A 1,300-year-old Hindu temple of Vishnu has been discovered by Pakistani and Italian archaeological team at a mountain in northwest Pakistan’s Swat district.
The temple was unearthed during an excavation at Barikot Ghundai. Built 1,300 years ago during the Hindu Shahi period, the temple site has traces of cantonment and watchtowers, said Fazle Khaliq of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Department of Archaeology.
The Hindu Shahis or Kabul Shahis ruled present day Afghan and Pakistan region during 850 and 1026 AD centred around the Kabul Valley, including Gandhara (modern- Pakistan and Afghanistan) and northwestern India. With a water tank near the temple site, it reflected many ancient temple structures in south India.
Fazle Khaliq said that Swat district is home to many thousand-year-old archaeological sites belonging to the Hindu Shahi period. Dr. Luca M. Olivieri, who is the current Director of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan and joint mission explorer of the temple, said this was the first temple of the Ghandhara civilisation discovered in Swat district.
Swat home to Hindu, Buddhist temples
Modern archaeological excavations began in Swat in 1955 and remained uninterrupted for 60 years, except for brief interruption between 2007 and 2010 due to insurgency in the valley.
The project has taken up conservation at Jahanabad, the colossal rock-cut Buddha mined by the Taliban, the excavation at two major protohistoric graveyards, the excavations and conservations at three major Buddhist sacred areas, and finally the large-scale excavation project at the historic settlement site of Bazira/Vajiristhana (Barikot) in the region.