Leave Rawalpindi/Islamabad in the early morning direction PESHAWAR. Make a short visit to TAXILA (Ruins of 3 cities: Bhir Mound, Sirkap, Sirsukh, archaeological museum). Continue over ATTOCK (ancient Fortress) to Nowshera and turn North direction Mardan. After Mardan make a visit to the ruins of TAKHT-I-BAI.
Continue to MINGOARA (different Buddhist sites). Stay overnight.

Saidu Sharif
Tel: 0936/711640-41
Fax: 0936/710402

PDTC MINGOARA (Sober rooms, bad food)


Visit of the Bhuddist sites and the museum in MINGOARA. Continue to Kwazakhera and turn right to the Shangla Pass (2134 m). Continue to BESHAM. Stay overnight.

Hotel: PDTC BESHAM (discuss the price!, poor and not too cheap food!). Take a room with view on the Indus river.


Continue via the Swinging Bridge to Mansehra/Abottabad over the Karakoram Highway (ends officially in Havelian). After Abottabad head to Islamabad/Rawalpindi (if time over MURREE).


FIVE days is recommendable for this trip. The extra time allows you to reach KALAM in KOHISTAN at the end of the Swat valley. Program would be as follows:


Leave Mingoara for KALAM. Stay overnight.



Return to MINGOARA. Stay overnight in MINGOARA.


See DAY 3 above.





Thirty kilometres north-west of Rawalpindi out along the Grand Trunk Road lies Taxila, one of  the most important archaeological sites in the whole of Asia. Situated strategically on a branch of the Silk Road which linked China to the West, the city flourished both economically and culturally. Taxila reached its greatest heights between the 1st and 5th centuries A.D. Buddhist monuments were erected throughout the Taxila Valley which was transformed into a religious heartland and a destination for pilgrims from as far afield as Central Asia and China. Undoubtedly badly shaken by the arrival of Huns into the area in the mid-5th century A.D., the city plunged into decline when quarrels among the nobility undermined royal power in the 6th and 7th centuries. The remains of the valley can still be visited today where many Buddhists monasteries and temples still stand today.

Taxila valley consisted of three cities.

Bhir Mound

This was the earliest of the other two cities. Settlements here date from 6th century B.C. The city does not seem to be pre-planned as compared to other urban sites, but there is evidence of considerable sophistication. The eastern part of the city so far excavated appears to have been chiefly a residential area. The western part of the site, by contrast, appears to have had ceremonial importance. Crucial to this interpretation is the so-called Pillared Hall and its structure suggests that here on Bhir Mound may have been the earliest Hindu shrine yet discovered.


The city of Sirkap, or "Severed Head", chronologically the second major city of Taxila, is to be found spreading down the Hathial Spur and onto the plains of the Taxila Valley. It is bound by the Tamra rivulet and to the north and south by the Gau rivulet which today has been almost completely obliterated by a modern road and water channel. The present layout of the city was established by the Bactrian Greeks sometime around 180 B.C. and takes
the form of a wide and open grid system. In general, the city presents a better planned architecture than Bhir Mound. The city is encompassed by an almighty wall over five kilometers long and up to six meters thick. There may well have been an entrance on all four sides originally, but today the only one evident is the northern wall and it is through here that today's visitors would normally enter the city. A number of temples and monasteries can be found here such as Apsidal Temple, Sun Temple, Shrine of the Double Headed Eagle, Kunala Monastery and Ghai Monastery.


Major attraction in this city is the Great Stupa, one of the largest and most impressive throughout Pakistan and is located just two kilometers east of Bhir Mound and Sirkap. The chapels and chambers around the Great Stupa were built at various times from the 1st century B.C. to the post Kushan period. These structures display a wide range of designs and quite probably they were donated by pilgrims and possibly represent various schools of Buddhism.

Other sites of interest include the city of Sirsukh which is believed to belong to the Kushan period. To the north of Sirkap are four temples, all standing on earlier mounds and overlooking the city. They are all in the style of Greek temples. The best to visit is probably the one at Jandial, 1.5 kilometers north of Sirkap. There are several more Buddhist monasteries which are worth a visit too.


Located 16 km of North East of Mardan town in Northwest Frontier Province. The ruins dates from the  Buddhist Civilization in 2nd - 5th Centuries. The ruins of an ancient Buddhist monastery are situated on the top of 152 meters (500feet) high hill. It is about 80 kms from Peshawar and 16 kms northwest of Mardan City. This site has produced fragmentary sculptures in stone and stucco that indicate the highly developed sculptural sense of their creators. But the most remarkable feature is the design and arrangement of the range of small shrines, which surrounds the main stupa-court. This site dates back from 2nd-3rd century AD The site consists of large rectangular court, on the north of which is the main monastery and to the south is a well-planed monastic shrine of high terrace.

The village is built on the ruins of the ancient town the foundation walls, which are still to be seen in tolerably good formation. As a proof that it was in the past occupied by the Buddhists and Hindu races, coins of those periods are still found at the site. From the description of Song Yun, a Chinese pilgrim, it appears that it was on one of the four great cities lying along the important commercial route to India. It was well-fortified town with four gates outside the northern one, on the mound known, as Chajaka Dehri was a magnificent temple containing beautiful stone images covered in gold leaf. Nor far from the rocky defile of Khaperdra did Ashoka build the eastern gate of the town outside which existed a stupa and a sangharama.

The monastery, on the north, was probably a double storied structured consisting of an open court ringed with cells, with kitchens and a refectory attached. On the west there is a double row of subterranean mediation cells.