A damaged rock carving. — Dawn
A damaged rock carving. — Dawn

SHANGLA: The local people have defaced an ancient stone-carved Buddha in Shangla that needs attention of the archaeology department.

The lovers of history archaeology say that the authorities concerned should repair and preserve the carving. Shangla has many Buddhist sites, however, these are left at the mercy of people.

The local children and some people deface these statues and carvings as they don’t known about the importance of this archaeological treasure.

Govt asked to preserve archaeological sites in district

“We have formed a team of four members to explore such sites. The ancient sites are in bad condition owing to negligence of government,” Ijaz Hassan, an archaeologist, told Dawn.

He said that a stone carved Buddha was located at a distance of around 1.5 kilometre from Puran tehsil headquarters in Shikawlai but there was no road leading to the site.

Mr Hassan said that the site could be developed as a tourists’ destination if government showed interest in it. He said that even foreign tourists would visit the sites of Gandhara civilisation if those were developed properly.

“I conducted a survey about these sites in 2012. I found monasteries and other Buddhist sites in the district but majority of these were in need of repair and preservation. Some of the Buddha statues and carvings in Shangla were intact, however, some were defaced by the local people,” said Dr Ghaniur Rehman, the head of department of Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisation in Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad.

He said that about 200 sites were surveyed. He said that a stupa in the district could be found through excavation.

He said that preservations of those sites was must as people had damaged some of the structures.

Mr Rehman said he found a monastery in Dandai Qala that was not in good shape.

Fazl Subhan Afghani, a cultural activist, said that some statues and carvings were located at attractive points.

He said that government should preserve the archaeological sites and construct roads in the area to attract and facilitate tourists.

Shaukat Yousafzai, the spokesperson for the government, when contacted, said that government was striving to boost tourism in Shangla.

He said that teams of archaeologists would visit to the ancient sites in Shangla.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018