I flew from Dubai to Peshawar and then traveled to Mardan to visit the historical site of Takht-i-Bahi. But what happened, I could never imagine that, all I imagined I am going to have a great time in Pakistan and would be seeing the masterpiece of ancient Buddhist architecture called “Takht-i-Bahi”.
Takht Bhai is an ancient Buddhist monastic complex located in the Mardan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. It was established during the 1st century BCE and served as a center of Buddhist learning and worship. The complex includes well-preserved stupas, monasteries, and temples.
The site is considered an important historical and cultural landmark in the region and attracts a large number of tourists and archaeologists every year and therefore I also planned to visit it.
It took me about 2 hours to drive from Mardan to Takht-i-Bahi due to the heavy traffic in the main city of Mardan. Finally when I arrived Takht-i-Bahi, at the gate security guy (with a beard) stopped me.
The staff at the entry point was not friendly, especially their manager or head (Guy called Mian Saab). He was very rude towards me. I was visiting the site with my GoPro camera, and they stopped me and told me, I am not allowed to take my camera inside. I asked the question why and what is the reason, and the security guy said the camera is not allowed and that if I need to take it inside, I have to take special permission from Peshawar (Which is a 1 hr 26 min drive (68.3 km) from Takht-i-Bahi to Peshawar).
I told the security guy, now I have to go all the way to Peshawar to get permission for my GoPro? He said there is no other way to take the camera inside without permission. Also, he said there is another option if I pay him 15 thousand Rupees for the camera entry fee then he will allow me to take the GoPro inside.
(15 thousand rupees is a big amount in Pakistan, most people have a monthly salary of 30 thousand rupees in Pakistan.)
Anyway, I tried to explain to the security guy that this is just a GoPro camera, and it is not a shoot for a commercial or tv channel. I even told him, I am not a big YouTuber who has millions of followers and earns money from the internet. I am just a person, who loves traveling, taking photos, and making videos just as a hobby and not as a profession.
I told the guy, to show me where it is officially written that making a video is not allowed. He could not show me any proof in writing, he called another guy and they both were searching their pockets and in one pocket they found a rotten paper where the instructions were written for visitors.
On that paper, it was only mentioned Video making fee is 15 thousand rupees and that’s all. They did not specify which category of cameras is eligible for that. I told the guy, the document only says “Camera” it does not say which camera, and I have GoPro which is not a professional camera and I have taken it to many places in UK and Europe, I have made videos with this GoPro even in churches, museums, parks and I was never stopped. But the guy had zero knowledge and he even did not know what GoPro is. I also told him, if you do this with tourists who are going to visit this place? People come here to capture memories in the shape of videos and photos so that they can share them on the internet and share them with friends or family.
I tried to explain if I will make a video and post it on my social media accounts, it’s going to benefit you in the end. I am promoting Pakistan through my social media, I am trying to show a positive image of my country to the rest of the world. I even told him, if there is a commercial shoot, then you have the right to charge a fee for that because, at the end of the day, you have the cost/expenses to cover for this site.
But he failed to understand that, then he called his manager/ staff head (A guy called Mian Saab). When Mian Saab came, we tried to explain but he was so rude and was not even listing to us. He said either we can go home or get permission from Peshawar to take the camera inside.
We tried to explain this is not a professional camera or commercial tv channel shoot, it was just a memory I want to record because I came here from Dubai. But Mian saab was very rude and did not want to listen to us, I told him, I am so disappointed, I came from Dubai, then took hours of drive to reach Takht-i-Bahi, and now at the end, you are behaving like this. I told him, I will write a blog about this, Mian Saab said go do whatever you can do and make a complaint he does not care. So here today I am, writing about him and his behavior.
I hope my voice reaches the higher levels, or the concerned person and take action against this, especially against Mian Saab. At least he could talk to me properly or behave better, all I could see his angry face and his expressions were so harsh like he was about to jump on my neck and squeeze my throat.
If the staff is not welcoming, why the tourist will visit the site? I wish their staff has manners at least and learn basis how to talk with tourists. I was a local Pakistani and I felt so bad, Imagine if that happens to a foreigner, what the foreigner is going to think about Pakistan or Pakistani people?
I do not want to go back there again at all and for those who wish to visit Takh bhai, if you are planning to use your camera, then do not visit this place. Only mobiles are allowed, with mobiles you can make videos and photos. But if you have even a small camera, you will be disappointed.
Pakistan has to do this if wants to promote tourism
The biggest problem in Pakistan is, people sitting in their positions do not know about their jobs. They have no criteria, and in tourist attractions most of them do not know how to welcome a tourist or how behave with tourists. I faced this shit a lot in Pakistan, every person who is even on a small post will show his muscles and power, especially at the security gates. They think they are wearing security uniform and they have the whole power in their hands.
On the other hand, when I visit other countries and go to tourist spots, I find their staff friendly and welcoming. They have clear set instructions officially placed on walls or sign boards but in Pakistan, you would never find these things.
If Pakistan wants to promote tourism, the first thing is to choose the right candidate for their jobs, especially at tourist attractions. Set firm rules, officially make it in writing, and place them on walls/ sign boards or whatever.
Do not keep uneducated & ignorant people at the entry points, they will not even know the value of a tourist.
Improving tourism in a country involves several factors and this is a very common factor in Pakistan, people in their positions are not aware of their duties.
The shitty unnecessary strict restrictions in Pakistan damage badly the image of the country and would not help to promote or bring a positive image of the country.
Pakistan can improve tourism by implementing the following strategies:
- Hiring qualified staff: Training and hiring knowledgeable and hospitable staff can greatly improve the tourists’ experience and make them want to return.
- Investment in tourism infrastructure: Improving the existing tourist attractions and developing new ones can attract more tourists to the country.
- Marketing and promotion: Pakistan can market itself as a tourist destination and promote its unique cultural and natural attractions to a wider audience.
- Improving security: Ensuring the safety of tourists is a top priority for attracting more visitors to the country.
- Collaboration with the private sector: The government can collaborate with the private sector to provide better tourism services and improve the overall experience for tourists.
- Easing visa restrictions: Making the visa process more streamlined and accessible can encourage more tourists to visit the country.
By implementing these strategies, Pakistan can improve its tourism industry and provide a better experience for tourists, ultimately boosting its economy.
In the end, I would only say, Pakistan, I love you so much but I wish your people can grow up, open their minds and come out from their ignorance.
Help spread awareness about this issue by sharing this post widely. Although I am not a well-known figure, I believe that with the support of our collective voice, we can bring attention to this problem and reach those who have the power to take action against this corrupt group. Let’s make our voices heard and bring an end to this mafia!
And if you have any question or want to add your input, please drop a comment in this blog post or you can also contact me on my social media accounts.
Stay safe, and much LOVE <3