Sharada Peeth



Sharada Peeth is an abandoned Hindu temple located in the village of Sharda, along the Neelam River in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. It is situated about 150 km from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, with an altitude of 1,981 meters above sea level.

Sharada Peeth was a major centre of learning, and is regarded as one of 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, or a “Grand Shakti Peethas” – which are highly revered temples throughout South Asia that commemorate the location of fallen body parts of the Hindu deity Sati.
The Chinese Buddhist monk, Xuanzang, visited this learning centre in 632 CE. He stayed there for two years and appreciated the mental gifts of priests and students of this learning centre. Kalhana wrote that during Lalitaditya’s reign in the 8th century CE, some followers of a king of Gauda in Bengal came to Kashmir under the pretext of visiting the shrine, highlighting the significance of the temple throughout South Asia.

In the year 1030 CE, the Muslim historian Al-Biruni visited Kashmir. According to him, there was a wooden idol of Sri Sharada Devi in the temple. He compared the temple to the Multan Sun Temple, Vishnu Chakraswamin temple at Thanesar and Somnath temple..

In a poetic work composed by Mahakavi Kalhana in the year 1148 CE, there is a mention of the temple and its geographic location. During the reign of Akbar in the 16th century, Grand Vizier Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, one of the famous Nava-Ratnas, wrote about the temple as being near the banks of river Madhumati, now known as the Neelum River, which is full of gold particles.  Abu’l Fazl also wrote that one can experience miracles on every eighth day of the bright fortnight of the month here.

The temple had periodically fallen into disrepair by the 14th century. In the 14th century, the temple was attacked for the first time by Muslim invaders. After this attack, India started losing its contact with Krishanganga and Sharada Peeth. In the 19th century, Dogra king of Kashmir, Maharaja Gulab Singh, restored this temple.

Following the brief 1947-1948 Kashmir war in the region between Pakistan and India, the site came under control of Pashtun tribesmen who invaded the region. Control was then passed to the newly formed government of Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir. The site was heavily damaged in the 2005 Kashmir earthquake which struck the region, and has not been repaired since.

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