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Taxila is a town and an important archaeological site in the Rawalpindi District of the Punjabprovince in Pakistan. Taxila is situated about 32 km (20 mi) northwest of Islamabad Capital Territory and Rawalpindi in Punjab; just off the Grand Trunk Road. Taxila lies 549 metres (1,801 ft) above sea level. It was a part of India before Pakistan came into being afterpartition of India.

The city dates back to the Gandhara period and contains the ruins of the Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā which was an important Hindu andBuddhist centre, and is still considered a place of religious and historical sanctity in those traditions. In 1980, Taxila was declared aUNESCO World Heritage Site with multiple locations. In 2006 it was ranked as the top tourist destination in Pakistan by The Guardiannewspaper. 
References in texts
Scattered references in later works indicate that Takshashila may have dated back to at least the 5th century BCE. Takṣaśilā is reputed to derive its name from Takṣa, who was the son of Bharata, the brother of Rama, and Mandavi.[6] Legend has it that Takṣa ruled a kingdom called Takṣa Khanda, and founded the city of Takṣaśilā. According to another theory propounded by Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, Takṣaśilā is related to Takṣaka, Sanskrit for "carpenter", and is an alternative name for the Nāgas of ancient India. 

In the Great Hindu Epic Mahābhārata, the Kuru heir Parikṣit was enthroned at Takṣaśilā. Traditionally, it is believed that the Mahabharata was first recited at Takṣaśilā by Vaishampayana, a disciple of Vyasa at the behest of the seer Vyasa himself, at the Sarpa Satra Yajna (Snake Sacrifice) of Parikṣit's son Janamejaya. 

Takshashila is also described in some detail in later Jātaka tales, written in Sri Lanka around the 5th century.  The Chinese monk Faxian (also called Fa-Hien) writing of his visit to Taxila in 405 CE, mentions the kingdom of Takshasila (or Chu-cha-shi-lo) meaning "the severed Head". He says that this name was derived from an event in the life of Buddha because this is the place "where he gave his head to a man".  Xuanzang (also called Hieun Tsang), another Chinese monk, visited Taxila in 630 and in 643, and he called the city as Ta-Cha-Shi-Lo. The city appears to have already been in ruins by his time. Taxila is called Taxiala in Ptolemy’s Geography.  In the Historia Trium Regum (History of the Three Kings) composed by John of Hildesheim around 1375, the city is called Egrisilla 

Political history
Historically, Takṣaśilā lay at the crossroads of three major trade routes: 
The uttarāpatha, the northern road—the later Grand Trunk or GT Road — the royal road which connected Gandhara in the west to the kingdom of Magadha and its capital Pāṭaliputra in theGanges valley in the east. 
The northwestern route through Bactria, Kāpiśa, and Puṣkalāvatī. 
The Sindu (English: Indus river) route from Kashmir and Central Asia, via Śri nagara, Mansehra, and the Haripur valley[15] across the Khunjerab Pass to the Silk Road in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south. The Khunjerab passes between Kashmir and Xinjiang—the current Karakoram highway—and was traversed in antiquity.

Ancient centre of learning 
Takshashila became a noted centre of learning (including the religious teachings of Hinduism) at least several centuries BCE, and continued to attract students from around the old world until the destruction of the city in the 5th century. At its height, it has been suggested that Takshashila exerted a sort of "intellectual suzerainty" over other centres of learning in India.,  and its primary concern was not with elementary, but higher education. Generally, a student entered Takshashila at the age of sixteen. The Vedas, the ancient and the most revered Hindu scriptures, and the Eighteen Silpasor Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school ofmilitary science.  Students came to Takshashila from far-off places such as Kashi, Kosala and Magadha, in spite of the long and arduous journey they had to undergo, on account of the excellence of the learned teachers there, all recognized as authorities on their respective subjects. 

Famous students and teachers 
Takshashila had great influence on the Hindu culture and Sanskrit language. It is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya, also known as Kautilya, the strategist who guided Chandragupta Maurya and assisted in the founding of the Mauryan empire. The Arthashastra (Sanskrit for The knowledge of Economics) of Chanakya, is said to have been composed in Takshashila itself. The Ayurvedic healer Charaka also studied at Taxila.  He also started teaching at Taxila in the later period. The ancient grammarian Pāṇini, who codified the rules that would define Classical Sanskrit, has also been part of the community at Takshashila. 

The institution is very significant in Buddhist tradition since it is believed[citation needed] that the Mahāyāna branch of Buddhism took shape there. Jivaka, the court physician of the Magadha emperor Bimbisara who once cured the Buddha, and the enlightened ruler of Kosala, Prasenajit, are some important personalities mentioned in Pali texts who studied at Takshashila. 

Nature of education 
By some accounts, Taxilla was considered to be amongst the earliest universities in the world. Others do not consider it a university in the modern sense, in that the teachers living there may not have had official membership of particular colleges, and there did not seem to have existed purpose-built lecture halls and residential quarters in Takshashila, in contrast to the later Nalanda University.   

No external authorities like kings or local leaders subjected the scholastic activities at Takshashila to their control. Each teacher formed his own institution, enjoying complete autonomy in work, teaching as many students as he liked and teaching subjects he liked without conforming to any centralized syllabus. Study terminated when the teacher was satisfied with the student's level of achievement. In general, specialisation in a subject took around eight years, though this could be lengthened or shortened in accordance with the intellectual abilities and dedication of the student in question. In most cases the "schools" were located within the teachers' private houses, and at times students were advised to quit their studies if they were unable to fit into the social, intellectual and moral atmosphere there.

Knowledge was considered too sacred to be bartered for money, and hence any stipulation that fees ought to be paid was vigorously condemned. Financial support came from the society at large, as well as from rich merchants and wealthy parents. Though the number of students studying under a single Guru sometimes numbered in the hundreds, teachers did not deny education even if the student was poor; free boarding and lodging was provided, and students had to do manual work in the household. Paying students like princes were taught during the day; non-paying ones, at night. Guru Dakshina was usually expected at the completion of a student's studies, but it was essentially a mere token of respect and gratitude - many times being nothing more than a turban, a pair of sandals, or an umbrella. In cases of poor students being unable to afford even that, they could approach the king, who would then step in and provide something. Not providing a poor student a means to supply his Guru's Dakshina was considered the greatest slur on a King's reputation.

Examinations were treated as superfluous, and not considered part of the requirements to complete one's studies. The process of teaching was critical and thorough- unless one unit was mastered completely, the student was not allowed to proceed to the next. No convocations were held upon completion, and no written "degrees" were awarded, since it was believed that knowledge was its own reward. Using knowledge for earning a living or for any selfish end was considered sacrilegious. 

Students arriving at Takshashila usually had completed their primary education at home (until the age of eight), and their secondary education in the Ashrams (between the ages of eight and twelve), and therefore came to Takshashila chiefly to reach the ends of knowledge in specific disciplines. Both theoretical and practical aspects of the subjects were taught, and particular care was taken to ensure competence of students in case of subjects like medicine, where improper practice could result in disaster. The list of subjects taught at Takshashila underwent many additions over the years, with even Greek being taught there after the Alexandrian conquests. Foreign savants were accorded as much importance as local teachers. 

Taxila is a mix of wealthy urban and rustic rural environs. Urban residential areas are in the form of small neat and clean colonies populated by the workers of heavy industries, educational institutes and hospitals that are located in the area. 

Nicholson's obelisk, a monument of British colonial era situated at the Grand Trunk road welcomes the travellers coming from Rawalpindi/Islamabad into Taxila. The monument was built by the British to pay tribute to Brigadier John Nicholson (1822–1857) an officer of the British Army who died in India during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the First War of Independence. 

In addition to the ruins of Gandhara civilisation and ancient Buddhist/Hindu culture, relics of Mughal gardens and vestiges of historical Grand Trunk Road, which was built by Emperor Sher Shah Suri in 15th–16th centuries, are also found in Taxila region. 

The industries include heavy machine factories and industrial complex, Pakistan Ordnance Factories at Wah Cantt and the cement factory. Heavy Industries Taxila and Heavy Mechanical Complex are also based here. Small, cottage and household industries include stoneware, pottery andfootwear. People try to relate the present day stoneware craft to the tradition of sculpture making that existed here before the advent of Islam. 

Taxila Museum, dedicated mainly to the remains of Gandhara civilization, is also worth visiting. A hotel of the tourism department offers reasonably good services and hospitality to the tourists. 

The city has many educational institutes including HITEC University and the University of Engineering and Technology Taxila. In March 2012, The Korea Herald published a news article on tourism in Pakistan, terming Pakistan as "a land of splendors" detailing on aspects of Pakistani landscape, culture and heritage. M/s Gandhara Art and Culture from South Korea intends to establish a post-graduate university, Heritage University of Taxila (HUT), to revive the ancient educational excellence of Taxila and highlight Gandhara civilization. 

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