PESHAWAR: For Seo Moo Seon, Pakistan is a holy place. He has travelled to the country from South Korea to visit Buddhism’s sacred sites from the Gandhara civilization.
Seo is among a delegation of Buddhist monks who are on a tour to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The team is being led by Park Hee Doo, a former chief in the South Korean army.
Standing by a stupa in Takht Bhai, Mardan district, Seo said his journey was full of discoveries. “Scholars at these monasteries wrote Buddhist canons,” he said.
While Seo said the complex was well structured and clean, he said he wished to see a Buddha statue here. The monk suggested that a statue should be built in South Korea and sent to Pakistan. “It is our duty to preserve these sites.”
On Tuesday, the monks visited the Peshawar Museum, which has the largest collection of Buddhist religious artifacts from the Gandhara civilization after which they visited Takht Bhai.
The museum visit started with a prayer in front of a statue depicting Maitreya Buddha (second coming of Buddha). Director Museums and Archeology, Dr Shah Nazar briefed the monks on sites and relics from the civilization.
Speaking to journalists, senior monk Hang Jeong Sup said the Government of Pakistan has preserved Buddhist monuments, stupas and other holy artifacts very well.
Park Hee Doo also applauded the government for the preservation of Buddhist sites and praised the hospitality shown by the Pakistani people.
Provincial Minister for Culture and Tourism, Syed Aqil Shah welcomed the visitors and said the province is now safe for visitors. “Their (the monks) arrival is a good omen for the province,” he said.
Shah said Pakistan has a lot of potential for religious tourism and the nearly 350 million Buddhists around the world should visit the country.
Later, the delegation left for Swat to visit more holy sites.