Shankaracharya temple




The Shankaracharya Temple is also known as the Jyesteshwara temple or Pas-Pahar by Buddhists. It is on top of the Shankaracharya Hill (also called Hill of Solomon) on the Zabarwan Mountain in Srinagar, Kashmir. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva (Shri Shiv Ji). The temple is at a height of 1,000 feet (300 m) above the plain and overlooks the city of Srinagar.
The temple dates to 200 BC, although the present structure probably dates to the 9th century AD. It was visited by Adi Shankara and has ever since been associated with him; this is how the temple got the name Shankaracharya  . It is also regarded as sacred by Buddhists.  Some historians report that the temple was actually a Buddhist temple during the Buddhist era which was then changed into Hindu site of worship by Adi Shankaracharya. Persians and Jews call it Bagh-i-sulaiman or the Garden of King Solomon. Persian inscriptions are also found inside the temple.

According to Pandit Anand Koul (1924) the temple was originally built by the Hindu king “Sandiman” who, according to Koul, reigned in Kashmir from 2629 to 2564 BC. It was repaired by King Gopaditya (426–365 BC) and by King Lalitaditya (697–734 A.D.). Sikandar, the iconoclast did not, for some reason, destroy it. Zain-ul-Abidin repaired its roof which had tumbled down by earthquake. Sheikh Ghulam Mohi-ud-din, a Sikh Governor (1841–46), also repaired its dome. It was repaired by King Gopaditya (426–365 BC) and by King Lalitaditya (697–734).

The earliest historical reference to the hill comes from Kalhana. He called the mountain Gopadri. Kalhana says that King Gopaditya granted the land at the foot of the hill to the Brahmins that had come from the “Araya versh.” The land grant was called “GOPA AGRAHARAS”. This area is now called Gupkar. Kalhana mentions another village in the vicinity of the hill. King Gopaditya housed some of the Brahmins who had eaten garlic to a village next door. Kalhana names this village as Bhuksiravatika (Buch’vore today). Kalhana also mentions that King Gopaditya built the temple on the top of the hill as a shrine to Jyesthesvara (Shiva Jyestharuda) around 371 BC. Abul Fazal mentions that King Gopaditya built the temple. Although many experts believe that the current temple was probably built later, most of them agree that the base of the structure does seem to be very old. It is said that Lalitaditya Muktapida (724-726 AD) of Karakote dynasty did repairs to the temple. According to Srivara Budsah, Zain-ul-Abideen (1420-1470 AD) did major repairs to the temple. He put the Kalash (spire) and the roof of the structure which had fallen due to an earthquake. The third time the temple was repaired was by the Muslim Governor, Sheikh Mohi-ud-Din (1842 to 1845) during the Sikh rule of Kashmir.

The name of the hill was changed from Gopadri to Takhate-Suleiman during the period of Sultans. There is no historical evidence that King Solomon visited this valley.

The name Takhate-Suleiman, however, seems to have persisted during the Mughal, Afghan, Sikh and Dogra periods. Any publication during these periods all refer to the hill by that name. Mughal ruler Jahangir along with his wife, Noor Jahan, once climbed the hill for a picnic on its summit. Noor Jahan is said to have prepared pudding for her husband there upon which Jahangir extempore recited this verse, ‘Shakar farosh e mann paye halva giri nishast’ (My candy seller is seated to prepare the pudding). Noor Jahan equally replied with an extempore verse, ‘Yani ki zer-i-Takhta-i-Sulaiman pari nishast’ (As if a fairy is seated under the  Solomon’s Throne)

The name Shankaracharaya for the temple first appears when Governor Sheikh Mohi-ud-Din made the repairs in the mid-19th century. It had apparently not been used as a temple for centuries. At that time it was consecrated as a Shankaracharaya temple and a Shiv Lingam was placed inside. It is only during the Sikh period that people started to have prayer services at the temple and the Shravan Poornima started being celebrated there.

The Dogra King Gulab Singh (1846-1857 AD) constructed the steps to the hill from Durga Naag temple side. The Maharaja of Mysore came to Kashmir in 1925 and he made the electrical installations at the temple. In 1961 Shankaracharaya of Dwarkapeetham put the statue of Adi Shankaracharaya in the temple. In 1974 the Government of J&K constructed the road that goes to the TV antenna near the top of the hill.
Kashmir is believed to be the seat of Shaivam, the Himalaya Mountains and Sri Kailashagiri as “The massed laughter of Sri Shiva.” It was from here that the sweet nectar of Shiva devotion spread in India and around the globe, by the spiritual works of saints like Adi Shankaracharya. Soundarya Lahari was composed by Adi Shankara atop the Gopadari Hill, after accepting the fact that the union of Sri Shiva and Devi Shakti, as in Shaktism, transpired into the Shakti-Shri Chakra, the symbol of Devi (Goddess), as Sri Yantra, as mentioned in ‘Shankara Digvijay’ – Life history of Shankaracharya, and only when Shiva is united with Shakti does he have the power to create.

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