Ancient region in the Indian subcontinent / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Gandhāra was an ancient Indo-Aryan civilization centered in the present-day north-west Pakistan and including parts of south-east Afghanistan, roughly at the outskirts of northwestern Indian subcontinent. The core of the region of Gandhara was the Peshawar valley and Swat valley, though the cultural influence of "Greater Gandhara" extended across the Indus river to the Taxila region in Potohar Plateau and westwards into the Kabul valley in Afghanistan, and northwards up to the Karakoram range.
|c. 1500 BCE–c. 1000 CE|
Location of Gandhara in South Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan)
Approximate geographical region of Gandhara centered on the Peshawar Basin, in present-day northwest Pakistan.
• c. 550 BCE
• c. 330 BCE – c. 316 BCE
|c. 1500 BCE|
|c. 1000 CE|
|Today part of||Afghanistan|
The Gandhara tribe, after which it is named, is attested in the Rigveda (c. 1500 – c. 1200 BCE), while the region is mentioned in the Zoroastrian Avesta as Vaēkərəta, the sixth most beautiful place on earth created by Ahura Mazda. It was one of the 16 Mahajanapadas of the second urbanisation. Gandhara is frequently mentioned in the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The Iron Age Gandhara kingdom emerged as a major imperial power during the reign of King Pushkarasarin in c.550 BCE. Gandhara was conquered by the Achaemenids in the 6th century BCE, Alexander the Great in 327 BCE, and later became part of the Maurya Empire before being a centre of the Indo-Greek Kingdom. The region was a major centre for Greco-Buddhism under the Indo-Greeks and Gandharan Buddhism under later dynasties, including Indo-Scythians, Indo-Parthians and Kushans. Gandhara was also a central location for the spread of Buddhism to Central Asia and East Asia.
Gāndhārī, an Indo-Aryan language written in Kharosthi script, acted as lingua franca of the region. Famed for its unique Gandharan style of art which is influenced by the classical Hellenistic styles, Gandhara attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century CE under the Kushan Empire, who had their capital at Peshawar (Puruṣapura). Gandhara "flourished at the crossroads of India, Central Asia, and the Middle East," connecting trade routes and absorbing cultural influences from diverse civilizations; Buddhism thrived until the 8th or 9th centuries, when Islam first began to gain sway in the region.
The region steadily declined after the violent invasion by Alchon Huns in 6th century, and the name Gandhara disappeared after Mahmud Ghaznavi's conquest in 1001 CE.