Pakistan is full of wonders, ready to explore. Today, we will talk about another amazing historical site in the country. There is an ancient university found in Sharada Peeth. There are wonderful things to note about this institute through the archaeological remains. Let’s explore and discuss!
The area of Sharada Peeth is located in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. From the 6th to 12th century, this area’s Hindu temple was considered an extremely popular university. People from various faraway places used to come here to gain knowledge. Historians estimate that around 10,000 pilgrims used to visit this place during the 11th century. Moreover, historians have also informed us that this place originally belonged to the Buddhists. It was a place of learning for them before it was taken over by Hindus. Even during the Muslim era, the Muslim kings from the 13th and 14th centuries used to visit the place and pay homage to its great history.
This place is situated 150 kilometers away from Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. It is just 10 kilometers from the Line of Control, which is a border created to segregate two different areas of Kashmir controlled by Pakistan and India. The place is 6,499 feet above sea level. The Neelum River runs close to it. This location is considered holy because Hindus believe it to be home to Lord Shiva for a certain time. This location is very close to the beautiful Narda peak, which arrives before the entrance to Sharda. Hindu mythology says that this peak’s shape is actually that of the goddess Saraswati, who was the goddess of knowledge in the Hindu scripture. There are three lakes surrounding this peak: Narda Lake, Saraswati Lake, and Nareel Lake.
Related: The ethereal lakes of Skardu
The university has been popular for various reasons. Here are some of the most known reasons:
- This university had a great library, which has been talked about by many writers in their narrative texts.
- This university played an important role in developing the ‘Sharada’ script. This is why the script itself is named after it.
- According to Hindus, this university is located at a holy place. They believe that their Goddess Sati’s right hand fell here.
- Hsuan Tsang, a Chinese traveler, visited this university to gain knowledge all the way from China in the 4th century..
- Adi Sankaracharya, a Hindu, visited this university to promote Hinduism in the 8th century.
Site of Worship
The temple had devotees visiting the place from Bengal and other faraway places. It was marked as a temple by the 8th century. It soon became a central place for Hindu worship by the 11th century. Even Non-Hindus used to visit the place to gain guidance. For instance, a Muslim King visited the place seeking the mercy of a Hindu goddess, who appeared to him in the form of a dream. People also believed that in the middle of every month this place used to shake in a unique way.
Site of Scholarship and Learning
There is a full-fledged book written on the history of this location in the Urdu language. The name of the book is ‘Sharda Evolution of History. In this book, Ghani, the author, strongly argues that the Sharda Peeth was a properly functioning university. The book says that this place was not for common people. It admitted special students only, who were high achievers. The focus of this university was particularly on the subjects of:
During the 19th century, according to historians, there was some restoration work done on this university. This was done when Jammu and Kashmir were undivided. However, floods came in and destroyed the southern area and structure of this university. During restoration, precious stones and pieces of jewelry were found here. These pieces indicated the elite population which lived here. Moreover, these pieces were helpful in understanding the cultural values and religious beliefs of the citizens as well.
Presently, the Pakistan army takes good care of this place to avoid further destruction. This has been a useful step to retain the remnants left. The structure of this university holds a staircase that is 9 feet wide. It is made of steep stone and has 63 steps in total. However, the railings of this staircase are weak.
This beautiful site is certainly a historic gem. We can learn a lot about our past, our ancestry, and our origin through such archaic locations. Whenever you visit Azad Jammu and Kashmir, make sure to give this place a visit.