HARIPUR: A group of 150 monks from Thailand visited the world’s famous Buddhist heritage site of Julian here on Tuesday.

The most venerable Arayawangso, the celebrated Buddhist monk led the group of monks, who took a round of different portions of the site and also offered prayers there.

Sub-regional officer archaeology, Hazara division, Nawazuddin briefed the monks about the sites on the occasion.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Nawazuddin said monk Arayawangso had been in Pakistan for last three months, and later other monks also arrived to join him. He said their three-month stay was part of Rain Retreat Programme usually known as the intense learning period, when monks dwelt in one place during the rainy season for a three-month monastic retreat determined by the lunar calendar.

“They mediated and carried out research work at seven world heritage sites, particularly Julian, Bhamala in Haripur, 11 sites in Taxila and others in Swat, Takht Bahi and Peshawar valley,” the official said. He said it was first time a high-ranked monk was visiting Buddhist holy places along with such a large delegation, spreading message of peace.

Mr Nawazuddin said monk Arayawangso would also assist the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa archaeology department in conservation of the 44-foot-long Buddha stupa that was discovered a few years ago, but was partially damaged.

In 2015, archaeologists had discovered the largest statue ever found in Gandhara civilisation depicting the death of Buddha known as Bhamala Stupa, situated on the left bank of Khanpur reservoir.

Mr Nawazuddin said the discovery was made during excavations at the Buddhist stupa and monastery dating back to 4th century AD. He said the statue depicting the Buddha death scene measures 14 meters in length. The image is placed on a 15-meter-long platform.

BODIES FOUND: Two bodies were found in different parts of the district on Tuesday.

Police said locals spotted the body of a man in 40s from a dried well on the outskirts of Siri village, and the police with the help of rescue workers retrieved the mutilated body and shifted it to the trauma centre.

The police said the deceased was identified as Zahoor Elahi.

Another body was found near a police checkpost in Jahaniyan area of Ghazi. The police identified the deceased as Akhtar 27, a resident of Gulibagh, Mardan.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2022

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