The Great Sixteen - Mahajanapadas (600 -330 BCE)
Travel about 35 km north-west from Pakistan’s capital city Islamabad and you will find an archaeological site that has been the epicentre of a fair bit of historical debate as three great empires – that of the Achaemenids (Persia), Macedonians (Greek) and Mauryans – laid claim to it.
This site which is today known as the Bhir Mound, forms a part of the famous ancient city Taxila and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It provides one of the earliest documented evidence of urbanisation in the Indian subcontinent dating between 800-525 BCE. It was from here that Alexander the Great made his historic entry into India as King Ambhi capitulated to him and offered him a force of soldiers mounted on elephants later in the 4th century BCE. But centuries before Alexander came, this region was a thriving center of learning and trade.