Colombo, 21 November 2021 (TDI): “Gandhara: The Buddhist Heritage of Pakistan” is a documentary jointly produced by the High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka and Siddhivinayak Cine Arts (Private) Limited with the support of and in coordination with the Ministry of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs of Sri Lanka.

According to a press release of Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa launched the documentary on Tuesday, 16 November at Temple Trees (Prime Minister’s office) in the presence of venerable Buddhist monks, Speaker of Sri Lankan Parliament, cabinet and state ministers, MPs, ambassadors of Buddhist countries, as well as Sri Lanka’s business, tourism, and media fraternity.

Documentary’s details

It takes viewers on a visual journey across Pakistan’s Gandhara Buddhist cultural sites.

Buddhist site Butkara, Swat.

This documentary, which was launched with the approval of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, would open up new avenues in religious tourism as well as improve cultural and people-to-people ties between the fraternal countries of Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Local and foreign technicians, including Director Mateen Saherai and Production Controller Sajjad Mohommad (Gateway To Production, England) from England, worked on this documentary with special clearance from the Pakistan’s Government.

The documentary is based on a screenplay that investigates historical ruins and relics that have been captured in a realistic manner, as well as historical background information. Agrahera Kassapa Thero serves as the project’s Senior Adviser. Vidyajothi Prof. Nimal Silva, the Project Consultant Director, created the concept and script.

Siddhivinayak Cine Arts (Private) Limited, recognised for producing, marketing, distribution, and exhibition of international films, is a co-producer on the film. Local Srilankan artists handled the sound and video editing.

The film is expected to be exhibited in local theatres, on local TV channels, and overseas in partnership with international organisations, according to Kaushalya Wickramasinghe, the Chairperson of Siddhivinayak Cine Arts (Private) Limited.

“Gandhara” was conceived with the goal of bringing the peoples of Sri Lanka and Pakistan together through their shared history and traditions, according to Pakistan’s Acting High Commissioner Tanvir Ahmad Bhatti.

Gandhara Civilization
Julian Monastery, Taxila.

From the middle of the first century BCE to the beginning of the second millennium CE, the Gandhara Civilization flourished in what is now northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Despite the fact that this region was dominated by a number of significant powers at the time, they all had a deep respect for Buddhism and the adoption of the Indo Greek artistic legacy that had formed in the region following Alexander’s incursions into India.

Gandhara was a triangular area of land roughly 100 kilometres east to west and 70 kilometres north to south, mostly to the west of the Indus River and bordered on the north by the Hindukush Mountains, according historical records. The Peshawar valley, the highlands of Swat, Dir, Buner, and Bajaur, all of which are within Pakistan’s northern borders, were all part of Gandhara proper.

Gandhara civilization.


The boundaries of Greater Gandhara (or places where Gandhara’s cultural and political dominion reigned supreme) stretched, however, to the Kabul Valley in Afghanistan and the Potwar plateau in Pakistan’s Punjab state. Indeed, at one point, the impact reached as far as Sindh, where the ruins of a stupa and Buddhist city built over the far earlier remnants of Mohenjo-daro can still be seen. Takshasila (Taxila), Purushapura (Peshawar), and Pushkalavati (Mardan) are three well-known Gandhara cities where remains have been discovered and continue to be discovered to this day.

Double headed Eagle stupa, Sirkap-Taxila.
Gandhara was ruled by a number of ancient powers, which are listed below:
  • Persian Achaemenid Empire (c. 600-400 BCE)
  • Greeks of Macedon (c. 326-324 BCE)
  • Mauryan Empire of Northern India (c. 324-185 BCE)
  • Indo-Greeks of Bactria (c. 250-190 BCE)
  • Scythians of Eastern Europe (c. 2nd century to 1st century BCE)
  • Parthian Empire (c. 1st century BCE to 1st century CE)
  • Kushans of Central Asia (c. 1st to 5th century CE)
  • White Huns of Central Asia (c. 5th century CE)
  • Hindu Shahi of Northern India (c. 9th to 10th century CE)


Gandhara was a kingdom that existed from the early first millennium BC to the eleventh century AD. It reached its pinnacle under the Buddhist Kushan Kings from the 1st to the 5th centuries. Al-Biruni, a historian, uses the Hindu name Shahi to refer to the governing Hindu dynasty that succeeded the Turki Shahi and dominated the region before the Muslim invasions of the 10th and 11th centuries. The name Gandhara vanished after it was subjugated by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1021 CE. The territory was administered from Lahore or Kabul during the Muslim period. During the Mughal era, the area was part of the province of Kabul.

Kushan Empire and neighboring states.

Gandhara is known for its peculiar Gandhara Buddhist art style, which evolved from a fusion of Greek, Syrian, Persian, and Indian creative influences. During the Parthian Period, this development began (50 BC- 75 AD). During the Kushan period, which lasted from the 1st through the 5th century, the Gandharan style developed and reached its pinnacle. After the invasion of the White Huns in the 5th century, it deteriorated and was destroyed. Sculptors in Gandhara utilised stucco as well as stone for the decorating of monastic and worship structures. Stucco gave the artist with a very malleable medium, allowing the sculpture to express itself to its full potential.

Gandhara Budha, Txila.
Gautama Budha

Siddhārtha Gautama, popularly known as the Buddha or Lord Buddha who lived in ancient India (c. 6th to 5th century BCE or c. 5th to 4th century BCE). He is regarded as the founder of Buddhism, and most Buddhist schools regard him as a saviour, the Enlightened One. He taught for 45 years and amassed a significant following. Siddhartha Gautama is called the Buddha because the literal translation of the word means ‘Enlightened/Awakened One’.

Buddhah in Dhianamudra pose.

He is regarded as the founder of Buddhism, and most Buddhist schools regard him as a saviour, the Enlightened One. He taught for 45 years and amassed a significant following.