Sunday, March 29, 2009

Martand, House of Pandavs, Pandav Lar'rey

In 1889, Walter R. Lawrence, the British Land settlement officer in Kashmir, writing in Valley of Kashmir (1895), for the chapter Archaeology, quotes these line written by Sir Alexander Cunningham:
“The ruins of the Hindu temple of Martand, or, as is commonly called, the Pandu-Koru, or the house of Pandus and Korus - the cyclopes of the East - are situated on the highest part of a karewas*, where is commences to rise to its juncture with the mountains, about 3 miles east of Islamabad. Occupying, undoubtedly, the finest position in Kashmir, this noble ruin is the most striking in size and situation of all the existing remains of Kashmir grandeur."
 Pandavs, of course, still get credit for all kind of ancient structures strewn across India.

Sir Alexander Cunningham (1814-93), British archaeologist and army engineer, better known as the father of Indian Archaeology, as a young officer, was stationed in Kashmir after the first Sikh War of 1845-1846. In November 1847, he measured and studied most of the ancient that existed in Kashmir. On the subject of Martand, Pandavs and Ptolemy - the celebrated Greek geographer of the second century AD who lived in Egypt, Cunningham wrote:  [The ancient buildings of Kashmir]
 " are entirely composed of a blue limestone, which is capable of taking the highest polish, a property to which I mainly attribute the present beautiful state of  preservation of most of the Kashmirian buildings; not one of these temples has a name, excepting that of Martand, which is called in the corrupt Kashmirian pronunciation, Matan, but they are all known by the general name of Pandavanki lari or " Pandus-house," a title to which they have no claim whatever, unless indeed the statement of Ptolemy can be considered of sufficient authority upon such a subject. He says " circa autem Bidaspum Pandovorum regio " — the Kingdom of the Pandus is upon the Betasta or (Behat), that is, it corresponded with Kashmir. This passage would seem to prove that the Pandavas still inhabited Kashmir so late as the second century of our era. Granting the correctness of this point there may be some truth in the universal attribution of the Kashmirian temples to the race of Pandus, for some of these buildings date as high as the end of the fifth century, and there are others that must undoubtedly be much more ancient, perhaps even as old as the beginning of the Christian era. One of them dates from 220 B. C.** "
The origin of the Sun temple of Martand is a bit blurry, but King Lalitaditya (A.D. 693 to 729) is believed to have built it. Cunningham mentions that the Rajatarangini credits King Lalitaditya as the builder of Martand temples. But, he further mentions:
"From the same authority we gather — though the interpretation of the verses is considerably disputed — that the temple itself was built by Ranaditya, and the side chapels, or at least one of them, by his queen, Amritaprakha. The date ' of Ranaditya's reign is involved in some obscurity, but it may safely be conjectured that he died in the first half of the fifth century after Christ."
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* karewas: Kashmiri word for plateau like geographic formations found mostly to west of the river Jhelum and believed to have been created by draining of the great ancient lake that was once supposed to be Kashmir.

** Francis Younghousband in his book Kashmir (1911) mentions the temple believed to be dating back to 220 B.C. is Jyesthesvara Temple built atop a hill by Gopaditya (253 A.D. to 328). This is the site of present day Shiv temple atop Shankaracharya hill. The temple is first supposed to have been built by Jalauka, the son of great Emperor Ashoka, in around 200 B.C.

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About the old Image of Martand Temple near Bhawan:
The Photograph was taken by John Burke in 1868 for Henry Hardy Cole's Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir. This and one more photograph was later was used in  many other later publications. I found it in the book: Archaeological Survey India: Kashmir 1870.

John Burke (1843-1900) was an Irishman who came to India as an apothecary (pharmacist) with the Royal Engineers, but in 1861 became an  assistant of an already established photographer William Baker, a retired Sergeant who had a studio at Peshawar. Between the years 1864 and 1868, the duo was one of the first to photograph Kashmir. Together they started the famous Baker and Burke Studio (1867-72). In 1873 Burke parted ways with Baker and started his own studios J.Burke & Co. in Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore. The studio in Lahore opened in 1885 and was in business till 1903. Burke was also one of the official photographer to the army during the Second Afghan War of 1879 - 1880.


Here's a slide show of old photographs of Martand temple taken from Archaeological Survey India: Kashmir 1870.


Some of these may have been taken by Samuel Bourne, a prolific British photographer who worked in India from 1863 until 1870. He first photographed Kashmir in 1863.

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You can take a look at the book "Archaeological Survey India: Kashmir 1870" here at the digital archive of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts

6 comments:

  1. Jyesthesvara Temple is believed to be the present day "Zeethyaar" temple dedicated to mother Goddess. It there atop the other side of The Shankaracharya Hill , more closer to "Pari Mahal". Like most of Temples found in Kashmir it is in middle of a spring.

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  2. The majestic Shiva and Vishnu Temple found at Awantipura and the ancient Temples found at Patan (on way to Baramulla) are also believed to be built by Pandavas by common people.. I had a chance to Visit a site called "Ko'l-Ko'undal" near Nagrota , this place has an ancient "Devi" and "Shiva" temple ...also as expected believed to be built by pandavas..

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  3. No, I have checked this one.

    The shiv temple atop Shankaracharya Hill was originally dedicated to a form of Shiva known as Jyesthesvara and is believed to have been (partly) built by King Gopaditya.

    But yes, the two do have a curious connection.
    Check out this detailed post on the two temples.

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  4. About "Pandav effect:
    I have been to a hill station, nested in Satpura Range, called Pachmarhi, in Madhya Pradesh. Atop a hill, overlooking the town, Pandav Caves is one of the tourist attractions. Locals believe it to have been built by the Pandavs. Only problem is that there is an ancient Buddhist stupa a top the hill and the caves are a Buddhist sanctuary. But still the legend of "Pandavs the Great Builder" continues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, this is very informative, Kashmir is fascinating indeed.

      Delete
  5. Can you please post some pictures of the carved stone Kund of Jyeshtha Mata temple ruins near Gupkar Road

    ReplyDelete

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