RAWALPINDI: The proposed revival of the University of Ancient Taxila, designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1980 and the largest center of learning about civilization in Gandhara, may turn the region into an educational tourism center from all over the world after proper publicity and the provision of extensive facilities to tourists.
Taxila, one of the most important Buddhist archaeological sites in the world, is located near the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. According to historians, the old university was established around the 5th to 6th century (BC) and continued to attract students from all over the world until its destruction in the 5th century. Taxila as a symbol of diversity should be given due attention to restore its lost glory. Therefore, the Buddhist archaeological sites of the Dharmarajika and Stupa complex can again become the center of excellence in higher education to establish a university of international standard there.
According to experts, Taxila has great potential for religious and educational tourism and could become an international city of education for higher education.
Punjab Archives Department Director Maqsood Ahmed said Taxila, formerly Takshashila, was also depicted in Jataka Buddhist tales written in Sri Lanka around the 5th century. In this text, Taxila has been mentioned as the capital of the kingdom of Gandhara and a great center of learning. He said that Chinese travelers like Fa Hian (Faxian) and Huien Tsang (XuanZang) also spoke of Takshashila in their writings. Many people visit Taxila today to experience the wonders of an ancient civilization, he added.
Ahmed said that the Muslim world, once a hub of intellectual wonders, has lost its glory, especially in science and technology, but Taxila, if it is focused and raised with the aim of promoting science and technology , can become a center of excellence to attract foreign students, especially from the subcontinent, Central Asia and other countries.
He said that the old university which was a center of education and knowledge was established on the concept of creating a space where brilliant philosophical and scientific minds could come together for advanced learning during the Achaemenid Empire.
He said the oldest institution hosted debates, housed several libraries in its main premises and had given rise to prominent scholars and intellectuals such as Kotliya Chankia; adviser to the founder of the Mauryan Empire; Charaka, the Indian father of medicine, one of the main authorities of Ayurveda and the greatest Indian grammarian Paini of the 5th century BC. Babylon, Syria and Greece and the Indian subcontinent.
He said that subjects such as science, mathematics, medicine, politics, war, astrology, astronomy, music, religion, vedas, agriculture, surgery, commerce, futurology and philosophy had been taught on campus.
Pakistan can benefit from this rich cultural and historical diversity and make it a regional economic hub, he concluded.
Posted in Dawn, le 27 September 2021