It has a historic and monumental entrance with black polished iron gates and lush green leafy trees at both sides -perfect background for a good picture to reminisce down the memory lane.
As you enter the hall, its has multiple cabinets each with its own story and depiction of the centuries old archaic collections. To start with left, is the Early Gandhara Art Gallery, which can be traced from 4th Century BCE to 8th Century CE i.e. for thousand years. The era of Kanishka The Great, the fifth king in the Kushan Empire (An empire established by the Yuezhi: Indo-European pastoralists from the modern Chinese province, Gansu), is considered as the ‘Golden Period of Gandhara’; when human images of Buddha were first represented through art and Gandhara became the holy land of Buddhism.
Gandhara constituted modern Afghanistan (Kabul and Qandahar regions) and north-western parts of Pakistan including Taxila. Peshawar was used to be the capital of the great empire from Gandhara to Central Asia.
(It is interesting to see how we were connected to China, Afghanistan and Central Asia centuries ago and how we are struggling to revive similar trade routes with Chinese and Central Asians centuries after.)
The prime subject of Gandhara art is the depictions of Buddha’s life. Buddha (Siddhartha) was born to Queen Mahamaya, as she dreamt about the entrance of an elephant with white tusks in her womb and that is foretold as one of the events to conceive Boddhivista (on the path of Buddhahood). The queen died after giving birth and Siddharta was brought up by his aunt.
At the age of 29, he left the luxurious palace life and started living as wanderer; doing meditation and yoga. In the quest of finding the truth, he moved to southern Bihar and fasted until he was starved. At the age of 35, sitting under the pipal tree he found Nirvana (the path to enlightenment) also called Great Awakening. For the next 45 years, he preached extensively and established order of the monks, At the age of 80 he died. His body was cremated and the ashes were divided among eight countries.
Hence, this gallery was about the artistic depictions of his birth to queen Maya, his journey towards enlightenment, his first sermon to five disciples, his death and cremation.