After completion of construction work that lasted for six months, Ban Faqiran, Islamabad’s oldest historic site, is set to open again to visitors.
The site is located on the top of Margalla Hills. The historical site dates back to 2nd to 5th century, its remains were destroyed after heavy rainfall after being excavated by Department of Archaeology and Museums in 2015-16.
Ban Faqiran is located two kilometers from Buddhist caves in Shah Allah Ditta and was thought to be a watchtower. But, as per Dr. Ahmad Hassan Dani, late archaeologist and historian, the site’s stupa was a milestone for travelers, majority pilgrims, on the way to Dharmarajika monastery that contained remains of Lord Buddha.
Few iron arrowheads and coins dating back to 3rd century BC found:
Dharmarajika, constructed by Maurayan king Ashoka, is a world heritage historic site. It can be seen from Ban Faqiran, and is located about two and a half km away in Taxila valley.
Nothing significant was found during the excavation and conservation of Ban Faqiran, however, a few iron arrowheads and coins dating back to 3rd century BC and as recent as 1963 were found. The currency had an impression of General Ayub Khan.
The coins are present at Islamabad Museum, which is home to some of the rarest archaeological finds, as per Dr. Abdul Ghafoor Lone, the director of the museum.
The discoveries of 10-by-10 structure with arches adjacent to Ban Faqiran have left archaeologists surprised. Ban Faqiran was believed to be the first mosque in the region, dating back to the reign of Mahmood of Ghazni.
“We at the Department of Archaeology still have not found concrete evidence that the small structure with Islamic influence and which did look like a mosque is actually as old as the 10th century AD. Unfortunately, the mosque also collapsed during the heavy rains,” – Dr. Abdul Ghafoor said.
Now, however, the hike to Ban Faqiran has been cleared. It is now protected and has been fenced from each side. Guards have also been allotted to protect the place from land grabbers or vandals.
“The stones, some as heavy as 200 kilograms, have been replaced and the wall that collapsed has been strengthened. The roof has been secured with mortar, making the structure waterproof. None of the conservation efforts compromise the authenticity of the historical structure,” – Dr. Lone stated.
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