Government will attempt to open corridor to Sharda Peeth in PoK for devotees: Shah

Context: In line with the Kartarpur Corridor, the government intends to establish a corridor to Sharda Peeth in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK).

About Sharda Peeth

  • Location: Mount Harmukh, Neelum Valley in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara District.
  • As a centre of education
    • It was one of the most prestigious temple-educational institutions on the India-n subcontinent between the sixth and the twelfth century CE.  
    • Scholars travelled great distances for the texts since it was well renowned for its library.
    • It was crucial to the growth of the Sharada script in North India.
  • As a pilgrimage site
    • It is one of the Maha Shakti Peethas. 
    • Together with the Martand Sun Temple and the Amarnath Temple, it is one of the three holiest locations for Hindu pilgrims. 
    • It is also known for rise of Shaktism. 
  • Lalitaditya Muktapida (724 CE–760 CE) of the Karkota dynasty most likely commissioned it.
  • Historical traces of the temple
    • Al-Biruni first described the location as a venerated shrine with a wooden picture of Sharda, but this description is based only on hearsay as he had never visited Kashmir. 
    • Both the intellectual and spiritual components of Sharada Peeth are described by the Kashmiri poet Bilhana, who lived in the 11th century. He says that Sharada Peeth is the place that gave Kashmir its status as a centre of education.
    • Sharada Peeth is also mentioned in Kalhana’s epic Rajatarangini (12th century).
    • Abu’l-Fazl has also described Sharada Peeth as a stone temple in the 16th century.
  • Architecture
    • The red sandstone temple was constructed in the Kashmiri architectural style. The compound is perched on a hill and is accessed from the west by a grand stone stairway. The temple is erected upon a plinth.
    • The temple is covered with a low single roof, even though Kashmiri architecture is most often characterised by a pyramidal stone roof.
    • Two Ancient Linga could be observed in a tiny opening on the north side of the wall.

Sharda Script

  • Almost 1200 years ago, it developed from the Western branch of Brahmi.
  • Between the 8th and 12th centuries, the script was widely used to write Kashmiri and Sanskrit in Kashmir and the surrounding territories of the Indian Subcontinent.
  • Its name comes from the goddess Sarada or Saraswati, the patron goddess of learning. It is a native script of Kashmir.
  • An early version of the Sharada script is used in the Bakhshali manuscript.
  • Regional variations in the Sharada script emerged in 10th century in Kashmir, the Hill States (which included parts of Himachal Pradesh), and Punjab.

Prelims Practice MCQ:

Q. With reference to the cultural history of India, consider the following statements:

1.Sharda Peeth was an ancient educational centre that was crucial for the growth of Sharda Script.

2.The use of Sharda script was limited to Kashmir only.

3.Sharda Peeth was commissioned during the reign of Lalitaditya Muktapida of the Utpala dynasty.

Which of the statements given above is/are incorrect?

(a)1 only

(b)2 and 3 only

(c)1 and 3 only

(d)3 only

Answer: (b)

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