Parihaspora- An Ancient Capital Of Kashmir Has Now Lost Its Glory And Is Known As The ‘City Of Stones’ By The Locals!

Just around a few kms from Srinagar lies the plateau of Parihaspora which was chosen as the site for a new Capital by one of the greatest Kings of Kashmir, Lalitaditya in the 8th century AD. Parihaspora is an old town situated near the district of Baramula at 26 km from Srinagar. This town was the capital of Kashmir during the Shankervarman Regime. It was found in the 8th century AD by the king of Kashmir, Lalityaditya Muktapid.

Lalitaditya,  great Bhuddhist ruler in the history of Kashmir made it his capital. He constructed three historical monuments here auch as Chatiya, Rajbihari and Sootopa in 8th century BC. In Chatiya the assembly was held and matters of common interest were discussed. Rajbihari was the court of the kingdom. In Sootopa which was a seven storey building, matters related to religion were set and rituals were offered.

Sources claim that Lalitaditya built his residence and four temples in this area. This was also the Golden Age of Buddhism in Kashmir but it existed in an alliance along with the Vedic beliefs. There was apparently a great statue of Vishnu made of Gold and an equally tall statue of the Buddha made in Copper. There are conflicting accounts as to what was the real purpose of these buildings but everyone agrees that Lalitaditya built them and they were simply magnificent.

Parihaspora lost its status as a capital after Lalitaditya’s death. His son moved the royal residence. The Jhelum River is to the northeast of Parihaspora as it meets the Sind Nallah at Shadpur sangam. In the past this confluence of the rivers occurred closer to Parihaspora. The change in the course of the river is not natural but was engineered by famous Soya Pandit during Raja Avanti Varman’s time (855–883 AD). With the river access gone, the city suffered greatly.

The real destruction occurred when Avanti Varman’s son Shankar Varman moved his capital to the new city of Shankarpur. He cannibalized all the materials from these temples and palaces to build his city of Shankarpur (Pattan). Parihaspora however survived the plunder but+ during the war between King Harsha and Uccala and Uccala took refuge in Parihaspora. King Harsha believing that Uccala was in one of the buildings set the place on fire. He broke and melted down the statues of Parihaspora. The final blow to the temples came when Sultan Sikandar destroyed them completely in the fourteenth century.

Auriel Stein, the great British Indologist, who translated Kalhana’s Rajtarangani also visted the site twice in 1892. In between his two visits he noticed that a lot of sculptures and stones were missing. It turned out that the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was building the Jehlum Cart road and stones from Parihaspora were being used for the construction. Auriel Stein then approached the British resident at the Court of the Maharaja and he was able to convince the Maharaja to put an end to the mindless destruction of whatever remained.

But now, the ruins are spread over a large area and as of now only the bases of the great structures remain and these suggest that these must have been magnificent architectural specimens in their time. In fact the main structure here is quite bigger than the remains of the Great Sun Temple at Martand which is also attributed to Lalitaditya. The landscape is littered with stone blocks/ rocks of various sizes which at one time must have been a part of the great structures. Infact the locals nowadays refer to the place as “Kani Shahar” or the City of stones.

Sharanya Alva


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