Shankaragaurishvara temple in Pattan is an exemplary example of Kashmiri temple style architecture prevalent in the 9th century. Modern Pattan is actually Shankarapattana, the capital founded by Shankaravarman of Utpala dynasty. Both Shankaravarman and his father Avantivarman were patrons of art, architecture and Sanskrit literature. Their noteworthy contribution to the revival of Hindu philosophy and the Sanskrit language helped Kashmir become an important centre for learning and religious discourses.
Shankaravarman built the Shankaragaurishvara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in his capital city of Shankarapattana. This temple would have undoubtedly been the pride of the capital with its elaborately detailed carvings, decorated pillars in the porches and repetition of pediments in accordance with the Kashmiri style of architecture.
This temple however is in a dilapidated state today but the refinement and precision of cutting and carving is quite remarkable. This is an east facing temple with a square sanctum sanctorum. The portico has trefoiled niches with lovely figurines. The columns at the entrance have beautifully detailed sculptures. The pedestal of the temple and main shrine is built in a peristyle (open colonnade) within a walled enclosure. The peristyle and plinth are buried underground. There is some evidence of a cellular passage which is seen in the site. The exterior and interior walls have stunning relief work exhibiting masterly craftsmanship.
Though the temple has undergone immense damage over the years and is totally in ruins, the temple complex and garden is tended to with great care by the local authorities. Worship however is longer conducted here. This temple is listed as one of the most important temples in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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