mankiala stupa

Mankiala Stupa: Exploring Pakistan’s Rich Buddhist Heritage Near Rawat, Rawalpindi

The Manikyala Stupa is a Buddhist stupa near the village of Tope Mankiala in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The stupa was built to commemorate the place where, according to Jataka stories, an incarnation of the Buddha called Prince Sattva sacrificed himself to feed seven hungry tiger cubs.

Location of Makiala Stupa

Mankiala stupa is located in Tope Mankiala village, near a place called Sagri and 2nd near Sahib Dhamyal village. It is located at 6 Kms east of Rawat, 36 km southeast of Islamabad and near the city of Rawalpindi. It can be seen from the nearby historic Rawat Fort.

The stupa is located on the banks of the Soan River, in a hilly area surrounded by lush green vegetation. It is believed to have been built to commemorate a significant event in the life of the Buddha. Legend has it that the Buddha visited the site during his travels and gave a sermon to his followers there.

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The stupa was built to commemorate the place where, according to Jataka stories, the Golden Light Sutra, and folk belief, Prince Sattva, an earlier incarnation of the Buddha, sacrificed some of his body parts to feed seven hungry tiger cubs.

History of Mankiala Stupa

The stupa is believed to date back to the 2nd century BCE, during the Mauryan period, and is considered one of the oldest and most significant Buddhist sites in the region.The stupa is said to have been built during the reign of Kanishka between 128 and 151 AD.  

An alternative theory suggests that the stupa is one of 84 such buildings built during the reign of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka to house the ashes of the Buddha. Emperor Kanishka is said to have often visited this stupa to pay his respects to the Buddha during his campaigns.

The stupa was discovered by Mountstuart Elphinstone, the first British emissary to Afghanistan, in 1808 – a detailed account of this is given in his memoirs “The Kingdom of Kabul” (1815). The stupa contains an engraving which indicates that the stupa was restored in 1891.

mankiala stupa
Well on Top of Mankiala Stupa

Discovery of Makiala Stupa

The site of the Mankiala stupa relics was discovered by Jean-Baptiste Ventura in 1830. The relics were then removed from the site during the British Raj and are now housed in the British Museum.

According to historians, the Mankiala Stupa dates back to the Gandhara period and several stories are associated with it. One of the most fascinating stories about Mankiala Stupa is that Buddha sacrificed some parts of his body at this place to feed hungry tiger cubs.

Later, a stupa was built there as a memorial. According to the British Library, Mankiala Stupa was built during the Kanishka period (128-151 AD) and was first discovered by the British traveler Mountstuart Elphinstone on his trip to Afghanistan in 1908. He also wrote a detailed account of his travels and mentioned this stupa. in his memoirs “Kingdom of Kabul” in 1815.

After its rediscovery, it was restored by the British rulers in 1891. There is another story about the Mankiala Stupa. According to some historians, it was actually King Ashoka, son of Bindusara and grandson of Chandra Gupt Maurya, who decided to adopt Buddhism as his religion after the Kalinga War in 261 BC, fed up with the bloodshed.


Buddhism and Mankiala Stupa

He later declared Buddhism the state religion. He also ordered that the remains of the Buddha in Kapilvastu, Nepal be cremated and the ashes placed in 84 different boxes of gold or silver. These boxes were then buried in 84 different places in India from Patliputra to Kandahar, and there were built stupas in the shape of a round mound with seven umbrellas – a sacred sign in Buddhism depicting the seven heavens, seven heavens, seven earths, seven layers of skin. , seven colors and seven notes.

According to some researchers, Mankiala Stupa is one of these 84 stupas. Mankiala Stupa today seems like an abandoned place. An iron grill was erected around the area to protect the stupa. The place is often visited by tourists, especially Buddhists from different countries.

mankiala stupa

The stupa is in poor condition due to neglect and is in desperate need of some restoration work. Wild grass has grown on the stupa, while the stone blocks of its base remain broken.

The stupa was originally a large, domed structure, built with mud and brick. Over time, it fell into disrepair and was largely destroyed, with only a few sections remaining. However, the remaining sections are still impressive, standing over 10 feet tall, and are adorned with intricate carvings and designs.

In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve and restore the stupa, and it has become a popular destination for tourists and visitors interested in the rich history and culture of the region. In addition to the stupa itself, there are several other Buddhist relics and artifacts that have been discovered in the area, including statues, coins, and inscriptions.

The site also has great significance for followers of Buddhism, as it is believed to have been one of the places where the Buddha himself visited and gave sermons. Many Buddhist pilgrims come to the site to pay their respects and offer prayers.

In conclusion, the Mankiala Stupa near Rawat, Rawalpindi is an ancient and significant Buddhist monument that holds great cultural and historical value. It is a testament to the rich history and diversity of the region, and is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the fascinating history and culture of Pakistan.

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