Purushapura monastery, (in) Peshawar, Velayat-e Nurestan, PK

Raw data

"The city especially associated with Kanishka I is Peshawar, where he is credited with the foundation of the great stupa and vihara complex to the southeast of the city, known in the past as Shāh-jī-kī-Ḍherī. This stupa was one of the largest to have been recorded in the subcontinent (Dobbins, 1971 p. 22). The most important find of the excavations conducted by David Spooner in 1908 (see Spooner, 1908-09) was the object termed the Kanishka Reliquary, a cylindrical casket in gilded bronze with relief decoration in the Gandhara style." - Bivar (2009)

"An official said located outside the Gunj [Ganj - tmciolek] Gate of the old Walled City of Peshawar is a site of extraordinary archaeological importance where an imposing 'stupa' – a structure than contained revered Buddhist relics – once stood.
The now urbanized area, known as Akhunabad, presents a sorry picture of a once renowned historic site said to be was one of a kind in Asia.
The stupa is said to have been built during the reign of Kushan Emperor Kanishka in the first century AD.
A Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang visited the site during 629AD-645AD and called it the 'tallest architectural building' in this part of Asia. It is estimated that the stupa was equivalent to a present day 13-storey-tall building."

Kanisha Stupa, Hazārākhawāni, Peshawar, Pakistan‎ - https://plus.google.com/112470032462210140932/about?hl=en

"Buddha relics from Kanishka's stupa in Peshawar, Pakistan, sent by the British to Mandalay, Burma in 1910. […]]
The "Kanishka casket" or "Kanishka reliquary", dated to the first year of Kanishka's reign in 127 CE, was discovered in a deposit chamber under Kanishka's stupa, during the archeological excavations in 1908-1909 in Shah-ji-Dheri on the outskirts of Peshawar. It is today at the Peshawar Museum, and a copy is in the British Museum. It is said to have contained three bone fragments of the Buddha, which are now housed in Mandalay, Burma.
The casket is dedicated in Kharoshthi. The inscription reads:
"(*mahara)jasa kanishkasa kanishka-pure nagare aya gadha-karae deya-dharme sarva-satvana hita-suhartha bhavatu mahasenasa sagharaki dasa agisala nava-karmi ana*kanishkasa vihare mahasenasa sangharame"
The text is signed by the maker, a Greek artist named Agesilas, who oversaw work at Kanishka's stupas (caitya), confirming the direct involvement of Greeks with Buddhist realizations at such a late date: "The servant Agisalaos, the superintendent of works at the vihara of Kanishka in the monastery of Mahasena" ("dasa agisala nava-karmi ana*kaniskasa vihara mahasenasa sangharame").
Input by: tmciolek, July 12, 2012

Decimal degrees: 34.0126N, 71.5698 E;
Modern Name: Peshwar, Ancient Name: Purushapura
'OpenAtlas Site Information: Purushapura', ArchAtlas, February 2010, Edition 4, http://www.archatlas.org/openatlas/oashow.php?s=114, Accessed: 23 March 2010

Kanishka vihara at Peshawar (Litvinskii et al. 1996:166)

Kanishka vihara at Purushapura, visited by Huei-ch'ao [= ven.Huichao-1] in 726. (Litvinskii et al. 1996:118)

Fa-hsien visited Peshawar (called by by him Fu-lou-sha) where he found a Kanishka's vihara with 700 monks, and the great stupa. (Litvinskii et al. 1996:168)

"Eulogies in rock of the Bouddha monk Viradeva, composed by an unknown author, had been found in Ghosravan (Gaya district, modern Bihar). 20 Born in Nagarahara, (identified with a place in modern Afghanistan), the monk is said to have mastered ‘all the branches of science’ under the principal acharya Sarvaňjyaśānti at the mahavihara (great monastery) of Kanishka (founded some time in the 2nd-3rd c. CE on the outskirts of the modern city of Peshawar). Eventually, this monk became the assistant to the director of the Nalanda monastery (on the plains of Bihar), and was placed in charge of the construction of a temple dedicated to the Vajrasana (lit.‘diamond-seat’, a reference to both the enlightened person of Sakyamuni and the seat of his enlightenment, Bodhgaya). " - Chatterjee (2011:10)

Last updated: 17 Jul 2013

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 17 Jul 2013

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 m from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Purushapura monastery, PK.

General location of the Purushapura monastery, PK.
lat=33.9992 long=71.5919
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (http://www.fallingrain.com), 2012.

Google Map link:


Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Purushapura monastery - Bivar (2009)

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Afghanistan:Velayat-e [provisional] Nurestan

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx., Lat 33.992 Long 71.5919 - based on the visual identification of site in maps, http://maps.google.com/ - tmciolek, 12 Jul 2012.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

  • [missing data]

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • [missing data]

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

MBM chrono-tag: <=0200 - tmciolek 17 Jul 2013
<=0200 0200-32c 0233-66c 0267-99c 0300-32c 0333-66c 0367-99c 0400-32c 0433-66c 0467-99c 0500-32c 0533-66c 0567-99c 0600-32c 0633-66c dated-ex

12. Date-intermediate

MBM chrono-tag: 0633-66c - tmciolek 17 Jul 2013

13. Date-late

  • [missing data]

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • pilgrim account

16. Additional notes

  • 700 monks at the time of Fa-hien's travels - Fa-Hien (2009:39)

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

18. Known monks and nuns associated with this monastery

19. Available Printed Literature

  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 1]
  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 2]
  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 3]

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