शंकराचार्य मंदिर

( Shankaracharya Temple )

The Shankaracharya Temple or Jyeshteshwara Temple is a Hindu temple situated on top of the Shankaracharya Hill on the Zabarwan Range in Srinagar in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. The temple is at a height of 1,000 feet (300 m) above the valley floor and overlooks the city of Srinagar.

On festivals such as Herath, as Maha Shivaratri is known as in the region, the temple is visited by Kashmiri Hindus.

The temple and adjacent land is a monument of national importance, centrally protected under the Archaeological Survey of India. Dharmarth Trust has managed the temple since the 19th century, along with others in the region. Karan Singh is the sole chairperson trustee.

Figures present for scale
Photographed by John Burke 1868
Present day during summer

The structure is considered as the oldest temple in Kashmir, historically and traditionally.[1] It is situated on a hill that is a well preserved Panjal trap formed by Permian era volcanic activity.[2] There is no consensus with regard to an exact date of construction.

The earliest historical reference to the hill comes from Kalhana. He called the mountain 'Gopadri' or 'Gopa Hill'. Kalhana says that King Gopaditya granted the land at the foot of the hill to the Brahmins that had come from the "Aryadesa". The land grant, an agraharam, was called 'Gopa Agraharas'. This area at the base is now called Gupkar. Kalhana mentions another village in the vicinity of the hill where King Gopaditya housed some of the Brahmins to a village[a] next door in present-day Dalgate. Kalhana also mentions that King Gopaditya built the temple on the top of the hill as a shrine to Jyesthesvara (Shiva Jyestharuda) around 371 BCE.[3]

The Alchon Hun king, Mihirakula is said to have been the founder of the temple, dedicated to Shiva,[4][5] a shrine named Mihiresvara in Halada, and a large city called Mihirapura.[5]

In 1899 James Fergusson placed the temple construction to the 17th to 18th century. Fergusson disputes claims that structures on the basis of which he makes this claim are from repairs.[6] Aurel Stein while agreeing that the superstructures are from a more recent date, places the base and the stairs as much older.[7] Historical figures associated with the monument include Jaloka, one of the sons of Ashoka (Gonandiya), according to the Rajatarangini.[1][8]

 Front profile.
(Graffiti on monuments is commonplace throughout India[9][10][11][12])

Kashmiri Hindus strongly believe the temple was visited by Adi Shankara[13] and has ever since been associated with him; this is how the temple and hill got the name Shankaracharya.[14] It is here that the literary work Saundarya Lahari was composed.[14] It was composed by Adi Shankara after accepting the major faith in the region at the time, that of Shakti, and that the union of Shiva and Shakti, as in Shaktism, transpired into the symbolism of the Sri Yantra.[14][15][16]

HillShankaracharya Hill, Sandhimana-parvata, Koh-e-Suleman, Takht-i-Sulaiman (Takht Hill), Gopadri (Gopa Hill)Highest pointElevation1,880 m (6,170 ft)Prominence295 m (968 ft)Coordinates34°04′48″N 74°50′35″E / 34.080°N 74.843°E / 34.080; 74.843DimensionsArea1.4 km2 (0.54 sq mi)GeographyLocationUT of Jammu and KashmirCountry  IndiaParent rangeZabarwan Range[17]GeologyAge of rockPermian[2]Type of rockIgneous[2]

Names associated with the hill include Sandhimana-parvata, Koh-e-Suleman, Takht-i-Sulaiman or simply Takht Hill, Gopadri or Gopa Hill.[3][18][19] The Dogra King Gulab Singh (1792-1857 CE) constructed the steps to the hill from Durga Naag temple[b] side.[citation needed] Steps existed before as well, leading further, to the Jhelum. Nur Jahan used the stones of the steps in the construction of Pathar Mosque.[21][22]

The Maharaja of Mysore came to Kashmir in 1925 and made the electrical search light installations at the temple, five around it and one on the top.[23] The Maharaja left an endowment to fund the cost of electricity.[23] In 1961 Shankaracharaya of Dwarkapeetham put the statue of Adi Shankaracharaya in the temple.[24] Sri Aurobindo visited the temple area in 1903.[25] Vinoba Bhave visited it in August 1959.[26]

A 3.5 miles (5.6 km) road to the temple was constructed by Border Roads Organisation in 1969.[27] While this was road construction was primarily to aid the setting up of a communications tower, and part of the road would be closed to the public, the road would also be used for those going to the temple.[27] There are around 240 steps to reach the presiding deity.[28][29] The Dharmarth Trust has built two small shelters here for sadhus.[18] The hill has a large range of flora.[17] There is very limited human activity on the hill other than religious tourism.[30] From the top of the hill, Justine Hardy, a British writer, counted over 1350 boats on the Dal Lake.[31] Jhelum is visible.[32] The wide panorama covers major landmarks such as Dal Lake, Jhelum, and Hari Parbat.

View from/with Shankaracharya Hill
^ a b Cunningham 1848, p. 7. ^ a b c Wadhawan, Sudesh Kumar (2021). "15. Geoheritage and Potential Geotourism in Geoparks - Indian Perspective". In Singh, RB; Wei, Dongying; Anand, Subhash (eds.). Global Geographical Heritage, Geoparks and Geotourism: Geoconservation and Development. Springer Nature. p. 264. ISBN 978-981-15-4956-4. ^ a b Stein, Aurel (1900). Kalhana's Rajatarangini, A Chronicle of the Kings of Kashmir. Vol. 2. Westminster: Archibald Constable and Company, Rivington. pp. 453–454 – via Internet Archive. ^ "He is credited with the building of the temple named Jyeshteswara on the Gopa (Sankaracharya) hill in Srinagar" in Bamzai, Prithivi Nath Kaul (1980). Kashmir and Central Asia. Light & Life Publishers. p. 63. ^ a b Rezakhani, Khodadad (2017). ReOrienting the Sasanians: East Iran in Late Antiquity. Edinburgh University Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-4744-0030-5. ^ Fergusson 1899, p. 282. ^ Stein, Aurel (1900). Kalhana's Rajatarangini, A Chronicle of the Kings of Kashmir. Vol. 1. Archibald Constable and Company, Rivington. p. 1.345 – via Internet Archive. ^ Thapar, Romila (1961). Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas. Oxford University Press. pp. 30, 188. ^ Mantri, Geetika (4 February 2019). "'Raju was here': Why in the world do Indians vandalise heritage monuments?". The News Minute. Retrieved 4 February 2022. ^ Subramanian, T. S.; Ganesan, K. (17 July 2009). "History vandalised". Frontline. Retrieved 4 February 2022. ^ Shanker, C. R. Gowri (9 September 2016). "Archaeological Survey of India winning battle against wall vandals in Hyderabad". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 4 February 2022. ^ Kulkarni, Dhaval (7 October 2017). "Now, monumental fines for graffiti". DNA India. Retrieved 4 February 2022. ^ Comans, Michael (2000). The Method of Early Advaita Vedānta: A Study of Gauḍapāda, Śaṅkara, Sureśvara, and Padmapāda. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 163. ISBN 978-81-208-1722-7. ^ a b c Warikoo, Kulbhushan (2009). Toshkhani, S. S.; Warikoo, K. (eds.). Cultural Heritage of Kashmiri Pandits. Pentagon Press. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-81-8274-398-4. ^ Vidyaranya, Madhava (2013) [1999]. Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. The Traditional Life of Sri Sankaracharya. Translated by Tapasyananda, Swami. Chennai: Sri Ramakrishna Math. ^ Aima, Onkar. "Adi Shankracharya's Visit to Kashmir". Kashmiri Pandit Network. Kashmir Sentinel. Retrieved 26 January 2022. ^ a b Kumar, Kewal; Sharma, Yash Pal; Manhas, R.K.; Bhatia, Harpreet (2015). "Ethnomedicinal plants of Shankaracharya Hill, Srinagar, J&K, India". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 170: 255–274. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2015.05.021. PMID 26008867 – via ScienceDirect. ^ a b "Shankaracharya Temple". Radio Chinar. 15 June 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2022. ^ Cunningham 1848, p. 9. ^
"Some facts about Durganag". Early Times. 21 November 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2022.Hamdani, Syed Imran Ali (14 March 2015). "Durga Nag temple hosts Mahanavami Puja". Greater Kashmir. Retrieved 30 January 2022."Shiv Lingam installed at Durga Nag temple". Business Standard India. PTI. 13 October 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2022."J&K: Farooq Abdullah prays for peace, wellbeing of humankind at Dugra Nag temple". The Times of India. PTI. 24 October 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2022."Gold ornaments missing from Kashmir temple". News Nation. PTI. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2022.
^ Bhatt, Saligram (2008). Kashmiri Scholars Contribution to Knowledge and World Peace: Proceedings of National Seminar by Kashmir Education Culture & Science Society (K.E.C.S.S.), New Delhi. APH Publishing. p. 146. ISBN 978-81-313-0402-0. ^ Bhat, R L (2014). Hindu Shrines Of Kashmir. Substance Publishers. pp. 140–141. ^ a b Koul, Pandit Anand (1935). Archaeological remains in Kashmir (PDF). Foreword by Tej Bahadur Sapru. Lahore: Mercantile Press. pp. 17–22. ^ Kashur Encyclopedia Volume one Published by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Srinagar 1986 Page 302 ^ Heehs, Peter (2008). The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. Columbia University Press. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-231-14098-0. ^ Narayan, Shriman; Vinobā (1970). Vinoba: His Life and Work. Popular Prakashan. p. 274. ISBN 978-81-7154-483-7. ^ a b "Shankaracharya Road Project". Sainik Samachar. XVII (24): 9–10. 14 June 1970 – via Google Books. ^ Khare, Harish (11 October 2015). "238 steps to solitude in Shiva's sanctum..." The Tribune. Retrieved 27 January 2022. ^ Acharekar, Janhavi (12 September 2018). "Could the salve to Kashmir's wounds lie in its centuries of pluralism?". Condé Nast Traveler. Retrieved 27 January 2022. ^ Kumar, Kewal; Manhas, Rajesh K; Magotra, Rani (August 2011). "The Shankaracharya sacred grove of Srinagar, Kashmir, India". Current Science. 101 (3): 262 – via ResearchGate. ^ Hardy, Justine (2009). In the valley of mist. Rider. p. 183. ISBN 978-1-84604-146-4. ^ Dhar, S N (2012). Kashmir in Stories. Jaykay Books. p. 112. ISBN 978-81-87221-74-6.

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