PESHAWAR – Kuenzang Wangdi, His Eminence Getshog-Lopen, Central Monastic Body Thimphu, Bhutan accompanied by the Ambassador of Bhutan to Pakistan, HE Bap Kusang along with nine other monks visited the Peshawar Museum on Saturday.
They were received by the Director Archaeology and Museum, Dr Shah Nazar Khan and Curator of the Peshawar Museum Professor Nidaullah Sehrai who briefed them about the History of the Peshawar Museumand Buddhist civilization of Gandhara. He informed them that Victoria Memorial Hall constructed as Ball Room in 1905 was converted into Peshawar Museum in 1906 and the first curator of the museum was Dr MA Stein. It has the most extensive collection of the Gandhara art in Pakistan and is famous all over the world for its beautiful stone and stucco sculpture of the Buddhist art. Nidaullah Sehrai gave them a guided tour of the Main Hall and explained the 74 life stories of the Buddha i.e. from the time of his mother Queen Maya’s dream to the death, which are on display in the Main Hall.
The visiting dignitaries showed keen interest in the relief panels and important sculptures i.e. Bodhisattva Siddhartha’s first meditation, fasting Siddhartha, his enlightenment, First Sermon, various miracles of Buddha and his death at Kusinara of the main hall. They praised the beautiful sculptures and the master craftsmanship and anatomical details of the Gandharan artists. The prized collection of the museum is Kanishka relic casket, which once contained the bones of the cremated Buddha recovered from Shah-ji-Ki-Dheri on the outskirt of Peshawar made it a sacred pilgrimage for the visiting monks. At Peshawar once stood the tallest stupa which was the wonder of Buddhist world it was 512 feet high partly made of stone and mainly of wood. It was constructed by emperor Kanishka who ruled from Peshawar in first century AD. They were shown around the Bodhisattva gallery. The curator explained the various images of Maitriya, the Buddha of the future, Alokitesivara, Padamapani, Hariti the goddess of fertility and her husband Panchika the god of wealth. He showed them the sculptures of Greek, Roman and Indian influences merged in Gandhara art. The ambassador showed interest in the Gandhara architectural pieces. In Buddha gallery, Professor Nidaullah showed him the faces of the Buddha in different style and his various gestures of hands. The wooden effigies from the Kalash valley of Chitraldistrict were of interest to them. They admired the embroidery of the Swat valley in the Ethnological gallery.
The Director, Archaeology and Museum, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr Shah Nazar Khan briefed them about the Buddhist Archaeological sites in the province and the conservation work of these sites in the province.