Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist Site and its Neighborhood at Sahr-i-Bahlol – World Cultural Heritage in Pakistan

The Takht-i-Bahi (Temple of Origin) Buddhist monastery complex was founded in the early first century. Due to its position atop a high hill, it has escaped successive invasions and is still exceptionally well preserved. Nearby are the ruins of Sahr-i-Bahlol, a small fortified city from the same period.

Accreditation year: 1980
Criteria: (iv)
Area: 50.73 ha
Northwest border province


Outstanding global value

The Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and the neighboring City Ruins at Sahr-i-Bahlol are among the most majestic Buddhist monuments in the Gandhara region of Pakistan. The recorded property consists of two distinct components both dating from the same era.

The Buddhist Ruins of Takhi-i-Bahi (Temple of Roots) is a monastic complex, founded in the early 1st century AD, spectacularly perched on various hilltops ranging in height from 36.6 meters to 152.4 meters, typical for Buddhist sites. The complex covers an area of ​​about 33ha.

Buddhist monasteries continued to be used until the 7th century AD. It consists of a collection of buildings and is the most complete Buddhist monastery in Pakistan. The buildings are constructed of stone in the Gandhara (diaper style) pattern using local rough and coarse stone blocks set in lime and mud mortar.

Today, the ruins include a main stupa, a votive stupa, a group of three stupas, a monastic quadrangle with meditation rooms, halls, covered passageways, and other secular buildings.

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The second component, the Neighboring City Still in Sahr-i-Bahlol, is located about 5 kilometers away on a fertile plain. The ruins of Sahr-i-Bahlol are the ruins of a small fortified old town of the Kushan period. The town is set on an elongated mound up to 9 meters high and surrounded by sections of defensive walls in the “diaper” style typical of the first two or three centuries AD. The area covered is 9.7 ha.

Criterion (iv): Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Nearby City Remain in Sahr-i-Bahlol in context, architectural form, design and construction techniques are examples The best example of the development of monastic and urban communities in regional Gandharan from the 1st to 7th centuries AD.



Due to the location of the Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist Ruins in the high hills, it has escaped successive invasions and is exceptionally well preserved.

The boundaries of the ancient fortified city of Sahr-i-Bahlol are well defined with some of the city walls still intact despite being in a state of disrepair. The site is increasingly threatened by encroachment, although the development of settlements occurred before 1911, when they were declared protected monuments under the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act. . The houses were built directly on top of the ancient ruins and only the enclosing walls remained. The current boundary of the property is considered incomplete due to increasing urbanization.

Registered property is also threatened by a number of other factors including uncontrolled vegetation which leads to one of the main causes of rotting, inadequate drainage and lack of security to prevent illegal encroachment of animals and humans as well as illegal digging. Pollution from local factories and vehicular traffic is also a serious threat adding to the site’s deterioration.

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The Buddhist ruins of Takht-i-Bahi are highly authentic in context as it continues to occupy the original hilltop location. The authenticity of form and design has been preserved and the layout of the monastery complex and buildings are visible. The authenticity of the materials as well as the traditions and construction techniques are retained in the Gandhara (diaper-style) stone construction. The stone sculptures have been moved to the Peshawar Museum and the stone carving of Gondophares is kept in the Lahore Museum.

The neighboring ancient city still in Sahr-i-Bahlol is threatened by urban expansion. The original sculptures from the site were removed and kept in the Peshawar Museum. The Management Plan recognizes a lack of documentation and a lack of a skilled workforce consisting of artisans trained in the traditional techniques of diaper modeling.


Protection and management requirements

Both the constituent parts of the Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist Ruins and the neighboring City Ruins at Sahr-i-Bahlol were identified as protected monuments under the Antiquities Preservation Act (1904) and later that is the Antiquities Act (1975) of the Federal Government of Pakistan. Proposals are under consideration to amend and strengthen the Antiquities Act. The Takht-i-Bahi ruins are owned by the Federal Archeology Department, and the Sahr-i-Bahlol ruins are private property, owned by the local Khans. employees and has allocated financial resources through the annual budget. At the same time, a public sector development program is provided to maintain and preserve the site by means of regular and rigorous conservation and repair programs. Management responsibility rests with the Provincial Department of Archeology (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province) located in Peshawar. The Master Plan for the Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and the neighboring City Monuments at Sahr-i-Bahlol was prepared in 2011. Intended to be a working document for site custodians point, it is also designed to provide a detailed overall framework for the conservation of registered properties and set out management principles by means of a priority action plan covering several areas of concern. from site conservation to visitor management. The urbanization threat identified above, indicates that the property boundaries are inadequate. Therefore, the modification of the property boundary is being seriously considered with the intention of acquiring the land around the site and creating a larger buffer zone. In an effort to control urbanization, the entire 445-hectare mountain area was recently declared an “Archaeological Reserve” by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government. There is still a need for more complete documentation of remains and capacity building for craftsmen in traditional construction techniques.

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Map of Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist Ruins and Nearby Cities in Sahr-i-Bahlol

Video of Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist Ruins and neighboring city at Sahr-i-Bahlol

See also: UNESCO World Cultural/Natural Heritage Sites

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