Thailand Chief Monk visits Taxila Museum, Dharmarajika Stupa Treasures of Buddhist sites can make Pakistan among top tourists’ attractions

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Zubair Qureshi

After ringing ‘peace bell’ in Peshawar on Wednesday, the Most Venerable Monk of Thailand, Arayawangso visited Taxila Museum on Thursday and performed a similar ritual there of ringing bell and offering prayers for peace in this part of the world.
As mark of his historic visit to the Museum of Taxila, a small reception was arranged by the Punjab Minister for Sports, Tourism, Youth Affairs and Archaeology Rai Taimoor Bhatti, Director General of Archaeology Muhammad Ilyas Gill and Curator of the museum Abdul Nasir.
The high profile visit and performance of rituals by the Most Venerable were witnessed by senior officials of the Foreign Ministry Director General Samina Mehtab and heads of missions of various ASEAN countries including Ambassador of Indonesia Iwan S Amri, Thailand Ambassador Pornpop Uampidhaya, Ambassador of Myanmar, Win Myint, the Philippines ambassador Daniel Ramos Espiritu, Brunei High Commissioner, Dato Mahmud Saidin and Deputy Head of Mission Malaysia, Deddy Faisal.

The Most Venerable took a round of the Museum and showed keen interest in the artifacts, statues of Buddha and disciples, articles of everyday use. These rare things trace their history to pre-Christ era and were excavated by the British archeologists in late 18th and 19th centuries.
Curator of the museum Abudl Nasir told His Holiness that soome of the artifacts were more than 2,000 years old when the Buddhist monks used to live and tread these paths in Taxila that used to be centre of the ancient Gandhara Civilization.
His Holiness drew a number of comparisons in the artifacts put on display there and remarked the landscape of some paintings reminded him of Ajanta Caves of India.
Ms Humaira Assistant to Curator of Taxila Museum led His Holiness and his 15-member delegation to the place where peace bell was installed. There he struck the bell with gravel and on each strike prayed for peace, love, patience, tolerance, compassion and such higher human values that are necessary for mutual co-existence.
The Most Venerable is undertaking his visit to Pakistan on the invitation of his Pakistani friend and an entrepreneur Imran Shaukat who is a keen advocate of Buddhist tourism in Pakistan.
“It is a great honour to have the Most Venerable in Pakistan and I hope his visit will set in momentum visits by Buddhist tourists from across the world to Pakistan and to these rare, historic sites,” said Imran Shaukat. According to him Buddhists are 600 million in population and each year they visit various parts of the world to see Buddhist sites which are abundant in Pakistan. “We only need to provide these tourists with enabling environment so that they could come to Taxila, Peshawar, Takht Bhai, Swat Valley and other sites rich with Buddhist marks, said Imran Shaukat.
Later, the Most Venerable also visited Dharmarajika Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. It is also referred to as the Great Stupa of Taxila. It dates from the 2nd century and was built to house small bone fragments of the Buddha. The Most Venerable meditated at the stupa and prayed for peace in Pakistan. Later talking to journalists, the Most Venerable said “My Dhamma mission and Dhamma practice, at the ancient sites of Buddhist World Heritage, has been fully accomplished, in every possible way. I am confident that from now on, Buddhists from around the world will be looking forward to visiting this beautiful country of Pakistan.”