs)

Get out

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