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Buddha of Swat smiles nearly 12 years after Taliban dynamited it

Press Trust of India  |  Peshawar 

The iconic Buddha of Swat, carved on a cliff in the 7th century, has been restored to its almost original form with Italian assistance in the troubled northwestern Pakistan, nearly 12 years after it was dynamited by the banned Tehreek-e-during their control over the area.

Buddha seated in a meditative posture, which is considered one of the largest rock sculptures in South Asia, was attacked in September 2007 by the militants, who blew up half the statue's face by drilling holes into the face and shoulders and inserting explosives, triggering a worldwide anger.

The invested 2.5 million euros (USD 2.9 million) in five years to preserve the cultural heritage and restore the six-metre tall Buddha of Swat, depicted in a lotus position at the base of a granite cliff.

Luca Maria Olivieri, an Italian who oversaw the restoration of the Buddha of Swat, said the rehabilitation of the site has not been easy.

The Italian said the reconstruction is not identical, but that is deliberate, as "the idea of damage should remain visible".

The restoration started in 2012 in phases with the application of a coating to protect the damaged part of the sculpture. The reconstruction of the face itself was first prepared virtually in the laboratory, in 3D, using surveys and old photos.

The last phase, the actual restoration of Buddha of Swat, ended in 2016.

Now the authorities are counting on Buddha's recovered smile and iconic status to boost religious tourism from places such as and Thailand, he added.

The has been helping to preserve hundreds of archaeological sites in the northwestern Pakistan, working with local authorities who hoped to turn it into a place of interest for history-loving people and make it a local and foreign tourism attraction place.

In 2007, the militants under the leadership of gained effective control of much of Swat, a picturesque valley in the province of The militants banned dancing, parties and music shops, and also destroyed more than 400 schools.

In 2009, the launched an operation 'Rah-e-Rast' to flush out militants from the tribal region.

Mullah Fazlullah, the of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, was killed in a US drone attack in Afghanistan's restive province last month.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, July 12 2018. 18:00 IST
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