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Gandhara | Three Day International Symposium | Religious Tourism

July 19, 2023

Groups of Buddhist monks from all over the world have begun arriving in Islamabad for a three-day symposium, and the Pakistani government has declared that encouraging such visitors will help boost the economy and improve the country’s image abroad.

Pakistan has planned this event as a form of cultural diplomacy to showcase its Gandhara Civilization and Buddhist heritage.

The Gandhara civilization, whose name means “land of fragrance” in Sanskrit, flourished to the west of the Indus River between the second millennium BCE and the first millennium CE. Peshawar, Swat, Dir, Bajaur, Buner, Mardan, and Swabi, all present-day regions in the northwest of Pakistan, are also places where artifacts from this civilization have been unearthed.

Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Gandhara Tourism, said the event was held to promote the economic and religious benefits of religious tourism in the country.

It will add between $1.5 and $1.75 billion to our GDP in the first year, and another $3 billion in the second, he said.

Vankwani said that this “will also build our image in the eyes of the international community” and pledged to host such events in the future to foster relationships with foreign nations.

The interim rector of Cambodia’s Sihanouk Buddhist University, Dr. Yon Seng Yeath, told Arab News, “Gandhara Civilization is in the minds and hearts of Buddhists across the world for such long thousands of years.”

While “we have heard about it,” he continued, “for most of the common Buddhists, common people Gandhara Civilization is not well exposed to the outside world for many reasons.” To let the world know that Gandhara is still around and that it is still well protected and safe to visit, I believe that this conference, this symposia, might be vital.

Buddhist monks from Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and China have gathered in Pakistan for a festival that will also include a trip to the famous Buddhist art museums in Taxila and Peshawar.

Archaeological finds from Gandhara’s holy places have given Buddhists all around the world new insight into the religion’s history and philosophy.

Sobita Mr. from Myanmar told Arab News that the historical significance of the Gandhara and Dharmarajika Stupas in Taxila among Buddhists worldwide.

“Taxila is a very famous place for Buddhist people,” he stated, expressing his delight at finally seeing the region.

Pakistani President Dr. Arif Alvi had earlier greeted the monks, noting that the country was home to the ancient Gandhara Civilization, which is responsible for its large collection of Buddhist artifacts.

It is important to encourage religious tourism because “all the religions preach peace and we have to promote this message to bring cohesion and harmony in our societies.

Read More: Pakistan’s International Gandhara Symposium | Buddhist Tourism

Read More: Pakistan Offers a Valuable Window to Gandhara Civilization

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