Sunday, 29 April 2018

Historical Shankaracharaya temple near Srinagar, Kashmir - visited by Adi Shankarar

Shankaracharya temple Srinagar IshtaDev
Atop  the Shankaracharya Hill (also called Hill of Solomon), overlooking the city of Srinagar  on the Zabarwan Mountain in Srinagar, Kashmir there is a Hindu temple dedicated to  Lord Shiva (Shri Shiv Ji). At  a height of 1,000 feet (300 m) above the plain, it is commonly referred to as  the Shankaracharya Temple of Kashmir. It also goes by the name of   Jyesteshwara temple or Pas-Pahar by Buddhists. 

This temple overlooking the Dal Lake is pretty old c.220 BC, however, the present buildings date back to 9th centutry AD. The name of the temple is a misnomer, perhaps, you might tend to conclude it is dedicated to Sri Adi Shankaracharyar, the great Hindu philosopher from Kalady of Kerala. This holy place got the name after the great Acharya's visit to this place. When this region was under the Sikh rule the Shivalinga was installed inside the temple in the 19th century and regular puja protocols had begun to follow here, This place is also revered by the Buddhists living in this region.

As for the early history, it is believed, that it was once a Buddhist temple and Shankaracharya on his visit here converted into a Hindu temple of lord Shiva.  Persians and Jews call it the Garden of King Solomon - Bagh-i-sulaiman. Surprisingly, there are Persian inscriptions  found inside the temple.

Originally built by the Hindu king "Sandiman" who, ruled Kashmir from 2629 to 2564BC later
Gopaditya (426–365 BC) and  King Lalitaditya (697–734 A.D.) maintained the temple well doing periodic repair works. Subsequent Muslim rulers Sikandar, the iconoclast did not, for some reason, pull it down.  Zain-ul-Abidin repaired its roof which had caved in  during a severe  earthquake.  Sheikh Ghulam Mohi-ud-din, a Sikh Governor (1841–46), also carried out some repair work on the dome.

According to historian Kalhana, King Gopaditya donated  the land at the foot of the hill to the Brahmins  who had come from the "Araya versh." The land grant was called "Gopa Agraharas". This area is now called Gupkar.  The mountains were referred to as Gopadri.  King Gopaditya took the initiative and  built the Shiva  temple  in 371 BC on the top of the hill  dedicated to Jyesthesvara (Shiva Jyestharuda). Abul Fazal, great traveler and historian mentions that King Gopaditya  had built the temple. Though some historians say, the structure belongs to the later period, the foundation seems to be far older than the overlying structure. 

This hill has historical significance as it was once visited by Mogul ruler  Jahangir and his wife Noor Jahan. As for the hill's name,  Takhate-Suleiman,  seems to have persisted during the Mughal, Afghan, Sikh and Dogra periods.
Shankaracharya temple, Srinagaren.wikipedia.org

Shankaracharya temple, Srinagar en.wikipedia.org
Above images:  Temple of Jyeshteswara - Shankaracharya, built c.220 BC. The temple overlooks Dal Lake. Photos taken in 1868 CE by John Burke. Once visited by Acharya Sri Adi Shnkara who installed the Shivalinga here..........................
Shankaracharya temple on the hill ,Srinagar. punyadarshan.com
Way to Shankaracharya templeIndo Vacations
The Hindu temple did not have any name earlier, nor was it used as a place of worship.  For the first time, it was called the Shankaracharaya temple  when Governor Sheikh Mohi-ud-Din made the repairs in the mid-19th century. At that time it was consecrated as a Shankaracharaya temple and a Shiv Lingam was placed inside. Prayer services began  at the temple during the Sikh period  and the Shravan Poornima started being celebrated there.

It was the Dogra King Gulab Singh (1846-1857 AD) who built the steps to the hill from Durga Naag temple side for the convenience of the pilgrims. Electrical installations were done by the ruler of Mysore on his visit to this place in 1925. Thanks to the Shankaracharaya of Dwarkapeetham  who had a statue of Adi Shankara installed here. Now the top of the hill  can be accessed by a road built by the J & K govt. in 1974. Kashmir became a seat of Sri Adi Sankara's spiritual works. It was here on the
Gopadari Hill, the great Acharya  composed the famous Soundarya Lahari which is symbolic of the
the union of Sri Shiva and Devi Shakti - Sakthism, an important feature of Saivaism.
punyadarshan.com/
Ad Sankarar with his disciples. YouTube
 Above image: Shankara (also Sankara), was an early 8th century Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta (Dashanami Sampradaya Advaita Vedanta) 
Birth:788 CE, Kaladi, present-day Kochi, Kerala, India
Died 820 CE, (aged 32) Kedarnath.  Guru: Govinda Bhagavatpada .................................. 


The Jyoteshware temple  is a simple one resting on  a solid rock. A square building is atop the  20-foot tall octagonal base. The terrace around the square temple can be accessed by a stone staircase. A dark circular chamber forms the sanctum / garbagraha where the Shivalinga is installed by Sri Adi Shankara. This chamber ceiling  is supported by  four octagonal columns. The unique feature is the lingam is encircled by a serpent.  The memorial to the Adi Shankaracharya is inside the temple.
memorial to the Adi Shankar, Srinagar Wikipedia
The temple is used for regular worship and pilgrims visit this place during the Amarnath Yatra.
To visit the temple, you have to climb  243 steps leading up to the temple area and another 8-10 steps from there to the temple hall. From the top of the hill you can view Srinagar city.

Because of threats to the pilgrims by a small group of misguided religious terrorists, entrance to the hill is guarded by army personnel. A truly holy place where the great saint and spiritual guide from Kaladi had spent some time here in a serene place.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shankaracharya_Temple