Friday October 22, 2021

‘Revival of Taxila University can turn region into educational tourism hub’

September 27, 2021

Rawalpindi:The proposed revival of the University of Ancient Taxila, designated a Unesco’s World Heritage Site in 1980 and the greatest learning centre of Gandhara Civilization, can turn the region into an educational tourism hub from across the globe after proper publicity and provision of extended facilities to the tourists.

Taxila, one of the most important Buddhist Archaeological sites in the world is located near the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. According to historians, the ancient university was set up around 5 to 6 century (BC) and had continued to attract students from around the world until its destruction in the 5th century.

Taxila as a symbol of diversity should be given due attention to restoring its lost glory. Therefore, the Buddhist Archaeological sites of Dharmarajika Complex and Stupa can once again be made the centre of excellence in higher education for setting up an international standard university in it.

According to experts, Taxila has great potential for religious and educational tourism and could be made an international education city for higher education. Director of Archives Department Punjab, Maqsood Ahmed told this agency that Taxila formerly Takshashila was also described in the Buddhist Jataka tales written in Sri Lanka around 5th century.

In this text, Taxila has been mentioned as the capital of the kingdom of Gandhara and a great learning centre. He said that the Chinese travellers like Fa Hian (Faxian) and Huien Tsang (XuanZang) also spoke of Takshashila in their writings.

Many people visit Taxila today to experience the wonders of an ancient civilization, he added. Maqsood Ahmed said, The Muslim world, once a hub of intellectual wonders, has lost its glory, particularly in science and technology but, Taxila, if focused and uplifted with an aim to promote science and technology can be made a centre of excellence to attract foreign students, particularly from the Sub-Continent, Central Asian and other countries.

He said that the ancient university which was a centre for education and knowledge was established on the concept to create a space where bright philosophical and scientific minds could assemble for advance learning during the Achaemenid Empire.

He said that the oldest institution hosted debates, housed several libraries in its main premises and gave birth to towering scholars and intellectuals such as Kotliya Chankia;the advisor of the founder of the Mauryan empire; Charaka, the Indian father of medicine, one of the leading authorities in Ayurveda and the greatest 5th BCE Indian grammarian Paini.

Maqsood said that the Persian conquest has given the Taxila University a cosmopolitan environment in which numerous cultures and ethnicities could exchange their knowledge, adding that the role of ancient Taxila University as a centre of knowledge continued under the Maurya Empire and Greek rule (Indo-Greeks) in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE.

He said that when the Alexander’s armies came to Punjab in the fourth century B.C., Takshashila had already developed a reputation as an important seat of learning. Thus on his return, Alexander took many scholars from there with him to Greece.

“The final blow, however, came from the Huns (also the destroyers of the Roman Empire) who, in the 5th century had razed the institution,” he added. Abdul Nasir Khan, the library curator at Taxila museum said that the students had come here from all over the world including China, Babylon, Syria and Greece and Indian Sub-continent for getting education.

He said that subjects including science, mathematics, medicine, politics, warfare, astrology, astronomy, music, dance, religion, vedas, grammar, agriculture, surgery, commerce, futurology, and philosophy had been taught at the campus.

Around 10,500 students were enrolled at the age of 16 after they had completed their basic education at home and secondary education in the Ashrams while the entrance exam to Takshashila was very difficult and hardly three out of every 10 students were used to be given admission after test , he added. Pakistan can benefit from this blessed rich cultural and historic diversity and turn it in to a regional economic hub, he concluded.