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Exploring The Magnificent Bhallar Stupa in Taxila

September 7, 2023

Introduction to Bhallar Stupa in Taxila

On August 22, 2565, BE, MV Arayawangso traveled to Bhallar Stupa to honor the Triple Gem with the Sangha who had been watching the rains retreat in Taxila, Gandhara, and Pakistan, as well as lay followers.

The road leading to the stupa in Taxila is currently tiny and in poor condition, which is an issue. As individuals leave for work, arrive home, or when students commute to and from school simultaneously, there is heavy traffic during these times. We had to go to our automobiles and walk over a narrow dirt road to the stupa’s entrance, next to a railway.

The director of Punjab’s Department of Archaeology and Museums was waiting to greet me and my group and arrange for our visit. He gave a detailed history lesson about the Bhallar Stupa while under heavy police guard. During the famous 2565 BE rains retreat in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the local police followed our group and provided a lead car the entire way to and from our residence. Since this is the first rain retreat since Buddhism was eradicated from Jambudvipa, it must be formally documented. 

The Journey to Bhallar Stupa

We could see the half-circular shape of the tall monument when we ascended the cement steps leading to the modest hill upon which the stupa lay. A Chetiya split in half, about. It was high. According to legend, this stupa, situated atop Sarada Hill and close to the Haro waterway, Taxila’s main channel, was the highest in the city. Even though it was raining, the river was extremely dry, much like the Neranjara River in India.

It is required to make the following reference to Fa-Hien’s Record of Buddhist Kingdoms in 942–957 BE to explain the significance of Bhallar Stupa:

“Fa-Hien and his fellow monks traveled to the Kingdom of Taxila in the east over seven days. The name translates to “the cut-off head” in Chinese. Buddha gave a man his head in this location when he was a Bodhisattva. And because of this tale and the aforementioned, the kingdom received its name. Fa-Hien and the other monks reached the village where the Buddha, as a Bodhisattva, sacrificed his body to feed a starving lioness after trekking for two days further to the east. Maha stupas were built in both locations to honor the sacrifices made by the Bodhisattva. On every level, the stupas were exquisitely adorned. Kings and ministers from neighboring kingdoms would deliver gifts to keep the stupas. Regular visits from regular people meant that the area was filled to the brim with flowers and illuminated with lighting. These four stupas were known as the four Maha Stupas; the other two were already mentioned in an earlier chapter. The history of Bhallar Stupa was also documented similarly by the Department of Archaeology and Museums, as follows:


“Bhallar stupa is located on a path from the Mechanical Complex to Haripur, with a commanding perch at the summit of Sarada Hill, just past the Haro River. The tallest stupa in Taxila is this one. Chinese pilgrims Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang visited it and said it was where the Buddha offered his head. This was constructed during the “Mediaeval period,” which is post-Hun. It is made up of a large stupa that is encircled by smaller votive stupas, shrines, and a monastery. 

In this location, the Buddhist monk Kumaralabha wrote his treatise. The main stupa, which has a shattered northern face, stood on a tall oblong foundation accessed from the east by a set of steps. Its components include a drum, a dome, a plinth base, and, initially, umbrellas. The drum has six or seven tiers, each broken into smaller sections. Corinthian pilasters freeze, and dental cornices embellish the drum.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.Why is Bhallar Stupa considered significant in Taxila?

Ans. Bhallar Stupa holds immense significance in Taxila due to its historical and cultural importance. It is renowned as the tallest stupa in Taxila and is associated with the legend of Buddha’s selfless act as a Bodhisattva when he offered his head. Moreover, it has been visited and documented by ancient Chinese pilgrims Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang, adding to its historical value.

Q2.What is the historical legend associated with Bhallar Stupa’s name?

Ans. The name “Bhallar” Stupa is linked to a captivating legend from Buddhism. According to Fa-Hien’s “Record of Buddhist Kingdoms,” Buddha offered his head at this location in his previous life as a Bodhisattva. This selfless act led to the naming the kingdom “the cut-off head” in Chinese. It reflects the profound spiritual significance of Bhallar Stupa.

Q3.Who were Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang, and what did they say about Bhallar Stupa?

Ans. Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang were ancient Chinese pilgrims and scholars who extensively traveled in search of Buddhist knowledge. They visited Bhallar Stupa during their journeys and documented its historical importance. They mentioned that Buddha, as a Bodhisattva, offered his head at this site, and as a result, the kingdom received its name. Their accounts provide valuable historical insights into Bhallar Stupa.

Q4.What are the architectural elements that makeup Bhallar Stupa?

Ans. Bhallar Stupa comprises several architectural elements, including a main stupa, votive stupas, shrines, and a monastery. The main stupa stands on a tall oblong foundation with access from the east via a set of steps. Its components include a drum, a dome, a plinth base, and, initially, umbrellas. The drum has six or seven tiers, each adorned with Corinthian pilasters and dental cornices, adding to its architectural beauty.

Q5.Can tourists visit Bhallar Stupa today?

Ans. Yes, tourists can visit Bhallar Stupa today and explore its historical and cultural significance. Although the journey to the stupa may involve navigating challenging roads, the site offers a glimpse into the rich heritage of Taxila and is open to visitors interested in its history and architecture.

Q6.How has the Department of Archaeology and Museums contributed to the preservation of Bhallar Stupa?

Ans. The Department of Archaeology and Museums has played a crucial role in preserving Bhallar Stupa and documenting its historical significance. They have provided historical insights into the stupa’s construction, association with Buddha, and architectural elements. Their efforts ensure that Bhallar Stupa’s legacy is protected and accessible for future generations to appreciate.

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