Iqbal Ahmad

The mysterious Pavements

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Kashmir is a place of great fables, folklore and rich archeological history besides other things. There are marvelous architectural pieces and great historical monuments that have attracted world renowned historians, archeologists and other experts from centuries now.

However amidst all this, there are few sites and few constructions that remain mysteries till date. These sites have been dated from 1st century to 4th century AD with the earliest discovery of a pavement which was made in the year 1923 on a plateau at Harwan in Srinagar District. This was followed by a series of such finds at Hionar, Daradkote, Kutebal and Ishrat nar sites.  These pavements are laid in circular shapes and the floor of the pavement is decorated by major bricks called by archaeologists as terracotta tiles. The tiles are sometimes plain and sometimes stamped in varied floral and human motifs.

Such sits have mostly been laid   in the upper lands. Archaeologists have not been, so far, successful in establishing the basic purpose of these pavements and have been advocating quite different stories about these constructions. Most of the experts have been attributing these pavements to the Buddhists while few attribute them to the fire worshipers.

These sites have been dated from 1st century to 4th century AD. This is the period when Kashmir was under the rule of Kushans.  These pavements are believed to have been founded here in the Kushan era. I doubt whether there has been any scientific dating of these pavements. On the other hand the real and basic purpose of these foundations is also not known.

No doubt at few sites these pavements have been found on such terraces which are enclosed by diaper pebble walls.  In plan they resemble with the plans of ancient forts but in constructions these have no such resemblance with the traditional fort constructions. Besides these sites, terracotta pavementwere found at Sumbal Kral Check, Gurveit and Donipatti and Taykibal. These pavements very much exist at several sites what had been the purpose of these pavements and what they denote is not clear. However these pavements followed highly advanced architectural styles and are decorated by highly ornamented terracotta tiles. These tiles some time are square while some times rectangular in shape.  There are few concave shaped tiles found at these sites. These are all baked tiles.

The placement of these tiles is in wonderful order all most all pavements are circular in shape and the centre is occupied by a full blown lotus design tile.

These tile pavements are approached by miniature paths which are also laid in tiles. The outstanding feature of these tiles lies in their carved motifs, which at every site speaks of highly advanced art. These tiles represented an advanced civilization which arrived in the glorious valley in first Century AD and continued here upto fourth Century AD.

Historically speaking these terracotta tile pavements were built here during Kushan period and marked the first evidences of Kashmir built architecture.

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