There are some beautiful museums in the world which attract millions of visitors. The region of Mardan is rich in culture and especially Gandhara remains are matchless. The people of Mardan had the idea of a museum for a long time and they were keen to preserve the heritage. For this reason they formed National Heritage Preservation Societies in the past. Ultimately with the interest of the local Government Officials and the then commissioner of Mardan, Mr R N Sahibzada, the proposal of building a museum in Mardan was made in 1990. The museum was opened in April1991.
The original name is Takht-i-Bahi. This town is situated 15 km from Mardan on Swat Malakand road. In 1908/9 the ancient Buddhist history was discovered in the mountains. Large numbers of buildings look beautiful on top of the mountains.
Unfortunately the possessions of the houses and buildings have been taken away illegally and maybe decorating some famous buildings in the rest of the world. The population is expanding and new houses are approaching the site. If ignored for a few more years, the tourist and historic attractions will disappear.
Cultural heritage has a great historical significance. It represents the taste and theme of the time. The Guides Memorial Mardan also has a very relevant historical importance. It was built by the British in 1892 in memory of their soldiers who sacrificed their lives in defence of Queen’s Residency in Kabul on September 23rd 1879.This historical memorial was built in the centre of Mardan city.
There is no doubt that Mardan is a wonderful place. Once you live here, you love it. This is not only true about the present inhabitants but also those who lived here in the past.Buddhists, Hindus, Sikh,Christians and Muslims equally loved it. One person who loved Mardan was a Sikh Saint, Sant Karam Singh.
Karam Singh joined the Corps of Guides in 1846, which was later reorganized as 5th (Guides) Battalion of the 12th Frontier Force Regiment, with Mardan being its normal duty station. He was spending off–duty hours in prayer in the regimental gurdwara or in solitary meditation on the bank of a nearby stream Kalapani, besides voluntary service in the common kitchen.
In 1857, the Guides formed part of the force that went from the Punjab to the aid of the British locked in a critical combat with Indian soldiers. Delhi fell to the British on 20 September 1857 after a siege lasting five months. The victorious soldiers fell upon the city and freely indulged in loot and massacre.
During this unrestrained pillage, officially permitted, Karam Singh, who had come to Delhi with his regiment, protected several families by standing guard outside their doors, refusing to accept any reward for his help. He was one soldier who stood aloof from this wholesale plunder.
Karam Singh returned to Mardan with his regiment. To be able to devote himself fully to his spiritual pursuit, he resigned from the army. The legend persists till today that once as he remained absorbed in meditation for long hours, he was reported absent from duty, but the officer who went to check up found him present. When Karam Singh, it is said, heard of this strange occurrence, he quit the army. His fame as a saint spread and visitors began to pour in to see him. For their sake, a few thatched huts were constructed near Hoti, a town close to Mardan, a well was sunk, and Guru ka Langar started – all by voluntary service in which soldiers from the Guides also participated.
He did not deliver lengthy sermons, but people felt inspired by his pious manner. Many became his disciples. He had his admirers among Hindus and Muslims and among the turbulent Pathan tribals. He did not go out of Hoti Mardan during the rest of his life, except once when he undertook a pilgrimage to Panja Sahib, Amritsar and Haridvar.
There are so many stories about him in the villages like Gujar Garhai and Rustam. His followers in Jalandhar,Punjab dedicated a site to Dera Hoti Mardan, started by Baba Karam Singh ji.