Taxila is an important archaeological site in Pakistan containing the ruins of the Gandhāran city and university of Takshashila (also Takkasila or Taxila) an important Vedic/ and Buddhist centre of learning from the 5th century BCE to the 2nd century CE. In 1980, Taxila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with multiple locations.
Historically, Taxila lay at the crossroads of three major trade routes: the royal highway from Pātaliputra; the north-western route through Bactria, Kāpiśa, and Puskalāvatī (Peshawar); and the route from Kashmir and Central Asia, via Śrinigar, Mānsehrā, and the Haripur valley across the Khunjerab pass to the Silk Road.
Today, Taxila is located in the western region of the Islamabad Capital Territory—to the northwest of Rawalpindi and on the border of the Punjab and North West Frontier Provinces—about 30 kilometres west-northwest of Islamabad, just off the Grand Trunk Road.
Ahmad Hasan Dani and Saifur Rahman Dar trace the etymology of Taxila to a tribe called the Takka. According to Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, “Taxila” is related to “Taksaka,” which means “carpenter” and is an alternative name for the Nāga
- c. 518 BCE – Darius the Great annexes Pakistan, including Taxila, to the Persian Achaemenid Empire.
- 326 BCE – Alexander the Great receives submission of Āmbhi, king of Taxila, and afterwards defeats Porus at the Jhelum River.
- c. 317 BCE – In quick succession, Alexander’s general Eudemus and then the satrap Peithon withdraw from Pakistan. Candragupta, founder of the Mauryan empire, then makes himself master of the Punjab. Candragupta Maurya’s advisor Kautilya (also known as Chanakya) was a teacher at Taxila.
- During the reign of Chandragupta’s grandson Aśoka, Taxila became a great Buddhist centre of learning. Nonetheless, Taxila was briefly the center of a minor local rebellion, subdued only a few years after its onset.
- 185 BCE – The last Maurya emperor, Brhadratha, is assassinated by his general, Pusyamitra Śunga, during a parade of his troops.
- 183 BCE – Demetrios conquers Gandhāra, the Punjab and the Indus valley. He builds his new capital, Sirkap, on the opposite bank of the river from Taxila. During this new period of Bactrian Greek rule, several dynasties (like Antialcidas) likely ruled from the city as their capital. During lulls in Greek rule, the city managed profitably on its own, managed independently and controlled by several local trade guilds, who also minted most of the city’s autonomous coinage.
- c. 90 BCE – The Indo-Scythian chief Maues overthrows the last Greek king of Taxila.
- c. 25 CE – Gondophares, founder of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom, conquers Taxila and makes it his capital.
- c. 76 – The date of and inscription found at Taxila of ‘Great King, King of Kings, Son of God, the Kushana’ (maharaja rajatiraja devaputra Kushana).
- c. 460–470 – The Ephthalites sweep over Gandhāra and the Punjab; wholesale destruction of Buddhist monasteries and stūpas at Taxila, which never again recovers.