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On the fertile plain of Jalalabad in Afghanistan, Hadda was one of the principal Buddhist pilgrimage centres. Pilgrims such as Fa-Hsien (ad 420) and Sun-Yun (c520) believed that the Buddha himself visited Hadda, and its innumerable shrines and monasteries contained important relics: part of the Buddha’s skull, his cloak etc. By 632, when Hsuan-Tsang visited the site, many of the shrines had been abandoned. Parts of Hadda have been excavated — and looted — as Western collections attest. The most important excavated complex, Tapa Shotor, is a sanctuary containing a stupa (relic shrine) surrounded by miniature stupas. The shrines were decorated with clay and stucco sculptures, the earliest of which owe much to the hellenizing art of Ai Khanum. Others are closely similar to contemporary Gandharan reliefs.

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied