The natural surroundings and serenity encircling the Bhamala Stupa, dating back to the 2nd century, offer a strange calmness to visitors. The visiting monks, one swathed in maroon and the other two in saffron robes, began the prayers facing the stupa, the mound-like architectural marvel that houses revered relics. First, the milk was sprinkled on the site to express respect and devotion. Soon, a strange sound from the shaking of a wooden bell alerted the spectators gathered to join the prayer, followed by the rhythmic chants. The visitors, mostly local Muslims, stood in veneration as the monks took their seats on the red cushions neatly placed on the rocky steps of the centuries-old stupa. Dr Neung held an ancient bell in his left hand and a double-headed drum called ‘damaru’ in his right hand, which he turned back and forth while chanting. “All these sounds combined create vibrations to replace negative energy with positive ones,” described Dr Esther Park, head of Gandhara Art and Culture Association.