صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

refers to the regularly arranged markets with wbich its founder had pro. vided it. The city of his own time still boasted of “mansions which reached to the clouds " built, no doubt, mostly of wood just as the mass of private houses in modern Srinagar.

When he mentions “the streams meeting, pure and lovely, at pleasure-residences and near market streets,” he means evidently the numerous canals from the Dal and Anch'ār lakes which intersect the suburbs and also pass through the heart of the city. They and the river still serve as the main thoroughfares for the market traffic, and all principal Bazars are built along their banks. The S'ārikāparvata receives due mention as "the pleasure-hill from which the splendour of all the houses is visible as if from the sky." Nor does he forget to praise the cool water of the Vitastā which the citizens find before their very houses on hot summer-days.

Finally he refers to the abundance of magnificent temples with which successive kings had adorned Pravarapura, and of which so many are particularly mentioned in his narrative. Of the number and imposing appearance of these structures we can even at the present day form some idea if we examine their massive remains which meet us in every part of modern Srinagar. The high embankments which now line the river's course within the city, are mainly composed of carved slabs, columns and other ancient stone materials. Their profusion and imposing dimensions must even to a superficial observer suggest an idea of the architectural splendour of ancient Srinagar. 94. It can scarcely be the result of chance that Pravarasena's

city has escaped the fate of so many Indian Advantages of the

capitals, of being superseded by later foundasite of Srinagar.

tions. There bad indeed not been wanting attempts on the part of later rulers to transfer the capital to other sites which they had chosen for their own cities. The great Lalitāditya, then Jayāpida, Avantivarman,

1 Both Mirza Haidar and Abū·l-Fazl speak with admiration of the many lofty houses of Srinagar, built of pine wood. This material was used, then as now, as being cheap and more secure against earthquakes. According to Mirzā Haidar “most of these houses are at least five stories high and each story contains apartments, halls, galleries and towers" (Tarikh-i-Rashidi, p. 425). That the mass of private dwellings in Srīnagar were already in Hinda timos constructed of wood, is shown by Rājat. viii. 2390. The many disastrous fires recorded point to the same conclusion.

Useful and convenient as these canals undoubtedly are, it is rather difficult to concede to them now the epithets of pure and lovely. They add, however, greatly to the picturesqueness of the city and certainly make the want of carriage roads legs felt.

J. 1. 19

and Samkaravarman, had successively endeavoured to effect this object. The great ruins of Paribāsapura, Jayapura and Avantipura show sufficiently that the failure of the first three kings was not due in any way to deficient means or want of purpose.

Of Lalitāditya the Chronicle distinctly records that he proposed, Nero-like, to burn down the ancient capital to assure the predominance of his own creation, Parihāsapura. And the long list of splendid edifices erected at the latter place during his own reign shows plainly that for a time at least that monarch's pleasure had succeeded. Yet each one of these temporary capitals speedily sank into insignificance, while Pravarapura continued to be the political and cultural centre of Kasmir down to the present day.

We can safely attribute this exceptional position of Srinagar to the great natural advantages of its site. Occupying a place close to the true centre of the Valley, Srinagar enjoys facilities of communication which no other site could offer. The river along which the city is built provides at all seasons the most convenient route for trade and traffic, both up and down the Valley. The two lakes which flank Srinagar, offer the same facilities for the fertile tracts which lie immediately to the north. The lakes themselves furnish an abundant supply of products which materially facilitate the maintevance of a large city population. The great trade route from Central Asia debouches through the Sind Valley only one short march from the capital. Nor can we underrate the security which the position of Srinagar

assures both against floods and armed attack. Natural defences of Srinagar.

The neck of high ground which from the north

stretches towards the Vitastā and separates the two lakes, is safe from all possible risk of flood. It is on this ground, round the foot of the Sārikā hill, that the greatest part of the old Pravarapura was originally built. The ancient embankment which connects this bigh level ground with the foot of the Takht-i-Sulaiman hill sufficed to secure also the low-lying wards fringing the marshes of the Dal. A considerable area, including the present quarters of Khānøyār and Rõnivor (Skr. Rājānavāţikā), was thus added to the available building ground on the right bank aud protected against all ordinary floods.

The frequent sieges which Srinagar underwent during the last reigns related by Kalhaņa, give us ample opportunity to appreciate also the military advantages which the city's position assured to its defenders. With the exception of a comparatively narrow neck of dry ground in the north, the Srinagar of the right river-bank is guarded on all sides by water. On the south the river forms an impassable line of defence. The east is secured by the Dal and the stream which flows from it. On the west there stretch the broad marches of the Anchlār divided from the Vitastā by a narrow strip of firm ground.

From the north, it is trae, the city can be approached without passing such natural obstacles. But the map shows that just to the north of the Sarikā hill inlets from the two lakes approach each other within a few thousand feet. The narrow passage left between them could at all times easily be guarded. It is curious to note that the successful attacks on the city of which the Cbronicle tells us, were delivered from the north, treachery or the defenders' weakness having opened this passage.'

The later and smaller portion of Srinagar occupying the left riverbank, does not share the same natural advantages as the old one. The present level of the ground on which it stands appears to have been raised gradually by the accumulated débris of centuries. We do not know exactly when the extension of the city in this direction bogan. The number of ancient sites on this side is comparatively small. The royal residence was transferred to it only in the reign of Ananta (A.D. 1028-63). There too we find a natural line of defence. It is the Kşiptikā or Kuțakul which flows round the western edge of this part of the city and is also often mentioned in the accounts of the later sieges.

SECTION IV.-ANCIENT SITES OF SRINAGARA.

95. Having thus reviewed the origin and the general position of Hill of Sārikā.

the Kaśmir capital, we may proceed to a brief

survey of the more important ancient sites which our available materials permit us to trace in it. We can conveniently start on our circuit from the Hill of SĀRIKĀ to which the legendary account of the city's foundation had taken us.

The goddess Sārikā which has given to the hill its name, has been worshipped since ancient times on the north-west side of the hill. Certain natural markings on a large perpendicular rock are taken by the pious to represent that kind of mystical diagram which in the Tantraśāstra is known as Sricakra. This Svayambhũ' Tirtha is still a much frequented pilgrimage place for the Brahmans of the city and has been so probably since early times. The Sārikāmāhātmya now in use relates

1 Compare for Uccala’s entry into Srinagar, vii. 1539 sqq. ; that of Sussala, viii. 914 899: ; compare also note viii. 1104-1110.

% Compare Rājat, note i. 122, regarding the worship of such diagrams. B Compare Jonar. (Bo. ed.) 472, 767.

that the hill was carried to its present position by Durgā who had taken the shape of a Sárikā bird. The goddess is supposed to have thus closed a gate of the Daityas dwelling in hell. This legend is alluded to already in the Kathāsaritsāgara.!

Another ancient designation of the Hära parvat is ‘Hill of Pradyumna' (Pradyumnapitha,-giri,-śikhara, etc.), often found in the Chronicles and elsewhere.% The Kathāsaritsāgara accounts for the origin of this name by a story which connects the hill with the love of Uşā and Aniruddha, the son of Pradyumna. Kalhaņa mentions a Matha for Pāśupata mendicants which King Raņāditya built on the hill. The eastern slopes of the latter are now occupied by extensive buildings connected with the famous Ziarats of Muqaddam Şahib and Ākhun Mulla Shāh. It is probable that these Muhammadan shrines have taken the place of Hindu religious buildings, as. at so many old sites of Kaśmir,

Close to the foot of the southern extremity of the hill lies a rock which has from ancient times received worship as an embodiment of Gaņeśa, under the name of BaTMASVĀMIN. A legend related by Kalhaņa connects this “Svayambhū' image with Pravarasena's foundation of Srinagar. From regard for the pious king the god is there said to bave turned his face from west to east so as to behold the new city. The rock is covered by the worshippers with so thick a layer of red lead that it is not possible to trace now any resemblance to the liead of the elephant-faced god, still less to see whether it is turned to the west or east. In fact, if we are to believe Jonarāja, the rock image bas subsequently changed its position yet a second time. This Chronicler relates that Bhimasvāmin from disgust at the iconoclasm of Sikandar Būts bikast has finally turned his back on the city. This last turn would, no doubt, most satisfactorily account for the present amorphous look of the sacred rock.

There is nothing in the Chronicles that would lead us to assume that the hill of S'ārikā was ever fortified in Hindu times. The great bastioned stone-wall which now encloses the hill and the ground around its foot (Nāgar-nagar), was built by Akbar as an inscription still extant over the main-gate proclaims. The fort which now crowns the summit of the hill, is of even more modern origin.

I See Ixxiii. 107 $99.
i Seo Rājat, iii. 460 note.
& See iii. 352 note.
- See Jonar. (Bo. ed.), 766.
6 Compare Fourth Chron, 939 691.

96. A short distance to the south-east of the Bhimasyāmin rock,

and outside Akbar's fortress, lies the Ziārat of Temple of Pravares.

Bahāu-d-din Şahib, built undoubtedly with the vara.

materials of an ancient temple. The cemetery which surrounds it contains also many ancient remains in its tombs and walls. At the south-west corner of this cemetery rises a ruined gateway built of stone-blocks of remarkable size, and still of considerable height. This structure is traditionally believed by the Srinagar Paņạits to have belonged to the temple of Siva PRAVAREŚVARA which Kalbaņa mentions as the first shrine erected by Pravarasena in his new capital.

An old legend related by Kalhaņa and before him already by Bilhaņa, makes the king ascend bodily to heaven from the temple of Pravareśvara. Bilhaņa speaks of the temple as “showing to this day a gap above, resembling the gate of heaven through which King Pravara bodily ascended to heaven." Kalhaņa, writing a century later, also saw at the temple of Pravareśvara "a gate resembling the gate of heaven." Its broken stone roof was supposed to mark the king's passage on his way to Siva's abode.

This tradition still attaches to the roofless stone-gate above described, which may indeed be the very structure seen by Bilhaņa and the Chronicler. As far as its architecture is concerned, it might well belong to the earliest monuments of Srinagar. It owes its preservation perhaps to the exceptional solidity of its construction and the massiveness of its stones. Stone-blocks measuring up to sixteen feet in length with a width and thickness equally imposing were no convenient materials for the builders of Muhammadan Ziārats, Hammāms, etc., who have otherwise done so much to efface the remains of ancient structures in Srinagar. The position of the ruin is very central and might well have been chosen by the founder of Pravarapura for a prominent shrine in his new city. Not far from Bahāu-d-din Şāhib's Ziárat to the south-west stands

the Jāmi Masjid, the greatest Mosque of Position of Raņa

Srinagar. Around it numerous ancient resvāmin temple.

mains attest the former existence of Hindu temples. Proceeding still further to the south-west in the midst of a thickly built city quarter, we reach an ancient shrine which has remained in a comparatively fair state of preservation probably owing to its early conversion into a Ziārat. It is now supposed to mark the resting place of the saint styled Pir Hāji Muhammad. It consists of an octa

1 Soe Rajät. iii. 350 note.

See Vikram, xviii, 23.

« السابقةمتابعة »