Sunday, January 18, 2009

Historical Temples of kashmir

Kashmir has a variety of tourist attractions; its geography and topography, its birds and animals, its lakes and woods, flora and fauna its gushing springs and orchards.But the most important attractions, according to Jonaraja and Mirza Haidar Dughlat, the two well-known historians of Kashmir are its temples.

Although many temples have been destroyed by the ravages of times, the few which still remain are things of beauty and joy for ever, they are at Pandretan, Avantipur and Martand, all of them belong to pre-sultanate period.According to Devbala Mitra, the former DG of ASI: ‘‘These temples imbibe in them all the peculiarities of the typical architecture of the valley.

The great temples of Martand and Avantipur are inspiring and instructive examples of the 8th and the 9th centuries AD.The temple of Pandrethan, though of a modest scale is interesting on account of the presence of the roof, a rare survival in Kashmir temples. While Pandrethan and Avantipur are close to the river Jhelum, Martand was built upon a hill where there is a pool at the summit. The pool is always full of fresh fish.

By the side of it is a cave the depth of which has not yet been measured. Some historians call it well of Babylon but today it is an isolated but beautiful ruin. Rajtirangani of Kalhan (1148) gives detailed account of these beautiful temples. ( Ragnya Bagwati in Kashmir )

The oldest temple is at Pandrethan built by Emperor Ashoka. Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim who came to Kashmir in 631 AD stayed in the temple for a few nights. When the king Jaynendra of Karkota dynasty learnt about it he invited him to stay longer and placed 20 copywriters to copy the Budhist text the pilgrim wanted. Five monks waited upon him day and night. The pilgrim spent two years there, it is obvious that Kashmir at that time was a great centre of Budhist learning.

In the 12th century king Pravara Sena of Lohara dynasty built a Shiva temple there which now stands in the midst of a tank-like depression which is fed by natural springs. It is still a ‘tiratha’ for a the pilgrims. When I visited the site before the partition I saw even non-believers.

They said they were there for the sake of the beauty of the temple. Pandrethan is situated only 5 km southeast of Srinagar within its municipal limits. Once you are in Srinagar you can seen this beauty whenever you feel like.Avantipur Temples : It is located in district Anantnag on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, only 28 km from Srinagar on the mountain Wasterman over looking the river Jhelum.

Avantipur was founded by Avantivaram, the first king of the Utppala dynasty. There are two temples at Avantipuram, one of Shiva and the other of Vishnu. There were so many other temples but today only two exist blessed by the river Vitasta (Jhelum).Jonaraja, a contemporary of the most secular king of Kashmir named Zain-ul-Abdin who abolished ‘Jazia’ (1472-84) says ‘Avantipur’s was a paradise on earth. Later visitors like Moorcraft, Cunningham, Vigne all testify that it was the most beautiful spot in the valley. The work of Sir John Marshal and Dayaram Sahni on this site is commendable. ( Mata Bhuvaneshwari Harwan )

Martand Temple of the Sun : Also known as ‘Matan’, Martand is located in district Anantnag, also known as ‘Bavan’. The name of the village is derived from the name of the presiding deity ‘Martanda’. The site selected for the sun temple is a place of beauty.

A more nobler site could have been hardly imagined. Hidden by the tall trees the temple shines in sunshine like a red ball of Sun devata.Although there is a controversy but the general belief is that it was constructed by the liberal king Lalitaditya who had dreamed of annexing China in the Kashmir valley. According to ‘Ain-e-Abari’, ‘Matan stands upon a hill and once had a large temple.There is a small pool on the summit, the water of which never decreases’. It is, therefore obvious that the during the region of Akbar Martand was in ruins.

The imposing temple, even now, overwhelms the tourist and the pilgrim with its massive dignity and Kashmir-like simplicity. It is landmark in the history of temple architecture not only in Kashmir out in the whole of India of which Kashmir is a integral part and Jammu its heart. About the temples of Jammu it requires a sroarate article because Jammu is known as a city of temple with more than 300 temples in it with Raghunath Mandir as its apex-temple.Jammu and Kashmir is the nerve-Centre of our secularism with Kashmir its heart-centre and Jammu its heart beat. It is the duty of every Indian to keep both the heart-centre and the heart-beat alive.

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