The ancient Takht-i-Bahi Monastic Complex in KPK Province in Pakistan

The ancient Takht-i-Bahi Monastic Complex in KPK Province in Pakistan

It took us about 20 minutes to climb up the hill, where the ancient Takht-i-Bahi Monastic Complex was located. The scenery, which revealed before us at the top, was stunning. My first thought was how similar this place was to Machu Picchu, and yet not so famous.

In Persian and Urdu, the word “takht” means “throne” or “top,” and “bahi” means “water” or “spring.” Together, the meaning is “spring at the top,”.

Close-up of the ruins of Takht-i-Bahi, Indo-Parthian archaeological site of an ancient Buddhist monastery in Mardan, Pakistan

The ancient Takht-i-Bahi Monastic Complex is one of the most important Buddhist centers in the troubled Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan, located near the town of Mardan. The Site is considered among the most imposing relics of Buddhism in all of Gandhara. It was remarkably well-preserved, and because of its exceptional value, Takht-i-Bahi was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

The Buddhist monastery was founded in the 1st century CE and was in use until the 7th century. The complex is regarded by archaeologists as being particularly representative of Buddhist monastic centers architecture from its era. It has survived in such a good condition because of the mountainous terrain probably. However, most of the Buddhist monasteries of that era were demolished. A truly unique and highly recommended place to visit.

The impressive archeological Site was first identified from the existing travel records of the Chinese monk-pilgrim Xuanzang (602 – 64), who journeyed through greater India in search of Buddhist texts. Later it was explored by the Indian-born British medical officer Dr. Henry Walter Bellew in 1864 as part of an archaeological survey, leading to a series of excavations and from 1910 – 11. He published a description of the remains and provided a basic plan of the monastery and a stupa that lies on the central spur (Bellew 1864: 125-136). Following his report, the stupa was apparently looted but still yielded in situ relief panels on the plinth (Bellew 1864: 130). An excellent essay on the chronology of excavations and studies of the Site can be read here (pdf):

More interesting articles:

Takht-i-Bhai: A Buddhist monastery in Mardan 

Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol

Reference: W. Rienjang, ‘Takht-i-Bahi Monastic Complex«, Gandhara Connections website,



The best way would be a guided tour starting from Islamabad or Peshawar. 

We usually have one or two small groups (max 7/8 participants) per year traveling to Pakistan, including to Takht-i-Bahi Monastic Complex. If you are interested in joining a group setting out from Europe, please drop a line. We will provide more information, like dates, a program, and other details.


The nearest international airport to Takht-i-Bahi Monastic Complex is Bacha Khan International Airport, previously called Peshawar International Airport, located in the city of Peshawar in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. More convenient would be to arrive in the country from one of the main entry points in this part of the country – Islamabad or Lahore.


Most probably you would need a visa for Pakistan. Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior introduced the Single-entry Tourist eVisa for citizens of 175 countries. This eVisa has a validity of 3 months and allows travellers to enter the country for tourist purposes and it enables them to stay in Pakistan for up to 30 days. You can check out the procedure here.

You can also use the VisaHQ world service. They will provide full assistance in applying and obtaining the needed visa. Check directly the requirements for the Pakistani visa here.

You also can check out the iVisa service here.



List of hotels in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan

List of hotels in Karachi, the largest city in the country and one of the possible arriving points.

List of hotels in Lahore, another possible point of entrance in the country.

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Tourists visiting Takht-i-Bahi, Indo-Parthian archaeological site of an ancient Buddhist monastery in Mardan, Pakistan


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Takht-i-Bahi the ancient Buddhist monastery in Mardan, Pakistan