Chander M. Bhat 
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Avantisvamin Temple, Awantipora

by Chander M. Bhat

Chander BhatBorn on 20th March, 1960 in Murran a village in North Kashmir, Chander M. Bhat is presently working as an Assistant Supdt. Posts, in Department of Posts, Govt. of India. His articles regarding Posts and of non-political nature stand widely published in various papers and magazines of the country. ...More ...

Awantipora (Vuumtopur in Kashmiri) is a place, about 30 km from Srinagar on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. The place is famous not only as a ancient capital city of Avantipora founded by Rajaj Avantivarman, but also for its two imposing temples, now in ruins, built by him. The ruins of temples constructed by Lalitaditya, the Brahmin emperor of Kashmir, and King Awantivarman are located in Awantipora. The temples are located at 33°55′24″N 75°00′46″E  / 33.9232602°N 75.012846°E / 33.9232602; 75.012846 and 33°55′41″N 75°00′16″E / 33.9279606°N 75.0045311°E  / 33.9279606; 75.0045311.

Main Entrance

Main Entrance

This is an historic temple built by Awanti Warman from whom the place got its name as Awantipora. The place is usually misrecognized by the people saying Pandavas place because the material used in building this place is usually panadava stones. That's why people misrecognize it. But all its history is written inside it. It is said that this temple has gone almost 20 feet deep under the earth and that only its top side is visible.

One of these temples, Avantisvamin, a small one, was dedicated to Lord Vishnu, before Avantivarman’s accession to the throne and the second one, Avantesvara, a larger one, to Lord Shiva, after his accession to the throne. The original grandeur of these great temples has been lost and all that remains now are the architectural fragments strewn at their places of origin on the left side of Srinagar-Jammu road. Avantisvamin comes just before Awantipora on the bank of Vitasta and Avantesvara a few hundred metres away at village Jaubror, in Avantipora proper. Another ancient temple built by Avantisvamin was Sheer Mutt, located 6 km from Awantipora. Avantisvamin, one of the better preserved temples of the two, has an edifice, which comprised a colonnaded per style enclosing a paved courtyard 174 feet by 148 feet, in the centre of which is the main shrine, built on a double base with four small shrines at four corners. The centre shrine is built on double bases, the only decoration of which is a torus molding a cyma recta cornice. The base is intact, but the sanctum, 33 feet square externally, has almost disappeared. Avantesvara is situated in courtyard columns, but without any recesses behind. The gateway is in the middle of the wall and is divided into two chambers by a cross wall. The base on which the shrine in the centre of the courtyard stands is 57 feet and 10 feet high with stairs, 28 feet wide, on all the four sides, supported on either side by flank wall, 17 feet in length. The remains of these two temples represent finest examples of architecture of the times. One can see the gateways, standing in both the temples, the colonnade of the smaller temple and the semi-attached pillars of the arched recesses with elaborate carvings. Sikander Butshikan destroyed these magnificent temples. According to Lawrence, the complete ruin of Avantipora temples could have been affected by use of gunpowder by bigoted Sikander, whose idol breaking zeal procured him the tile of But-Shikan or "Iconoclast".

Base of the Main Temple

Base of the Main Temple

 

Notes and References:

  1. Place Names in Kashmir by B.K.raina and S.L.Sadhu, pulbished by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhio, 2000

  2. Encyclopedia: Kashmiri Pandit: Culture and Heritage by C.L.Kaul published by Ansh Publication, 2009

Image Gallery: http://ikashmir.net/gallery/categories.php?cat_id=214

  

 

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