PESHAWAR: Pakistan unveiled the remains of a 1,700-year-old sleeping Buddha image as part of an initiative to encourage tourism and project religious harmony in a region roiled by Islamist militancy.
A reflection of the diverse history and culture of the South Asian country, the ancient Buddhist site in Bhamala province was first discovered in 1929. Eighty-eight years on, excavations resumed and the 14-metre-(48-foot)-high Kanjur stone Buddha image was unearthed, and opposition leader Imran Khan presided over Wednesday’s presentation.
“This is from the 3rd century AD, making it the world’s oldest sleeping Buddha,” said the director of Bhamla’s archaeology and museums department Abdul Samad.
“We have discovered over 500 Buddha objects and this 48-foot-long sleeping Buddha remains,” he added.
Khan said: “It’s a question of preserving these heritage sites which are an asset for our country. It’s a world heritage site (and) because of it people can come for religious tourism and see these places.”
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 16, 2017
The region was once the centre of Buddhist civilization that took root under the Mauryan king Ashoka 2,300 years ago.