Emperor Ashoka in our Backyard – Part II

Posted on February 29, 2008
Filed Under >Mast Qalandar, History
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Mast Qalandar

When I wrote the post on Ashoka’s Rock Edicts I had made a suggestion at the end of the post to the department concerned, which was to put up a proper and readable translation of the edicts at the site — both in English and Urdu.

Ashoka Edicts PakistanTo my pleasant surprise, I discovered the other day, when I stopped by at the site while traveling on the Karakoram Highway, that a new signboard had been installed alongside the old signboard displaying a gist of the edicts both in English and Urdu. (See pictures.) One would like to think that the new signboard was the result of suggestions and comments made on the ATP post, but the fact is that the Archaeology Department had done it on their own much before the ATP post appeared. (And I doubt if anyone in the Archaeology Department reads ATP.)

Ashoka rock edicts PakistanEven though one would have preferred to see the whole translation of the edicts, rather than just a summary, the new attempt is definitely an improvement over the old and unreadable signboard. The new board is neat and written clearly in English and Urdu. Otherwise, too, the place looked reasonably clean and well kept. They also have a caretaker (chowkidar) now who looks after the place from 8 to 5 at daytime.

Ashoka Rock Edicts PakistanTalking to the caretaker I found that back in 2002 (when the era of “Enlightened Moderation” was just beginning to dawn in Pakistan) a hand grenade was tossed by someone at a group of foreign tourists visiting the rocks. Luckily, other than minor injuries to some of the visitors, no significant injury or damage was caused either to the visitors or to the rocks. The attack did, however, scare away any potential tourists.

Ashoka Rock Edicts PakistanThe rocks, with their benign message, have been sitting here quietly for over two thousand and two hundred years. One hopes that they would remain there, undisturbed, in the future as well.

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