A centuries-old “sleeping Buddha” statue has been unearthed during excavations near Bhamala Stupa in Haripur district of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Archaeology And Museums Director Abdul Samad told Dawn News: “The 48-feet-long ‘sleeping Buddha’ statue dates back to the third century, which makes it the world’s oldest ‘sleeping Buddha’ statue.” He said that archaeologists found the statue, with its head intact, during excavations near the Bhamala Stupa.”We have discovered more than 500 Buddha-related objects during excavations, in addition to the 48-feet long ‘sleeping Buddha’,” he added. The statue is predicted to be around 1700 years old. 

The latest discoveries by the archaeologists have opened new chapters in the history of the ancient Taxila Valley Civilisation. “This is one of the few sites in the world to have the cruciform Stupa, which was reserved for Buddha himself,” Samad had said. Haripur is said to be the centre of Buddhism in Pakistan, traces of which can be found dating back to Mauryan emperor Ashoka’s reign. It was during the great Ashoka’s reign that the practice of Buddhism spread in the world.   

Talking about the discovery, one of Pakistan’s most prominent political figures, Imran Khan stressed the importance of the revelation and how it can help in boosting religious tourism in the country. He also mentioned that the government should focus on preserving such historical masterpieces. “It’s a world heritage site [and] because of it people can come for religious tourism and see these places,” he said. Dismissing allegations that the Pakistanis are protesting against Buddhism and said that the majority of the country wants peace and see these Buddhist sites get restored.

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