World lone Ghandhara art museum at Peshawar impresses Russian ambassador
PESHAWAR(APP): Peshawar Museum, the world lone Ghandhara art museum has highly impressed Russian Ambasador after seeing it’s rare 30,000 collection of antiquities and artifacts.
Russian Ambassador, Danila Ganich visited the historic Peshawar Museum where he admired an impressive collection of the Ghandhara art.
He went around different galleries of the museum where he was briefed by the authorities of archeology and museaum department.
Established in the heart of Peshawar some 150 years back on Sher Shah Suri Road, Peshawar Museum having a unique treasures of 30,000 antiquities of Gandara civilization were attracting international tourists and followers Buddhism in droves following completion of renovation work that magnified its architectural outlook.
Being a lone museum of Gandhara Art in the world having a complete life story of Founder of Buddhism, Lord Buddha, Peshawar Museum has become an international center for Gandhara Art lovers after completion of expansion, renovation and preservation work under Khyber Pakthunkhwa Integrated Tourism Project (KITE).
Bakhtzada Khan, Spokesperson Archeology and Museums Department told APP that conservation work on Peshawar Museum was initiated under umbrella project of KITE with assistance of World Bank to bring it at par with international standards and enhance its architectural value.
Peshawar Museum has a unique distinction of housing more than 30,000 antiquities out of which 14,000 are put on display for tourists, archeologists, and followers of Buddhism and the rest were kept preserved.
The complete life story of Founder of Buddhism, Lord Buddha was kept preserved here in the forms of statues and panels, attracting followers of Buddhism and international tourists throughout the year.
Besides ancient dresses of Waziristan tribes, primitive cooking plates and jewelry, he said it is the only museum of south asia where muzzleloader guns mostly used by British Army and Swords of freedom fighters, kings, warriors and punch marked coins were displayed.
Most of these antiquities were adorned with museum in colonial period attracting foreign tourists including from Europe, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Turkey, Malaysia, SAARC and South East countries.
He said about 6,000 archeological sites were so far discovered in KP and important antiques collected from these sites were also preserved at Peshawar Museum.
Prshawar Museum was started as Victoria Hall in 1896 initially used as Dancing Club and was later converted into fullfleged Museum in 1906.
The present main hall of the museum was built in 1906 in the memory of Queen Victoria at the cost of Rs.60,000, out of which Rs.45,000 were donated by the public of then NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Rs15,000 by Director General of the Archaeology of that time, he said.
Following completion of building, the museum was set up in November 1907 to house Gandhara sculptures excavated from major Gandhara sites of Shah-Ji-Ki-Dheri Peshawar, Sahri Bahlol, Takht-i-Bahi in Mardan district, from Jamal Garhi and other Gandharan sites excavated by British archeologists.
The two-storey building, an amalgamation of the British and Mughal architectures, was originally consisted of a main hall and two side aisles on ground and first floor, surmounted by four elegant cupolas and small pinnacles on all corners. On the eastern and western side of the building, two halls were added in similar fashion in 1969-70.
After its inception in 1907, Peshawar Museum was run by the Peshawar Municipality and Superintendent of Archaeological Survey of that time, Frontier Circle was Curator of the Museum. When Frontier Circle Office was shifted to Lahore in 1927, a full time Curator was appointed under the Provincial Government.
Following independence of Pakistan, the Museum came under direct control of Director of Public Instructions (DPI), Government of NWFP (KP) Peshawar In 1971 and an autonomous body, Board of Governors, was constituted to run affairs of the Museum, headed first by Governor and later by the Chief Secretary, Government of NWFP (KP).
In 1992, Government of NWFP (KP) established its own Directorate of Archaeology and Museums to ensure better protection and preservation of archaeological heritage of the province and today Peshawar Museum was working under Sports and Tourism Department KP.
He said construction work on two new museums were completed in DI Khan and Abbottabad where ancients antiquities, artifacts, coins and statues would soon be put on display for general public, adding two more museums are being constructed in Kohat and Haripur.
Following inauguration of these four new museums, he said the number of Museums would reach to 16 in KP where three Museums were already established in Peshawar, one each at Charsadda, Mardan, Lower Dir, Swat, Bannu and two in Chitral.
A modern museum has been constructed at Hund Swabi district near historical site from where Alexander the Great had crossed Indus River in 327 BC. Hund is also famous for Mehmood Ghaznavi’s invasion in 998, marking beginning of Islamic era in the region.
A survey for exploration of new historical archaeological sites is underway in the province including merged areas where 91 more sites discovered including Bazeera, Amlook Dara and Abba Saib Cheena in Swat and excavation was started.
Directorate of Archeology and Museums has made remarkable discovery unearthing 2,000 years old Bhuddists fresco paintings found fist century AD coins and three fresco paintings at Abba Saib Cheena Swat. These paintings are one of the earliest Buddhist fresco so far discovered in ancient Gandhara.
The spokesman said buildings and places of archeological importance was being purchased besides excavation, conservation and protection of archeological sites.
The Russian ambassador lauded the dedicated efforts of Directorate of Archaeology & Museums, KP in preserving this rich cultural heritage of Pakistan.