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.
In local language it is called Shahbaz Garha. This is the place to take a break or rest when you are tired. Hence the famous Pushto Matal, Shahbaz Garha Da Staro Zay dey ( شهباز ګړه د ستړو ځا ۍ دې ) . This in fact is entirely true. It is about 12 km from Mardan city. It has beautiful mountains, green trees, open fields and a small river in the centre of the village.
In old times all these facilities made it attractive for the army and travellers to dig in their tents here, stay for few days and organize their further strategy. The historic Stones of Ashoka and other sites like Mekha Sanda are worth visiting. The most attractive building of the new era is the high school (shown above), this has given a new look to the ancient stones of Ashoka.The local people had put their efforts and resources in building the school. Well done and congratulations to them.
Many sites have been discovered in Mardan and it looks as Mardan was the heart of Gandhara civilization. One of the Buddhist monasteries is of Mekha Sanda, which is located 17 km from Mardan in the North Eastern side in the Hills of Shahbaz Garha. This site was surveyed and excavated by a team of Japanese archaeologists between 1959 and 1965. During courses of excavations a good number Gandhara art sculptures, main stupa, votive stupas, monastery, chapels and Monks' chambers were found. This site became a place for research and a tourist spot.
The name is derived from Pushto language. Mekha means a female buffalo and Sanda means a male buffalo. The arrangement of the stones is in such a way that it looks like buffaloes.
Unfortunately some treasure hunters illegally dug out the site in search of antiques and it has been spoiled. It is the utmost responsibility of the government to provide guards, restore this site and protect it from further destruction. So far there is no sign of it happening.