Sharada Saraswati Devi Temple or Sharada Peeth is an old Hindu temple and a historic centre of learning. It can be found in the Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. Between 6th to 12th CE, it was one of the most important universities in India. People talk about its library, where scholars would travel long distances to read its books. It played a big role in the development and popularity of the Sharada script in North India. The script was even named after the temple, and Kashmir got the nickname “Sharada Desh,” which means “country of Sharada.”
Hindus believe that Sharada Peeth represents the place where the goddess Sati’s right hand fell. It is one of the three most sacred pilgrimage sites for Kashmiri Pandits, along with the Martand Sun Temple and the Amarnath Temple.
Sharada Peeth is 150 km from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, and 130 km from Srinagar. It is located 10 km from the Line of Control, which divides the Pakistani and Indian-controlled areas of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir. The temple sits at an altitude of 6,499 feet above sea level, near the Neelum River, in the village of Sharda, in the valley of Mount Harmukh. Kashmiri Pandits believe that Mount Harmukh is the home of Lord Shiva.
In 1948, during raids by Pakistani tribal raiders, the village fell into Pakistani hands.
A famous learning centre of Kashmiris, it is identified by noted historians and chroniclers including Al Beruni (1130 ad) and M A Stein, who visited the temple in 1892, (in Rajtarangini) as one of the most important temples of the Hindus equivalent to the Shiva Lingam of Somnath, Vishnu of Thaneshwar and Surya of Multan.
Sharada Peeth is approximately 150 kilometres from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir and 130 kilometres from Srinagar.
About Sharada Peeth:
Abul Fazl in Ain-i-Akbari (16th century) says that on every eighth day of the month at the time of the full moon, the temple “shakes and produces the most extraordinary effect.” He however does not explain the “extraordinary effect.”
The temple is so vital to Kashmiris that the Kashmiri language has the script of Sharda, which is a little similar to Devanagari. Kalhana in Rajatarangini has said, devotees of Durga and Shiva from all over the country would flock to the temple of Sharda which can be approached from Bandipur in North Kashmir, about 80 km from Srinagar.
Through centuries the temple had remained the object of worship and devotion of lakhs of pilgrims from all over the country. Though in ruins now, the entire temple complex inspires grandeur and awe.
The temple had a massive library attached to it which had priceless works of art, science, literature, architecture, music, humanities, medicine, astrology, astronomy, philosophy, law and jurisprudence and Sanskrit etc. The library was used by scholars from even neighbouring countries.
Kashmir was also called “Shardapeeth” (the base of Sharda), the name being derived from the temple. The meaning of it is that Shankara reached the peak of spirituality. We can get an idea of his greatness from the fact that a person of just thirty had ascended the throne of all knowledge. As it is not possible to visit this Shakti Peetha, one can visit the famous Saraswathi temple in Basara in the Nizamabad district of Telangana. Basara Sri Gnana Saraswathi Temple is 207 km from Hyderabad.
Sharada Peeth History:
Sharada Saraswati Devi Temple translates to “the seat of Sharada”, the Kashmiri name for the Hindu goddess Saraswati. “Sharada” could be also related to the proto-Nostratic terms “sarv”, which means “flow or stream”, and daw (blow, tip or rock), because it was located at the confluence of three streams.
The beginnings of Sharada Peeth are uncertain, and the question of origins is difficult because Sharada Peeth was both a temple and an educational institution. The earliest theory of its origins dates it to over 5,000 years in age, around the time of the earliest records of Neolithic sites in the flood plains of the Kashmir Valley. On this view, the site could not have been first constructed by the Indo-Aryan peoples, who are estimated to have arrived at the Ganges River around 1500 BCE. More conservative estimates suggest that it was built under the Kushan Empire (30 CE – 230 CE), and some others believe that its similarity to the Martand Sun Temple indicates that it was built by the Kashmiri king Lalitaditya (724 CE – 760 CE). A third school of thought suggests that it was built not at once but in stages.
Some historians have suggested that Sharada Peeth was never a centre of learning, on the basis that in present-day, there are no sizeable ruins from a supposed educational site. In response, it has been said that Sharda is prone to earthquakes, and debris from a collapsed abandoned university is likely to have been used by townspeople for other constructions.
Sharada Saraswati Devi Temple Address:
Sharda Main Bazar,
Occupied, Jammu and Kashmir.