The Architectural Heritage of Kashmir


The illustrious temples of Kashmir are part of great Indian heritage.
To name a few, the Martand Sun Temple, the Awantipora temples, the Sankara-Gauresvara temple, temple of Sugandhesa at Patan, the Pandrethan temple, the Shiv Bhutesa and Shiv Jayeshthesa temples at Vangath, the Parihasakseva, Muktaseva, Mahavarha and Govardhandhara temples in Parihaspura and the famous Mameswara Shiva temple at Mamalaka are some of the abode of worship with great archeological value.

Kashmiri architecture is different from the rest of Bharat as most temples are square or oblong in design. They are subdivided into closed (vimana) or open (mandapa) types. Kashmiri temples are ‘Suddha ‘ edifices, constructed with one kind of material from base to the summit. The ancient temples of Kashmir mostly date back to mid 8th century AD to the 12th century AD.

Martand Sun Temple :
Five miles from Anantnag town, in the village of Mattan, also known as Bhawan, the temple of Martand Sun temple was built in Indo-Greek architectural style by the king Lalitaditya in
About 2.5 km. away, a serene spring and a small rivulet flows through this place and on the banks of rivulet, devotees performed Shraddh to their ancestors on Vijaya Saptami.

Awantipora Temples :
Awantipora, situated on South of Srinagar and North of Anantnag, in Pulwama district on Jammu-Srinagar highway, two temple ruins are located about One kilometer from each other.
A Vaishnava temple built by king Awantivarman (855 AD – 883 AD) with Vaikunth Vishnu as presiding deity.
The imposing monument has been built on a two-tiered base in the Center of a paved courtyard. Buddhist influence is notable evident in the architecture. Even though the temple is dedicated to Vishnu, images of Shiva can also be seen on pillars and stones.

The sculpted images are distinctly visible and impressive Even after 1200 years.
Pandrethan had been the old capital of Kashmir, founded by Emperor Ashoka. The foremost attraction of this ancient temple complex is a stone temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple, named as Meru Vardhana Swami, was built by Meru, Minister to King Partha who ruled Kashmir from 921 AD -931 AD.
The temple is chiselled out of a single piece of rock and has awe-inspiring designs and illustrations. The domed roof and the arches are examples of classical Kashmiri architecture.

A dreadful fire once destroyed the entire capital town of Pandrethan, leaving behind the ruins of a temple monument that speaks of the grand legacy of a bygone era.

Mameswara Shiva temple :
The Mameswara Shiva temple located at Mamalaka, current day Mamal in Pahalgam. The temple is mentioned in Rajtarangini by Kalhan. The temple was gifted a Golden Kalash by the King Jayasinka (1128 AD – 1155 AD).

Kheer Bhawani :
Kheer Bhawani or ksheer Bhawani is the temple dedicated to Maharagnya Bhagwati and is constructed over a sacred spring, situated at Tulmul, about 14 miles east of Srinagar. Most of the Kashmiri Hindus worship her as Kuldevi. The term kheer refers to Rice Pudding that is offered in the spring to propitiate the Goddess, which has become the name of the temple. The saga of the inception of Kheer Bhawani ( Maharagya Devi) temple dates back to Ramayana era. It is believed that Maharagya, pleased with the devotion of Ravana, appeared before him and Ravana got an image of her instilled in Sri Lanka. However, the Goddess was displeased with the vicious ways of Ravana and did not wish to stay in Sri Lanka, hence instructed Hanuman to get her image from Sri Lanka and install it in the holy spot of Tulmul.

In Rajtarangini, Tula Mula and the spring of Maharagnya has been considered extremely pious and the Hindus of the region, were considered notable for their spiritual prowess.

A unique septagonal spring dedicated to Goddess Kheer Bhawani flows from West (sheer or head section) to the East (feet section). The holy spring is known to change its colour with various hues of Red, Pink, Orange, Green, Blue, White etc.

This miraculous happening has been noted by Abul Fazal in Aini Akbari and also by Swami Vivekanand.
Kashmiri historian, Khalid Bashir Ahmad, in his tome, Kashmir : Exposing the Myth Behind the Narrative, may have attempted to blow away the fog over the realities of religious conversion to spread and eventually rule in Kashmir, he too, highlights the fact that historian Kalhan’s seminal work Rajtarangini has been the most pivotal historical account over the past millennia.
Kalhan was a Brahmin and son of Lord Champaka, a Minister in King Harsh’s regime in the 12th century. Kalhan’s historical account depicts an honest and truthful account of historical facts of Kashmir for over Four Thousand years. This historical documentation has been penned by Kalhan, Jonraaj, Shrivar and Shuk in their time.

The Kashmiri Hindus, the original natives of Kashmir, have been the victims of the unrest caused by terrorist insurgence, post partition of Bharat. Eventually, in 1990, they were compelled to flee and leave their homeland of thousands of years vto live as refugees elsewhere.

Everyone must be wondering that people from around the Bharatvarsh had migrated to settle in Kashmir, then why are every Kashmiri is Kashmiri Hindu ?
Answer to this salient feature lies in the cultural and spiritual legacy of Kashmir.

From the time of the invention of Kashmir, it has been distinguished as the land of Scholars. The land of Kashmir flourished with numerous temples, Math, Education centres, Ashrams of legendary sages and Discourse Centres for centuries and every Kashmiri enriched with the atmosphere was called Kashmiri Hindu.

Those who seek Gyan (Knowledge) and distribute Gyan are called Pandits and hence, Pandit became the identity for people of Kashmir.
The dark and devastating times since 1990 have rendered these sons of soil to live away from the land where their heart and soul belonged…

Their Kashmir.
The Modi Government in Modi-02 has brought massive reform by abrogating Article 370, a special status, for Kashmir.
Imagine, a state with a momentous heritage of strength and brilliance, becoming a victim of political and religious rivalry and leading to indulge in barbaric eradication of its indigenous and bonafide inhabitants. But the misery and misfortunes never last forever.

With removal of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir, the road to development has begun and is paving its way to bring its lost glory of cultural bequest. The bells in innumerable temples of Kashmir have begun ringing again after Thirty one years.

On the day of Basant Panchami, this year, the doors of Sheetal Nath Mandir in Srinagar opened again and rest will follow soon.

The grim night of helplessness would end shortly and hopes will start blooming with Pandits breathing the contended air of homeland and blossoming on their very own soil.

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