A Hindu temple, believed to have been constructed 1,300 years ago, has been discovered by Pakistani and Italian archaeological experts at a mountain in northwest Pakistan’s Swat district. The discovery was made during an excavation at Barikot Ghundai.
|Excavation under way at Barikot in Swat district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Province [Credit: Italian Archaeological Mission to Pakistan]
Announcing the discovery on November 19, Fazle Khaliq of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Department of Archaeology said that the temple discovered is of Lord Vishnu. It was built by the Hindus 1,300 years ago during the Hindu Shahi period, he said.
The Hindu Shahis or Kabul Shahis (850-1026 CE) was a Hindu dynasty that ruled the Kabul Valley (eastern Afghanistan), Gandhara (modern-day Pakistan), and present-day northwestern India.
During their excavation, the archaeologists also found traces of cantonment and watchtowers near the temple site. The experts also found a water tank near the temple site which they believe was used by the Hindus for bathing before worship.
Khaliq said that Swat district is home to a thousand-year-old archaeological sites and the traces of the Hindu Shahi period have been found for the first time in the area.
Dr. Maria Olivieri, the head of the Italian archaeological mission, said this was the first temple of the Ghandhara civilisation discovered in Swat district.
Swat district is among the top 20 sites in Pakistan which is home to every kind of tourism such as natural beauty, religious tourism, cultural tourism and archaeological sites.
Several places of worship of Buddhism are also situated in Swat district.