Pandrethan Shiva Temple of Srinagar

02 Mar 2016 13:16:03

Pandrethan (पंद्रेथान)is located 5 km from the present Srinagar. It was located in the ancient Srinagari (श्रीनगरी) , which was established by Ashok (Maurya) (अशोक मौर्य) in the 3rd century BC.  According to an account there were 96 lakh houses at that time. It was a very populous and prosperous city. Asoka's son Jalauka (जलौक) built the Jyeshta Rudra (ज्येष्ठ रूद्र) temple. Around 525 AD, Mihirkul (मिहिरकुल), the Hun king built another Shiva temple there names Mihireshwara (मिहिरेश्वर). About 550 AD, Kashmir witnessed further building spree under Pravarasena I (प्रवरसेना-प्रथम). He constructed a Shiva temple with a circle of Matrikas (मातृका) named Pravaresvara (प्रवरेश्वर). He also built more temples in the capital. About 575 AD, Pravarasena II (प्रवरसेना-द्वितीय) built the new capital named Pravaresvara-pura (प्रवरेश्वर पुर) which is the modern Srinagar. The old city was called Puranaadhisthana (पूराणाधिस्ठान) - (Pandrethan) that continued to be called loosely Srinagar.
Pandrethan Shiva Temple of Srinagar
 In course of time both the cities were integrated and retained the old name Arinaga (अरिनाग). In 630 AD,a Chinese pilgrim arrived at Srinagar and was received by king Durlabha-vardahana (दुर्लभ वर्धन). The king provided him with 30 clerks to write his works and five servants to wait on him. Srinagari (श्रीनगरी) was a great center of Buddhist study at that time. There was a stupa said to have been built over a tooth relic of Buddha (बुद्ध). This stupa is no more extant.
Around 920 AD Meruvardhana (मेरुवर्धन), a minister to the king built in Purana-adhisthana (पुराण अधिष्ठान), a Vishnu temple named Meruvardhana Swami (मेरुवर्धन स्वामी). Photographs of the Meruvardhana Swami (मेरुवर्धन स्वामी) temple at Pandrethan(पंद्रेथान) near Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir were taken in 1868 by John Burke.  Kalhana (कल्हण) mentions that it was built in 6th century AD. Its name thus derives from Puranadishthana (पूराणाधिष्ठान) or 'old town'.
The small stone Shiva temple in the picture dates from the mid-10th century, reputedly erected by a minister named Meru (मेरु). It was set in a spring-fed tank and its plinth is now submerged. This general view of the temple is reproduced in Henry Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India report, 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir,' (1869), in which he wrote, 'The small village of Pandrethan (पंद्रेथन) is situated on the Jhelum (झेलम), about a mile and a half to the south-east of Srinagar".
Pandrethan Shiva Temple of Srinagar
 The Temple is close to the village, and stands in the centre of a tank of water. The stone ceiling is elaborately carved in bas-relief figures, and it is one of the most perfect pieces of ancient carving that exists in Kashmir Valley.
The pyramidal roof is divided into two portions by an ornamental band. The corner pilasters are surmounted by carved capitals, and the pediments of the porches appear to have terminated with a melon-shaped ornament. The ceiling is formed of nine blocks of stone; four of them resting over the angles of the cornice, reduce the opening to a square, and an upper course of four stones still further reduces the opening, which is covered by a single stone block decorated with a large lotus. The smaller angles are occupied by naked human figures, something similar to those of the Payach ceiling, but without wings. These figures besides have only one leg and one arm outstretched, which affords more variety than the other treatment at Payach. Each of the larger angles is filled with two figures holding out a garland, which falls in a graceful loop between them. The whole rests upon a cornice supported by brackets, which were so much decayed that I found it impossible to trace their decorations or even their exact shape. The spaces between the brackets were also much injured ; but they appeared to have been filled with some kind of ornamental drapery hanging in curved folds.
Alexander Cunningham had the plaster removed and the figures on the ceiling appeared. In 1130, Rilhana (रिल्हण), minister to King Jayasimha (जयसिम्हा) embellished both the old and new cities. He also built a Siva temple in the old city by name Rilhanesvara (रिल्हनेश्वर) . The Pandrethan (पंद्रेथन) became a center of all important religions like Saivism, Buddhism, Vaishnavism and Saktha. Around 1400 AD the Sultan Sikandhar (सुलतान सिकंधर) started destroying the temples and images and earned the notorious name  - idol breaker (Butshikan)(बुतशिकन).
He destroyed almost all the temples of Kashmir. 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 (विजयेश), Chakradhara (चक्रधर), Martanda (मार्तंड), Birhad Buddha (विर्हद बुद्ध), Suresvari (सुरेश्वरी) and Varaha (वरहा) were also destroyed by him. Those times the central image used to be made of metal - gold, silver or brass. All these idols were mutilated and melted down for Sikandhar (सिकंधर) to issue his coins.
Abul Fazl (अबुल फैज़ल) 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 (लिंग) lying among the heaps of temples. Alexander Cunningham found large number of destroyed sculpture etc from the Sankaracharya (शंकराचार्य) Hill for about 5 kilometers. A few sculptures found are noted in the Pratap Singh (प्रताप सिंह) Museum.
The only ancient vestige in Pandrethan (पंद्रेथन) is a Siva temple surrounded by a water of a tank. This Ancient Pandrethan (पंद्रेथन) Shiva (शिव) Temple, lies within a square shaped tank to the north of the Jhelum  (झेलम) River on the flood terrace, near bedrock. Settlement has caused its lower plinth to be flooded unevenly.
The Shiva (शिव) temple at Pandrethan (पंद्रेथन) is believed to have been constructed AD 913-921. Thus temple complex is situated in Badami Bagh (बादामी बाग) 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.

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