Breaking News

Frederico Silva

Ambassador of Portugal Frederico Silva Visit to Taxila: A Warm Welcome Extended by Host Zaildar Ahsan Shah

Taxila, April 29, 2024, The Europe Today: On Saturday 20 April,2023, Mr. Zaildar Ahsan Shah, Managing Director of Elaan Research Centre, hosted His Excellency, Ambassador of Portugal Frederico Silva in Zaildar House Taxila.

During his visit, Mr. Zaildar Ahsan Shah guided Ambassador of Portugal Frederico Silva on a tour of the ancient city of Taxila, showcasing its historical significance and highlighting the exquisite, Taxila Museum, Sirkap, and Gandhara Art Village, which are considered a true treasure of the region.

Taxila is an archaeological treasure trove, encompassing a Mesolithic cave and the archaeological remains of four ancient settlements, and Buddhist monastic complexes, along with a Muslim mosque and madrassa. Positioned strategically along a branch of the Silk Road that connected China with the Western world, Taxila experienced its zenith between the 1st and 5th centuries CE, solidifying its status as one of Asia’s most paramount archaeological sites. The combined archaeological sites of Saraikala, Dharma ajika, Bhir, Sirkap, and Sirsukh hold profound significance in tracing the development of urban centers in the Indian subcontinent.

IMG 20240429 WA0236

During their visit, Mr. Zaildar Ahsan Shah and Curator Humera Naz welcomed the Ambassador of Portugal Frederico Silva at the Taxila Museum a repository teeming with a wealth of history and culture. He gave a briefing about the history and importance of the Taxila Museum. This museum proudly houses a remarkable assortment of artifacts and exhibitions that provide a captivating window into Taxila’s bygone eras and its pivotal role as a hub for education and culture. The museum stands as an enduring testament to Taxila’s legacy and its profound influence on the history and culture of the region.

The museum stands out for its comprehensive assortment of Gandhara art, covering the period from the 1st to the 7th century AD, predominantly sourced from the ancient Taxila ruins.

Noteworthy are the well-preserved ancient stupas and historical landmarks in the immediate vicinity, providing visitors with an opportunity to delve into the rich cultural heritage. Mr. Frederico Silva also toured the museum, displaying a keen interest in the artifacts, statues of Buddha and disciples, as well as everyday items on display.

He explored the ancient ruins of Sirkap in Taxila and its fascinating history and amazing ancient things. Sirkap is an ancient city in Pakistan, part of the ancient region of Gandhara, known for its Buddhist ruins. There were lots of old things there. The remains of Sirkap have been declared a National Heritage and are protected under the Antiquities Act 1975. Sirkap is renowned for its impressive architectural remains, including palaces, temples, stupas, and residential quarters. The buildings in the city mix Greek and local styles of architecture, showing how different cultures come together in one place. It was a center of Buddhism and housed several Buddhist monasteries, stupas, and shrines. The city played a crucial role in the spread of Buddhism in the region and served as a pilgrimage site for Buddhists from across the ancient world. This place holds historical and architectural significance and was inscribed upon the world heritage list of the convention concerning the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage in 1980. On the east side of the street are several notable structures, such as the Shrine of the Double-Headed Eagle, the Apsidal Temple, and a palace at the south end of the street. Next to the Apsidal Temple is a small stupa which was probably constructed by a private owner. In the house near the stupa were found several items such as a bronze statue of the Egyptian child god Harocrates, a silver Dionysus head, and gold and silver jewelry. He also tours St. Thomas Church, founded in 1935. Known as the Taxila Cross, it is located just outside the ruins of Sirkap, the second city of Taxila. The cross is commonly believed to signify the early presence of Christianity in the subcontinent, shortly after the crucifixion of Christ He expressed deep admiration for the diverse range of artifacts and their meticulous conservation during the visit.

Following this, their schedule included a visit to Gandhara Art Village, which opened its doors in the early months of 2023. On the arrival of Ambassador of Portugal Frederico Silva at Gandhara art village, Mr. Rafique Butt, in charge of Gandhara Art Village, and Mr. Khurram Dar, Regional Director for Small Industries Cooperation Punjab, welcomed the honorable guest and briefed about the art village. This art village serves as a vibrant embodiment of Taxila’s rich culture and the extraordinary craftsmanship that characterizes the city. Within its premises, visitors can be captivated by the exquisite handcrafted jewelry and pottery items, meticulously crafted from marble and stone.

The Gandhara Art Village is a diverse establishment, encompassing workshops where these artistic masterpieces are brought to life. It also houses a modest medical clinic, addressing the healthcare needs of the local community. Additionally, there are accommodations in the form of hostels catering to travelers and a dedicated gallery where these unique creations are prominently displayed for the delight of tourists. Mr. Zaildar Ahsan Shah articulated the gallery’s purpose as “celebrating and advocating for the city’s skilled artisans and their craft”.

Following the conclusion of their journey, the delegation received a lunch invitation from Zaildar Zaheer Shah, a member of the advisory board reimagining Gandhara. The gathering included substantive conversations on history, culture, and art, with the participation of Ambassador of Portugal Frederico Silva and Mr. Zaheer Shah. During the discussion, Mr. Zaheer Shah expressed his deep pride in serving as an ambassador for Gandhara on the global stage. He also conveyed immense satisfaction in hosting the Ambassador of Portugal Frederico Silva in Taxila.

IMG 20240429 WA0234

Mr. Zaildar Ahsan Shah expressed his gratitude to Frederico Silva for his gracious acceptance of the invitation and for sparing time to visit. He highlighted Frederico Silva’s active role in enhancing cultural ties between Pakistan and Portugal. Mr. Zaildar Ahsan Shah expressed optimism that, Mr. Frederico Silva would work towards further strengthening and solidifying cultural relations between the two nations, fostering a more robust and enduring partnership in the realms of culture and arts. He hoped Frederico Silva’s visit would pave the way for improved cultural relations between Portugal and Pakistan.

Mr. Frederico Silva’s gratitude to the Zaildar family for the gracious invitation to Taxila and their warm hospitality during a delightful lunch. Mr. Frederico Silva was pleasantly surprised by the vibrant cultural heritage of the city and deeply impressed by the Gandhara Art Village initiative. Acknowledging the Gandhara Art Village as a priceless asset to the city, they pledged to leverage their influence to promote and support it. Underlining the enduring and close relationship between Pakistan and Portugal, they applauded the dedicated efforts of Mr. Zaildar Ahsan Shah in fostering and strengthening this bond.

Mr. Frederico Silva stated that his visit aimed to explore opportunities for enhancing ties in the realm of art and culture. He highlighted the longstanding and amicable relations between the two countries, spanning several decades, and emphasized Portugal’s commitment to fortifying cultural bonds. Mr. Frederico Silva also commended the remarkable collection at Taxila Museum and praised the dedicated efforts of the Directorate General of Archaeology, Punjab, in safeguarding the abundant cultural heritage. Furthermore, he expressed a keen interest in fostering the relationship between Pakistan and Portugal in the spheres of art and culture.

The collaboration between the cultural communities of both nations will not only advance the arts and cultures of each side but also contribute to bolstering political and diplomatic relations. This visit by the Ambassador highlights the relationship between Pakistan and Portugal, paving the way for enhanced cultural cooperation and exchange.