The ancient metropolis of Sirkap is a part of the modern day Taxila city and is located near the University of Engineering Technology (UET). Sirkap was thriving metropolis of the ancient world, complete with streets, houses, shops and places of worship. According to available historical data Sirkap was built by the Indo-Greek King Demetrius. Around 180 BC he invaded ancient India and laid the foundations of his kingdom in the northwestern parts of modern day Pakistan. Sirkap was destroyed several times by invading armies and rebuilt again. After being ruled by Greek, the city of Sirkap was destroyed in incursions of the Indo-Scythians. In 30 AD it was again destroyed in an earthquake and then rebuilt by the Indo-Parthian rulers. It is believed that the first king of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom, Gondophares, expanded the city and also built the famous Double Headed Eagle Stupa and the Temple of the Sun. Later the city was overtaken by the Kushan kings who built a new city at Sirsukh about a kilometre from here, and abandoned Sirkap. The remains of the ancient city were discovered in colonial period between 1912 and 1930 under the supervision of archeologist. Further excavation work was carried out by Mortimer Wheeler and colleagues during 1944 and 1945. Today Sirkap is considered to be one of the most important archeological sites in the region. The city plan of the Sirkap is quite similar with the Hippoamian grid-plan characteristic of ancient Greek cities, with a main street in the center of other perpendicular streets. Ancient religious symbols can still been seen in Sirkap. Ruins of various religious buildings tell the tale of religious diversity that once existed here. It is also reflective of the immense importance religion in the lives of those who lived here. There are also Buddhist stupas, Jain and Hindu temples draw many visitors to Sirkap. The statues, coins and other relics found during excavation work are displayed at Taxila Museum.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2014

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