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Kashmir. Temple of Meruvarddhanaswami at Pandrethan near Srinagar. View of north face. Probable date A.D. 913 to 921

Kashmir. Temple of Meruvarddhanaswami at Pandrethan near Srinagar. View of north face. Probable date A.D. 913 to 921

Photographer: Burke, John

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1868

Shelfmark: Photo 981/1(41)

Item number: 41

Length: 17.7

Width: 22.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the Meruvardhanaswami temple at Pandrethan near Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, taken in 1868. Pandrethan, now mostly in ruins, is one of Kashmir's historic capitals, said by Kalhana in his poetical account of Kashmiri history called Rajatarangini to have been founded by king Pravarsena in the 6th century AD. Its name thus derives from Puranadishthana or 'old town'. The small stone Shiva temple in the picture dates from the mid-10th century, reputedly erected by a minister named Meru. It was set in a spring-fed tank and its plinth is now submerged. Its interior has one of the finest surviving temple ceilings in Kashmir, consisting of three intersecting squares formed by diagonally placed lintels, the soffit decorated with a lotus. This general view of the temple, showing the collapsing state of the pyramidal masonry roof, is reproduced in Henry Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India report, 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir,' (1869), in which he wrote, 'The small village of Pandrethan is situated on the Jhelum, about a mile and a half to the south-east of Srinagar...The Temple is close to the village, and stands in the centre of a tank of water...At the time of my visit, the water was about two feet over the floor of the Temple, and I had to obtain a small boat to enable me and my surveyors to take measurements. The stone ceiling is elaborately carved in bas-relief figures, and it is one of the most perfect pieces of ancient carving that exists in Kashmir...The pyramidal roof is divided into two portions by an ornamental band. The corner pilasters are surmounted by carved capitals, and the pediments of the porches appear to have terminated with a melon-shaped ornament. The ceiling is formed of nine blocks of stone; four resting over the angles of the cornice, reduce the opening to a square, and an upper course of four stones still further reduces the opening, which is covered by a single block decorated with a large lotus.'

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