Kashmir. View of a Buddhist Tope near Baramula
Photographer: Burke, John
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a Buddhist stupa mound near Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir, taken by John Burke in 1868. Buddhism was established in Kashmir from the third century BC but declined by the 8th century AD, eclipsed by Hindu Vaishnavism and Shaivism. Two of the most important sites for Buddhist remains in the Kashmir valley are Harwan near Srinagar and Ushkur near Baramulla. Located 55 kms from Srinagar, Baramulla, once an important trading centre under the British at the western entrance to the Kashmir valley, spreads along the banks of the Vitasta (Jhelum). On the left bank is the ancient site of Hushkapur (now Ushkur) said to have been founded by Huvishka, a ruler from the famed Kushana dynasty that ruled portions of Afghanistan and India during the first three centuries AD. When the 7th century Chinese traveller Hieuan Tsang entered Kashmir, he stayed at Ushkur and described it as a flourishing Buddhist centre. This general view of the unexcavated stupa, with two figures standing on the summit, and another at the base with measuring scales, is reproduced in Henry Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India report, 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir,' (1869), in which he wrote, 'The locality which includes the remains of a Monastery is called the 'Jayendra Vihar', and the erection is assigned by local tradition to one 'Praverasena' in A.D. 500. Excavation required.' Stupa bases and other remains were excavated at this mound, and among the discoveries were finely modelled terracotta heads.