Takht-i-Bah, commonly mispronounced as Takht-i-Bhai , is an Indo-Parthian archaeological site of an ancient Buddhist monastery in Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The site is considered among the most imposing relics of Buddhism in all of Gandhara, and has been “exceptionally well-preserved.”
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 the architecture of Buddhist monastic centers from its era. Takht-i-Bahi was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Takht-i-Bhai is another well-known and preserved monument, a Buddhist monastery located on a rocky ridge about 10 miles northeast of Mardan. This structure dates back to two to five century AD and stands 600 feet above the plane. The feature, which distinguishes this site from others, is its architectural diversity and its romantic mountain setting. The uphill approach has helped in the preservation of the monument.
The exposed buildings here include the main stupa and two courtyards in different terraces surrounded by votive stupa and shrines, the monastic quadrangles surrounded by cells for the monks, and a large hall of assembly. In one of the stupa courtyard is a line of colossal Buddhas, which were originally 16 to 20 feet high.
The site’s fragmentary sculptures in stone and stucco are a considerable wealth but its most remarkable feature is the peculiar design and arrangement of the small shrines, which surround the main stupa. These shrines stood upon a continuous sculptured podium and were crowned alternately with stupa-like finials forming an ensemble. The beauty and grandeur provided by the entire composition is unparallel in the Buddhist world.
Takht-i-Bhai had a wealth of ancient Buddhist remains. A long range of different sized Buddha and Buddhistavvas from Takht-i-Bhai fill many museums. Some of the best pieces of Gandhara sculpture, now to be found in the museums of Europe, were originally recovered from Takht-i-Bhai.