A sizable granite boulder called the Manthal Buddha Rock bears an engraving of the Buddha that most likely dates to the eighth century.
The massive Buddha carving on the rock, which is surrounded by twenty tiny Buddhasattvas (disciples) and two standing Metreyias (future Buddhas), has become a popular tourist destination. To draw more and more foreign visitors, Manthal Buddha Rock, one of the region’s most well-known tourist attractions as well as its historical and archaeological legacy, needs to be designated a national treasure.
Manthal Village in Skardu Town is where you may find this rock. Yet when they were living in Skardu and practising Buddhism there, Buddhists chiselled this rock. Buddhist monks of the time desired to depict their aspirations and life events as well as images of Buddha with Tibetan text. These Buddhist rocks were used as a site of worship by the local populace before the arrival of Islam in Baltistan in the mid of the 14th century A.D.
A religious place for Buddhist
The Pakistani government has recently made an effort to encourage religious travel. These holy locations are being acknowledged in national forums to inform the Buddhist community worldwide.
The bulk of the inhabitants of Gilgit-Baltistan were Buddhists before Islam arrived, and they had carved the Buddha’s image into several rocks. Due to its isolation, the world was not aware of this Buddha carving until the turn of the 20th century. The carving gained worldwide recognition in 1906 when Scottish tourist Ella Christie published a book on her trip to Western Tibet. Since then, the government has made numerous efforts to maintain this monument, and tourists who travel to Skardu city frequently go there. It reads “Lonchay Skesa la sperbi ott,” which translates to “Light blazing on the birthplace of Lonchay,” according to a late Balti elder who was able to read the inscription. A palace in front of the rock is where Lonchay, a local raja (prince), is said to have been born. However, the palace was later destroyed by a flood from the nearby Hargisa River.
Since Buddhism was the most widely practised religion in the area at the time, it is thought that the rock was carved during his reign. The Manthal Buddha Rock served as the Tibetans’ site of devotion until the 13th century when they constructed Skardu their capital.
Numerous Buddha carvings, such as the Manthal Buddha Rock in Skardu, engravings of stupas and Buddhist reliefs in Shigar and Khaplu in Baltistan, Karga Buddha and the Hanzal Stupa in Gilgit, rock carvings inside the grounds of KIU (Karakoram International University) in Gilgit, stone carvings on the main KKH (Karakoram Highway) near Hunza (Haldikish), and hundreds of petroglyphs dispersed.
At the time, Buddhism reigned supreme in the area, and locals were still unaware of Islam. Even though Buddhists have vanished from the area for nearly millennia, Buddhism is still in the form of art forms and petroglyphs.
Unfortunately, the rich heritage is overlooked and all but lost.
The 14th century saw the entry of Ali Hamadani and his supporters from Iran, which forever altered the dynamics of the area. Buddhism rapidly disappeared, and the halls of devotion descended into hopelessness. As a result of locals converting to Islam, the area was solely a Muslim state by the 15th century.
How to reach there
Satpara Rd, Manthal, Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan, 7J9M+CF3. This rock can be found in Pakistan’s Skardu Town in the area of Manthal. One of Skardu’s most significant Buddhist sites is Buddha Rock. From Sadpara Road, it is around 3 kilometres away. Satpara Lake will be reached by Sadpara Road.
It may be reached by using the route heading to Deosai or Sadpara Lake, which lies on the right side of the road and crosses the Hargisa Nala, for just 3 kilometres and a mere 30 minutes from the city (a stream originating from the Sadpara lake).
What to do there
This site is significant for individuals who are interested in Buddhist history and culture as it provides information on the local Buddhist traditions. Being on a height, the rock offers a stunning view of the surroundings as well.
There is a unique Rule
More than 2 members are not allowed to go there and come back within 2 minutes.
Rs.50 for Pakistani and 200 for overseas people.
The Skardu village, which is rich in nature and adds to the picturesque surroundings, surrounds this Buddhist shrine. A quick stop at Buddha Rock would be ideal en route to a tour of Pakistan’s northern regions.
Near Manthal Rock
- Skardu Fort
- Satpara Lake
- Kagha Budha
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