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Exploring Barikot: A Barikot Journey Through Buddhist Heritage

September 14, 2023

Introduction to Barikot

Following the religious observance, MV Arayawangso spoke with the Peshawar Museum’s archaeology team. We were personally welcomed by Dr. Abdul Samad, Director of Archaeology and Museum, and then we participated in a live media interview and group photo. On the way back, MV Arayawangso wanted to stop at an old Bazira location, now called Barikot. According to the archaeological collection, Alexander the Great and his troops once stayed here.

Barikot’s Historical Layers

“This prehistoric site dates to around 1600 BC, during the Bronze Age. In 327 BC, King Alexander and his troops arrived in Bazira. Following that, it was conquered by the Greeks in 120 BC, the Kushan Empire, and later a Muslim colony.

On that day, soon after 1 p.m., the group and the MV Arayawangso arrived in Barikot. Although it was hot, it was manageable for our field trip. Italian archaeologists conducted the excavations there, and the found artifacts are presently stored in the Swat Memorial.

Identifying earth strata that have been dated back many years to identify reference evidence of each time makes this heritage site interesting. When done correctly, using the archaeo-logical method, it will reveal remarkable signs of human history. Buddhism flourished throughout the Maurya and Kushan dynasties (King Ashoka the Great, 2nd–3rd Buddhist Century, and King Kanishka, 6th–7th Buddhist Century), respectively. As the archaeologist from Italy observed:

Buddhism first came to this region under King Ashoka in 200 BC, and the second was under King Kanishka of the Kushan dynasty in 100 AD. Buddhism was at its height at both of these times. On top of the earlier construction layers, we can witness construction from a later era. The Italian researchers’ Barikot dig reveals observable changes in architectural style during each period. Additionally, it implies that this region has been continuously and intensively used for thousands of years.

The excavation’s bottom level reveals extensive urban planning and fundamental public services designed to house numerous people. After inspecting the lower ground level, MV Arayawangso and the archaeological crew went to the top level, where the Pakistani government usurped the land initially inhabited by locals. After digging down 3–4 meters under the archaeological law, the ruins of Buddhist stupas and viharas were discovered in the lower ground. 

The remains were over 2000 years old, according to estimates. If so, among the Buddhist maha-vihara in the Swat Valley, the Barikot Buddhist heritage must have been one of the oldest. The Barikot Maha Vihara had to have been constructed 200 to 300 years after the death of the current Buddha (200 to 300 BE), or in the middle of the second century AD, according to Italian and Pakistani archaeology teams’ analysis of the available evidence.

Buddhism in Barikot

After exploring the area, we took a group shot as proof of our journey to Barikot to find out how Buddhism fared after the Buddha passed away and finally vanished from Jambudvipa. To piece together all the facts and show how the “Buddhist vessel” could resist the elements of wind and storm to the present, we have learned from archaeological and historical heritage components. 

Therefore, followers of Buddhism will be able to comprehend and value Buddhism. Keep this in your mind at all times. How can we repay the Buddhist faith for everything it has done for us? … And to those of our ancestors who sacrificed their lives to uphold Buddhism and committed their lives to it? They have left us with these priceless items. If Buddhism hadn’t initially come to be on earth, we wouldn’t have learned about any of these things. The Ariya (noble) truth is revealed through the remains of civilization. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has done an excellent job of maintaining the sites, ensuring their continued status as World Heritage Sites!

A Field Trip for Dhamma Investigation

The route to the ruins depicts the souls of people from more than a thousand years ago, their ideals, the things they created, and what they wished to transmit to future generations. This conceptual inheritance indicates their motivation, articulated with effort, attentiveness, and knowledge over the millennia. It consisted of faith and belief in the Truth. For regular individuals to do what they did is exceptionally uncommon.

As we moved closer to our destination, we observed and discovered their history, which had been left among the debris. There’s no need to whine or give in to fatigue or boredom like a person who lacks moral principles. Humanity is designed to transmit the treasures of our ancestors as part of our heritage.

When you’re too worn out, disheartened, or bored to keep going, remember our ancestors’ efforts to create priceless locations with high spiritual worth. Carrying the rocks and sand made them significantly more exhausted than we are. They started their legacy on earth by applying knowledge, physical labor, and mental labor, which has helped us understand the importance of the Truth. Thus, we can study, investigate, and practice to comprehend such Truth, providing other sentient beings with unending advantages.

No matter how difficult the journey may be, we must persist and not give up. Because they are not as difficult as those that our ancestors faced. To preserve spiritual history and propagate the Truth, we don’t have to go with a heavy load on our backs made up of rocks, sand, and other items.

They may have discovered priceless spiritual treasures, as suggested by their morals, qualities, and Dhamma heritage. They completely trusted and believed in the Dhamma. We can see the limitless potential of the triple jewel that served as their inspiration. Amid the debris and sand piles, they sacrificed their lives. As a result, we must bow and show them respect.


First, we bow to honor the Buddha. Next, we bow to honor the Dhamma. Finally, we turn to keep the Sangha. We turn forward to honor our parents and teachers more than our own lives. Fifth bow: to express gratitude for our ancestors’ efforts to preserve Buddhism, morality, and virtue throughout the ages. To honor the Dhamma, all five bows are meant to be made. With an unshakeable mind and no fear of danger up to nirvana.


Q1. Why is Barikot considered historically significant?

Ans. Barikot is historically significant due to its long history dating back to the Bronze Age, its association with Alexander the Great, and its Buddhist heritage.

Q2. What were the different periods of Barikot’s history mentioned in the text?

Ans. Barikot’s history spans from the Bronze Age to the Greek conquest, the Kushan Empire, and later, as a Muslim colony, making it a rich tapestry of diverse cultural influences.

Q3. How has archaeology contributed to our understanding of Buddhism in Barikot?

Ans. Archaeological excavations in Barikot have revealed the evolution of Buddhist architecture and continuous human use, shedding light on the history and significance of Buddhism in the region.

Q4. What is the estimated age of Barikot Maha Vihara, and why is it significant?

Ans. Barikot Maha Vihara is estimated to be over 2000 years old, making it one of the oldest in the Swat Valley and providing insights into early Buddhist history.

Q5. What lessons can be learned from the efforts of our ancestors in preserving Buddhism’s legacy?

Ans. Ancestral dedication to preserving Buddhism’s legacy teaches us the importance of persistence, knowledge, and moral principles in upholding spiritual heritage.

Q6. Why is bowing important in the context of this field trip?

Ans. Bowing is a symbolic gesture of respect and gratitude to honor the Triple Gem, ancestors, and teachers who have contributed to Buddhism’s preservation.

Q7. What is the significance of preserving spiritual history and propagating the Truth mentioned in the text?

Ans. Preserving spiritual history ensures the transmission of valuable teachings and serves as a source of inspiration for future generations, propagating the Truth of Buddhism.

Q8. How can we honor and respect the efforts of our ancestors in preserving Buddhism and virtue?

Ans. We honor our ancestors by recognizing their sacrifices and dedications, carrying forward their spiritual values, and appreciating the treasures of wisdom they left behind.

Q9. What is the symbolism behind the five bows mentioned in the text?

Ans. The five bows symbolize reverence for the Triple Gem, gratitude to parents and teachers, and acknowledgment of the enduring legacy of Buddhism, morality, and virtue.

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