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The Kingdom of Gandhara or “the land of fragrance” was composed of the area starting from the west of Indus in Pakistan and north of Kabul in Afghanistan. Taxila was the capital and main cultural Hub. It included cities of Mankiala, Peshawar, Swat valley, Buner, Dir and Bajaur in present-day Pakistan and the sites of Hadda and Bamyan in Afghanistan. According to a few archaeologists, the geographical presentation of this Kingdom should not be considered as final and they are convinced that more Gandhara cities are yet to be discovered. Despite the exponential growth of the internet and electronic media, Gandhara remains unknown to the majority of modern-day travellers. Here is a modest effort on our part to expose and project this lost glorious Kingdom to the world. We all know that Lumbini in Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha but not many are aware of the fact that it was King Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty and the King Kanishka of Kushan dynasty who played an important role in propagating Buddhism in the region. Archaeologists have established that the Kingdom of Gandhara existed almost 3000 years ago when Aryan populations from central Asia came and established their settlements here. The hymns mentioned in the sacred book of Hinduism were first sung by the Aryans.

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Itineraries

Day 1

Arrive Islamabad.

Arrival early in the morning at the Islamabad International airport. Welcome by your guide and transfer to your hotel. Breakfast and rest of the morning at leisure. Lunch at the hotel. Departure for the sightseeing of the twin cities Rawalpindi & Islamabad. Drive to Islamabad to visit Rawal Lake situated at 12 km distance. Water to both twin cities is supplied from this immense reservoir. It is also a picnic spot amongst local who often come here with families in the evening. Shakarparian is another scenic spot that overlooks the capital city of Islamabad. Next to it is the Folk Heritage museum where you will discover different aspects of Pakistani culture. If time allows, we shall visit the National Council of Arts where you can appreciate paintings of known local artists. Drive to Daman e Koh, a terraced garden in the Margalla Hills, which offers a panoramic view of Islamabad. Drive back to Rawalpindi to visit Ayub National Park, situated in its outskirts. Covering an area of 2300 acres, it has a lake, a garden restaurant, a Japanese garden and a golf course of 18 holes. Before reaching the hotel, we will be passing through some of the busy streets and bazaars of this old town of Rawalpindi, such as Muree road, Sarafa Bazaar, Urdu Bazaar, Raja Bazaar, Sadar Bazaar, Mall road…etc. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 2

Taxila city tour

Drive to Taxila and visit some of its famous Buddhist sites and Stupas, Dharmarajika Stupa, Bhir mound, Sirkap, Sirsukh, Jaulian monastery and an interesting museum depicting different life scenes of Lord Buddha. The history of Taxila spans about 1000 years (516 BC to 600 AD). It was a British Jhon Marshal who excavated Taxila for the first time in 1913. Later on, any other international and Pakistani archaeologists worked on these locations and put into light some other Buddhist sites and monasteries. The kingdom of Gandhara included a part of present-day Afghanistan, Taxila, Peshawar, a few parts of northern Pakistan and Varanasi in India. The promotion and propagation of Buddhism really started when prince Ashoka of Mauryan dynasty converted into Buddhism conquered the neighbouring countries and as a sign of his victory, constructed pillars which were later known as “Pillar of Ashoka”. Taxila was once the capital of Gandhara during the Mauryan dynasty. Later on, it became the permanent capital during the Kushans.

Day 3

Drive to Besham

Departure to Besham with some photo stops at Khanpur Lake, Harripur and Abbotabad. Arrival at hotel in Besham in the evening. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

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