The oldest Jain temple in Pakistan

By: Wali Imran Khalil.

200 BC Greek City SirKap Pakistan is designed like Islamabad

 

SirKap is the only Greek city in the Indo Pakistan Subcontinent from the Greco-Bactrian times.

sirkap

Taxila city, which is synonymous with SirKap, has been mentioned by Greek philosopher Apollonius of Tyana of 1st Century AD as resembling Athens and Nineveh (Greek colony in present day Iraq).

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Even a Chinese traveler of early times talked of this city being strategically located at the cross roads of trade between India, China, Central Asia and Persia.

‘Bhir’ was the native city near the SriKap site that was sacked by Alexander of Macedonia in 326 BC

sirkap

Following Alexander’s (The son of Zeus’s) footsteps, Demetrius sacked the town again in 180 BC and laid foundation of SirKap city.

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Jain Temple

Demetrius styled the city on Athens.

The imposing castle of Asoka (304-232BC) still overlooks the city.

The Greek took over Asoka’s Buddhist Kingdom and melded into it.

sirkap

Indo-Greek Menander in 130 BC increased various sectors of SirKap. A Greek styled temple (Jandial) was built outside the 30 foot walls of SirKap, complete with its front Columns. Inside the walled city were syncretic temples of Jain, Sun worshipers, Hindus, Buddhists.

There was Persian Gondophares’s double headed eagle temple and a huge sun dial. The King had his royal court at the opposite end of the main boulevard.

sirkap

The city had its own water channels, drainage, wells, market place, barracks’, and residential colonies.

sirkap

One illegal excavator approached me with coins of Kushan period and said that very recently bronze statues and utensils were dug out by locals. The private archeological collection of locals is a lot more valuable than what is in the Taxila Government museum.

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SirKap was destroyed by a great earth quake in the 40 AD and then taken over by the mysterious ‘European looking’ central Asian Kushan’ (Yuezhi)

sirkap

A rival city, SirSukh was built a few kilometers away by the Kushan. SirSukh has yet to be completely excavated.

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Buddhist monasteries like Jaulian, Maura Muradu, Badalpur, etc. dotted the higher grounds around SirKap

The city was probably abandoned in the White Huns invasion of 5th century BC

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Standing in the middle of the sun dial of SirKap, it made perfect sense to me that Demetrius located this modern city on higher ground protected by the Indus & Jehlum River on both flanks, and by mountains from the North.

I always wondered where the pencil Greek nose, light eyes, blond hair and widely hedonistic traits in some Pakistani families comes from.

sirkp

Well now I know — from the Turkish Greek Border!

Do enjoy the video of Taxilla and its Surrounding Buddhist sites.

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