The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism started when Alexander the Great conquered the Achaemenid Empire and further regions of Central Asia in 334 BC, crossing the Indus and then the Jhelum River after the Battle of the Hydaspes and going as far as the Beas, thus establishing direct contact with India.
Alexander founded several cities in his new territories in the areas of the Amu Darya and Bactria, and Greek settlements further extended to the Khyber Pass, Gandhara (see Taxila), and the Punjab region. These regions correspond to a unique geographical passageway between the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush mountains through which most of the interaction between India and Central Asia took place, generating intense cultural exchange and trade.
Following Alexander's death on June 10, 323 BC, the Diadochi or "Successors" founded their own kingdoms in Anatolia and Central Asia. General Seleucus set up the Seleucid Empire, which extended as far as India. Later, the eastern part of the Seleucid Kingdom broke away to form the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250 BC-125 BC), followed by the Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC - AD 10), and later the Kushan Empire (1st–3rd century AD).
The length of the Greek presence in Central Asia and northern India provided opportunities for interaction, not only on the artistic, but also on the religious plane.