The Dharmarajika Stupa, a Mauryan-era Buddhist stupa near the city of Taxila (2010)
The Dharmarajika Stupa, a Mauryan-era Buddhist stupa near the city of Taxila (2010)
Taxila is located in Pakistan
Location within Punjab
Taxila is located in Punjab, Pakistan
Location within Pakistan
Coordinates: 33°44′45″N 72°47′15″E / 33.74583°N 72.78750°E / 33.74583; 72.78750
Country Pakistan
Province Punjab
DivisionRawalpindi Division
DistrictRawalpindi District
TehsilTaxila Tehsil
549 m (1,801 ft)
 • Total85,000[1]
Time zoneUTC+5:00 (PKT)
Postal code
Dialing code596
Criteriaiii, vi
Reference no.139

Taxila or Takshashila (Punjabi and Urdu: ٹيکسلا; Sanskrit: तक्षशिला, 𑀢𑀓𑁆𑀱𑀰𑀺𑀮𑀸; Pali: Takkasilā; Ashokan Prakrit: 𑀢𑀔𑀲𑀺𑀮𑀸, Takkhasilā; Greek: Τάξιλα, Táxila)[2] is a city in the Pothohar region of Punjab, Pakistan. Located in the Taxila Tehsil of Rawalpindi District, it lies approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of the Islamabad–Rawalpindi metropolitan area and is just south of the Haripur District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Old Taxila was for a time the capital city of ancient Gāndhāra, situated on the eastern shore of the Indus River—the pivotal junction of the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia;[3] it was founded around 1000 BCE. Some ruins at Taxila date to the time of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In 326 BCE, the city was conquered by Alexander the Great who gained control of the city without a battle since the city was immediately surrendered to the Macedonian Empire. This was followed successively by the Maurya Empire, the Indo-Greek Kingdom, the Indo-Scythians, and the Kushan Empire. Owing to its strategic location, Taxila has changed hands many times over the centuries, with many polities vying for its control. When the great ancient trade routes connecting these regions ceased to be important, the city sank into insignificance and was finally destroyed in the 5th century by the invading Hunas. In mid-19th century British India, ancient Taxila's ruins were rediscovered by British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham and extensively excavated by Sir John Marshall. In 1980, UNESCO designated Taxila as a World Heritage Site.[4]

By some accounts, the University of ancient Taxila is considered to be one of the earliest universities or education centre in South Asia.[5][6][7][8][9] Other scholars do not consider it to have been a university in the modern sense, in that the teachers living there may not have had official membership of particular colleges, and there did not seem to have existed purpose-built lecture halls and residential quarters in the city. In a 2010 report, the Global Heritage Fund identified Taxila as one of 12 worldwide sites that were "on the verge" of irreparable loss and damage, citing insufficient management, development pressure, looting, and armed conflict as primary threats.[10] However, significant preservation efforts have since been carried out by the Pakistani government, which has resulted in the site's recategorization as "well-preserved" by different international publications.[11] Because of the extensive preservation efforts and upkeep, Taxila is one of Punjab's popular tourist spots, attracting up to one million tourists every year.[11][12]


The name for the city of Taxila (Pāli Brahmi: 𑀢𑀔𑁆𑀔𑀲𑀺𑀮𑀸, Takhkhasilā), as it appears on the Heliodorus Pillar inscription, circa 100 BCE

In ancient times, Taxila was known as Takṣaśilā in Sanskrit (per IAST) and as Takkhasilā in Pali. The city's Sanskrit name translates to "City of Cut Stone" or "Rock of Taksha" in reference to a story in the Ramayana that states that the city was founded by Bharata, the younger brother of the Hindu deity Rama, and named in honour of Bharata's son, Taksha.[13]

The city's modern name, however, is derived from the ancient Greek rendering[13][14] noted in Ptolemy's Geography.[15] The Greek-language transcription of Taxila became universally favoured over time, and both the Sanskrit and Pali names fell out of use.

Faxian, a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim who visited the city via the Silk Road, had given its name's meaning as "cut-off head". With the help of a Jataka, he had interpreted it to be the place where Gautama Buddha—during a previous birth as Pusa or Chandaprabha—cut off his head to feed a hungry lion. This tradition still persists with the area in front of Sirkap (also meaning "cut-off head"), which was known in the 19th century as Babur Khana ('House of Tiger'), alluding to the place where Gautama Buddha had offered his head. In addition, a hill range to south of the Taxila Valley is called Margala (lit.'cut-off throat').[16]

In traditional sources

In Vedic texts such as the Shatapatha Brahmana, it is mentioned that the Vedic philosopher Uddalaka Aruni (c. 7th century BCE) had travelled to the region of Gandhara. In later Buddhist texts, the Jatakas, it is specified that Taxila was the city where Aruni and his son Shvetaketu each had received their education.[17]

One of the earliest mentions of Taxila is in Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī,[18] a Sanskrit grammar treatise dated to the 5th to 4th centuries BCE.

Much of the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, is a conversation between Vaishampayana (a pupil of the sage, Vyasa) and King Janamejaya. It is traditionally believed that the story was first recited by Vaishampayana at the behest of Vyasa during the snake sacrifice performed by Janamejaya at Takshashila.[13] The audience also included Ugrashravas, an itinerant bard, who would later recite the story to a group of priests at an ashram in the Naimisha Forest from where the story was further disseminated.[19] The Kuru Kingdom's heir, Parikshit (grandson of Arjuna) is said to have been enthroned at Takshashila.[20]

The Ramayana describes Takshashila as a magnificent city famed for its wealth which was founded by Bharata, the younger brother of Rama. Bharata, who also founded nearby Pushkalavati, installed his two sons, Taksha and Pushkala, as the rulers of the two cities.[21]

In the Buddhist Jatakas, Taxila is described as the capital of the kingdom of Gandhara and a great centre of learning with world-famous teachers.[13] The Jatakas mention non-Buddhist institutions and teachers in Taxila. They show the predominance of Vedic and technical disciplines including law, medicine, and military science.[22] The Takkasila Jataka, more commonly known as the Telapatta Jataka, tells the tale of a prince of Benares who is told that he would become the king of Takkasila if he could reach the city within seven days without falling prey to the yakshinis who waylaid travellers in the forest.[23][24] According to the Dipavamsa, one of Taxila's early kings was a Kshatriya named Dipankara who was succeeded by twelve sons and grandsons. Kuñjakarṇa, mentioned in the Avadanakalpalata, is another king associated with the city.[21]

In the Jain tradition, it is said that Rishabha, the first of the Tirthankaras, visited Taxila millions of years ago. His footprints were subsequently consecrated by Bahubali who erected a throne and a dharmachakra ('wheel of the law') over them several miles in height and circumference.[21]


Early settlement

The region around Taxila was settled by the Neolithic era, with some ruins at Taxila dating to 1000 BCE.[25][26] Ruins dating from the Early Harappan period around 1300 BCE[25] have also been discovered in the Taxila area,[26] though the area was eventually abandoned after the collapse of the Indus Valley civilisation.

The earliest settled occupation in Taxila Valley was found at Sarai Khola, located 2 km to the south-west of Taxila Museum, where three radiocarbon dates from Period I suggest the site was first occupied between the late 4th and early 3rd millennium BCE, with deposits of polished stone celts, chert blades and a distinctive type of highly burnished pottery that shows clear signs of the use of woven baskets in the manufacturing process and the application of a slurry to the exterior surface.[27]

Periods IA and II at Sarai Khola seem to show continuity from Period I, with the appearance of red burnished wares. However, Kot Diji-style wares were found in greater numbers, and the Kot Diji-style forms show signs of having been wheel-thrown, marking a clear technological change from the Period I material. Seven radiocarbon dates were also taken from the earlier and later Period II/Kot Diji, and seem to show this phase dates from the mid-late 3rd to early 2nd millennium BCE.[27]

Gandhāra kingdom

Main article: Gandhāra (kingdom)

Gandhara was an ancient Indo-Aryan kingdom of western South Asia whose existence was attested during the Iron Age. The capital of the kingdom was in Taxila. The first major settlement at Taxila, in Hathial mound, was established around 1000 BCE.[28][29][30] By 900 BCE, the city was already involved in regional commerce, as the discovered pottery shards reveal trading ties between the city and Puṣkalāvatī.[31]

Later, Taxila was inhabited at Bhir Mound, dated to some time around the period 800-525 BCE with these early layers bearing grooved red burnished ware.[32]

Eastern border of the Achaemenid Empire

Achaemenid Empire

See also: Achaemenid invasion of the Indus Valley

Archaeological excavations show that the city may have grown significantly during the rule of the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BCE. In 516 BCE, Darius I embarked on a campaign to conquer Central Asia, Ariana and Bactria, before marching onto what is now Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. Emperor Darius spent the winter of 516-515 BCE in the Gandhara region surrounding Taxila, and prepared to conquer the Indus Valley, which he did in 515 BCE,[33] after which he appointed Scylax of Caryanda to explore the Indian Ocean from the mouth of the Indus to the Suez. Darius then returned to Persia via the Bolan Pass. The region continued under Achaemenid suzerainty under the reign of Xerxes I, and continued under Achaemenid rule for over a century.[34]

Taxila was sometimes ruled as part of the Gandhara kingdom (whose capital was Pushkalavati), particularly after the Achaemenid period, but Taxila sometimes formed its own independent district or city-state.[35][36]


See also: Indian campaign of Alexander the Great

A map of Alexander's campaign in ancient India.

During his invasion of the Indus Valley, Alexander the Great was able to gain control of Taxila (Ancient Greek: Τάξιλα)[37] in 326 BCE without a battle, as the city was surrendered by its ruler, king Omphis (Āmbhi).[34] Greek historians accompanying Alexander described Taxila as "wealthy, prosperous, and well governed".[34] Arrian writes that Alexander was welcomed by the citizens of the city, and he offered sacrifices and celebrated a gymnastic and equestrian contest there.[38]

On Alexander's death, in 323 BCE, the province and much of the once Achaemenid territories would pass to his general Seleucus I Nicator and founder of the successor Seleucid Empire.

Mauryan Empire

Extent of the Mauryan Empire (600 - 180 BCE)

By 303 BCE, the Seleucid Empire's satraps in South Asia had been formally annexed by the expanding Mauryan empire, following the Seleucid–Mauryan war,[39] with the provincial capital and center of higher education at of Taxila now under the control of Chandragupta Maurya. His advisor, Kautilya/Chanakya, was said to have taught at Taxila's university.[40] Under the reign of Ashoka the Great, Chandragupta's grandson, the city was made a great seat of Buddhist learning, though the city was home to a minor rebellion during this time.[41]

Taxila was founded in a strategic location along the ancient "Royal Highway" that connected the Mauryan capital at Pataliputra in Bihar, with ancient Peshawar, Puṣkalāvatī, and onwards towards Central Asia via Kashmir, Bactria, and Kāpiśa.[42] Taxila thus changed hands many times over the centuries, with many empires vying for its control.

Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian, and Indo-Parthian Kingdoms

In the 2nd century BCE, Taxila was annexed by the Indo-Greek kingdom of Bactria. Indo-Greeks built a new capital, Sirkap, on the opposite bank of the river from Taxila.[43] During this new period of Bactrian Greek rule, several dynasties (like Antialcidas) likely ruled from the city as their capital. During lulls in Greek rule, the city managed profitably on its own, to independently control several local trade guilds, who also minted most of the city's autonomous coinage. In about the 1st century BCE or 1st century CE, an Indo-Scythian king named Azilises had three mints, one of which was at Taxila, and struck coins with obverse legends in Greek and Kharoṣṭhī.

The last Greek king of Taxila was overthrown by the Indo-Scythian chief Maues around 90 BCE.[44] Gondophares, founder of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom, conquered Taxila around 20 BCE, and made Taxila his capital.[45] According to early Christian legend, Thomas the Apostle visited Gondophares IV around 46 CE,[46] possibly at Taxila given that city was Gondophares' capital city.

Kushan Empire

Around the year 50 CE, the Greek Neopythagorean philosopher Apollonius of Tyana allegedly visited Taxila, which was described by his biographer, Philostratus, writing some 200 years later, as a fortified city laid out on a symmetrical plan, similar in size to Nineveh. Modern archaeology confirms this description.[47] Inscriptions dating to 76 CE demonstrate that the city had come under Kushan rule by that time, after the city was captured from the Parthians by Kujula Kadphises, founder of the Kushan Empire.[48] The great Kushan ruler Kanishka later founded Sirsukh, the most recent of the ancient settlements at Taxila.

Gupta Empire

In the mid-fourth century CE, the Gupta Empire occupied the territories in Eastern Gandhara, establishing a Kumaratya's post at Taxila. The city became well known for its trade links, including silk, sandalwood, horses, cotton, silverware, pearls, and spices. It is during this time that the city heavily features in classical Indian literature – both as a centre of culture as well as a militarised border city.[49][50]

Taxila's university remained in existence during the travels of Chinese pilgrim Faxian, who visited Taxila around 400 CE.[51] He wrote that Taxila's name translated as "the Severed Head", and was the site of a story in the life of Buddha "where he gave his head to a man".[52]


The Kidarites, vassals of the Hephthalite Empire are known to have invaded Taxila in c. 450 CE. Though repelled by the Gupta Emperor Skandagupta, the city would not recover- probably on account of the strong Hunnic presence in the area, breakdown of trade as well as the three-way war among Persia, the Kidarite State, and the Huns in Western Gandhara.

The White Huns and Alchon Huns swept over Gandhāra and Punjab around 470 CE, causing widespread devastation and destruction of Taxila's famous Buddhist monasteries and stupas, a blow from which the city would never recover. From 500 CE to 540 CE, the city languished [53] after falling under the control of the Hunnic Empire ruled by Mihirakula. Mihirakula presided over some destruction of Buddhist sites, monasteries and Hindu temples across northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent.[54][55]

Xuanzang visited India between 629 and 645 CE. Taxila which was desolate and half-ruined was visited by him in 630 CE, and found most of its sangharamas still ruined and desolate. Only a few monks remained there. He adds that the kingdom had become a dependency of Kashmir with the local leaders fighting amongst themselves for power. He noted that it had some time previously been a subject of Kapisa. By the ninth century, it became a dependency of the Kabul Shahis. The Turki Shahi dynasty of Kabul was replaced by the Hindu Shahi dynasty which was overthrown by Mahmud of Ghazni with the defeat of Trilochanpala.[56][57]

Al-Usaifan's king during the reign of Al-Mu'tasim is said to have converted to Islam by Al-Biladhuri and abandoned his old faith due to the death of his son despite having priests of a temple pray for his recovery. Said to be located between Kashmir, Multan and Kabul, al-Usaifan is identified with kingdom of Taxila by some authors.[58][59]

Centre of learning

A view over the ruins of Sirkap.

Main article: Ancient higher-learning institutions

By some accounts, Taxila was considered to be one of the earliest (or the earliest) universities in the world.[51][60][61] Others do not consider it a university in the modern sense, in that the teachers living there may not have had official membership of particular colleges, and there did not seem to have existed purpose-built lecture halls and residential quarters in Taxila,[62][63] in contrast to the later Nalanda university in eastern India.[64][65][13]

Taxila became a noted centre of learning (including the religious teachings of Historical Vedic Religion and Buddhism) at least several centuries BCE, and continued to attract students from around the old world until the destruction of the city in the 5th century. It has been suggested that at its height, Taxila exerted a sort of "intellectual suzerainty" over other centres of learning in India and its primary concern was not with elementary, but higher education.[61] Generally, a student entered Taxila at the age of sixteen. The ancient and the most revered scriptures, and the Eighteen Silpas or Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school of military science.[66] Students came to Taxila from far-off places such as Kashi, Kosala and Magadha, in spite of the long and arduous journey they had to undergo, on account of the excellence of the learned teachers there, all recognised as authorities on their respective subjects.[67][68]

Notable students and teachers

Taxila had great influence on Hindu culture and the Sanskrit language. It is perhaps best known for its association with Chanakya, also known as Kautilya, the strategist who guided Chandragupta Maurya and assisted in the founding of the Mauryan empire. Chanakya's Arthashastra (The knowledge of Economics) is said to have been composed in Taxila.[69][failed verification][70] The Ayurvedic healer Charaka also studied at Taxila.[66] He also started teaching at Taxila in the later period.[71][unreliable source?] Pāṇini, the grammarian who codified the rules that would define Classical Sanskrit, has also been part of the community at Taxila.[72]

The institution is significant in Buddhist tradition since it is believed that the Mahāyāna branch of Buddhism took shape there.[73] Jīvaka, the court physician of the Magadha emperor Bimbisara who once cured the Buddha, and the Buddhism-supporting ruler of Kosala, Prasenajit, are some important personalities mentioned in Pali texts who studied at Taxila.[74]

No external authorities like kings or local leaders subjected the scholastic activities at Taxila to their control. Each teacher formed his own institution, enjoying complete autonomy in work, teaching as many students as he liked and teaching subjects he liked without conforming to any centralised syllabus. Study terminated when the teacher was satisfied with the student's level of achievement. In general, specialisation in a subject took around eight years, though this could be lengthened or shortened in accordance with the intellectual abilities and dedication of the student in question. In most cases the "schools" were located within the teachers' private houses, and at times students were advised to quit their studies if they were unable to fit into the social, intellectual and moral atmosphere there.[75]

Knowledge was considered too sacred to be bartered for money, and hence any stipulation that fees ought to be paid was vigorously condemned[citation needed]. Financial support came from the society at large, as well as from rich merchants and wealthy parents[citation needed]. Though the number of students studying under a single Guru sometimes numbered in the hundreds, teachers did not deny education even if the student was poor; free boarding and lodging was provided, and students had to do manual work in the household[citation needed]. Paying students, such as princes, were taught during the day, while non-paying ones were taught at night.[76] Gurudakshina was usually expected at the completion of a student's studies, but it was essentially a mere token of respect and gratitude - many times being nothing more than a turban, a pair of sandals, or an umbrella. In cases of poor students being unable to afford even that, they could approach the king, who would then step in and provide something. Not providing a poor student a means to supply his Guru's Dakshina was considered the greatest slur on a King's reputation.[77]

Examinations were treated as superfluous, and not considered part of the requirements to complete one's studies[citation needed]. The process of teaching was critical and thorough- unless one unit was mastered completely, the student was not allowed to proceed to the next[citation needed]. No convocations were held upon completion, and no written "degrees" were awarded, since it was believed that knowledge was its own reward. Using knowledge for earning a living or for any selfish end was considered sacrilegious.[75]

Students arriving at Taxila usually had completed their primary education at home (until the age of eight), and their secondary education in the Ashrams (between the ages of eight and twelve), and therefore came to Taxila chiefly to reach the ends of knowledge in specific disciplines.[78]


The Dharmarajika Stupa

The sites of a number of important cities noted in ancient Indian texts were identified by scholars early in the 19th century. The lost city of Taxila, however, was not identified until later, in 1863-64. Its identification was made difficult partly due to errors in the distances recorded by Pliny in his Naturalis Historia which pointed to a location somewhere on the Haro river, two days march from the Indus. Alexander Cunningham, the founder and the first director-general of the Archaeological Survey of India, noticed that this position did not agree with the descriptions provided in the itineraries of Chinese pilgrims and in particular, that of Xuanzang, the 7th-century Buddhist monk. Unlike Pliny, these sources noted that the journey to Taxila from the Indus took three days and not two. Cunningham's subsequent explorations in 1863–64 of a site at Shah-dheri convinced him that his hypothesis was correct.[79]

Now as Hwen Thsang, on his return to China, was accompanied by laden elephants, his three days' journey from Takhshasila [sic] to the Indus at Utakhanda, or Ohind, must necessarily have been of the same length as those of modern days, and, consequently, the site of the city must be looked for somewhere in the neighbourhood of Kâla-ka-sarâi. This site is found near Shah-dheri, just one mile to the north-east of Kâla-ka-sarâi, in the extensive ruins of a fortified city, around which I was able to trace no less than 55 stupas, of which two are as large as the great Manikyala tope, twenty eight monasteries, and nine temples.

— Alexander Cunningham, [80]

Taxila's archaeological sites lie near modern Taxila about 35 km (22 mi) northwest of the city of Rawalpindi.[13] The sites were first excavated by John Marshall, who worked at Taxila over a period of twenty years from 1913.[81]

Panorama of the Jaulian monastery

The vast archaeological site includes neolithic remains dating to 3360 BCE, and Early Harappan remains dating to 2900–2600 BCE at Sarai Kala.[26] Taxila, however, is most famous for ruins of several settlements, the earliest dating from around 1000 BCE. It is also known for its collection of Buddhist religious monuments, including the Dharmarajika stupa, the Jaulian monastery, and the Mohra Muradu monastery.

The main ruins of Taxila include four major cities, each belonging to a distinct time period, at three different sites. The earliest settlement at Taxila is found in the Hathial section, which yielded pottery shards that date from as early as the late 2nd millennium BCE to the 6th century BCE. The Bhir Mound ruins at the site date from the 6th century BCE, and are adjacent to Hathial. The ruins of Sirkap date to the 2nd century BCE, and were built by the region's Greco-Bactrian kings who ruled in the region following Alexander the Great's invasion of the region in 326 BCE. The third and most recent settlement is that of Sirsukh, which was built by rulers of the Kushan empire, who ruled from nearby Purushapura (modern Peshawar).

World Heritage Site

Taxila was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 in particular for the ruins of the four settlement sites which "reveal the pattern of urban evolution on the Indian subcontinent through more than five centuries". The serial site includes a number of monuments and other historical places of note in the area besides the four settlements at Bhir, Saraikala, Sirkap, and Sirsukh.[82] They number 18 in all:[83]

  1. Khanpur Cave
  2. Saraikala, prehistoric mound
  3. Bhir Mound
  4. Sirkap (fortified city)
  5. Sirsukh (fortified ruined city)
  6. Dharmarajika stupa and monastery
  7. Khader Mohra (Akhuri)
  8. Kalawan group of buildings
  9. Giri complex of monuments
  10. Kunala stupa and monastery
  11. Jandial complex
  12. Lalchak and Badalpur Buddhist stuppa
  13. Mohra Moradu stupa and monastery
  14. Pippala stupa and monastery
  15. Jaulian stupa and monastery
  16. Lalchak mounds
  17. Buddhist remains around Bhallar stupa
  18. Giri Mosque and tombs

In a 2010 report, Global Heritage Fund identified Taxila as one of 12 worldwide sites most "on the Verge" of irreparable loss and damage, citing insufficient management, development pressure, looting, and war and conflict as primary threats.[10] In 2017, it was announced that Thailand would assist in conservation efforts at Taxila, as well as at Buddhist sites in the Swat Valley.[84]


Taxila is located 32 km (20 mi) north-west of the Pakistani capital Islamabad. The city is located approximately 549 metres (1,801 ft) above sea level.


Taxila features a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cwa)[85]

Climate data for Taxila
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 17
Daily mean °C (°F) 9.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 2.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 58
Source:, altitude: 497m[85]



Taxila's ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, date from as early as 1000 BCE, and are a major tourist draw.

Taxila is one of northern Pakistan's most important tourist destinations and is home to the Taxila Museum which holds a large number of artifacts from Taxila's excavations. Though the number of foreign visitors to the site drastically declined following the start of an Islamist insurgency in Pakistan in 2007, visitor numbers began to noticeably improve by 2017,[86] after the law and order situation in the region had greatly improved following the start of the 2014 Zarb-e-Azb campaign launched by the Pakistani Army against radical Islamist militants.

In 2017, the Pakistani government announced its intention to develop Taxila into a site for Buddhist religious pilgrimage.[87] As part of the efforts, it announced that an exhibition on the Buddhist heritage of the region would be held in Thailand, and that the Thai government would assist in conservation efforts at the site.[88] Relics from Taxila were also sent to Sri Lanka for the 2017 Vesak holiday as part of an effort to showcase the region's Buddhist heritage.[89] The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation also announced in 2017 that a tour bus service would be launched between the Taxila Museum and Islamabad.[90]

In addition to the ruins of ancient Taxila, relics of Mughal gardens and vestiges of historical Grand Trunk Road are also found in Taxila. Nicholson's Obelisk, named in honor of Brigadier John Nicholson who died during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, is a monument from the British era that welcomes travelers arriving from Rawalpindi/Islamabad.


Taxila is home to Heavy Industries Taxila, a major Pakistani defence, military contractor, engineering conglomerate. The city's economy is also closely linked to the large Pakistan Ordnance Factories at nearby Wah Cantt, which employs 27,000 people. Cottage and household industries include stoneware, pottery and footwear. Heavy Mechanical Complex is also located in Taxila city.



Taxila is served by the Taxila Cantonment Junction railway station. Taxila Junction is served by the Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line, and is the southern terminus of the Khunjerab Railway, which connects Taxila to the Havelian railway station. A planned extension of the railway will eventually connect Taxila to China's Southern Xinjiang Railway in Kashgar, as part of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor.


The M-1 Motorway, pictured near Taxila, links the city to Islamabad and Peshawar.

The ancient Grand Trunk Road is designated as N-5 National Highway, and connects the city to the Afghan border, and northern Punjab. The Karakoram Highway's southern terminus is in nearby Hasan Abdal, and connects Taxila to the Chinese border near the Hunza Valley.

The city is linked to Peshawar and Islamabad by the M-1 Motorway, which in turn offers wider motorway access to Lahore via the M-2 Motorway, and Faisalabad via the M-4 Motorway.


The nearest airport to Taxila is Islamabad International Airport located 36.5 kilometers away. Peshawar's Bacha Khan International Airport is 155 kilometers away.


University of Engineering and Technology, Taxila is a local branch of the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore.

Taxila is home to many secondary educational institutes including CIIT Wah Campus, and HITEC University. The University of Engineering and Technology, Taxila was established in 1975 as a campus of the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, and offers bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees in engineering.

Ancient ruins

Main article: Taxila (ancient)

The Ruins of Taxila include four major cities, each belonging to a distinct time period, at three different sites. The earliest settlement at Taxila is found in the Hathial section, which yielded pottery shards that date from as early as the late 2nd millennium BCE to the 6th century BCE. The Bhir Mound ruins at the site date from the 6th century BCE, and are adjacent to Hathial. The ruins of Sirkap date to the 2nd century BCE, and were built by the region's Greco-Bactrian kings who ruled in the region following Alexander the Great's invasion of the region in 326 BCE. The third and most recent settlement is that of Sirsukh, which was built by rulers of the Kushan empire, who ruled from nearby Purushapura (modern Peshawar).


Modern Taxila is a mix of relatively wealthy urban, and poorer rural environs. Urban residential areas are general in the form of planned housing colonies populated by workers of the heavy mechanical complex & heavy industries, educational institutes and hospitals that are located in the area.


Taxila Museum has one of the most significant and comprehensive collections of stone Buddhist sculpture from the first to the seventh centuries in Pakistan (known as Gandharan art. The core of the collection comes from excavated sites in the Taxila Valley, particularly the excavations of Sir John Marshall. Other objects come from excavated sites elsewhere in Gandhara, from donations such as the Ram Das Collection, or from material confiscated by the police and customs authorities.

Further information: Taxila Tehsil

Archaeological artifacts from the Indo-Greek strata at Taxila (John Marshall "Taxila, Archeological excavations"). From top, left: * Fluted cup (Bhir Mound, stratum 1) * Cup with rosacea and decorative scroll (Bhir Mound, stratum 1) * Stone palette with an individual on a couch being crowned by a standing woman, and served (Sirkap, stratum 5) * Handle with a double depiction of a philosopher (Sirkap, stratum 5) * Woman with smile (Sirkap, stratum 5) * Man with moustache (Sirkap, stratum 5)


See also


  1. ^ "Administrative Units" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 February 2020. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
  2. ^ The name for the city of Taxila as it appears in the Heliodorus Pillar inscription, circa 100 BCE.
  3. ^ Raymond Allchin, Bridget Allchin, The Rise of Civilization in India and Pakistan. Cambridge University Press, 1982 p.127 ISBN 052128550X
  4. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Site, 1980. Taxila: Multiple Locations. Retrieved 13 January 2007.
  5. ^ Needham, Joseph (2004). Within the Four Seas: The Dialogue of East and West. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-36166-8.
  6. ^ Kulke & Rothermund 2004:

    "In the early centuries the centre of Buddhist scholarship was the University of Taxila."

  7. ^ Balakrishnan Muniapan, Junaid M. Shaikh (2007), "Lessons in corporate governance from Kautilya's Arthashastra in ancient India", World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development 3 (1):

    "Kautilya was also a Professor of Politics and Economics at Taxila University. Taxila University is one of the oldest known universities in the world and it was the chief learning centre in ancient India."

  8. ^ Mookerji 1989, p. 478:

    "Thus the various centres of learning in different parts of the country became affiliated, as it were, to the educational centre, or the central university, of Taxila which exercised a kind of intellectual suzerainty over the wide world of letters in India."

  9. ^ Mookerji 1989, p. 479:

    "This shows that Taxila was a seat not of elementary, but higher, education, of colleges or a university as distinguished from schools."

  10. ^ a b "Global Heritage in the Peril: Sites on the Verge". Global Heritage Fund. Archived from the original on 20 August 2012.
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  16. ^ Saifur Rahman Dar. "Antiquity, Meaning and Origin of the Name Takshashila or Taxila". The Panjab Past and Present. 11 (2): 11.
  17. ^ Raychaudhuri, Hem Chandra (1923), Political history of ancient India, from the accession of Parikshit to the extinction of the Gupta dynasty, Calcutta, Univ. of Calcutta, pp. 17–18, 25–26
  18. ^ Scharfe 2002a, pp. 140–141.
  19. ^ Davis 2014, p. 38.
  20. ^ Kosambi 1975, p. 126.
  21. ^ a b c Marshall 2013, p. 10.
  22. ^ Scharfe 2002b, p. 142.
  23. ^ Malalasekera 1937, Telapatta Jātaka (No.96):

    "The Bodhisatta was once the youngest of one hundred sons of the king of Benares. He heard from the Pacceka Buddhas, who took their meals in the palace, that he would become king of Takkasilā if he could reach it without falling a prey to the ogresses who waylaid travellers in the forest. Thereupon, he set out with five of his brothers who wished to accompany him. On the way through the forest the five in succession succumbed to the charms of the ogresses, and were devoured. One ogress followed the Bodhisatta right up to the gates of Takkasilā, where the king took her into the palace, paying no heed to the Bodhisatta's warning. The king succumbed to her wiles, and, during the night, the king and all the inhabitants of the palace were eaten by the ogress and her companions. The people, realising the sagacity and strength of will of the Bodhisatta, made him their king."

  24. ^ Appleton 2016, pp. 23, 82.
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  26. ^ a b c Allchin & Allchin 1988, p. 127.
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  28. ^ Allchin & Allchin 1988, p. 314: "The first city of Taxila at Hathial goes back at least to c. 1000 B.C."
  29. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Taxila".
  30. ^ Scharfe 2002a, p. 141.
  31. ^ Mohan Pant, Shūji Funo, Stupa and Swastika: Historical Urban Planning Principles in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley. NUS Press, 2007 ISBN 9971693720, citing Allchin: 1980
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  36. ^ Marshall 1951, pp. 16–17, 30, 71.
  37. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium, Ethnica, § T602.8
  38. ^ Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander, § 5.8
  39. ^ Mookerji 1988, p. 31.
  40. ^ Mookerji 1988, pp. 22, 54.
  41. ^ Thapar 1997, p. 52.
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  43. ^ Kulke & Rothermund 2004, p. 75.
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  46. ^ Medlycott 1905, Chapter: The Apostle and Gondophares the Indian King.
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  55. ^ Singh, Upinder (2017). Political Violence in Ancient India. Harvard University Press. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-674-97527-9.
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    "It may be observed at the outset that Taxila did not possess any colleges or university in the modern sense of the term."

  63. ^ F. W. Thomas (1944), in Marshall (1951), p. 81:

    "We come across several Jātaka stories about the students and teachers of Takshaśilā, but not a single episode even remotely suggests that the different 'world renowned' teachers living in that city belonged to a particular college or university of the modern type."

  64. ^ "Nalanda" (2007). Encarta.
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  67. ^ Prakash 1964, p. [page needed]:

    "Students from Magadha traversed the vast distances of northern India in order to join the schools and colleges of Taxila. We learn from Pali texts that Brahmana youths, Khattiya princes and sons of setthis from Rajagriha, Kashi, Kosala and other places went to Taxila for learning the Vedas and eighteen sciences and arts."

  68. ^ Apte, p. 9.
  69. ^ "Kautilya". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 10 January 2008.
  70. ^ Mookerji 1988, p. 17.
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    "Pāṇini and Kautilya, two masterminds of ancient times, were also brought up in the academic traditions of Taxila"

  73. ^ Gupta, Aryan. "Taxila and Mahayana Buddhism". School near Heart.
  74. ^ Prakash 1964, p. [page needed]:

    "Likewise, Jivaka, the famous physician of Bimbisara who cured the Buddha, learnt the science of medicine under a far-famed teacher at Taxila and on his return was appointed court-physician at Magadha. Another illustrious product of Taxila was the enlightened ruler of Kosala, Prasenajit, who is intimately associated with the events of the time of the Buddha."

  75. ^ a b Apte, pp. 9–10.
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