Buddhism took birth from Hinduism and India gave this religion to the world. A son born to Suddhodana, a Kshatriya in the year 563 BC. He was named Siddhartha and later he came to be referred as Gautama the Buddha. Asoka who ruled Sub-continent from C 268 to 232 BCE converted to Buddhism and became an ardent Buddhist. After his conversion he adopted Buddhism as official religion. He sent missionaries to neighboring countries and it was during the time of Asoka (269-232BC) when buildings like the monasteries and stupas were erected and also production of Buddha images on the rocks. During the time of Asoka who opened route between Gilgit and Kashmir and Gilgit became a centre of Buddhism and Buddhist monks. It was Silk Roads which carried Buddhism to China from India. Buddhism first reached China in the first Century AD. During the time of emperor Ming-Ti, various envoys were sent to India to collect information on Buddhism. It was during this time pilgrims began to travel from China to India in search of its original source, scriptures and holy sites and setout westward through Silk Roads. They crossed Karakoram and Pamir passes to Gandhara as it was the second holy land to Buddhist followers. Gandhara became the seat of Buddhist learning. From Gandhara and Kashmir Buddhism entered Gilgit and Skardu. Buddhism came to Gilgit approximately between C200 BC and 100AD or C150BC. According to John Biddluaph, Buddhism came to this region around 150BC or three hundred years after the nirvana of Buddha.In second Century AD Buddhism spread as far as Tarim basin through Gilgit across the passes because of shorter routes. Some famous Chinese pilgrims/monks are known to have visited Udyan (Swat) through Gilgit. It was Silk Roads which carried Buddhism to China from India. Buddhism first reached China in the first Century AD. During the time of emperor Ming-Ti, various envoys were sent to India to collect information on Buddhism. It was during this time pilgrims began to travel from China to India in search of its original source, scriptures and holy sites and set out westward through Silk Roads Fa Hien started his journey on 400 AD and through Gilgit entered Toli (Darel valley of Chilas) to Udyan (Swat). He found Buddhism flourishing in Gilgit and surrounding areas. Sung-Yun from Tashkurgan entered Misgar village (Hunza) went onto Udyan (Swat) and to Gandhara. Another Chinese traveler and monk Che Mong crossed Pamir travelled to Gilgit and from Burzil pass entered Kashmir. Another Chinese monk Fo Young took the same route from Pamirs. In the later part of the eight century the pilgrim envoy Wu Kong followed the route to Yasin and Gilgit to reach Indus and onto Udyan. The Gilgit route was an important link between Sub-continent and China. Mintaka, Kilk, Karakoram, Durkot, Baroghil and Pamir passes were to entry points to Sub-Continent. The rock engraving and carvings are concentrated along Karakoram Highway from Shatial (Kohistan, KPK) to Chilas (Gilgit Baltistan) then at the confluence of Gilgit and Hunza Rivers. Some engravings belongs to the first millennium AD upto modern time. According to Dr Ahmad Hassan Dani the first emperor who extended Kushana power into this region (Gilgit) was Vima Kadphises. Inscriptions in this regard are found in Chilas and Hunza. Kushanas not only conquered the whole of Gilgit Baltistan but also extended their authority over Ladakh. There is a possibility that the seat of their governance must have been located somewhere in Hunza. Kushanas were controlling area from Tibet to Xinjiang including Ladakh, Kohistan and Hunza. During the period of Kanishka direct communication with China was established through Silk Road branch which passed through Gilgit. Buddhism travelled from Gandhara to Khotan, Yarkand, Kashgar and west of China. It was during this period a large number of Buddhist monasteries and Stupas erected in the region and apparently Gilgit became an important Buddhist seat. The Kushanas put Gilgit to a new road of progress and prosperity. At that time the rulers of Gilgit bear the title of ‘Patola Shahi’. Deva Sri Chandra was the last ruler of Patola Shahi dynasty in Gilgit and Hunza. It was during the rule of Patola Shahi (Ten rulers) Buddhism flourished in Gilgit. Chilas was also under Patola Shahi which is evident from rock inscription. Gilgit remained under Patola Shahi in the Sixth, Seventh and Eight Century. They patronized Buddhism and maintained good relations with Tang Emperors of China and also with the rulers of Kashmir. But Patola Shahis never ruled Baltistan. When Tibetan invaded Gilgit, Chinese came to help and defeated Tibetan and reestablished Patola Shahis in Gilgit. In the meantime Tibetans managed to hold Baltistan where a number of Tibetan inscription and Buddhist figures can be seen in Skardu. The rule of Patola Shahisended towards second half of eight Century AD. In 1884 a Hungarian traveler Karl Eugen published rock carving and inscription from Baltistan, Gilgit and Chitral. The first study of rock carvings and inscriptions goes back to the name to German Tibetologist August Hermann Francke who in 1902 published his first archaeologist studies about Ladakh Baltistan, Chilas. Ghulam Muhmmad was first to publish Buddhist rock carvings in the region of Gilgit and Chilas in his book. “Festivals and Folklore of Gilgit” in 1905. There are several remains of Buddhism and images carved on the rocks in Gilgit Baltistan. According to 1986 estimates 3000 inscriptions and more than 30000 Petroglyphs were discovered along Karakoram Highway (KKH). Chilas is considered a most interesting place for the study of inscriptions and Petroglyphs. Near Chilas one can find KharoshtheInscription which gives the name of Uvima Dasakasa referring to the second Kushana emperor. Near, Chilas, Thalpan is considered as mine of engraved stones. There is a route named as pilgrims path where you can witness the wealth of carved stones, pre historic and historic. From Thalpan through Khinargah there is a route leading to Gilgit. At one place there is a story of first sermon of Buddha and this site is called “Rock of first sermon”. Here Buddha is seated in the middle while five disciples are around him. In Chilas we find the greatest collection of ancient image and inscription carved into the rock. Starting from Shatial in Kohistan upto Gilgit. In Thalpan one of the most elaborate representation of sitting Buddha is preserved featuring Buddh’s first sermon. Durel and Shatial valley visited by several travellers, missionaries several hundred of inscription in the Sogdian language are found here. Situation in Gilgit valley (Alam bridge) and Hunza offer inscriptions which spread over the entire period in which Kushan empire existed in Kharosh the and Brahmi script dating back to fifth and eighth century. A rock cut figure of Buddha is located on the outskirts of Gilgit city at the opening of Kargah gah (nullah). The figure is erected which is 9 feet high. Probably, according to historians this carving was carried out in the seventh century. Fa Hien also mentioned this figure of Buddha who visited Gilgit in AD 400. Locally it is known as “Yachani” and also “Deonee” a female demon and a myth is attached to it according local folktales.In 1931 the famous mysterious Gilgit manuscript were found at Napur village of Gilgit next to Kargah Buddha. The manuscripts were found packed in a wooden box. The site appears to be an ancient ruin which may have been the residence of Buddhist monks. According to UNESCO the Gilgit manuscripts are to oldest surviving manuscripts. These manuscripts are the only corpus of Buddhist manuscripts in the Sub-continent. The Gilgit Manuscripts have reference to the three Buddhist synods (Conference between religion heads). Another famous site is located at a place in Hunza called Haldekush (between Ganish and Attabad Lake). Here there is a monument of importance that remained hidden for centuries from the eyes of the people. The carvings on the rocks dated back to the first century. Rock consist of inscriptions which are carved in Sogdian, Kharoshthe and Brahmi languages. Scared rocks of Hunza are considered most important because it shows ibexes, hunting scenes and Inscription. According to Harald Hauptmann more than fifty thousand rock carvings and six thousands Inscriptions have been recorded and number may increase with further exploration. The names of emperor of Kushana empire appear in these inscription as well as names of emperors from the empire of Kanishka and Huvishka According to Harald Hauptmann more than fifty thousand rock carvings and six thousands Inscriptions have been recorded and number may increase with further exploration. The names of emperor of Kushana empire appear in these inscription as well as names of emperors from the empire of Kanishka and Huvishka. Rock also tell of a Buddhist pilgrims, a sixth century Chinese ambassador and eight Century Tibetan conqueror. There is also mention of last ruler of Gilgit as Chandra Sri Deva Vikramaditya and some Identify him as “Shri Badat”, the cannibal King, the last Buddhist king of Gilgit. Interestingly after Sust along Karakoram Highway (KKH) we do not find any carvings because it is a new route but one can find carving on the older routes across passes onto Tarim basin in China. Baltistan remained under the influence of Tibetan. The Tibetans advanced through Ladakh into Baltistan where their inscriptions and Buddhist carvings are found near Skardu and other places. Manthal village near Skardu is famous for Buddhist carvings and it is one of the famous tourist spots. There is a huge sculpture of Buddha surrounded by twenty disciples. It is believed that inscriptions may have been engraved around second and third century. It was first documented by Jane E Duncan in 1904. There was a threat to China from Tibetan who were advancing towards Gilgit, it was decided by Chinese empire to keep away Tibetan invaders from upper Indus and the Oxus. The Tibetan advanced into north and west through Ladakh, Baltistan, Gilgit, Yasin into Wakhan though Borogil pass. Chinese came to help and defeated Tibetans and restored rule of Patola Shahis in Gilgit. But Tibetan managed to hold Baltistan. There is also a school of thought that after Buddhism the area of Gilgit and surrounding came under Zoroastrians rulers during mediaeval period. In Hudud-al-Alam it is written that the local rulers were the followers of sun(god). According John Biddulph the Oxus valley having been the cradle of Zoroaster religion therefore areas in the south came under its influence. According to John Buddulph “Teleni” festival a relic of fire worship celebrated in the past across Gilgit and Hunza less Baltistan. In Hunza it is called “Tum Shelling”, in Astore “Lomi” and in Chilas it is called “Daiko”. As far as Islam is concerned, Islam came to this region at the end of thirteen or beginning of the fourteen century from Kashmir, Central Asia and Swat/Kaghan. The last ruler of Gilgit Shri Biddat was killed by one Azur Jamshed who founded a new dynasty after marrying to his daughter. There are several historic sites across Gilgit Baltistan these sites needs to be declared heritage site by the government and must make efforts to preserve the fading heritage. There is also a requirement for the establishment of archaeology department/research centre in Karakoram International University a step towards the realization of cultural heritage of Gilgit Baltistan. There are fears about the archaeological sites specially in district Chilas likely to be sub-merged/sink with the construction Diamer Basha dam. The government of Gilgit Baltistan and federal government needs to work out a strategy for preservation and relocation of this national heritage. The writer is freelance columnist Published in Daily Times, November 7th 2018.