Piplan: a hidden jewel of ancient Taxila; Amjad Iqbal; Dawn

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Pakistan – Taxila

Piplan, the ancient Buddhist monastic establishment in Taxila that was named for the thick peepal trees of the area, is a Buddhist archaeological jewel located in a calm valley that has stayed hidden from local and foreign tourists and the public, despite its unique landscape.

The ancient site lies at the foot of the hills between Mohra Maradu and Julian, the ancient Taxila university. According to Dr Mohammad Ashraf, the former director of the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisation, the site was excavated in 1923-24, under Sir John Marshall, the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Department of Archaeology and Museums Deputy Director Abdul Ghafour Lone said that later, study papers had revealed that archaeologists during the excavation had found the site belonged to two different periods.

Studies conducted by the archaeologists found that to the east is a courtyard of a monastery dating back to the late Partian or early Kushan times. It consists of an open quadrangle in the centre, with a range of cells on all four sides. Mr Lone added that in the middle of the courtyard is the basement of a square stupa.

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