For ages, it is believed from the Mythological times that Rishi Kashyapa came to Kashmir and brought with him traditions, religion, mythology etc. All the holy rivers were named by him. The tallest peaks and mountains were named after deities. Over the passage of time, all these rivers, mountains, peaks etc., became places of worship. The valley of Kashmir is known as Deva Bhoomi.
Welfare of the Kashmiri people is uppermost in the minds of Their Holinesses Pujyasri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji and Pujyasri Shankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji. Their Holinesses have performed yatras to J&K. The Seers have been striving hard towards the preservation of the Vedic Dharma there. With the blessings and benign guidance of Their Holinesses Pujyasri Shankaracharya Swamijis, several programmes including Havans, Pilgrimage, Vedic recitations and cultural activities with a focus on Kashmir have been organized by Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham in recent times, bringing to the fore, the importance of Kashmir to our traditions and culture.
As yet another initiative to highlight the richness of our culture in Kashmir, and as an eyeopener to the greatness of this Land, this article "Temples of Jammu and Kashmir" along with the photos taken recently of the various temples of Jammu and Kashmir are presented here.
Kheer Bhawani (The Holy Spring of Tulla Mulla)
The Divine Mother, Goddess Maharajni is the presiding deity. This temple is connected to Ramayanam. The color of the Spring water changes depending on the times. Great souls like Swami Vivekananda has visited this Holy Place. Jyeshta Ashtami festival is very famous and during this festival, more than 30000 Kashmiri Pandits visit this Shrine to offer their prayers.
Presiding Deity - In the midst of the spring water
His Holiness at Kheer Bhawani Temple
Devotees making floral rangoli and lighting diyas(lamps)
Amarnath Cave Shrine of God Almighty Siva (Ice Lingam)
One of the holy trinity, Shiva is a living God. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. This is the holy cave in which the ice-lingam of Lord Siva is formed, changing its size with the waning and waxing of the moon.
The Ice Shiv Ling
His Holiness performing puja at Amarnath
Sankaracharya Temple, Srinagar
This is the Hill where Adi Sankara Bagavat Pada meditated during his visit to Kashmir. The temple of Lord Shiva is situated atop the Hill. It is a wonderful sight to see Srinagar from the top of the Hill. The Shankaracharya Temple, also known as the Jyesteshwara temple, is located in Srinagar, Kashmir. The Shankaracharya Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is overlooking the town of Srinagar.The Shankaracharya temple in Kashmir is situated in the Srinagar district on a hill, at a height of 1100 ft. above surface level of the main city on the hill. It is believed that Raja Gopadatya got the temple constructed , giving it the name of Gopadri. Sri Adi Shankaracharya is supposed to have stayed here when he visited Kashmir to revive Sanatan Dharma, thus giving the temple the name of Shankaracharya Mandir and the hill itself is referred to as Shankaracharya Hill.
The temple is of great importance, not only from the point of view of religion, but also from architectural viewpoint. A high octagonal platform supports the temple, approached by a flight of approximately hundred steps. The sidewalls of the steps once bore some valuable inscriptions.
Another view of the temple
His Holiness at the Shankaracharya Hill Temple - April 2012
Their Holinesses at the Shankaracharya Temple, Kashmir - June 1997
Plaque commemorating visit of Their Holinesses to Shankaracharya Hill in June, 1997
Shailaputri (Nagabal, Baramulla)
This Teertha is situated on the left bank of the Vitasta river at Baramulla. This deity is very famous in this part of Kashmir, also known as miniature Ksheer Bhawani.
Sri Vaishnodevi (Jammu)
This temple is as famous as Amarnathji or Ksheer Bhawani in Kashmir. Divine Mother is worshiped in the form of Vaishnavi. A pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages of our times. Popular the world over as “Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata” which means, the Mother who fulfills whatever Her children wish for, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji resides in a Holy Cave located in the folds of the three peaked mountain named Trikuta (pronounced as Trikoot). Daily pilgrims to this Temple exceed 30000. In fact, the number of Yatris visiting the Holy Shrine annually now exceeds one crore. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad.
Sun Temple and Sun Tirth at Martand
This temple (tirth) is close to a village near Anantnag known as Mattan. There is a spring here and a small rivulet by name Chaka is flowing close by. Thousands of devotees perform Shradhas to their deceased ancestors.
The ruins of a magnificent Temple known as Martand can be found in this Village, which was built by Emperor Lalitadiya. The Martand Sun Temple was built by King of Karkota Dynasty - Lalitaditya Muktapida in 8th century AD. It is said to have been built during 725-756 AD. The foundation of the temple is said to have been around 370-500 AD., and also some attributed the construction of the temple began with Ranaditya. The temple was completely destroyed by Sikandar Butshikan in early 15th century. Click here to read more about "Martand "- An article by Dr. R. Nagaswamy
Video of the Martand Temple
Sharada Mataji (Jammu)
The ancient Sharada Mandir, which Adi Sankara visited, is now in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This Temple is situated on the banks of Kishanganga river. The people who were displaced from that place after partition of India, have now settled in Bantalab in Jammu. They have built a Temple similar to the one in POK. Sarda Devi is also known here as Goddess Saraswati. From time immemorial, Kashmir is known as Sharadapeeth.
Sharika Chakreshwar Temple (Hari Parbat)
A hillock in Srinagar City, Hari Parbat has many temples. The famous one (main temple) is Goddess Sharika. This deity is the presiding deity of Kahsmir. This is considered as a ‘Siddha Peeta’ / ‘Sakthi Peeta’. Navratra is the festival annually performed here. The Cosmic Mother here represents the solar energy, having seven components; Seven worlds, Seven colours of light, Seven Rishis of Veda Vidya. The energy here is personified as “Solar Energy”.
This is the temple of Shiv-Rilhanesvara built in the middle of the spring, in the 10th Century AC.
Pandrethan, now mostly in ruins, is one of Kashmir's historic capitals, said by Kalhana in his poetical account of Kashmiri history called Rajatarangini to have been founded by king Pravarsena in the 6th century AD. Its name thus derives from Puranadishthana or 'old town'. The small stone Shiva temple in the picture dates from the mid-10th century, reputedly erected by a minister named Meru. It was set in a spring-fed tank and its plinth is now submerged. Its interior has one of the finest surviving temple ceilings in Kashmir, consisting of three intersecting squares formed by diagonally placed lintels, the soffit decorated with a lotus. This general view, looking across the pool towards the temple, is reproduced in Henry Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India report, 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir,' (1869), in which he wrote, 'The small village of Pandrethan is situated on the Jhelum, about a mile and a half to the south-east of Srinagar...The Temple is close to the village, and stands in the center of a tank of water...At the time of my visit, the water was about two feet over the floor of the Temple, and I had to obtain a small boat to enable me and my surveyors to take measurements. The stone ceiling is elaborately carved in bas-relief figures, and it is one of the most perfect pieces of ancient carving that exists in Kashmir...The pyramidal roof is divided into two portions by an ornamental band. The corner pilasters are surmounted by carved capitals, and the pediments of the porches appear to have terminated with a melon-shaped ornament. The ceiling is formed of nine blocks of stone; four resting over the angles of the cornice, reduce the opening to a square, and an upper course of four stones still further reduces the opening, which is covered by a single block decorated with a large lotus.
Ganpatyar Temple (Srinagar)
Raghunathji Temple (Jammu)
Situated at the city center the inner walls of the main temple are covered with gold sheet on three sides while the interiors of the temple are plated with gold. There are many galleries of saligrams. The Temple is dedicated to various Gods and Goddesses connected with the epic Ramayana which make it a rare site to behold. The temple consists of seven shrines, each with a tower of its own. The main sanctuary is dedicated to Lord Vishnu's eighth incarnation the Rama.
His Holiness performing Harati to the Presiding Deity of the Mandir
Raghunath mandir in the backdrop
On the way to Sanskrit Research Centre
Bave Wali Mata (Goddess Mahakali)
The Bahu fort today serves as a religious temple is situated on the left bank of the river Tawi. This is perhaps the oldest fort constructed originally by Raja Bahulochan over 3,000 years ago. The temple inside is dedicated to the Goddess Kali popularly known as Bave wali Mata. Bave Wali Mata is the presiding deity of Jammu . Tuesday and Sunday are special days for worship for the devotees. Fort is surrounded by a beautiful terraced garden. The famous temple of Bawey Wali Mata inside the Bahu Fort is also known as the temple of Mahakali Goddess and is considered second only to Mata Vaishno Devi.
Ranbireshwar Temple (Jammu)
Ranbireshwar Temple is the other well -known Shiva temple in Jammu. Ranbireshwar Temple has its own legend, its devotees and specific days of worship. This famour temple of Lord Shiva is located opposite Jammu & Kashmr Civil Secretariat, on Shalamar Road in Jammu. In Ranbireshwar Temple, there are twelve Shiva ‘lingams’ of crystal measuring 12" to 18" and galleries with thousands of ‘saligrams’ fixed on stone slabs.
Peer Kho cave temple (Jammu)
The Peer Kho cave temple overlooking the Tawi river is another well known Shiva temple in Jammu. Peer Kho cave is located on the bank of river Tawi and it is widely believed that Ramayan character Jamvant (the bear God) meditated in this cave.
Avantipora Temple (ruins)
At Avantipura itself Avantivarman erected two magnificent temples, one dedicated to Lord Vishnu called "Avantisvamin" and the other to Lord Shiva called "Avantisvara" the former built before his accession to the throne and the latter after obtaining sovereignty. The king was a devout worshipper of Lord Vishnu from his childhood and remained Vaishnava in the core of his heart till his death. However, out of great regard for his minister Sura who was a devotee of Shiva, he made the other temple dedicated to Lord Shiva
Avantiswamin and Avantiswar Temples on the left bank of River Jhelum lies at a distance of 32 km towards south of Srinagar on the National Highway. Click here to read more about "Avantipur" - An article by Dr. R. Nagaswamy
His Holiness at the Avantiswara Temple during His Yatra to J&K in April, 2012
Zyeshta Mata Mandir - Zeeth Ya’r (Srinagar) Zeshta's origin relates to an important event which took place during the churning of great ocean kshirasagra. Devtas and Asuras bothj desirous of attaining morality were yearning for getting the nectar from Ksirasagara. At the same time they were conscious that this nectar would become available to them only if Lord Shiva, who is holder and controller of Ksirasagara, permitted them to churn it. So both the parties, with great reverence, adored, the Lord. Pleased with their adoration and devotion, Lord Siva gifted condition that whatever substance came out there from would be shared by both Devtas and Asuras equally.
Unaware of the nature of the substance that would come out after churning of the ocean, they gladly accepted the condition.
Feeling delighted and getting the help of Mandara parvata, Narayana and Vasukinaga, the Devtas and Asuras started the process of churning. Although initially they got fourteen gems of which one gem was in the form of Goddess Lakshmi but suddenly it started evaporating poison in the form of Kalakuta or Halahala-- the terrible poison having its lethal effect to destroy whole universe instantaneously. The Devas who were given the control over thirteen gems, too were frightened about Kalakuta. Being of a very virulent character, the moment it appeared after churning, it started engulfing everything and burn it up. It was beyong their power to control it. They were desparate and adored Lord Shiva to come to their rescue. The Lord, who is Trilokinatha, protector of the Universe, was pleased and bestowed his Anugraha to his creation by consuming the poison. But in order to protect Parvati (Lord Siva's energyies), he stored it in his throat. That is the reason why Lord Siva's throat is bluish in appearance. The Devas and Asuras were delighted and they again adored Lord Siva by addressing him Nilkantha.
The Devas bestowed Goddess Lakshmi to Lord Visnu. This infuriated the Asuras. In their anger they snatched her from Lord Vishnu and kept her in captivity in a cave called "Guptagara" (now Gupkar). This action of Asuras gave rise to wrath of Lord Siva and with his divine force he created Goddess Zestha and Vira Vaitala with powers to annihilate all the Asuras and free goddess Lakshmi from their
clutches. Upon accomplishment of the task, Lord Shiva by his grace bestowed both of them with the power of protection and upliftment of mankind. The abode of Mata Zyestha is at a stones throw from the place called "Gupkar" in the Srinagar city. All the devotees worshipping Goddess Zyestha are fully protected and receive Mother's grace uninterruptedly . It has been a tradition to offer 'cooked yellowish rice" (in kashmiri "tehar") on all thursdays during the month of Zyesth.
This famous ancient shrine of Kashmir for worldly people is a place for attaining Siddi, Riddhi and Buddhi in all fields. This is the now famous Zyeshta Matha Temple. Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam organizes various havans in this temple for welfare of inhabitants in this part of the world.
Sankaragaurisvara Temple at Patan
The Shankaragaurishvara temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva and located in Patan near Baramulla, India. The temple was built by Shankaravarman of Kashmir's Utpala dynasty who ruled between 883-902 C.E. It is presently in a dilapidated condition and worship is no longer conducted. It is built in a style similar to the Shankaracharya temple.
Aap Shambhu Temple, Jammu
Temple at Sathrian in Roopnagar area of Jammu city is an ancient stone temple having a self- manifested stone Lingam According to a legend, in the times immemorial this entire place was an uninhabited jungle, the milky cows and buffaloes used to come to the Lingam after grazing and shed entire milk on the Lingam.
There are many more religious places in this Holy Land. Some important ones are given below:
Bheda Devi Tirtha; Kapatesvara Tirtha; Various Nags such as Naran Nag; Sheshnag; Panchtarni; Mamalishwar; Kapal Mochan; Vasuki Nag;