The ancient Sehri Bahlol one of the Buddhist Sites in Pakistan

Posted on Oct 22 2014 - 9:58am by visitpak

Some 3 miles to the south-west of Takht Bhai ( a Buddhist site), on the plain, the village of Sahri Bahlol occupies the site of a small ancient town, from the environs of which great quantities of Buddhist sculpture have been recovered by dealers and archaeologists during the past 100 years. The extent of the ancient Buddhist Site is indicated by an elongated mound, today some 30 feet high, and intermittent stretches of defensive walling in the variety of “diaper” style characteristic of the first two or three centuries A.D. are visible. The site is clearly that of a small fenced town of the Kushana period, set in a slight hollow where irrigation was relatively easy in this Buddhist site; but it has no history, and was presumably derelict when Hiuen Tsang traveled hereabouts in the seventh century.

On the surrounding plain of this Buddhist site, up to a distance of 2 miles from the main mound, a number of smaller mounds are known to cover Buddhist stupas and monasteries. One of them may be taken as a sample of the rest. At a distance of 1,000 yards to the south from this Buddhist site, a mound was found to contain the remains of a monastery of the usual type with a small stupa and indications of a large one to the west. The buildings had perished in flames and had subsequently remained untouched until modern times; for a line of stone Budhisattvas, 4.5 feet high, remained in position on either side of the approach to the missing stupa, and the stucco base of the small stupa was found in admirable preservation. It may be that the White Huns in the latter part of the fifth century A.D. set fire to the monastery and continued incuriously upon their way; but no direct evidence as to the date either of construction or of destruction is recorded.

Half-a-dozen other mounds which have been dug into appear to have produced comparable structural evidence. The sculptures of this Buddhist site, both in stone and in stucco, reach an unusually high level of excellence. Though they vary individually in quality, they rarely suggest the mechanical mass production which characterizes the later work, for example, at Taxila. The series from Sahri Bahlol now in the Peshawar Museum may be taken to represent Frontier Buddhist art at its best.