Kargha Buddha site – a true picture of neglect

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Kargha Buddha site; a true picture of neglect

(By Ejaz Shah & Shumaila Noreen)

GILGIT, Sep 8 (APP): `Kargha Buddha’, one of the most
potential archeological sites in Gilgit-Baltistan to explore,
is at the verge of ruin due to neglect by the authorities
concerned.

The province, having rich historical and cultural background
and ancient sites, lack archeological experts to preserve the
priceless heritage for the tourists and education of the coming  generations.

`Kargha Buddha’ is a carved rock statue located near Kargha
Nallah, some 10 kilometers away from the Gilgit town. It is
one of the most admired and short-outing places, surrounded by lush  green picturesque views.

The site, after devolution under 18th Amendment of the
Constitution, comes under the jurisdiction of the provincial
authorities, who have not started any excavation work on the site due to lack of expertise and focus, Deputy Director, Department of Archeology and Museums (DOAM) Islamabad, Abdul Ghafoor said.

Talking to APP, he said the site, if excavated and preserved,
can reveal many historical facts, antiquities and help educate
future generations about the country’s heritage along with boosting tourist activities in the region.

Muhammad Hassan, who has served as Assistant Director,
DOAM, Gilgit Baltistan from 2001-2006, said Kargha Buddha
is a Buddha sculpture in Tibetan style of 4th or 5th Century AD.

The length of the statue is 40 to 50 feet while its width is yet to be estimated.

He said the rock stupas usually sustain the climatic changes
of intense nature, however, the sites where these rock statues exist are needed to be excavated for finding antiquities and then preserved.

Although no excavation has taken place ever in this archeological site so far. However, the experts have discovered remains, including a  rare manuscript representing the Buddhist civilization, from its surroundings.

Muhammad Hassan, who is now Curator at Harrapa Museum, Punjab, said the historical facts revealed that the Buddhist caravans, mostly religious ones, used to stay at the monastery here while going from Silk Road, which is also considered to be part of the monuments, towards China for trade purposes since centuries.

The Buddhists also used to perform their religious rituals at
this site and worship the idol-like statue, he added.

Muhammad Hassan said there are more than 30,000 similar rock carvings in Gilgit-Baltistan, which can become a great source of attraction for the tourists, if preserved and maintained.

He said `Hunzal Stupa’ is also another archeological site in
Gilgit-Baltistan, which is needed to be explored and preserved to boost tourism in the region.

Director Taxila Institute of Asian Civilization (TIAC) and
a renowned archeological expert, Dr Ashraf Khan said on the top of the Kargha Buddha statue from where a rare manuscript was found, there was a site named as Dinyor.

The site, despite facing extreme weather conditions, is
still rich and needs urgent excavation by the archeological experts, he added.

Those, who have visited the site, are astonished that how the carving back in 4th or 5th Century AD was done at such a high altitude. The peak, where the carving was done, is so straight as apparently it seems humanly impossible to reach its top even with the help of machinery and equipment in this modern age.

Sajid, a habitant of the Kargha village, told this
scribe that thousands of tourists visit Kargha Buddha site
throughout the year as they consider their visit to Gilgit-
Baltistan incomplete without having a glimpse of this unique rock sculpture.

He said it is believed that thousand years ago, a number
of Buddhists used to come here and worship the Buddha statue.

He said this centuries old rock sculpture has not been
damaged by harsh weather and exists in its original shape till
today.

The carving is sheltered with another rock like a canopy but
it is a single piece.

The visitors ponder about the altitude at which the
the sculpture is carved and its size as no work has been done by any authority or even an individual in this regard.

According to the traditions, a number of followers from acrossthe world even come here today to worship the Buddha statue.

It is very unfortunate that this important and rare historical
site is ruining due to improper arrangements of cleanliness and non-protection whereby depicting the real living example of human neglect.