Ancient city, northwestern Pakistan. Its ruins, including temples and a fortress, lie just northwest of Rawalpindi. It was the capital of the Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara and a centre of learning. Founded by Bharata, the younger brother of Rama, it came under Persian rule and in 326 BC was surrendered to Alexander the Great. Ruled by a succession of conquerors, including Bactrians and Scythians, the city became an important Buddhist centre under King Ashoka (circa 261 BC). The apostle Thomas reputedly visited it in the 1st century AD. Taxila's prosperity in ancient times resulted from its position at the junction of three great trade routes. When they declined, the city sank into insignificance; it was finally destroyed by the Huns in the 5th century. Taxila was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980.
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Taxila (तक्षशिला , , Pali:Takkasilā) is an important archaeological site of Ancient India, now within Pakistan. It contains the ruins of the Gandhāran city of Takshashila (also Takkasila or Taxila) an important Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist centre of learning from the 6th century BCE to the 5th century CE. In 1980, Taxila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with multiple locations.
Historically, Taxila lay at the crossroads of three major trade routes: the royal highway from Pāṭaliputra; the north-western route through Bactria, Kāpiśa, and Puṣkalāvatī (Peshawar); and the route from Kashmir and Central Asia, via Śrinigar, Mansehra, and the Haripur valley across the Khunjerab pass to the Silk Road.
Legend has it that Taksha, an ancient Indian king who ruled in a kingdom called Taksha Khanda (Tashkent) founded the city of Takshashila. The word Takshashila, in Sanskrit means "belonging to the King Taksha". Taksha was the son of Bharata and Mandavi, from Indian epic Ramayana.
According to tradition The Mahabharata was first recited at Takshashila by Vaishampayana, a disciple of Veda Vyasa at the behest of the seer Vyasa himself, at Janamejaya's (Parikshit's son) 12 year-long Sarpa-Satra Yajna (Snake Sacrifice).
Before the fall of these invader-kings, Taxila had been variously a capital for many dynasties, and a centre of Vedic and Buddhist learning, with a population of Buddhists, Classical Hindus, and possibly Greeks that may have endured for centuries.
Takshashila was an early center of learning dating back to at least the 5th century BCE. There is some disagreement about whether Takshashila can be considered a university. While some consider Taxila to be an early university or centre of higher education, others do not consider it a university in the modern sense,
Takshashila is considered a place of religious and historical sanctity by Hindus and Buddhists. The former do so not only because, in its time, Takshashila was the seat of Vedic learning, but also because the strategist, Chanakya, who later helped consolidate the empire of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, was a senior teacher there. The institution is very significant in Buddhist tradition since it is believed that the Mahāyāna sect of Buddhism took shape there.
Some scholars date Takshashila's existence back to the 6th century BCE or 7th century BCE. It became a noted centre of learning at least several centuries before Christ, and continued to attract students from around the old world until the destruction of the city in the 5th century CE. Takshashila is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya. The famous treatise Arthashastra (Sanskrit for The knowledge of Economics) by Chanakya, is said to have been composed in Takshashila itself. Chanakya (or Kautilya), the Maurya Emperor Chandragupta and the Ayurvedic healer Charaka studied at Taxila. Generally, a student entered Takshashila at the age of sixteen. The Vedas and the Eighteen Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school of military science.
Present day Taxila is one of the seven Tehsils (sub-district) of Rawalpindi District. It is spread over an undulating land in the periphery of the Pothohar Plateau of the Punjab. Situated just outside the capital Islamabad's territory and communicating with it through Tarnol pass of Margalla Hills, Taxila is a mix of posh urban and rustic rural environs. Urban residential areas are in the form of small neat and clean colonies populated by the workers of heavy industries, educational institutes and hospitals that are located in the area.
The industries include heavy machine factories and industrial complex, ordnance factories of Wah Cantt and cement factory. Heavy Industries Taxila is also based here. Small, cottage and household industries include stoneware, pottery and footwear. People try to relate the present day stoneware craft to the tradition of sculpture making that existed here before the advent of Islam.
In addition to the ruins of Gandhara civilization and ancient Buddhist/Hindu culture, relics of Mughal gardens and vestiges of historical Grand Trunk Road, which was built by Emperor Sher Shah Suri in 15th-16th centuries, are also found in Taxila region.
Taxila has many educational institutes including University of Engineering and Technology (UET).