TAXILA, Sept 18: Official indifference is taking a heavy toll of Buddhist era remains in Taxila. Another Buddhist site known as Dharma Rajika Stupa and Monastery have become the latest victim of the recent rains but had care been taken the site could have been saved from irreparable damage caused to its stucco sculptures, stupa and the walls. The neglect is evident in the wild growth surrounding the structures.
According to archaeologists the stupa and monastery is the largest Buddhist religious complex at Taxila, built to enshrine the redistributed holy relics of the Lord Buddha by famous Mauryan king Ashoka called ?Dharma Raja? in the 3rd Century BC. The stupa was later reconstructed during the time of King Kanishka in the 5th Century AD. The name Dharma Rajika stupa comes from an inscription of the time of the Parthian ruler Azes. The main stupa was probably built by Dhararaja, a title of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka.
The site is divided into two parts: the stupa in the south and monastic area in the north.The foundation consists of a wheel of spokes (DharamChakra). Around the stupa is a paved ambulatory passage outside. A number of votive stupas were erected later by the pilgrims. On the floor of the main stupa three piles of coins were found, as a ritual burial by the visiting pilgrims. The coins belong to the Scythian, Parthian, Kushana and Indo-Sassanian rulers. A relic casket was discovered from one of the votive stupas and presented to Sri Lanka in 1924. There are small chapels containing stucco sculptures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
By the side of the river there is a row of residential cells for monks. In the monastic area there is an accumulation of several monasteries of different periods, some of which have stupas in the middle.The construction continued till the end of the 7th century AD when Buddhism declined. Keeping its importance UNESCO put it on its list of the World Cultural Heritages sites in 1980. During a visit to the site it was observed that the votive stupa is crumbling as rains have badly damaged its sculptures; wild growth is also damaging its structure. Many sculptures have been washed away by the torrential rains recently.
In other chapels rainwater flows through huge cracks in the shed eroding various parts of stucco sculptures and figures of lord Buddha. It was observed that at one of the chapels a stucco sculpture has completely been washed away. One of the walls of the ancient remains has also collapsed. Officials concerned are not clearing the wild growth from different stupas and chapels which are damaging their structure and architecture. Information signboards inscribed with the details of different chapels and stupas have also become victim of human vandalism. When asked the site attendant, Safeer Shah, said that the damage to the site has already been brought to the notice of authorities concerned. He admitted that the sheds were in poor and shabby condition which has caused damage to the stucco sculptures. Mohammad Bahadur Khan, Deputy Director of Federal Department of Archaeology and Museums attributed shortage of funds for the preservation and safety of these stucco sculptures. He said that due to financial problems, and cut on the already meagre funds, the department was unable to execute the preservation and restoration plan.
He said that a report about the damage to the sculptures due to recent rains had been submitted to authorities at Ministry of Culture for provision of funds to save the stucco sculptures from further destruction. But it was still awaited.