5 km from present Srinagar
It was the ancient Srinagari established by Asoka Maurya in the 3rd cent BC
Asoka was then a Hindu and has not embraced Buddhism then
According an account it had 96 lakhs of houses then
It was very populous and prosperous then
Ashoka’s son Jalauka built the Jyeshta Rudra temple
Around 525 Mihirakula the Hun king built another Siva temple there named Mihiresvara
About 550 it witnessed further building activities under Pravarasena I
He constructed a Siva temple with a circle of Matrikas named Pravaresvara. It seems it was Yogini temple.
He also built more temples in the capital
About 575, Pravarasena II built the new capital named Pravaresvara-pura which is the modern Srinagar
The old city was called Purana adhisthana (Pandrethan)that continued to be called loosely Srinagar
In course of time both the cities were integrated and retained the old name Arinaga
In 630 the Chinese pilgrim arrived at Srinagar and was received by the Durlabha-vardahana
The king provided him with 20 clerks to write his works and five servants to wait on him
Srinagari was a great centre of Buddhist study then
There was a stupa said to have been built over a tooth relic of Buddha
Around 920 Meruvardhana, a minister to the king built in Purana-adhithana a Vishnu temple named Meruvardhana swami
In 1130, Rilhana, minister to King Jayasimha embellished both the old and new cities
He also built a Siva temple in the old city ,named the Rilhanesvara
The Pandrethan became a centre of all important religions like Saivisam, Buddhism, Vaishnavism and Sakta
Around 1400 the Sultan Sikandar started destroying the temples amd images and yearned the idol breaker (Butshikhan
He destroyed all most all the temples of the country. The images were mutilated and thrown
This was achieved by heaping timber over the temples and setting them on fire
In this he employed a Hindu convert to Islam, Suhu bhatta.
Records say that Brahmins were tortured and the temples ruthlessly deatroyed.
The Images of Vijayesa, Chakradhara, Martanda, Brihad Buddha, Suresvari, and Varaha were so destroyed by him
Those times the central image used to be made of metal – gold, silver or brass. All these images were mutilated and melted down for Sikandar to issue his coins.
Abu Fasl also wrote about Sikandar’s zeal in destroying all religious foundations other than his own.
Western scholars found in the 19th century enormous number of mutilated Sculptures and lings lying among the heaps of temples.
Alexandar Cunnigham found large number of destroyed sculpture, etc from the Sankaracaharya hill for about 5kilo metrs.
The sculptures found are noe in the Pratap sing Museum.
The only ancient vestige in Pandrethan is a Siva temple surrounded by water of a tank.
Though it is in ruined condition it shows the ancient trend in buildings temples in Srinagar
It is dated toan age earlier than 10th cent
It is a square temple with a pyramidal roof
There are some sculptures one representing Lakulisa with a lakuda (Shaft) in hand
The ceiling inside has lovely carvings
It is an important temple that needs to be visited in the old Srinagari / Pandarethan
Articles by Dr. R. Nagaswamy
Dr. Nagaswamy is an eminent Archaeologist and the First Vice Chancellor of Shri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya. His full bio-data is available here.