Sharda Temple of Kashmir
to independence, Hindu Pandits were settled in great numbers, in the Northern
areas of Kashmir. Sharadi is a small village in Northern parts of Kashmir, which
was famous for an ancient temple of Goddess Sharada. A Kashmiri Pandit family
headed by Thusu Ladarwani was settled in this village. This Thusu family was
compelled to migrate to Srinagar from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) and again
due to the terrorists and their activities, had forcibly to shift to Jammu and
stay in a transit camp there.
present, Shri Shambhunathji Thusu from this family is ninety four year old and
possesses an exceptionally remarkable memory. He is well versed in Urdu, and
Kashmiri language . Shri Shambhunathji provided me a map in Urdu prepared by
him, giving details of the "Sharda Temple". He has successfully retained many
memories, about the "Sharda Temple" right from 1920 A.D. Shri. Shambhunathji
reiterated that there was no idol of the Goddess Sharda in the temple, but there
was only a stone plinth, admeasuring six feet long, seven feet wide and one and
half feet high. "Just outside the temple, not very far, was a Shivaling.( i.e .
symbolic idol of Lord Shiva). The devotees worshipped at both the places.
Shambhunathji was born and brought up in Shardi and he spent his prime youth
there only. His family owned a business there. He aptly recollects the fair held
at Shardi in the month of Bhadrapada (the sixth month according to Hindu
Calendar) on the eighth day of Shukla Paksha i.e. a fortnight of rising moon.
makes a mention of the briefings by a scholar in History from "Shardi", about
the assistance rendered, by a Gaud King to the "Sharda Temple Complex". The
village Shardi is situated at a distance of 130 Kilometers from Srinagar and 140
k.m.s. from Muzaffarabad. This place, presently, has the following postal
address in Pak occupied Kashmir. (POK).
Village Shardi, Tehsil Atta Mukam, District Muzafferabad.
olden times, the village Shardi was renowned for the following two things
temple of Goddess Sharda, and
Sharda Peetham (Centre for Advanced studies)
to the partition, a fair was held at village Shardi in the month of Bhadrapada
and on the eighth day of the Shukla Paksha, and devotees from all over India,
flocked the place in thousands, for receiving the blessings of the Mother
Sharada deity. There is a place called "Tikkar" at a distance of one and half
kilometers from Kupwara, in Kashmir. From here, there is a short cut for going
to Shardi which measures 40 k.m. Many Pilgrims treaded this path only.
to the partition of India, many Kashmiri Pandit families were settled in "Shardi".
Those professing as priests and traders had their shops and establishments
in the near vicinity of the Sharda Teerath. Besides, many saints,
ascetics and their associates/disciples and their servants also lived there.
Pradeep Kaul, from Srinagar, informed that every scribe offered his writings to
Goddess Sharda, for obtaining her blessings. The following alleged legend in
this regard runs as follows. The Kashmiri Scribes, kept their Bhurjapatra
manuscript covered in a platter overnight, in front of Goddess Sharda, for
obtaining her blessings. If the pages of writings remained undisturbed, it was
taken for granted that the works had the blessings of the Goddess. If, however,
the pages of the works were found sifted, the works were considered as
disapproved by the Goddess.
Presently , the Sharda Temple lies within POK territory and one has to travel
from Muzaffarbad to Thitwal - 80 K.M. from Thitwal to Karna-20 k.m., from Keran
to Dudhe Niyal - 24 km, and from Dudhaniyal to Shardi- 16 K.M., to reach Shardi.
to 1947, some travellers went to "Udi" from Barahmulla, and then from "Udi" to
Shardi, via Muzaffarabad. In Shardi, the Sharda temple is on the right bank of
river "Krishnaganga". At this spot, there is a confluence between river
Madhumati and river Krishnaganga. In Sanskrit, the word Sharda denotes both
Goddess "Saraswati", and Goddess "Durga". An old styled, stringed musical
Instrument called "Veena" is also addressed as "Sharda". The Kashmiri Pandits,
rever this Goddess Sharda as a symbol of strength. The brief history of "Sharda"
in Kashmir is as follows.
aka Kashmir means the Land of "Kashyap: Rishi the ascetic. Kashmir was a home of
erudites and scholars. Here was an University of the extremely learned Pandits
and philosphers in all branches of knowledge. The epic, Mahabharata, refers to
Kashmir as "Kashmir Mandal". Ancient History of India describes that there was a
temple of "Goddess Sharda" in Kashmir also. There was a centre for providing
education, Sharada Peetha had four doors facing four direction. The southern
door was always closed and no one from South ever entered from this door. "Shankaracharya"
in 8th cent A.D. opened this door and entered the Centre . He defeated all the
scholars there and won the highest hierarchial position of Acharya. An ancient
volume "Shakti Sangam Tantra" has a stray reference to "Sharda complex". The
volume describes Kashmir as a Land from Sharda Complex to "Saffron mountain "
Keshara Parbat extending upto 50 yojana.
present, in POK, the valley of river Krishnaganga lies at a distance of 125 k.m.
from Muzaffarabad towards North. It is now being addressed as "Neelam Valley" by
village "Shardi" lies in between Gurej and Karna: the two places in Neelam
valley. At Shardi, wreckaged remains of the temple of Goddess Sharda can be
seen. One can reach Shardi within 4 hours from Muzaffarbad. The following are
the lines from the verse of "Goddess Sharda" (residing in Kashmir) in praise of
to Division of Kashmir in last century Mr. Bamzai, a Kashmiri Pandit, has very
aptly described the Sharda Temple had the main girdle of 22 feet dia. It had an
entrance door in the west. The other entrances had arches over them, and these
arches were 20 feet in height .The main entrance had foot steps. On both sides
of the porch, there were two square shaped pillars, 16 feet high and 2'6" x 2'6"
in sectional size. Carved out of a solid stone Block. The construction inside
the temple was very plain and unadorned . The temple was situated on a hillock,
on the right' bank of river Madhumati". The rectangular sanctum had 63 foot
steps, each 9' wide. The name and fame of this Sharda Teerath was well spread
throughout ancient India.
the famous Historian, who wrote "Rajtarangini has given a reference to "Lalitaditya"
of the eighth's century. He says, disciples of the Gaud King had come all the
way from Bengal to Kashmir to pay a visit to this Sharda Mandir.
Alberuni, the famous traveller of the 10th century has made a mention of this "Sharada
Mandir". He narrates "After traversing the interior portion of the valley of
Kashmir, one reaches the Bolair Mountain, which is mid way between "Ladakh" and
"Gilgit'. Many pilgrims come here for receiving the blessings of Goddess Sharda".
Albe-runi further states that this "Sharda Teerath is equally famous like Som
Nath of Gujarat, the Vishnu Temple of Thaneshwar, and the Sun-Temple of Multan.
Pandit the famous author of the Later half of the 11th Century has also made a
mention of the :Sharada Teerath". Though settled in South India over a long
period, "Bilhan" has dedicated all his Literary works to Goddess "Sharda".
Between the period 1088 A.D. and 1172 A.D., an erudite, Shri Hemchandra had
completed his "Prabhav Karta" a voluminous treatise. Under the auspices and
patronage of King "Jay Singh" of Gujarat, he was required to compile a volume on
"Grammar". So, king Jay Singh deputed his representative to Kashmir, and made
available to Shri Hemchandra a manuscript of the subject of grammar, from the
Library of Sharda Teerth. This enabled Shri. Hemchandra, to complete his
treatise called "Hemkandra" (Siddha Hemkandra) . This amply proves, how the name
and fame of the library of "Sharda Teerth" was well-known in ancient India and
as to, how abounding was the Library of "Sharda Peeth".
Historian Jon Raja has made a reference, as to, how Sultan of Kashmir
Zain-ul-Abidin visited this place in 1422 A.D.
Fazal has also made a reference to this place. The stone crafted Sharda Mandir,
he adds, a beautiful temple at that-is situated on the bank of river Madhumti
(Krishna Ganga). Gold was often found in the river basin here. A fair is held
here, on the eighth day of every month of the (Shukla Paksha) fortnight of the
rising moon. After the Mughals, the Dogra regime assumed power in Kashmir and
the then Collector of Muzaffarabad, Col. Gundu repaired the temple and provided
a new ceiling made of wood. He got fixed an annuity for the priest of the
temple, under the orders of Maharaja Gulab Singh of Kashmir.
Northeast province of our vast country India is Kashmir. Kashmir has its own
style of temple Architecture. This style was developed, during the reign of King
Lalitaditya (724 A.D.) and in 9th Century reached its Zenith, during the regime
of Avantiverman. There are a few ancient temples in Kashmir. Among these, the
Rudrash temple at Ludo, the sun-temple at "Martand" and the "Shankaracharya
Temple at Srinagar are conspicuously famous. Generally, a temple in Kashmir has
two parts, a square sanctum and a porch in front of it. These structures have
centres and subcentres of Learning associated with them.
Experts opine that the pillars and columns of Kashmiri temples compare
favourably with those of Derrik style. There is an expansive courtyard around
the temple. This ancient Sharda Mandir is in (P.O.K.) today and has nurtured all
the Salient features of Kashmiri style of Architecture.
Razdan and Mr. Ratan Kaul made available this rare photograph of Sharda Mandir
from Sharadi. It is at their instance, it was available to me.
Kashmir, in olden days, was a centre for education , pursuit of knowledge and
studies of various sciences. That is exactly why, Kashmir is also called Land of
Goddess Sharda, City of Goddess Sharda and Sharda Peetham (University).
famous Chinese traveller, Hue-en-tsang visited Kashmir in the year 632 A.D. and
lived there for almost two years. His notings assert that at Shardi, there are
Pandits who are exceptionally brilliant, endowed with perspicacious wits and
acumen and are genius in the real sense of the term. There is a narrative,
regarding Goddess Sharda in Hindu Scriptures. When Pandits refuse to perform the
sacred thread ceremony of "Shandilya" the son of ascetic "Vashishta", he (Shandilya)
under instructions of his father, went to Kashmir, to offer his services to
Goddess Sharda. He bathed in the water tank near Sharda temple and got his body,
transformed into radiant gold, afterwards, he, by the grace of Goddess Sharda
obtained accomplishment and became famous as Shandilya Rishi the ascetic.
Sharda Shastranam Stotra is a canticle depicting Goddess Sharda as follows :-
Goddess Sharda is "Sheeladevi" (A Goddess in stone) she sits on a stone seat and
has a pleasantly smiling face. Her form and appearance resemble those of Goddess
Parvati (Wife of Lord Shiva). She holds a Sword in one hand. Her eyes are
glowing and radiant like the Sun, the moon and the god fire, she is the Supreme
controller of all the three "Lokas" (According to Hindu Mythology, there are
three lokas i.e. worlds swarga (the heaven) Mrutya (the Earth) and Patal (the
under world). She has six arms and sports the sacred thread of Yagyopavit
Shandilys, the ascetic. Her devotees are blessed with the eternal light from the
members of the Gujar and Pahadi Communities, residing in the nearby area of the
"Shardi" village had an abiding and unalienable faith in the sheeladevi shakti
peeth (a source of power). They offered cow's milk and cereals and other
agricultural produce to Goddess Sharda. In the recent times, Swami Nandlalji a
famous Yogi (a hermit) from Kashmir had his hermitage near the Sharda temple,
and his disciples were both' Hindus This is how the imposing and magnificent
history of Goddess Sharda for a few centuries in the post goes. The following
lines from a Sanskrit canticle are enough and sufficient to stress the
importance of the history of Goddess Sharda.