ISLAMABAD: Ban Faqiran, the oldest historical site in Islamabad on top of the Margalla hills, was opened again to visitors after six months of conservation work.
The archaeological remains of Ban Faqiran, dating from the 2nd to 5th centuries, were destroyed by heavy rains shortly after being excavated by the Department of Archeology and Museums in 2015-16.
About two kilometers from the Buddhist caves in Shah Allah Ditta, the Ban Faqiran complex was thought to be a watchtower. But the late archaeologist and historian, Dr. Ahmad Hassan Dani, argued that Ban Faqiran's stupa served as a milestone for travelers, mostly pilgrims, on the way to Dharmarajika monastery from 3 BC that housed some remains of the Lord Buddha.
Built by King Ashoka Maurayan, Dharmarajika is a world heritage site that can be seen from Ban Faqiran, about two and a half kilometers in the Taxila valley.
The Ban Faqiran complex had been damaged by heavy rains shortly after being excavated
No significant artifacts were discovered during the excavation and conservation of Ban Faqiran, apart from some iron arrowheads and coins as old as the third century BC. C. and as recent as 1963, with impressions of Gen Ayub Khan.
The coins are part of the permanent collection at the Islamabad Museum, which houses some of the rarest archaeological finds, said its director, Dr. Abdul Ghafoor Lone.
Archaeologists are still baffled by the remains of a 10-by-10 structure with arches adjacent to Ban Faqiran, which was previously believed to be one of the first mosques in the region dating back to the Mahmood times of Ghazni.
“We in the Department of Archeology have not yet found concrete evidence that the small structure with Islamic influence and that looked like a mosque is actually as old as the 10th century AD. Unfortunately, the mosque also collapsed during heavy rains, ”said Dr. Lone.
However, the trip to Ban Faqiran has been cleared. The site is now protected; It has been fenced on all sides and a guard has been designated to protect the land from vandals or land hoarders.
“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 compromises the authenticity of the historical structure, ”said Dr. Lone.
Posted on Dawn, September 8, 2019