Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Shankaracharya Temple is an ancient temple that finds its origin in the 4th century. Located on Gopadari Hill in the south-east of Srinagar, Shankaracharya Temple lies at a height of 1100 feet above surface level of the city. The temple is easily accessible from the city by regular buses from Srinagar. In order to ensure a comfortable journey, one can opt for taxis that are readily available throughout the city.
In 371 BC, the temple is said to have been built by Raja Gopadatya. At that time, the temple was named as 'Gopadari', after the name of the King. It is believed that Shankracharya, the great philosopher, lived here during his trip to Kashmir. The legend left the place centuries ago, ever since, the temple came to be known as Shankaracharya Temple.
The structure of the temple boasts about the architectural style of those times. However, many additions and changes have been made to the original structure. Erected on a high octagonal platform, the temple can be reached by a flight of steps. The fencing walls of the steps have some inscriptions on them. Inside the temple, there is a Persian inscription that dates back to period of Shahjahan.
The main shrine is in the shape of a circular chamber and provides a breathtaking view of the valley. After numerous repairs, the ceiling of the main chamber appears to be modern in its approach. Shankaracharya Mandir is regarded as the oldest temple in the valley of Kashmir. Throughout its life, the temple has seen many repair and renovation works.
The first work of renovation is considered to have taken place during the reign of Lalitaditya. When the temple got damaged in an earthquake, the second repairs were done by Zain-ul-Abideen, under the rule of Sheikh Mohi-ud-Din. The stone steps that lead to the main shrine, are known to be built by Maharaja Gulab Singh. In 1925, the facility of electricity was made possible at Shankracharya Temple.