Iqbal Ahmad

The tradition of emblematic constructions in Kashmir

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Lalitaditya Mukhtapida who ruled Kashmir from 699 AD to 736 AD is recorded to have brought glory and prosperity to his kingdom. He is known as a great builder and Kalhana attributes to him the foundation of several towns and buildings. The ruins of a monastery at Martand and remains of palaces and other monasteries at Parahaspura are still the finest specimen of early architecture found in the valley of Kashmir and attributed to Lalitaditya. The ruins of the foundations were unearthed at the plateau of Parahaspura towards the north of Srinagar city.

In this zeal for architecture and fine arts he was followed by Avanti Varman.  Raja Harsha is also recorded to have built his glorious wooden palace somewhere in Srinagar

The Muslim rulers, like   Sultan Zain ul Abidine (Budshah), Jalal Ud din Mohammad Akbar, Noor Ud din Jahangir and Shah Jahan are also learnt to have built their respective palace and forts in Kashmir.  The Afgans, Dogra Rajas are also learnt to have raised few Forts and Palaces in Jammu and Kashmir.

Since most of the palaces build during Muslim period had been built of wood, these were perishable and this land could not a great number of such forts and palaces. Many historians suggest that these wooden palaces got destroyed in natural as well as manmade calamities like earthquakes, floods and incidents of fire etc. However, these palaces are well recoded in the chronicles of this land and at several places their archaeological evidences has also been found.  The land could also not preserve all the later palaces built during Dogra period. Only a few of palaces found in Jammu, Srinagar and Ladakh are still intact while as other palaces built at Shaheed Ganj, Lal mandi and few other places in Srinagar and Jammu were destroyed either by fire or by human neglect. Ironically, new constructions have come up at those places which are superimposed on these olden sites.

Apart from the tradition of fort and palace construction, there has been a rich tradition of terracotta pavements, stone temples and wooden shrines in the valley. Archaeologists have been successful in unearthing the remains of those pavements constructions at several sites.


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