ISLAMABAD: The Sri Lankan delegation to Pakistan led by Minister for Primary Industry Daya Gamage and Deputy Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Anuma Gamage visited the historic Buddhist site at Takht-i-Bahi (Throne of Origins) in Mardan. According to a press release issued on Wednesday, University of Paradeniya’s Emeritus Dr Madduma Bandara said during the visit that these archaeological sites were considered most sacred and important for the Buddhists all over the world. He said, “We are privileged to visit these sites”. He added that the preservation of centuries-old Buddhist sites in a Muslim majority proves Pakistan’s mutual respect and tolerance for other religions. The Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bhai was the part of Gandhara Civilization which is one of the earliest urban settlements documented in the history of the sub-continent. The heritage site was first excavated in 1936. The ostentatious structure and imposing relics of the monastery had mesmerized a large number of locals and tourists who had flocked to see the ancient site which dates back to early 1st century AD. Listed in the World Heritage List, it is considered as one of the well-structured Buddhist monasteries in Gandhara district. It is perched about 500 feet atop a small hill, about two kilometers east of the Takht Bhai bazaar in Mardan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Once known as the heart of the Gandhara civilization, it attracts tourists, historians, archeologists and Buddhists from across the world. After performing their religious rituals, the delegation visited the Hund museum in Swabi which is the last capital of Gandhara civilization. The delegation also visited the Pukhtun cultural stalls at the museum and showed keen interest.