Welcome to the Shankaracharya Temple, the beautiful Shiva temple that is located at a height of 1100 feet on the Gopadari Hill in Srinagar.
This temple is named after the great philosopher and guru Adi Shankaracharya who visited Srinagar about ten centuries ago. It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya attained spiritual enlightenment here, and after that, he went out and formed the four Hindu schools of Advaita, the philosophy of non-dualism. No wonder this temple is a popular destination for pilgrims and tourists on their way to the Amarnath Yatra.
Now, let me tell you some interesting facts about this temple. It is believed that the temple was a Buddhist site of worship during the Buddhist era, and the present-day structure of the temple belongs to the 9th century AD. However, many historians and scholars believe that the temple was originally built by the Hindu king Sandiman, who reigned in Kashmir from 2629 BC to 2564 BC. Repairs were later made by numerous prominent kings over a period of years. So, we don’t really know who built this temple, but one thing is for sure – it is an architectural marvel that deserves to be admired.
Getting to the temple is not a piece of cake, my friend. You will have to climb about 243 steps to reach the entrance, and then another 8 to 10 steps to get to the temple. But trust me, the effort is totally worth it because the view from the top is breathtaking. From here, you can enjoy the natural beauty of the region and the snow-covered peaks of the Pir Panjal range.
Inside the temple, you will find a Shiva Linga that was placed here in the 19th century during the Sikh period. The circular chamber shaped the main shrine provides a breathtaking view of the entire valley as well as the world-famous Dal Lake. And if you’re interested in history, you’ll be pleased to know that the inner sanctum of the temple has a ceiling with Persian inscriptions that date back to the reign of Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan.
But wait, there’s more! The steps made up of stone that lead to the main shrine of the temple were built by Maharaja Gulab Singh. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can explore the two small buildings that have been built for the sadhus or saints who live here. Who knows, you might even run into one of them and have a fascinating conversation about spirituality.
So, if you’re planning to visit Srinagar, make sure you don’t miss the Shankaracharya Temple. Just be prepared to climb some stairs and be amazed by the beauty and history of this ancient shrine.