Monday, May 21, 2012

Pandrethan Shiva Temple, Srinagar, J & K- Adhishtanam of Sri UjwalaShankarendra Saraswathy 16 th Pontiff of the Kanchi mutt(329-367 AD)



I had the opportunity to visit an ancient Shiva temple at Kashmir in April 2012. The temple complex is situated in Badami Bagh which is now the area of Army Cantonment and inside one of the army compounds. It is being protected by the Indian Army due to its historical significance and they maintain it. Naturally, prior written permission is required before one is allowed in. At the time of my visit, I passed through four security gates.





I will now reproduce verbatim from the notes above (since the picture may not be clear) history pertaining to the site - as mentioned by the well known archaeologist Dr R Nagasamy:

" Pandrethan - located 5 km from the present Srinagar. It was the ancient Srinagari established by Asoka Maurya in the 3rd century BC. Asoka was a Hindu then and had not embraced Buddhism then. According to an account there were 96 lakh houses at that time. It was very populous and prosperous. Asoka's son Jalauka built the Jyeshta Rudra temple. Around 525, Mihirakula, the Hun king built another Shiva temple there names Mihireswara. About 550, it witnessed further building under Pravarasena I. He constructed a Shiva temple with a circle of Matrikas named Pravaresvara. it seems it was a Yogini temple.

He also built more temples in the capital. About 575, Pravarasena II built the new capital named Pravaresvara-pura which is the modern Srinagar. The old city was called Puranaadhisthana - (Pandrethan) that continued to be called loosely Srinagar. in course of time both the cities were integrated and retained the old name Arinaga. in 630, the Chinese pilgrim arrived at Srinagar and was received by the Durlabha-vardahana. The king provided him with 30 clerks to write his works and five servants to wait on him. Srinagari was a great center of Buddhist study then. There was a stupa said to have been built over a tooth relic of Buddha.

Around 920 Meruvardhana, a minister to the king built in Purana-adhisthana, a Vishnu temple named Meruvardhana Swami. In 1130, Rilhana, minister to King Jayasimha embellished both the old and new cities. He also built a Siva temple in the old city by name Rilhanesvara. The Pandrethan became a center of all important religions like Saivism, Buddhism, Vaishnavism and Saktha. Around 1400 the Sultan Sikandhar started destroying the temples and images and earned the name idol breaker (Butshikan).

He destroyed almost all the temples of the country. The images were mutilated and thrown. This was achieved by heaping timber over the temples and setting them on fire. Records say Brahmins were tortured and the temples ruthlessly destroyed. The images of Vijayesa, Chakradhara, Martanda, Birhad Buddha, Suresvari and Varaha were also destroyed by him. Those times the central image used to be made of metal - gold, silver or brass. All these images were mutilated and melted down for Sikandhar to issue his coins.

Abu Fasl also wrote about Sikandar's zeal in destroying religious foundations other than his own. Western scholars found in the 19th century enormous number of mutilated sculptures and Lingas lying among the heaps of temples. Alexander Cunningham found large number of destroyed sculpture etc from the Sankaracharya Hill for about 5 kilometers. The sculptures found are noted in the Pratap Singh Museum. The only ancient vestige in Pandrethan is a Siva temple surrounded by a water of a tank.

Though it is in ruined condition, it shows the ancient trend in building temples in Srinagar. It is dated to an age earlier than 10th cent. It is a square temple with a pyramidal roof. There are some sculptures, one representing Lakulisa with a Lakuda (Shaft) in hand. The ceiling inside has lovely carvings. It is an important temple that needs to be visited in the old Srinagari / Pandrethan."
Contributed by guest author Subramanian.

 The Kanchi mutt calendar 2016 lists this as the Adhishtanam of the 16 th Guru of the Kanchi Kamakoti peetam SRI UJJWALASHANKARENDRA SARASWATHI 329-367 AD
below isthe extract from the kanchi mutt site

Sri Ujjvala Sankarendra Saraswati : Before Sanyasa, he was known as Achyuta Kesava. He was son of Kesava Sankara. He was a Maharasthra Brahmin by birth. He was a great fighter of heretics. He went on Digvijaya and during his tours he drove the followers of Jainism beyond the Sindhu. He visited Kashmir and attained mukti at Kalapuri. Since then the place came to be known as Ujjvala Maha Yatipura on Sukla Ashtamj in the month of Valsakha of the cyclic year Akshaya (367 AD).