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HISTORY OF JAMMU & KASHMIR
EARLY BUILDINGS (CIRCA A.D. 200 TO 600)
First six centuries A.D. are very meagrely represented; the only monuments which can with
certainty be assigned to the Kushan period being the Buddhist structures at Harwan and
Indo-Greek, Parthian & Saka kings of north-western India were found until recently in Kashmir
points to the existence of considerable commercial connection between the valley and the
principalities of Peshawar and Kabul in the last two centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. It is
also certain that in the second century A.D. Kashmir formed part of Kanishka's empire and that,
for at least some generations after the death of that emperor, the country remained attached
to the kingdom of Gandhara. This long connection with the north-west of India has left an
indelible mark upon the character of the Buddhist and Hindu architecture of the valley.
At Ushkar, for instance, the abundance of local quarries ensured a plentiful supply of stone
chips, which the builders turned to excellent advantage
At Harwan the most easily available building materials are the round boulders and pebbles
brought down by the Dachigam Nala. Here accordingly we find the chip-masonry of Ushkar
replaced by walls built of small pebbles
BUDDHIST BUILDINGS ARCHITECTURE
(A.D. 600 TO 1300)
Buildings which represent this style may conveniently be divided into two classes
- namely, the Buddhist and the Brahmanical. In point of materials, ornament, and
technique, there is no difference between the two, but the religious needs of the
two communities being in certain essentials different, they differ widely in plan
The material brought into use was a beautiful grey limestone, which was easy to
carve, and presented a very smooth surface when properly dressed. The plinth of
the old stupa, which was a simple rectangular structure with a single flight of
steps, offsets on each side projecting far into the courtyard and flanked on either
hand by side walls adorned with sculptural reliefs.
THE ART OF GANDHARA
The name Gāndhāra, though recorded in Avestan as Vaēkərəta, is not recorded in Vedic Sanskrit. It occurs
later in the classical Sanskrit of the epics. However, the Gandhari people are a tribe mentioned in
the Rigveda, the Atharvaveda, and later texts. One proposed origin of the name is from the Sanskrit
word gandha, meaning "perfume" and "referring to the spices and aromatic herbs which they [the
inhabitants] traded and with which they anointed themselves.
The Gandhāri people had settled since the Vedic times on the banks of Kabul River (river Kubhā or Kabol)
down to its confluence with the Indus. Later Gandhāra included parts of northwest Punjab
A unique style of Buddhist sculpture called Gandhara art developed in ancient times in
the Gandhara region of the Indian subcontinent, in what is now northwestern Pakistan. The region also
extended into eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara art was produced between the 1st century BC and the 7th
The second and far most numerous group of buildings belonging to this style are Hindu temples. The
temple of Martand which is the greatest and one of the most fine Kashmir temples. However, it must
not be inferred that the mediaeval Hindu architecture of Kashmir was born like Athene
The first transformation and the similarity pointed out between the "angular roofed" vihara (le Vihara d toit
anguleux) of Gandhara and the temples of Kashmir, particularly the larger temple at Loduv is specially
interesting and instructive. The latter is an extremely plain structure, circular in plan internally, square
externally, very simple in construction, and almost devoid of decoration. It has a single opening, the
entrance, which is arched at the top. The arch is semi-circular and built of horizontal projecting courses. The
few stones of the roof which still exist prove that it was steep, straight, and slope d. The stones of which it is
built are comparatively small in size.
A structure of which the date has caused much controversy is the Sankaracharya temple on the Takht-i-
The one most like it that I am acquainted with is that erected by Chait Singh of Benares (1770-1781) at
Ramnagar at the end of the eighteenth century. I know of no straight lined pyramid of much older date
than that, and no temple with a polygonal plan combined with a circular cell, as is the case here, that is of
ancient date. The ceil itself with the linga is undoubtedly modern, and the four pillars in the cell with the
Sir Aurel Stein is inclined to accept the opinion of Fergusson, at least so far as the superstructure is
concerned. He states that " the circular cella, which contains a modern linga, was undoubtedly built in
Muslim times. The imposing polygonal base, consisting of remarkably massive blocks and without mortar,
must belong to a much earlier period
Rinchana, who was the first non-Hindu to occupy the Kashmir throne, was a Tibetan, and became a
Muslim by accident. He and his immediate successors depended upon the support of the indigenous
who were mostly Hindus, for the stability of their rule.
The most characteristic examples of this style are the mosque of Madin Sahib, outside the Sangin
Darwaza of the Hari Parbat fort and its adjacent ruins, the ruins of the mosques on the roadside at
Vitsarnag, and Zain-ul-abidin's mosque on the island in the Wular lake.
Another structure belonging to this period, and fundamentally different from all other buildings in Kashmir,
is the tomb of Zainul-abidin's mother. The plinth originally belonged to a Hindu or Buddhist shrine, and
does not seem to have been tampered with by the Muslim architect, who simply followed the lines laid
down by his Hindu predecessor. A peculiar feature of the brick buildings of this period (there are only three:
the tomb of Zain-ul-abidin's mother, Madin Sahib's tomb, and the anonymous tomb on the island in the
Wular) is the glazed tile-work with which they were decorated.
The mosques and tombs of the modern Kashmiri style are so similar that their features need not be
separately discussed. The tombs are square in plan. The walls are constructed sometimes of bricks and
mortar, sometimes of logs laid across each other, the space between logs being in some cases filled with
brick-work. Piers are constructed of timber in the same way.
In large chambers where the timbers of the roof or ceiling require intermediate support, modern columns
are used with very good effect. Sometimes these columns are elaborately ornamented, and there is a
tendency in modern restoration