Ruins of the Past

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A region’s past in material form is tangible by the remains we as a people can physically see. It is these remains that helps us trace our history and understand our present better. Jammu and Kashmir has had a long history which is reflected in many ruins that are scattered throughout its geography.

The Manda village of Jammu was one of the excavations sites of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) between 1976-77. It is of a great archeological significance because of its connection with the Indus Valley Civilisation. 100 km away from Manda lies Poonch where a new excavation project has also been approved by the Centre to explore archaeological possibilities in the region. Poonch lies at the tip of the Line of Control between Indian and Pakistan.

Many ruins not only of the famous Indus valley civilization but other civilizations have also been unearthed. Here is a list of some archaeological sites found in the J&K region:

Bomai, Sopore:

Rock carvings found in Bomai, Sopore date back to the upper-Paleolithic age which began around 40,000 years ago. According to a research by Naseer Iqbal, “the stone carving seems to have a purely astronomical origin.”

The rock surface comprises of multiple four circles which depicts a meteorite impact that occurred between 40,000 and 6,000 years ago.

“There are four lakes in this region—corresponding to the four circles in the drawing—and several smaller water bodies, all consistent with a multiple impacts event,” mentions the research.

Burzahom:

16 km from Srinagar lies Burzahom, one of the most significant sites of the Neolithic age. The site was excavated by the Yale-Cambridge team in the late 1930s. Before coming under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the site was dug numerous times between the 1960s-70s.

The excavations have revealed four phases of cultural significance. The I and II represent the Neolithic era; III and IV represent the Megalithic and post-megalithic era respectively. Many artifacts and skeletons were discovered from this site dating back to 3000 BCE. The skeletons found in the site are similar to that of those in the Indus Valley Civilization.

Historians believe that it was an important site for trade with Central Asia and Southwest Asia since Neolithic times.

Manda, Jammu

Excavated during 1976-77 by ASI, Manda is a village in Jammu region which contains ruins of ancient Indus Valley Civilization. Situated on the right bank of Chenab river, Manda is considered as the northernmost limit of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Many artifacts like pre-Harappan redware, dishes, goblets, terracotta bangles and many more were excavated by the ASI.

According to a paper by Arjun Singh, “The excavation (at Manda) exposed at 9.20-meter-thick occupation deposit, showing a threefold sequence of culture. These threefold sequences of culture can be categories into three different periods of culture i.e. Period- I Pre-Harappan and Harappan, Period –II Early historical period and Period –III Kushana period.”

Avantipur Ruins:

Located on the Srinagar-Pahalgam highway, the Avantipur town was built by King Avantivarman when he ruled Kashmir from 855-883 AD. The king was the founder of the Utpala dynasty in the ninth century. Amidst the ruins are two temples, Avantishwar dedicated to Shiva and Avantiswami dedicated to Vishnu.

Sandstone was used to build the structure and it incorporates the Gandharva style. The temples were discovered in the eighteen centuries by the Britishers during excavations.

Avantipur was destroyed by the invasion of Afghan ruler, Sultan Sikandar in the 14th century. The ruins have many stories that could be seen on the pillars’ inscriptions and many sculptures that have survived the destruction by dynasties and the environment. There are many carvings on the pillars representing demigods and mythical creatures.

Martand Sun Temple:

Dedicated to the sun, this temple is at a distance of over five miles from Anantnag.  The ruins of the temple are commonly called Pandu-Koru, or the house of the Pandus and Korus.

Martand is a Sanskrit word which means sun. The temple was constructed during the seventh and eighth centuries by Lalitaditya Muktapida, the third ruler of the Karkota Dynasty. The entire structure is built over a plateau in Anantnag. The temple comes under the Archaeological Survey of India and many films like Aandhi and Haider have been shot here.

The temple was demolished in the 15th century by Muslim ruler Sikandar Butshikan, the idol breaker. He persecuted Hindus, destroyed the Hindu-Buddhist icons of culture, and is known to have infused terror in the minds of Hindus and Buddhists of the Valley.

  • Swati Joshi works as a correspondent for the Kashmir Observer

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Swati Joshi

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