[UPSC Prelims Focus] Buddhist Rock Carvings of Gilgit-Baltistan


Context:

  • India has reacted strongly to reports of vandalism and defacement of ancient Buddhist rock carvings in Gilgit-Baltistan under Pakistan’s control.


About Rock Hunza:

  • What is it?
    • The Sacred Rock of Hunza is carved rock as well as a cultural heritage site in Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
  • History: The carvings on the rock dates back to the 1st Millennium AD.
  • The rock is on the top of a hill which lies east to the Hunza River.
  • The Sacred Rock is divided into two portions, an upper portion and a lower one.
  • Both the portions carry carvings on them which are basically inscriptions and images from the Prehistoric era.
  • The site had many Buddhist shelter caves in ancient times which later collapsed or fell over the time.
  • The rock carvings and engravings in areas were part of theBuddhist circle covering Ladakh and Tibet.


What is the issue?

  • The Buddhist sites in Hunza in Gilgit-Baltistan have been desecrated by Islamists, who painted Pakistani flags and slogans on the rock-cut art.
  • The Buddhist residents, who found the paintings to be fresh, said that the vandalism by the Islamists was in retaliation to the recent protests against the Diamer Bhasha dam project, a joint Pakistan-China project.

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