Survey of Islamabad’s archaeological sites completed

Official says second phase of the project involves upgrading sites to receive visitors

Zulfiqar Baig January 22, 2019
Official says second phase of the project involves upgrading sites to receive visitors. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: To preserve historic sites around the federal capital, the government has completed a survey to collect information about historic and religious sites. The survey, in zone-VIII of the federal capital, was carried out by a team of experts comprising archaeologists from the department of archaeology, a sub-department of the National History and Literary Heritage Division (NHLH).

They found that there were a number of historic structures in the area which belonged to different religions and periods including to the Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims.

The relics and structures date back to the Mughal era, the Sikh dominion over the area, the war between the Sikh and British, and then colonial rule by the British.

In this regard, the experts had found various structures including sanctuaries, temples, gurudwaras, mosques, monuments and relics relating to these periods

In the first phase, a geological survey of the sites and data about the historic structures located within the jurisdiction of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) was recorded.

In the second phase, the government will work to preserve them and upgrade them so as to make them accessible for national and international tourists.

An official of the ministry said that this was the first survey of its kind undertaken in the federal capital which was aimed at preserving noteworthy historic sites and relics in the federal capital.

He added that apart from experts, students from the Hazara University and the Quaid-i-Azam University helped during the survey.

Asked about what will the government do to preserve these sites, the official said that they have prepared a Project Concept-I (PC-I) worth Rs400,000, which has been submitted for approval to the concerned officials. The NHLH subsequently released Rs150,000 for conducting the survey.

The official added that Islamabad and its adjoining areas have always been a centre for various civilizations and historical events from prehistoric times to the Gandhara civilization and beyond.

In this regard, he pointed to the ancient sanctuaries and temples of Buddhists in Taxila, which is located a few kilometres from the edges of Islamabad’s territory. The capital itself, he said, encircles various monuments from the Sikh and Mughal period.

One of those is a Hindu temple in Saidpur village which date back several centuries to the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar by Raja Man Singh. The temple had been restored by the CDA in 2006 with support from the French government. A Sikh Gurdwara is also located in the historic village.

Then there are the ancient caves in Shah Allah Ditta which boast 2,500-year-old Buddhist murals.

Both of these sites are a popular site for hundreds of visitors — from either within the country or from abroad. 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2019.


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