Tuesday, 4 October 2011



Some time back I had mentioned about Taxila in one of my blogs briefly.  It is a small town  located in Pakistan and   falls between  Rawalpindi & Peshawar on Grand trunk Road. Although not of much significance in the present day, Taxila was one of the most important places in the ancient time  during the  Mauryan  empire from 324 BC to 187 BC . It is said that in  those days, Nalanda in the east and Taxila in the West were the two  world famous universities in India.

The  remains of  some of the monuments at Taxila reflects even today, the excellence of quality of work in  stone cutting  which was available during that period. According to various  leading historians, a wide range of metals was also well known and special characteristics as regards the mining and manufacture of these metals  have been recorded. The knowledge extended both to utilitarian metals such as iron, copper and lead and to precious  metals such as gold and silver. The remains of copper bolt antimony rods and nail-parers from Hastinapur and other copper and bronze objects including coins have been found from the Mauryan strata at Bhir Mound in Taxila and other places.

While I was posted at Islamabad, I had the opportunity to visit  Taxila on number of occasions. It was , however, disheartening  to notice that  not much care was given by the local Government to preserve these  old monuments. Even the local official guide hardly possessed any knowledge about the  Mauryan (Hindu) kings viz. Chandragupa, Maurya, his son Bindusara or  his grand son Ashoka the Great  and others.


  1. Singh Sahab,

    Some years ago I met one of the curator of a museum in a major city in Europe. He had just given a lecture on Gandhara era art.

    I spoke to him after the lecture on the state of things in Afghanistan now and the thriving trade in smuggled artifacts.

    He mentioned to me that on a visit to Pakistan, he had been wined and dined by a (now deceased) retired Pakistani flag officer who proceeded to show him his "collection" of Gandhara art pieces.

    It appears that the flag officer had quite a "collection" and wanted to have the curator value the pieces so that he could sell them to prospective buyers in East Asia.

    In his dinner conversation, the flag officer let it slip that he had multiple pieces of the same artifacts and in better condition than some pieces found in major museums. And that he had several cavernous vaults of this stuff lying around - all apparently recovered by his "team" from the Kabul Museum.

    I am guessing that he would sell the pieces to foreign buyers at a high price by saying that they are "one of a kind". As all the buyers would want to keep their participation in this kind of transaction secret - no two buyers would go about showing each other that they had purchased the exact same piece.

    A year after this conversation, I became aware of a website in Australia that was selling Gandhara era art work for a price that seemed just too low. I could not tell if they were selling reproductions made in the Peshawar area which according to unrelated Pakistani sources can be pretty nice to look at - or if they were selling the multiple copies that the flag officer had stockpiled. The website made no direct reference to how the pieces were obtained and I could find no visible connection to the flag officer or his family.

    I think you were quite fortunate to see some of these places. If this trade in artifacts keeps up - I doubt I shall be as fortunate.

  2. Thanks. I am aware of the illegal trade since long & its very sad.