Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other

Taxila: Mohra Moradu


Map of Taxila. Design Jona Lendering
Map of Taxila
Taxila (Old Indian Takshaçila): the ancient capital of the eastern Punjab, the country between the rivers Indus and Hydaspes. The site consists of several parts, which belong to three periods:

Taxila (history)
Achaemenid age Greek age Kushan age
Bhir Sirkap 1, 2 Sirsukh

Jandial Jaulian


Mohra Moradu
Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. Mohra Moradu is a Buddhist complex, consisting of two parts: in the west, a stupa (venerated tomb), and in the east, a monastery. The latter is situated between two hill spurs. The monks could meditate and study in all quietness, a kilometer-and-a-half away from the noise of the city at Taxila-Sirsukh; yet, they were close enough to the town to beg for alms.
Inner court, Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. The monastery was built in the second century and extensively renovated in the fifth century. Monasteries in Gandara and the Punjab usually had 27 cells, which surrounded a rectangular central court with a bathroom (jantâghara), an assembly hall, a well, a store-room, a kitchen (agni-sâlâ), a refectory (upâhâra-sâlâ), and a latrine (varchah-kutî). This picture shows the courtyard and several cells. The monastery of Jaulian looked more or less the same.

(One of the trees in the background is a wild olive.)


Assembly hall, Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. The assembly hall (upasthâna-sâlâ). Originally, the walls must have been plastered and painted. The roof was supported by four columns.
Brickwork, Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. A detail of the brickwork. The walls were very solid, which suggests that there was not just a second storey, but a third one as well.
Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. Archaeologists identified this structure with the store-room (koshthaka), but can not explain why the walls are so incredibly heavy. Maybe there was a tower on top of it?
Sanctuary, Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. A small shrine in one of the cells, in which we can see -in high relief- Buddha and attendants. The walls of the cells were probably plastered but there are no indications for other decorations.
Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. Other sacred figures of the Buddha.
Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. This is the upper part of a 4 meters high monument, dedicated to a venerated teacher of monk. This remarkable votive stupa was placed in his cell. It is made of a soft local limestone that is called kańjur. These umbrellas were once painted; traces of yellow, crimson and blue are still visible.
Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. The lower part of the same monument The lower tier consists of elephants alternating with atlantes; two upper tiers consist of the Buddhas and pilasters.
A detail.
Stupa near Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. The stupa near the Mohra Moradu monastery. The lower part of this lofty monument is about five meters high and decorated with plaster, pilasters, and stucco figures of Buddhas and demons. Parts of the decoration have survived.
Stupa near Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. Part of the stucco decoration. Much has been removed and is now on display in the museum of Taxila.
Stupa near Mohra Moradu monastery. Photo Marco Prins. A detail of the picture above. The way the cloak is represented and the typical asymmetrical pose look almost Greek or Roman, but this sculpture was made well after the direct political contacts between the Mediterranean and Punjab had ceased to be important. Still, trade continued.
Gandaran coin showing  Buddha. Drawing Bente Kiilerich. From Acta Hyperborea 1 (1988). A Gandaran coin showing Buddha. The legend reads, in Greek letters, Βοδδο ("Boddo") (drawing Bente Kiilerich [(©*]).

Like Sirsukh, Jaulian, and the other Buddhist complexes at Taxila, Mohra Moradu was left when the White Huns invaded the Punjab.

A satellite photo can be seen here.
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 13 Feb. 2009
Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other