Friday, September 28, 2012

Among Willow Workers of Kashmir

Photographs of life and work of willow basket weavers of Kashmir shared by my cousin sister Dipti Das who traveled to interiors of Kashmir back in 2008 to write her master's paper on this golden craft for National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.







More here:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

First film banning in Kashmir



"Under the direction of the Maharaja, G.E.C. Wakefield got a cinematograph film produced depicting the
unhygienic conditions under which women delivered children and the harsh treatment which was meted out
to them in the homes of their husbands. The scenario for the film was written by Ram Chandra Kak,
Political Secretary, (afterwards Prime Minister). It was an effective medium of propaganda for
social reform; but Pandits reacted unfavourably to the move and opposed the public exhibition of
the film. When an attempt was made to give a show of it in Srinagar, some young men resorted to
picketting. The Englishman was blamed for interference in the domestic affairs of the community.
Base political motives were ascribed to him. Ram Chandra Kak too came in for severe criticism.
Telegrams were dispatched to the Maharaja imploring him to intervene. Finally, Wakefield yielded to
the pressure and the film was withdrawn and never shown anywhere again."

From 'Daughters Of The Vitasta: A History of Kashmiri women from early times to the present day' (1959), by Prem Nath Bazaz. More about the book and the complete book here.

G.E.C. Wakefield was Prime Minister of the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir from 1929 to 1931.

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Previously: Tamasha comes to Kashmir, on missionaries who traveled to Kashmir with Magic Lantern in around 1903.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

neat hand-drawn map of Kashmir, 1934

Came across this piece of beauty in 'Houseboating in Kashmir' (1934)  by Alberta Johnston Denis. Map is by the author.
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Gulzar's little Kashmir poem


video link for people who read the blog via email

jaane kaisi sardi aakay baith gayi thi
jam gayi thi uskay seenay mai
Ghazal ki Kangdi jala kay pehen leta tha
Sardi say dhitharnay lagta tha kabhi 
chadri chadri dhoop ood leta tha
Kal suna hai barf gir rahi thi jab  pahado par
khidki khol kar 
woh aag taapnay chala gaya chita ki aag par

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Maps, 1902, 1959, 1973

Map of Srinagar and the Adjoining Areas, 1959

"Kashmir and the Adjoining Countries Showing Lord Ronaldshay's Route" from Sport and Politics Under an Eastern Sky, William Blackwood and Sons, 1902.
Above two are via:  University of Texas

And the below one titled 'Kashir hund Nak'shi', Map of Kashmir,  is from 'An introduction to spoken Kashmiri; a basic course and reference manual for learning and teaching Kashmiri as a second language' by Braj B. Kachru. 1973.
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Best of Subhana the Worst,1960

"Ghulam the Singer," said Subhana, "one of the lyrical Persian poets, in the court of the Emperor Jahangir, though himself a Kashmiri, knew of this rare wool and mentions it in his love poem entitled Love,' which I consider one of his finest pieces:"
"O Bulbul, sing of my Beloved, my love,
So pure a being, so far above
The thoughts of men and poets; so fair
Her equal is not anywhere!
Her voice a golden temple bell,
Her walk like that of a gazelle,
Her eyes a shadowed mountain pool,
Her cheeks as soft as ibex wool."
"The poem," added Subhana, "narrates the story of the princess, for she was a princess, being sent by her father, the ruler of Badackshan, because of jealousy in the court, to be raised by a hermit in the eastern hills. But a spirit of evil, in form a vulture, or griffin, steals her and carries her off to his infamous nest or castle on the highest peak. The griffin's domain is guarded by the nagas, or snake people. The hero of the poem, a shepherd of goats, who turns out to be the son of the Shah of Ghazni, is determined to rescue the imprisoned princess. He obtains the help of the Hindu god Hanumon, lord of the monkey people. In this way the poem skillfully merges the myths of the Persians and the Hindus in one of the most touching love stories of all times and all countries."

~ An extract from THE WORST by Arthur A. Baer for The Chicago Literary Club. April 18, 1960. [Read the complete piece here].

It's about the art of Kashmmiri salesmanship as practiced by one of its greatest practitioners. Talks on history, poetry, religion and politics while dealing in old rugs. All inside the store of Subhana the Worst that first opened in 1840 just as tourists started coming into the valley.

There's a video too (but no sound).



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Subhana the Worst, 1957


And here's an old international news report (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Oct 20, 1965) about the store run by M. Subhana Kachroo, the fifth generation of the original Subhana who started the store.



Kashmir's 'Worst' Store Actually Vey Successful

By JOE A. McGOWAN JR. The Associated Press

SRINAGAR, Kashmlr - Bouncing along in a horse-drawn tonga, the visitor nortes the signs on the tiny stalls---Abdul Aziz the Carpet Seller; Samad Shah the house-boat Agent; Ramsana Dubloo, Sightseeing and Hunting Trips.

Then, a clearing and a three-story building emblazoned with a sign which momentarily stuns the tourist.  It says"Subhana the Worst, Departmental Store."

It's a trap and you know it, but it works. At the front door stand three men. Is it your imagination or are they really rubbing their hands with gusto? Instinctively you give your wallet a comforting pat.

One member of the three-man welcoming committee identifies himself as M.Subhana Kachroo, five generations descended from the Subhana who started the store in 1840.

"Welcome," says Subhana. "We advertise ourselves as 'the worst' but before you leave here today, you will agree that we are 'the best.'''

He kicks off his shoes and ducks under a curtain across the front door, pulling you with him. He leads you across a red carpet to an overstuffed couch.

"You will join me for tea, won't you?" he pleads. While you wait, Subhana explains:
"Throughout the years, Kashmir Valley had been a quiet Summer retreat for a limited number of vacationers.Then during World War II, many soldiers, mostly Americans, came to Kashmir.They had plenty of money. They liked Kashmiri handiwork.

"Soon everybody wanted to become an art merchant, carpet merchant, wood-carving merchant or what have you. Even peddlers and boatmen opened shops. They were all 'the best.' An English friend of my father then suggested to him that he should become 'the worst.' Subhana (the fifth) said his father's experiment worked. Today, Subhana employs 460, most of whom work in small factories or in their homes, doing embroidery work, woodwork, weaving, wood carving and furniture making. During the long Winter when Srinagar is isolated by heavy snow, Subhana's workers build up stock for the next season.

The tea and cookies are out of the way and now it is time for business.Subhana squats on the floor in front of his customer. Barefoot clerks spread a large sheet on the carpet. At Subhana's command they begin bringing articles from the floor-to-ceiling shelves and the showcases which ring the room.
There is a woman's wool evening jacket.
"This took one person nine months to embroider," Subhana says. The price: 450 rupees ($94).Then a shawl called shahtoos. Subhana says it is woven from the soft breast of a mountain sheep. This is light as a feather but one of the warmest materials made, Subhana says. Furthermore it hasbeen impossible to obtainsince the Communist Chinese overran the Tibetan mountains where the sheep live. The price of the shawl-7,OOO rupees ($1,470)'.
A clerk brings an exquisitely embroidered tablecloth which costs 1,500 rupees ($315). Subhana says it took 2 years to make. The embroidery work is so fine that a worker can sew for no more than an hour at a time without giving his eyes a rest.
Most of Subhana's ware are by no means so expensive. He has walnut carvings ranging from $2 upward, copper and brassware at a wide range of prices, and for $2.50 a silver bracelet with such typical Srinagar charms as a houseboat, boatman's paddle and hooka. (water pipe).


But a tour of a maze of tiny rooms on the upper floors is necessary to see the thousands of items.


"Many of my customers spend two or three days here," Subhana says proudly.Whether Subhana is "the worst" or "the best" could be argued, but Subhana is unquestionably "the most."



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Saturday, September 22, 2012

bresson-brain
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Shiva temple at Naran Bagh near Shadipur

Guest post by Man Mohan Munshi Ji.

A small Shiva temple with adjoining room built at Naranbagh near Shadipur in memory of Late Resh Bhat Sahaib in 1994 Bilarmi corresponding to 1937 AD at the site of former temple of Sundribhavana. The temple is maintained by a Muslim Pujari who is too willing to show you round the temple and bring a bucket of water for offering to the Shivling in the temple.

The Shiva temple at Naran Bagh with the Muslim Pujari 


Shivling inside the temple

Memorial stone of Resh Bhat Sahaib

Footstep in front of the temple reads Janki Nath Sumbli [Rest is illegible]
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Kashmir by Mortimer Menpes, 1902-3

Kashmir paintings by Australian artist Mortimer Menpes
A Dogra Soldier

Dogra Soldier

A Hindu Shepherd 

Kashmiri Pandit
The above ones are from 'The Durbar' (1903) by Mortimer Menpes and Dorothy Menpes based on Delhi Durbar of 1903. The below ones are from an earlier publication 'World pictures; being a record in colour' (1902).



Natch Girl of Kashmir

Sopora

Dwellings on Jhelum
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Vitastasindhusamgama, Shadipur

 Guest post by Man Mohan Munshi Ji. Towards the end I am adding an old photograph of the place and a bit about a Kashmiri proverb related to the place.

The present Vitasta -Sindhu -Samgama the conflunce of Jhelum and Sind rivers at Naranbagh near Shadipur.
The river in the left foreground with greyish coloured water is the Sind river and the other with the bluish green coloured water in the right background is the Jhelum. Suyya the able engineer of King Avantivarman by his skill shifted the position of Vitastasindhusamgama from Parihaspura Trigami area to its present location in the vicinity of Sundribhavana (Naran Bagh) by forcing the course of Vitasta north east wards by blocking its original course with embankments to reclaim the cultivable land from flood prone areas and marshes. A Vishnu temple by the name of Yogavasmin was also built by Suyya at the instance of Avantivarman.
The solitary Chinar standing in water in the immediate vicinity of the confluence is considered holy and compared to the holy fig tree at Triveni near Allahbad
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The Chinar tree at Shadipore in a photograph by Fred Bremner. 1905 
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Preyaghuch buni nah thadan nah lokan nah badan.

The chinar of preyag neither become taller, nor shorter, nor bigger.

A poor sickly child, who does not grow or become fat.

An explanation about the Chinar tree of prayag that can be found in the book 'A Dictionary of Kashmiri Proverbs and Sayings' by James Hinton Knowles (1885):

This chinar tree is in the middle of a little island just big enough to pitch your tent on, in the midst of the Jhelum river by the village Shadipur. The Hindus have consecrated the place, and a Brahman is to be seen twice every day paddling himself along in a little boat to the spot, to worship and to make his offerings.
This chinar tree at Shadipur  is believed to be the (sangam) confluence of rivers Indus (Sind) and Jhelum (Vitasta) and is called `Prayag' by Kashmiri pandits - alluding to Prayag that is Allahabad where Yamuna and Ganga meet up. Kashmiri Pandits used to immerse the ashes and remains of their dead at this spot. 

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Previously: Kashmiri Proverbs borne of Chinar tree

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ruins of Parihaspura I Govardanadhara

Guest post by Man Mohan Munshi Ji. He writes:

The following six images pertain to the temple of Govardanahara, built and dedicated by Laltaditya Mukhpida of Karkota Dynasty in 8th century AD, one of the greatest Monarchs who ever ruled Kashmir. The great Monarch founded his capital at Parihaspura and built numerous temples of Vishnu, Shiva and Bhudha. He built Viharas, Agarharas and palaces at and around  Parihaspura. According to Kalhana a silver image of Vishnu was installed in the Govardanahara temple. But the capital did not survive for long as the royal residence was removed by his son Vajradatya. The Vitastasindhusamgama which during Laldatiya existed between Parihaspura and Trigami (Trigom) karewas was shifted to its present location opposite Naranbagh by Soyya, the able engineer of King Avantivarman in 9th century who shifted the capital to Avantipura. Later the temples were vandalised during the Muslim rule during 14th-15th century.

Distant view of Govardanadhara temple

Closer view of the ruins only staircases  and plinth is left


Only  surviving  statues 


ASI  Notice Board
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To these images I am adding following notes:

Note on the ancient site by Pandit Anand Koul from his book 'Archaeological Remains In Kashmir' (1935) . [You can read the complete book here]: 

Ruins at Paraspur

The site of ancient Paraspur (Parihasapura) lies nearly 2 1/2 miles south-west from Shadipur. On leaving the boat one crosses some corn field and, after ascending a gradual slope and passing through Trigam, reaches the plateau on which the ancient mounds rise. This city, says Kalhana, was founded by Lalitaditya Muktapida (A.D. 701-37) one of the greatest sovereigns of Kashmir, and a brief account is given of the five large buildings he erected here viz.,(1) the temple of Mukta-keshva with a golden image of Vishnu, (2) the temple of Parihasa-keshava with a silver image of Vishnu.(3) the temple of Mahavaraha with its image of Vishnu clad in golden armour, (4) the temple of Govardhanadhara with a silver image and (5) the so-called Rajavihara with a large quadrangle.

Here was a colossal statue of Buddha in copper. The confluences of the Sindhu and Vitasta was at this place inn ancient times. It was a very renowned place in by-gone days. There are many ruins of ancient temples still found in and near it, e.g.(1) temple ruins at Paraspur, (2) well preserved foundation of the temple of Vainya-swamin on the Paraspur Udar, near Ekmanpur, and (3) ruins at Malikpur. Of the temples to the west of Divar village there remains only a confused mass of huge blocks. The quadrangle too is utterly ruined and traceable only by wall foundations and broken pillars, etc. The large dimensions of these temples are indicated by the fact that the peristyle of the one further to the west formed a square of about2 75 feet. and that of the other an oblong of 230 feet by 170 feet. There are other ruined temples at this place, but they are all in a state of destruction. On the top of the mound lies a block remarkable for its size, being 8 1/2 feet square and 4 1/2 feet in height which, to judge from the large circular hole cut in its centre, must evidently have formed the base of a high column, or of a colossal image. The character of the ruins at Divar agrees exactly with that of the shrines mentioned in Kalhana's account.The shrine Vainya-swamin can be recognized with certainty in the ruined temple at Malikpur, one mile from the northern group of the Divar ruins. Sir Aurel Stein writes in the Rajatarangini about this place: -

"The vicissitudes, through which Parihaspura has passed after the reign of Lalitaditya, explain sufficiently the condition of utter decay exhibited by the Divar ruins. The royal residence, which Lalitaditya had placed at Parihasapura, was removed from there already by his son Vajraditya. The great change of the Vitasta, removed the junction of this river with the Sindhu from Parihasapura to the present Shadipur,nearly three miles away. This must have seriously impaired the importance of Parihasapura. Scarcely a century and a half after Lalitadiya's death,King Shankaravarman (A.D. 883-901) used materials from Parihasapura for the construction of his new town and temples at Pattan. Some of the shrines, however, must have survived to a later period, as we find the Purohitas of Parihasapura referred to as an apparently influential body in the reign of Samgramaraja (A.D. 1003-28). Under King Harsha the colossal Buddha image of Parihasapura is mentioned among the few sacred statues which escaped being seized and melted down by that king. The silver image of Vishnu Parihasakeshava was subsequently carried away and broken up by King Harsha. The final destruction of the temple of Parihasapora is attributed to Sikandar But-Shikan (A.D. 1394-1416).Even up to the year 1727 A.D. the Paraspur plateau showed architectural fragments of great size, which have since been carried away as building materials.It is interesting to find that these ruins were yet at a comparatively so recent time generally attributed to Lalitaditya's building"

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Aurel Stein made a spot visit to Paraspora in Sept. 1892. There he traced the actual ruins of the building describedin the Rajatarangini. These remains were situated near the village Sambal on a small plateau (Udar) between themarshes of Panznor and village Haratrath. Stein identidied five great buildings which Lalitaditya had erected at Parihaspura. These were identified as Parihasakeswa, Mukatakeswa, Mahavaraha, Govardhanadhara and Rajavihara.The first four were temples dedicated to worship of Vishnu and the last named was a Buddhist convent. However whenrevisiting the site in May 1896, Stein found many of the stones missing that existed in 1892. On inquiry heleared that these stones were taken away by the contractors engaged in building the new Tonga road to Srinagar.To prevent such callous damage that was being caused to these relics of past, Stein made a representation to theResident Sir Adelbert Talbot for urgent need of protecting the remains. The Resident supposted his petition andeffective steps were ordered by the Maharaja to prevent repetion of similar vandalism

~ via siraurelstein.org

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Note on the site from 'Ancient Monuments of Kashmir' (1933) by Ram Chandra Kak.[Read the complete book here at KOA]:


Plate LV


The karewas of Paraspor and Divar are situated at a distance of fourteen miles from Srinagar on the Baramula road. They were chosen by King Lalitaditya (c. A.D. 750) for the erection of a new capital city, and it is certain that, given a sufficient supply of drinking water, the high and dry Plateaus of Parihasapura have every advantage over the low, swampy Srinagar as a building site. Lalitaditya and his ministers seem to have vied with each other in embellishing the new city with magnificent edifices which were intended to be worthy alike of the king's glory and the ministers' affluence. The Plateau is studded with heaps of ruins of which a few have been excavated. Among these the most important are three Buddhist structures, a stupaj a monastery, and a chaitya. Their common features are the enormous size of the blocks of limestone used in their construction, the smoothness of their dressing, and the fineness of their joints. The immense pile at the north-eastern corner of the Plateau is the stupa (Plate LV) of Chankuna, the Turkoman (?) minister of Lalitaditya. Its superstructure has entirely disappeared, leaving behind a huge mass of scorched boulders which completely cover the top of the base. There is a large massive block in the middle of this debris, which has a circular hole in the middle, 5' deep. It is probable that this stone belonged to the hti (finial) of the stupa, and that the hole is the mortice in which was embedded the lower end of the staff of the stone umbrellas which crowned the drum.
The base is 128' 2" square in plan, with offsets and a flight of steps on each side. Its mouldings are of the usual type, a round torus in the middle and a filleted torus as the cornice. The steps were flanked by plain rails and side walls which had pilasters in front decorated with carved figures of seated and standing atlantes. Some of these are in position, while others, which were lying about loose, have been transported to the Srinagar Museum. They are not grotesque creatures like those so commonly seen in Gandhara, but have the appearance of ordinary respectable gentlemen, whose placid features seem to indicate that the superincumbent weight sits lightly upon them. The top surface of each of the two plinths is broad and affords adequate space for circumambulation. Among the loose architectural stones lying scattered about the site are a few curious blocks in the south-eastern and south-western corners. They are round torus stones adorned with four slanting bands or fillets running round the body. As this type of torus moulding is not used in either of the bases, it is probable that it belonged to the string-course on the drum of the stupa. There are fragments of trefoiled arches also, which contained images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas.

The large square structure to the south of the stupa is the rajavihara, or royal monastery. A flight of steps in the east wall gives access to one of its cells which served as a verandah. The monastery is a quadrangle of twenty-six cells enclosing a square courtyard which was originally paved with stone flags, some of which are extant. In front of the cells was a broad verandah, which was probably covered, the roof being supported by a colonnade which ran along the edge of the plinth. A flight of steps corresponding to the one mentioned above leads down to the courtyard. Exactly opposite to this, in the middle of the west wall, are three cells preceded by a vestibule, which is built on a plinth projected into the courtyard. It is probable that these were the apartments occupied by the abbot of the monastery. Near a corner of it is a large stone trough, which may have served as a water reservoir for bathing purposes. A couple of stone drains passing underneath cells Nos. 18 and 21 (if we begin counting from the cell to the south of the entrance chamber) carry off the rain and other surplus water from the courtyard. Externally the plinth is about 10' high. In cell No. 25 (that is the one to the north of the entrance chamber) was found a small earthen jug which contained forty-four silver coins in excellent preservation. They belonged to the time of kings Vinayaditya, Vigraha, and Durlabha. They are now exhibited in the Numismatic Section of the Srinagar Museum. The monastery was repaired at a subsequent period. The repairs are plainly distinguishable in the exterior of the wall on the eastern and western sides.

The building next to it on the south side is the chaitya built by Lalitaditya. It stands on a double base of the usual type. A flight of steps on the east side leads to the entrance, which must originally have been covered by a large trefoil-arch, fragments of which are Iying about the site. This building possesses some of the most massive blocks of stone that have ever been used in Kashmiri temples, and which compare favourably with those used in ancient Egyptian buildings. The floor of the sanctum is a single block 14' by 12' 6" by 5' 2".

The sanctum is 27' square surrounded by a circumambulatory passage. It is probable that its ceiling was supported on four columns, the bases only of which survive at the four corners. The roof, which was probably supported on the massive stone walls of the pradakshina, may have been of the pyramidal type.

The courtyard is enclosed by a rubble-stone wall which has nothing remarkable about it. In front of the temple steps is the base of a column which probably supported the dhvaja, or banner, bearing the special emblem of the deity enshrined in the sanctuary.

The flank walls of the stair were adorned with atlantes similar to those of the stupa.

Near the chaitya is the foundation of a small building of the diaper-rubble style.

While this Plateau was reserved for the erection of Buddhist buildings only, the other two were exclusively appropriated by Hindus. Perhaps the arrangement was intentional, to avoid possible friction between the two powerful religious bodies. On the karewa locally known as Gordan there are ruins of a Hindu temple which are probably all that remain of Lalitaditya's temple of Govardhanadhara. Crossing the ravine in which nestles the little village of Diwar- Yakmanpura, and ascending the Plateau opposite, are seen the immense ruins of two extraordinarily large temples - one of them has a peristyle larger than that of Martand - which may represent Lalitaditya's favourite shrines of Parihasakesava and Muktakesava.

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From Kashmir, 1930s


"A film by Norwiegan missionary Otto Torvik recorded between 1930 and 1934 documenting his journey from Kashmir to Kashgar, East Turkistan (Xinjiang), China."[video link]

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

If I ate lotus seeds, I'd return to Kashmir

If I ate lotus seeds, I'd return to Kashmir
LIFE 2 Sep 1957
An American couple following Kipling's trail in Asia.
Peggy Streits swims among lotus plants in Nagin Lake
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ruins of Martand

Guest post by Man Mohan Munshi Ji. He shares some recent photographs of Martand and writes: 

The famous sun temple of Martand built by Laltaditya Mukhpida of the Karkota dynasty during the 8th century on an arid Karewa (Vudar) between Mattan and Achibal. It is believed that Laltaditya build a township of Martanda Desa for which he brought water by the Martand Canal from the Lidar river. The location of the temple/township was selected as it provided a beautiful view of the sunset behind the snowy peaks of Pir Panjal Range. But the view of sunset from the temple is now blocked by hefty overgrown Chinars of the Ranbir Pur Village immediately west of the temple.



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1870

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Previously:




hoon myet, Dog Morsel


Kashmiri Pandit tradition of leaving first morsel of meal for the dogs.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Submerged ancient temple at Manasbal



Man Mohan Munshi Ji shares photograph of Submerged ancient temple at Manasaras (Manasbal). It is  an ancient spot recently re-discovered and re-claimed. About the place he says:

The temple is an ancient one but not much is known about its antiquity. Some time back it was reported in the print media that it was recently uncovered. I visited the place last month and found that a parapet and fence was built around it but the level of water has remained the same and water was oozing out from an underground spring.  I took a plunge inside the water logged temple and felt with my hands about one foot tall Shivling inside the temple.
I do not believe that the Manasbal temple was built under water. Probably the submergence of the temple was caused by (i) silting of the outlet of the lake near Sumbal, subsequent rising of the level of the lake or by (ii) the sinking of an underground cavern below the temple.





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To these photographs I am adding following old note:

"One of the most attractive places in the valley is the Manasbal lake. Being absolutely free from disturbance of any kind, and nestling in an oval basin surrounded on all sides by hills and uplands, the lake is an ideal abode for the happy lotus-eater, who dreams away his days reclining under the shady chinar, and passes his evenings in watching the long streaks of moonlight flitting across the mirror-like surface of the water. Naturally, such a delightful spot would not have been overlooked either by the devout Hindu or the nature- adoring Mughal. The former have left a small temple, now partially submerged during the greater part of the year. It is a very small structure, and only its two pyramidal roofs are visible in the driest seasons. The cornice of the lower roof, and the horizontal band which divides it from the upper storey, are decorated with series of dentils and metopes. Only the upper part of the pediment of the entrance is visible. It faces west.

~ Ancient Monuments of Kashmir (1933) by Ram Chandra Kak.[Read the complete book here at KOA]


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Note on the temple  by Pandit Anand Koul from his book 'Archaeological Remains In Kashmir' (1935) . [You can read the complete book here]:

Miniature Temple at Manasbal

At the south-east cornner of the lake of Manasbal is a miniature temple built of stone, standing in the water.
The temple appears to be a square of about six feet and has only one doorway to the west covered by a pyramidal pediment, which is divided into two portions by a horizontal return of the said mouldings as in the case of the Martanda colonnade. The upper portian is occupied by the head and shoulder of a figure holding a sort of staff in the left hand. The angles of the lower portion of the doorway pediment, below the horizontal moulding and above the trefoil, are occupied each with a naked figure leaning against the head of the trfoil, and holding up over the arch a sort of waving scarf which is passed on through the other hand.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ruins of Naran Nag

Man Mohan Munshi Ji is back after a month and a half  long tour of Kashmir Valley visiting remote inaccessible glens, valleys, mountain tops and holy places. He will be sharing his photographs from the tour here at this blog. First in this series is his photographs of Naran Nag. About the place he says:

A number of ruins of ancient temples exist at Narang Nag near Wangat locted by the side of Kankahini (Krenk Nadi) above the township of Kangan in Sind valley. It is believed that these temples were built by well to do Pilgrims as a thanks giving for successful yatra of Haramukh above Utrasaras (Gangabal).








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To these photographs I am adding a note on Naran Nag temple complex by Pandit Anand Koul from his book 'Archaeological Remains In Kashmir' (1935) . [You can read the complete book here]:



"Five miles to the east of Vangat (Vasishtbashrama) higer up in the Sindh Valley, there are some ruined temples near the spring called Naran Nag, at the foot of the Bhutsher or Bhuteshvara spur of the Haramukuta peaks. They are in two groups, situated at a distance of about 100 yards from each other.

The locality of these temple nearer Vangat is known by the name of Rajdhani, or metropolis. This group consists of six buildings, all more or lss ruined, and the remains of an enclosing wall, measuring 176 feet by 130 feet, may still be traced, although there is no evidence of the form it originally had. The largest temple of the group measures 24 feet square and has a projection on each of its four sides, measuring 3 feet by 15 1/2 feet 6 in. The main blovk is surmounted by a pyramidal roof of rubble formerly, no doubt, faced with stone; and the gables which terminated the porch-like projections on all four sides, can still be traced. Ther are two entrances facing east and west. Not far from the group is a platform, rectangular in shape, (100 feet by 67 feet) which appears to have been the basement of some building or temple. A colonnade once existed all round it - numerous bases of pillars are to be seen in their places on one of the longer sides of the rectangle, and several fragments of fluted columns are lying about, their average diameter being two feet.

 About 20 yards to the north-east of the platform are the ruins of the second group of temples, eleven in number, with the remains of a gateway in the centre about 22 feer wide, similar to that belonging to the first group. The principal one among them is 25 feet square with projections on each face.

 A mass of stone measuring 22 feet by 7 feet shaped into a tank for water, exists on the south face of the principal temples.

 The whole group is encircled by the remains of a rectangular wall of which the foundation can be traced, together with several bases of pillars; and at the N.W. corner is a large tank of stone, full of cold and clear water. The dome of the chief temple is of rubble masonry, but all the other parts of the building are of sculptured stones.

 The chief peculiarities of these ruins are the number of temples contained withing the same enclosing wall, and the absence of symmetry in their arrangement. There is a rock in the middle of the Kankanadi stream, half a mile from here, with a room cut into it which is sufficient to accommodate four persons. In its centre there is a linga and there is also a niche in one wall.

 In antiquity these ruins are supposed to rank next to those on the Shankracharya hill. Major Cole assigned the age of these building to about the commencement of the Christian era.

The worship of Shiva Bhutesha, the Lord of Beings, localised near the sacred mountain-lake of Haramukuta-Ganga, has played an important part in the ancient religion of Kashmir. Sir Aurel Stein has been able to show the identity of these temples with the buildings which the Kashmir kings had, at the different periods, raised in honour of Shiva Bhutesha and the neighouring lings of Shiva Jyeshtesha. The small tank above the ruins, which is now known as Naran Nag, is, according to him, identical with the Sodara spring mentioned in connection with King Jalauka, son of Asoka, and king Samdhimat-Aryaraja (35 B.C.). A large store pith or seat, 15 feet long 8 feet broad and 6 feet high, has been recently unearthed near Naran Nag. The eastern group clusters round a temple, which Sir Aurel Stein identifies with the Bhutesha shrine and which, according to Kalhana, was situated close to that of Bhairava. The western group is, therefore, identical with the temple dedicated to Shiva Jyeshtesa. King Jalauka erected here a stone temple to Shiva Bhutesha, and made donations to the shrine of Shiva Jyeshtesha. King Narendraditya Khinnkhila (250-214 B.C.) consecrated shrines to Shiva Bhuteshvara here. If he is identical with Khinkhila, whose reign is known from a coin, he probably belonged to the 5th or 6th century, so says Dr. Sten Konow. Lalitaditya Muktapida (700-36 A.D.) erected a temple for Shiva Jyeshtesha here, which Sir Aurel Stein thinks is the is the existing principal shrine in the western group. Kalhana inform us that King Avantivarman (855-83 A.D.) visited this place and made a pedestal with silver conduit for bathing at Bhutesha. He further relates how the temple was plundered in the days of Jyasimha in Kalhana's time (1128-49, the date when the Rajatarangini was written). No important additions were believed to have been made to the building there, and the conclusion one arrives at is that the central shrine of the western group belongs to the 8th century A.D., while others are older."

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Update: P. Parimoo Ji sends in photographs of the place shot around a year ago on 14th June 2011.



 He is intrigued by absence of GI Sheets in the recent photographs.

Man Mohan Munshi Ji adds:
"No sheets were not there during my visit to the place in August but entrances to some of the temples were blocked with wooden planks and crude stone masonry."

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