Vandalized Parihaspora and adjoining landscape

…The glory is gone!

Kashmir and its people are privileged to have more than five thousand years of recorded history. The historical chronicles like Rajatarangini, hundreds of other manuscripts and archeological sites spread in length and breadth of Kashmir valley confirm the glorious past of Kashmir. Parihaspora is one such archeological treasure situated on a series of plateaus on Srinagar Baramulla road in Pattan area. Founded by Lalitaditya Mukhtapida of Karkota Dynasty, Parihaspora speaks volumes about the historical background of Kashmir and its people. Lalitaditya is considered to be the most illustrious kings of Kashmir. The noted historian Kalhana in his chronicle Rajatarangini describes Lalitaditya a legendary king who built the sun temple of Martand and founded the city of Parihaspora.

Parihaspora the capital city of King Lalitaditya is presently in ruins and fall under protected Heritage category monuments of ASI ( Archaeological Survey of India). I had the chance to visit this place in early seventies when there was no proper road connectivity, not even up to the twin villages of Devar and Yekhmanpora where from the steep plateaus of Parihaspora could be approached on foot. At the entry of Devar village a relatively large piece of land would welcome every visitor. On the edge of this lush green community grazing land stood a cluster of potter families making their livelihood from unique soft earth of Parihaspora Karewa. The magical voice of Ghulam Muhammad Kumar ( fondly known as Mahad Kral ) would mesmerize anyone who visited Devar- YekhmanporaIn. In whole Pattan area the Parihaspora ruins were known as ‘ Kani- Shahar’— the city of stones, as heaps and heaps of stone were scattered all over the Karewa except few finely carved, symmetrical but partially damaged stone structures that would depict the glorious past of this once splendid capital city of a great king. Parihaspora provides a marvelous view of a large part of the valley including Srinagar city and adjoining landscape particularly that of Trigam and Shadipora, the two historical areas associated with confluence of Vitasta and Sindh River. However, during last two decades this treasure of history and archeology; magnificent landscape stands vandalized at the hands of land mafia and several influential people for their materialist interests. Parihaspora, once virgin land of splendor, reflection of Kashmir’s past and wealth of architecture is now dotted with pockmarks of haphazard monstrous concrete structures. The canals and water bodies in the vicinity of Parihaspora are fast vanishing.

The landscape is losing its charm. Encroached by one and all the once green patch of land at gateway of Parihaspora is no more; it is difficult to locate the ‘ Kral’ community and their beautiful pottery as they have lost in the melee of materialism and encroachments. Last year in fall, once again I had privilege to supervise a national level sculpturing camp at Parihaspora to commemorate the impressive architecture and stone work in relation with promoting Parihaspora historical ruins as tourism promotion destination under the aegis of Department of Tourism Kashmir. During the camp period, every morning we visited Parihaspora the serene beauty of the area wore a mesmerizing look even after present situation of chaotic constructions and confusing land- use, compelling even the most insensitive people to imagine of its glorious past.

Till late eighties of last century the place was not familiar with common people because of inaccessibility, however, after ASI constructed an approach road the place came under the lustful eyes of land grabbers and abusers. Big institutions both private and state owned with haphazard and crude construction plans have robed the place of its calmness and beauty. The place looks like an industrial estate where encroachment and pollution is galore. Gone are the long patches of almond and local varieties of apple grown abundantly in the vicinity of ruins of Parihaspora.

Centuries ago the great visionary, the King Lalitaditya Mukhtapida had created a marvel of architecture and aesthetics to promote the talent and administrative acumen of Kashmiri people even in an autocratic system of governance. Alas! In existing egalitarian age we are unable to protect and save the ruins of that great capital of a great King for our posterity.

Alas! In existing egalitarian age we are unable to protect and save the ruins of that great capital of a great King for our posterity.