In the middle of the 19the century, the translation of stories about the travels of Chinese pilgrims reveals the existence of a mysterious civilization that has sunk into oblivion for nine centuries: the civilization of Gandhara. It takes its name from this region, located in the northwest of present-day Pakistan, close to the Afghan border. One hundred and fifty years later, Gandhara has not finished revealing its secrets, and now it is in the archaeological and artistic remains that the rediscovery of this little-known civilization has been played out, which has become a tourist attraction in a country seeking to restore its image.

The earliest records of Gandhara describe a semi-mountainous province on the eastern frontier of the Achaemenid Empire, which stretches between the rivers Kabul, Swat and the banks of the Indus further east. The strategic geographical position of this satrapy (province of the Persian Empire) on the Silk Road linking Central Asia with the Indian subcontinent. From the conquests of Alexander the Great in 327 BC. AD prior to its association with the Mauryan Empire during the reign of Ashoka, the Gandhara civilization thus becomes a melting pot of Hellenic, Persian and Indian cultures.

It’s in IIIe century BC J.-K., under the influence of Ashoka, the area is converted to Buddhism. Soon Gandhara becomes a high place for the development and spread of this religion in Asia, which makes this region “second holy land of Indian Buddhism”, according to the French archaeologist Alfred Fouche.

Over several decades, more than 1400 stupas (burials with the relics of monks) monasteries flourished in the area, and in Taxila, a city about 30