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Goddess Saraswati (Sharda)

Temple History

The temple dedicated to the goddess Sarasvati (Sharda) is on the banks of Neelum River. Kashmir was sometimes called Sharada Desh because of this temple and Sharada was called Kashmira Puravasini (resident of city of Kashmir). Kashmiri Hindus remain highly devoted towards this deity, and by extension, to the Sharada Peeth temple.[1] As part of their daily worship, Kashmiri Hindus utter the phrase" "Namastey Sharada Devi Kashmir Pur Vasini Tvam Ham Prartheye Nityam Vidya Danam Che De hi mey" (Salutations to you, O Sharada, O Goddess, O one who resides in Kashmir. I pray to you daily, please give me the charity of knowledge).

The temple had periodically fallen into disrepair by the 14th century, and was last repaired by Maharaja Gulab Singh of Kashmir in the 19th Century. Following the brief 1948 war in the region between Pakistan and India, the site came under control of Pashtun tribesmen who invaded the region. Control was then passed to the newly formed rebel government of Pakistan administered Kashmir. The site was heavily damaged in the 2005 earthquake which struck the region, and has not been repaired since that time by the government of Pakistan. Pakistani Hindus rarely visit the temple, preferring to visit sites farther south in Sindh, Balochistan, and Punjab provinces.

The place was once a celebrated centre of learning in the subcontinent. It was a centre of great Sanskrit scholars and Kashmiri Pandits and was a famous centre of Hinduism and Buddhism. Near Sree Sharada Devi temple, there used to be famous Sanskrit university. The temple is so ancient that Kashmir State was earlier known as 'Sharada Peeth'. It is at this temple that Sankaracharya received the right to sit on the Sarvanjnanapeetham or Sarvajna peetha(Throne of Wisdom).The temple is at a height of 11000 feet above the sea level and is about 70 miles from Srinagar, summer Capital of Indian Administered Kashmir. The length of the temple is 142 feet and width is 94.6 feet. The outer walls of the temple are 6 ft. wide and 11 ft long. And there are arches with 8 ft. height. It is a very good example of architecture. The Sarada image at Shringeri Sharadamba temple was once said to have been made of sandalwood, which is supposed to have been taken by Sankaracharya from here. In the year 1030 CE, the Muslim historian Al-Baruni visited Kashmir. According to him, there was a wooden idol of Sree Sharada Devi in Sree Sharada Devi temple. He compared the temple of Sree Sharada Devi with the Multan Sun Temple, Vishnu Chakraswamin temple at Thaneshwar and Somnath temple.

 

Additional Information

During 16th century, when Akbar was ruling at Delhi, Abul Fazal, one of the famous 'Nava-Ratnas' in his Court, has written about Sree Sharada Devi temple that Sree Sharada Devi temple is near the banks of river Madhumati (currently Neelum river) which is full of gold particles and he also wrote that one can experience miracles on every eighth day of the bright fortnight of the month. In the 14th century, the temple was attacked for the first time. After this attack, India started losing its contact with Krishanganga and Sharada Peeth. In the 19th century, Dogra king of Kashmir restored this temple.

Sage Shandilya used to meditate in Sharada-van. Near the temple of Sree Sharada Devi, there is 'Amarkund' lake. It is believed that Sage Shandilya got the 'darshan' of Sree Sharada Devi there.

Prior 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.

Prior 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.

Muzaffarabad Airport 215 KM, Muzaffarabad 209 KM and Sharda 220 m. 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 Sharda
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