The Indus Valley Civilization came into existence about 5000 years ago. A number of invaders from Central Asia, Afghanistan and ancient Greece attacked this beautiful land and influenced the local art and culture. As a result a mixed culture cropped up and the famous Gandhara art flourished in the reign of Maharaja Kanishk. The kingdom of Maharajah was called Gandhara. It was situated in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar platue and on the Kabul river. Today the area stretching from Peshawar to Rawalpindi in the north of Pakistan is considered as Gandhara.
The capital of ancient Gandhara was Taxila. It was considered as the center of cultural activities and education. A grand university was also present here. People from all over the subcontinent visited the place for trade and to quench their thirst for knowledge. The ancient Gandhara excelled in the field of fine arts specially in the making of stone statues. The statues of Mahatama Gautam Budha are quite impressive and tourists from all over the world visit this place to see these magnificent pieces of art. The cultural outlook of Gandhara was superb even 2500 years ago but the invaders caused a lot of devastation and the Gandharan civilization came to an end. Jayapala was the last great king of this dynasty. His empire extended from west of Kabul to the river Sutlej. However, this expansion of Gandhara kingdom coincided with the rise of the powerful Ghaznavid Empire under Sabukatigin. Defeated twice by Sabukatigin and then by Mahmud of Ghazni in the Kabul valley, Jayapala committed suicide. Anandapala, a son of Jayapala, moved his capital near Nandana in the Salt Range. In 1021 the last king of this dynasty, Trinocanapala was assassinated by his own troops which spelled the end of Gandhara.
Pieces of Gandhara art can be seen in all the major museums of Pakistan, specially the Taxila museum. The city of Taxila is only 40km away from the Rawalpindi city and can easily be approached either by plane or by road. The government of Pakistan is striving to preserve this national asset.
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