KP govt to launch ‘Gandhara Strip’ after Eid-ul-Azha

ISLAMABAD: Tourists from across the globe will soon experience the historical heritage of one of the world’s oldest civilization in one-go as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to launch ‘Gandhara Strip’ in the province after Eid-ul-Azha. The initiative is meant to offer a seven-day trip to travellers for visiting some 22 heritage and archaeological sites, located in various cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, including Bhamala, Gor Khatri, Hund Museum,Jinnah Wali Dheri, Julian, Peshawar Museum, Rani Ghat and Takht Bahi. Apart from heritage tourism, the strip will also serve as a catalyst for religious tourism promotion since it entails a number of sacred sites for the followers of Buddhism, who are scattered across the world in whooping number. Nevertheless, ‘Buddhist Trail’ is yet another feather in the cap of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, which boasted religious harmony with establishment of the Kartarpur Corridor and took several initiatives to promote pluralistic image of the country. “All is set for the launching of ‘Gandhara Strip’ and it is expected that Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan will formally launch the trail after Eid-ul-Azha,” Director Archaeology and Museums Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Dr Abdul Samad told APP. He said the reopening of tourism sector with strict SOPs on the anvil so all the arrangements were being finalized to launch the ‘Gandhara Strip’. After the launching of trail, he said the department would offer a seven-day trip to the tourists to 22 archaeological sites. It would start from Taxila Museum and end at Swat after covering Peshawar Museum, Takht Bahi, Julian and other sites, he added. The director said the department was focusing on international and heritage tourism so that maximum foreign tourists thronged the country. “Our target audience is not only the followers of Buddhism but also international tourists,” he added.

In a first, he said the ‘Gandhara strip’ would be promoted in the South East Asian States such as China, South Korea and Thailand to attract Buddhist monks and pilgrims. He said the department was also intending to hold ‘Gandhara Festival’ by next month end to sensitize the Buddhist countries about their centuries-old heritage scattered across the province.

Dr Samad said the initiative was ought to be taken in April but it could not be materialized due to the Coronavirus pandemic. He said the province was home to some 2,000 heritage sites and possessed some 30,000 relics of Gandhara civilization. A plan which involved multiple strategies would be put in place to exhibit the true potential of the province in heritage and religious tourism.—APP