Issue :   
February 2020 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Feb' 2020


Opening Sharada Temple

RC Ganjoo

Rukhasana Khan   The people in India, c o n s p i c u o u s l y Kashmiri Pandits, are waiting since ages to visit the Sharda Temple, situated in the Neelam Valley in Pak- occupied Kashmir. After the opening of the Kartarpur corridor for the Sikh community to visit Dardar Sahib, expectations have risen to this effect. Prime Minister of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider Khan also submitted a proposal to the Pakistan government for opening this temple sites for Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists.
The Sharda Peeth was established in 237 BC during the reign of Ashoka. Between the 6th and 12th centuries CE, the Sharada Peeth was one of the foremost temple universities of the Indian subcontinent. The Sharada Peeth close to the Line of control (LoC), in Sharda village of Neelum Valley in PoK (at a distance of around 140 km f r o m Muzaffarabad and 30 km from Kupwara) has been cut off for Indian pilgrims since Partition.

Here in PoK, a research scholar Dr Rukhsana Khan has completed her dissertation on cultural heritage and management for social development through heritage tourism in the Neelam Valley and established”. "Sharda Centre Of Learning Archaeology Cultural Heritage " (SCLACH) at university of Azad Jammu Kashmir.

Under the guidance of renowned archaeologist Dr. Ashraf khan from Taxila Institute of Asian Civilization Quaid-i- Azam University Islamabad, she was assisted by Prof Omkar Koul on lingui-cultural heritage of Kashmir, and cataloguing of rock inscription and it's linguistic mapping.

Dr Rukhsana Khan said: "The Sharda temple is located on the left bank of river Neelum tehsil Sharda of District Neelum, facing south west with opening towards the river Neelum . The river is joined by a sacred stream, named as Sarswati or Kankotri (surgan stream). The Madhumati stream is flowing few meters down near the Sharda temple which is presently known as Sharda sangam. The left bank of river follows towards Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir.

The ancient temple of Sharda is situated on top of a plateau from where one can view the whole of the Sharda valley. The roof of the Sharda temple was missing in 1870, when Charles Bates visited the site. There is a clear indication that different types of the material are used in the construction of Sharda temple.

The carved head of elephant along mark of swastika and a bust of the female are found on the Ganesh Ghati near the Sericella fort.

Dr Khan said " I encourage more academic research to promote cultural and natural heritage towards peace and progress. Unfortunately, the political situation does not allow much space for cross LoC interaction among researchers and academia for further collaborative research".

Dr Khan has been struggling hard along with other scholars to restore traditional cross LoC religious and cultural tourism. After August 5, 2019, when Art 370 was scrapped, her efforts have had a setback.