Tuesday, November 10, 2020



(Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji and Sri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji at the temple.)
(John Burke's Photo 1868. From the photo ,it is evident that the temple was not in use when Burke visited the site.)

              ( A 1942 photo of the temple) 


  ( Last five  snow Photos courtesy.. Shri Vikramaditya Singh son of Dr Karan Singh Ji )

(1) The Present Shankaracharya hill finds mention in Rajatarangini of Kalhana . He calls it Gopadari hill.Gopaditya was a king of Kashmir and the hill is named after him. King Gopaditya granted entire land below the hill to the Brahmins as Agrahara . The area was known as GOPA AGRAHARA . Agrahara was a grant of land and royal income from it, typically by a king or a noble family in India, for religious purposes, particularly to Brahmins to maintain temples in that land or a pilgrimage site and to sustain their families. Gupkar is a corrupted name of GOPA AGRAHARA .Kalhana mentions that Gopatidtya built a temple on the top of the hill as the shrine of Shiva Jyeshtrudra in 371 BC .Some historians believe that a superstructure was built on an existing temple base by king Gopaditya during his rule. Kalhana mentions that Emperor Lalitaditya also undertook some repair and renovations at the site. It is believed that the Kalasha of the temple was destroyed by an earthquake and Sultan Zain ul Abdin ordered it's repairs during his rule.
(2) Buchhawara, a locality below the hill on lake side was a village in ancient times . It was known as Bhukisirvatika as mentioned by Kalhana .Present day Buchhawara is the corrupted name of Bhukisirvatika.
(3) In 9th century , Adi Sankara visited Kashmir . He also visited the temple of Shiva Jyeshtrudra atop the Gopadari hill. He had come to Kashmir for revival of Sanatan Dharma . He also popularized the Bhakti cult and Shakti worship in Kashmir. Accepting predominance of Shakti cult, Adi Sankara wrote Saundarya Lahari, in praise of Shakti, at the top of the hill. The temple came to be known as Shankracharya Temple after the Visit of Adi Sankara to Kashmir . Adi Sankara also visited Sharda Shrine of Goddess Saraswati and a famous university of learning. The temple was about 100 km away from Srinagar city and presently falls in POK.
(4) Maharaja Ghulab Singh ( 1792-1857 ) laid a proper path from Durga-Naag Temple to the top of the Gopadari hill . The hill came to be known as Shankaracharya hill.
(5) In 1925, the Maharaja of Mysore spent money from his treasury to get electric power to Shankaracharya Temple .
(6) . In April 1961, Shankaracharaya of Dwarkapeetham put the statue of Adi Sankara at Shankaracharaya temple.
(7) Amarnath pilgrims visit at the historic Shankaracharya temple to perform Pooja as a prelude to the commencement of 'Chhari Mubarak' ( Holy mace of Lord Shiva) Yatra to the cave shrine of Lord Shiva In Kashmir .
(8) On Raksha Bandhan day, people throng to the Shankaracharya Temple in large numbers and perform Shiva Pooja and Stuti . One can have a breathtaking view of Dal lake and Srinagar city from the temple. The temple is located at a height of 6000 feet from sea level and about a 1000 feet from Srinagar city.
(9) The temple is a protected monument under ASI act of 1958. 
(10) A photo of the temple was clicked by John Burke in 1868. This view was reproduced in Henry Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India report, 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir,' (1869), in which he wrote,"'The Takt-i-Suliman Hill overlooks Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir; standing one thousand feet above the plain, it commands a noble view of the Valley and its surrounding ridges of snow-topped peaks...The Temple of Jyeshteswara rests on the solid rock, and consists of an octagonal stone basement twenty feet high, on which is supported a square building: on each of the four sides are two projections which terminate in a pediment and a gable, the latter intersecting the main roof half-way up its slope. The terrace surrounding the Temple is reached by a stone staircase encased between two walls, and a doorway , exactly opposite, leads to the interior, which is a small and dark chamber, circular in plan. The ceiling is supported by four octagonal columns, which surround a Basin containing a Lingam encircled by a snake.' Commanding a panoramic view of the city of Srinagar and Dal Lake, this temple with its square plan, recessed sides and circular inner sanctum is one of the earliest Hindu shrines remaining in Kashmir, dedicated to Shiva, but as yet not firmly dated. " The temple was not in use when Burke visited the site.
(11) Regular Pooja was started at the temple during the rule of  Dogra Kings after a blackstone Shiv Linga was installed in the temple's sanctum sanctorum replacing the ancient Linga lying in broken state  .  Repairs and some renovations were  also carried out during the rule of Sikhs in Kashmir.
(12) As per the book " Kashmir Through Ages", Sultan Sikander spared the temple but changed its name to" Takht e Sulaiman" . The book mentions that Sultan Sikander was made to believe that Mahmood of Ghazni had visited the place and offered prayers at the site. The temple does not figure in the Persian book "Toaftul Ahbab" that gives details of 65 major temples destroyed in Kashmir . It is also not mentioned in Dyadmari's Persian book "Vaakati Kashmir" published from Lahore in 1876 that also lists some temples destroyed in Kashmir . At page 21 of the book "Ancient Remains in Kashmir" , it is mentioned that there were sculptured stones leading from the Shudashyar Ghat of river Jhelum right upto the top of the Shankracharya hill .With these stones, it is said ,the Pather Masjid in the city was built by Nur Jahaan ,queen of Jahangir . R.C. Kak in his book "Ancient Monuments of Kashmir " creates more confusion than resolving one about this temple. 

Further, Takht-i-  Sulaiman is  a common name for various flat-topped mountains throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Some such mountains are as under :

(1) A peak in the southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

(2) Sulayman Mountain, Kyrgyzstan

(3)  Takht e Sulayman, archeological remains in Shiraz, Iran.

(4) Takht-e Soleymān, an archaeological site in West Azerbaijan, Iran.

( Avtar Mota )


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