A prominent US-based historian and scholar has urged the Pakistan government to engage the UNESCO to declare the ancient Buddhist monument Kanishka Stupa here as the eighth wonder of the world because of its remarkable construction structure.
The stupa which once existed in Peshawar deserves to be declared the 8th wonder because of its remarkable construction structure, its testament to the creativity of hard work of human being and its mention in historic books, said Amjad Hussain at a lecture titled ‘Kaniskhka Vihara, An Ancient Peepal Tree and A Sacred Begging Bowl’ at Victoria Hall here.
The UNESCO should be engaged to declare the Kanishka Stupa a ‘World Heritage Site’, besides seeking help from Japan and China to acquire the site, Hussain said yesterday.
Hussain, a cardio-thoracic professor at the US, hails from Peshawar and has published 16 books on subjects as varied as history, culture, religion and the linguistic and cultural legacy of Peshawar.
“Located a few furlongs outside the Peshawar city at Ganj Gate known as Shah Jee Ki Dheri, there is a site where an imposing stupa had once stood which was built during the reign of Kushan Kanishka in the 1st century AD,” Hussain said throwing light on the history of the ancient site.
It was described in detail by Chinese pilgrims in their memoirs and Hiuen Tsang after visiting it during his travels from 620-645 AD called the site the “tallest architectural building” in this part of Asia.
It is estimated that the stupa was equivalent to a present day 13-storey building and the adjoining monastery was associated with Buddhist divines of Vasubandhu and Parva. With the decline of Buddhism in the region, the traces of the Stupa and monastery faded away.
About the religious importance and background of Kaniska Stupa, Amjad told the guests that in March 1909, when digging had reached the centre of the base of stupa, D B Spooner, an American archaeologist and first curator of Peshawar Museum, made a sensational discovery that stirred the archeological world.
“A relic casket in gilt bronze was recovered containing Buddha’s bone fragments and ashes,” Amjad claimed.
Buddha’s influence is spread over entire world and his bone fragments were found from Peshawar at Kanishka stupa and therefore it should be declared as 8th wonder of the world, he said.
The casket was inscribed with Emperor Kanishka’s name and figure. The British government gifted the relics to Myanmar where they were enshrined in the main pagoda at Mandalay while the bronze casket was on display at the Peshawar Museum.
The replica of the casket is kept at the British Museum. Amjad called for raising awareness about the archeological importance of the Stupa.