The disintegration of the Kashmir Valley took away the ancient Sharda Peeth, one of the key seats of Bharatiya knowledge, from India. Reviving Sharda Peeth Temple and University, an all-important strategic hub of education in the history of Bharat, for Indian pilgrims is the need of the hour
-Dr Ujwala Chakradeo
Sharda – Goddess of intellect, is a form of Saraswati. On the Northernmost point of Bharat, this temple is located in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The temple is the University- Sharda University; a place of acquiring knowledge.
According to some scholars this temple was built in 237 B.C. by Emperor Ashoka, while some other scholars claim this temple to be the contribution of Kushan kings. However, no one can deny the fact that this temple and the university have been very important and strategic hubs of education in the history of Bharat. Between 6th and 12th century CE, Sharda Peeth was one of the foremost temple universities of the Indian subcontinent.
The remnants of the temple give an idea of the grandeur of the university and the temple. Ruins tell it’s glorious story. It is located on the banks of Neelam river, near the Line Of Control (LoC), 140 km from Muzaffarabad and 30 km from Kupwara. The temple is 142 feet high and about 100 feet wide. The walls around it are six feet wide and eleven feet high. There are arches on the broken stone walls.
Some scholars say that the university had the largest library in the world at that time. It was a prestigious centre for the study of the Vedas. The university had many ancient important texts written by Panini and other grammar scholars of that time. That is why it is also called ‘Sarva Jnanpith’. Such a beautiful place of the deity of knowledge was created by our ancestors. The place from where the origin, propagation and dissemination of knowledge was profuse and easy. The place has been forgotten today.
The Sharda Peeth corridor was opened last year and now fortunately Indian devotees can at least visit this place. I pray that we will be able to save and revive Sharda Peeth Temple and University soon.
(The columnist is Principal of SMM College of Architecture, Nagpur and specialises in Bharatiya Architectural Heritage)