The region that is today known as Pakistan once had a large Buddhist population, with the majority of people in Gandhara (present day North Western Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan) being Buddhist. Gandhara was largely Mahayana Buddhist, and was also a stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism. The Swat Valley, known in antiquity as Uddiyana, was a kingdom tributary to Gandhara. There are many archaeological sites from the Buddhist era in Swat.
The Buddhist sage Padmasambhava is said to have been born in a village near the present day town of Chakdara in Lower Dir District, which was then a part of Uddiyana. Padmasambhava is known as Guru Rinpoche in Tibetan and it is he who introduced Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet.
Buddhism was also practiced in the Punjab and Sindh regions.
Gandhara remained a largely Buddhist land until around 800 AD, when the Pashtun people invaded the region from Southern Afghanistan and introduced the Islamic religion.
Most Buddhists in Punjab converted to Hinduism from 600 AD onwards. Buddhism was the faith practiced by the majority of the population of Sindh up to the Arab conquest by the Umayyads in 710 AD. After the partition of Pakistan and India, the Buddhists fled to India, similar to other faiths like Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians in the Pakistan region.
The Kingdom of Gandhara lasted from the 6th century BCE to the 11th century. It attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century under Buddhist Kushan Kings. After it was conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1021 CE, the name Gandhara disappeared. During the Muslim period the region was administered from Lahore or from Kabul. During Mughal times the region was part of Kabul province. The Gandharas were settled since the Vedic times on the banks of Kabul River (river Kubha or Kabol) up to its mouth into Indus. The region is known as Peshawar Valley. Later the Gandharas crossed the Indus and included parts of north-west Punjab of Pakistan. Gandhara was located on the grand northern high road (Uttarapatha) and was a centre of international commercial activities. It was an important channel of communication with ancient Iran and Central Asia.
|07 DAYS BUDDHIST STUDY TOUR|
|01. Islamabad: Full day sightseeing of Islamabad and Rawalpindi|
|02. Drive to Taxila 35km, visit of Taxila, including Julian, Sirkap and museum. The history of Taxila spans about 1000 years (516 BC to 600 AD)|
|03. Drive to Peshawar 170km transfer to hotel, after lunch city tour of Peshawar|
|04. After breakfast departure for Kalam to visit a well preserved Monastery of Takhat-e-Bai en-route. We will pass through the Malakand Pass.|
|05. After breakfast proceed for the sightseeing of Swat, visit of Swat Museum with its nice collection of Gandhara sculptures collected from some of the Buddhist sites in the valley.|
|06. After breakfast departure for Besham 110km, after lunch continue drive to Islamabad 270km|
|07. Transfer to Islamabad airport for international flight|
|08 DAYS GANDAHRA PAKISTAN TOUR|
|01. Welcome by your guide and transfer to hotel. Afternoon sightseeing of Islamabad and Rawalpindi|
|02. Drive to Besham with the visit of Taxila, including Julian, Sirkap and museum. The history of Taxila spans about 1000 years (516 BC to 600 AD).|
|03. Drive to Besham 270km, after lunch Proceed to Swat through the picturesque and changing landscape|
|04. After breakfast proceed to the centre of Saidu Sharif for a short promenade in Mingora bazaar with its different boutiques of handicrafts, local jewellery and shawls. This region is also well known for its handmade carpets and rugs.
|05. After breast departure for Peshawar to visit a well preserved monastery of Takhat-e-Bai en-route.Before reaching the monastery, we will pass through the Malakand Pass|
|06. After breakfast sightseeing of this historical city will commence by the visit of museum which houses treasures of Gandhara period: 300 BC to 300 AD. Built in 1906 in memory of Queen Victoria, Peshawar Museum is a blend of British and Moghal styles.|
|07. Drive to Islamabad 170km, afternoon sightseeing|
|08. Transfer to Islamabad airport for international flight|
|10 Days HISTORICAL & BUDDHISM TOUR DE HUNZA|
|01. Arrive at Islamabad airport transfer to hotel, afternoon city tour of Rawalpindi & Islamabad|
|02. Drive to Besham with the visit of Taxila, including Julian, Sirkap and museum. The history of Taxila spans about 1000 years (516 BC to 600 AD)|
|03. Drive to Gilgit on Karakorum highway 7-8hrs 340km, en-route visit rock carvings in different places along with Karakorum highway|
|04. Drive to Gilgit 140km, visit Gilgit bazaar and Kargha Buddha, after lunch drive to Hunza 100km|
|05. Morning visit Baltit 700 years old and Altit Fort 900 years old, afternoon drive to Duiker valley 30minutes|
|06. Drive to Gulmit 35km en-route visit rock carving, visit Hussani suspension briege, Hussani and Gulmit villages|
|07. Full day excursion to Khunjerab Pass 4733m, back to Karimabad for overnight, have a panoramic views of several above 7000m peaks, especially Passu cones.|
|08. Drive to Besham on Karakorum highway along with Indus River 9-10hrs|
|09. Drive to Islamabad 270 KM 6-7hrs|
|10. Transfer to Islamabad airport for return flight|
|10 DAYS WORLD HERITAGE SITES OF PAKISTAN|
|01. Welcome at Karachi airport, transferred to our hotel, afternoon sightseeing|
|02. We visit the National Museum that houses an impressive collection of relics from Indus Valley Civilization and the Gandhara period|
|03. After a short flight to Sukkur we proceed to the archaeological site of Mohenjodaro|
|04. We start with a tour of Sukkur, the largest settlement in interior Sind and continue on a scenic rural Sind and Lower Punjab drive to Bhong. Bhong is well known for its most extraordinary, albeit modern, mosque|
|05. We explore the city of Nawabs and Rajas before proceeding to Multan. Well known as a Sufi centre, Multan was the place where Alexander was hit with the arrow that led to his eventual death|
|06. A drive through green and rural Punjab gets to Harappa. The archaeological site of Harappa consists of a series of low archaeological mounds and cemeteries to the south of a dry bed of the Ravi River.|
|07. Lahore successively served as regional capital of the empires of the Shahi kingdoms in the 11th century, the Ghaznavids in the 12th century, the Ghurid State in the 12th and 13th centuries the Mughal Empire in the 16th century|
|08. We take the historical Grand Trunk Road to visit Rohtas Fort*, also called Qila Rohtas|
|09. Today we explore Taxila. From the ancient Neolithic tumulus of Saraikala to the ramparts of Sirkap (2nd century B.C.)|
|10. Transfer to airport for return flight|