TAXILA: US Consul General in Lahore William Makaneole visited the archaeological museum of Taxila and the ancient Buddhist site of Dharmarajika stupa the other day.

Upon his arrival, he was received by deputy director Punjab Department of Archaeology Mohammad Iqbal Manj and curator of the museum Humera Naz.

Mr Makeneole was accompanied by political and economic chief Kathleen Gibilisco and economic specialist Amna Anis.

The officials briefed the US diplomat about the history of Gandhara civilisation, various stupas, statues and other artifacts.

The diplomat and his team were taken around the main hall which exhibits more than 70 stories of the life of Buddha from the time of his birth till death. They also visited the Bodhisattva and Buddha galleries.

The envoy was informed that hundreds of monasteries and stupas had been built together with Greek and Kushan towns such as Sirkap and Sirsukh, both in Taxila. The diplomat also visited various Buddha images and Buddha life stories.

“Mainly the display consists of objects from 600 BC to 500 AD,” he was informed.

Gandhara is the second holy land of Buddhism and it is the place from where the religion flourished across the globe.

Recording his views in the comment book, Mr Makaneole wrote: “It was interesting to see just how important this area of the world is. I was impressed with the artifacts.”

Later, he also visited the Unesco Buddhist world heritage site of Dharmarajika stupa and monastery which was founded in the 3rd century AD by King Asoka.

The US diplomat was informed that this ancient site was accredited for being one of the earliest Buddhist monuments, being one of the eighth largest Buddhist stupas in South Asia.

He also took keen interest in intact ancient sculptures preserved for tourists and visitors.

Later, talking to newsmen, he also lauded the government for preserving sites related to Buddhism and maintaining Taxila as one of the prominent places for Buddhists.

According to US consulate sources, Mr Makaneole is nowadays visiting mosques, temples, shrines and places of historical importance across Punjab to witness the beauty and diversity of the province.

Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2023

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