Sagala, Sakala (Sanskrit: साकला), or Sangala (Ancient Greek: Σάγγαλα) was a city in ancient India, which was the predecessor of the modern city of Sialkot that is located in what is now Pakistan's northern Punjab province. The city was the capital of the Madra Kingdom and it was razed in 326 BC during the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great. In the 2nd century BC, Sagala was made capital of the Indo-Greek kingdom by Menander I. Menander embraced Buddhism after extensive debating with a Buddhist monk, as recorded in the Buddhist text Milinda Panha. Sagala became a major centre for Buddhism under his reign, and prospered as a major trading centre.
Sagala is likely the city of Sakala (Sanskrit: साकला) mentioned in the Mahabharata, a Sanskrit epic of ancient India, as occupying a similar area as Greek accounts of Sagala. The city may have been inhabited by the Saka, or Scythians, from Central Asia who had migrated into the Subcontinent. The city in the Mahabharata was renowned for the wild and hedonist women who lived in the forests surrounding the city. The city was said to have been located in the Sakaladvipa region between the Chenab and Ravi rivers, now known as the Rechna Doab.
The city was located beside a river of the name of Apaga, and a clan of the Vahikas known by the name of the Jarttikas (Mbh 8:44). Nakula, proceeding to Sakala, the city of the Madras, made his uncle Shalya accept from affection the sway of the Pandavas (Mbh 2:31).
The Mahabharata describes that, the third Pandava, Arjuna, defeats all the kings of Shakala in his Rajasuya conquest. One of the kings mentioned here is Prativindhya (not the son of Yudhishthira and Draupadi).
The city appears in the accounts of Alexander the Great's conquests of ancient India. After crossing the Acensines (River Chenab) Alexander, joined by Porus with elephants and 5,000 local troops, laid siege to Sagala, where the Cathaeans had entrenched themselves. The city was razed to the ground, and many of its inhabitants killed:
Sagala was rebuilt and established as an outpost and incorporated into Alexander's vast empire. It was the easternmost outpost established by Alexander and remained a center of Hellenistic influence for quite some time after.
Following his overthrowing of the Mauryan Empire, Pushyamitra Shunga established the Shunga Empire and expanded northwest as far as Sagala. According to the 2nd century Ashokavadana, the king persecuted Buddhists:
Though many Graeco-Bactrian, and even some Indo-Greek cities were designed along Greek architectural lines. In contrast to other imperialist governments elsewhere, literary accounts suggests the Greeks and the local population of cities like Sagala lived in relative harmony, with some of the local residents adopting the responsibilities of Greek citizenship - and more astonishingly, Greeks converting to Buddhism and adopting local traditions.
The best descriptions of Sagala however, come from the Milinda Panha, a dialogue between king Menander and the Buddhist monk Nagasena. Historians like Sir Tarn believe this document was written around 100 years after Menander's rule, which is one of the best enduring testimonies of the productiveness and benevolence of his rule, which has made the more modern theory that he was regarded as a Chakravartin - King of the Wheel or literally Wheel-Turner in Sanskrit - generally accepted.