Forgotten Temples of Kashmir- Part-7

Shehjar Newsmagazine
Forgotten Temples of Kashmir
Photo series Part-7
An effort to preserve and record Hindu cultural and religios heritage of Kashmir

Kotitirtha….Holiest of Holy Shrine
Exclusive images and report from a remote village in Kashmir provided for Shehjarby Chander M. Bhat

ashmir valley is traditionally divided into two parts Maraz and Kamraz. Maraz was southern part of Kashmir while as Kamraz comprised northern part of Kashmir. Srinagar was central point of both the divisions. Anantnag was the Headquarter of Maraz division while as Baramulla was the seat of attraction for Kamraz division.

Baramulla has its origin to the era of Kashyapa Rishi. The water of Satisar was drainaged from a place through a deep valley between two hills at Sheeri Narvaw resembling the mouth of Varah, The Boar. This Varah Moh changed its identity as Varmul and started to be called as Varamulla.

Varamulla is the entrance point to the valley through Muzzafarabad Uri Road and is 55 km away from Srinagar. There is another story as to how Baramulla came to be known as Varahmul. There was a shrine of Lord Vishnu and was called Adi Varaha. The shrine was located on Eastern bank of Vitasta near Kotitirth. The name Varamulla is also probably related to the shrine place of Adi Varah, the Boar. It is held in great esteem since ancient times and has repeatedly mentioned by Kalhan Pandit in Rajtarangni. The temple was vandalized by Afghan ruler Sikander Buthshikan. The ancient Shiv Linga and some stone images in Kotitirth is said to be belonging to the shrine of Adi Varah at the same bank of Vitasta.

The town of Baramulla faced the ire of tribal invaders in 1947 and a large scale damage was done to Hindu and Sikh fraternity falling into their hands. Sh. Jawahar Lal Nehru wanted to rename Baramulla as Maqboolabad to commemorate the martyrdom of the nationalist Sherwani. However Baramulla retained its identity.

On the left bank, close to Baramulla, is the ancient site of Hushkapur (present Ushkur). Hushka had built a vihara, a stupa and a Vishnu Temple. As per local tradition, Heun Tsang, on arrival in the Valley, stayed here for the first night. Later, he said that some copper plates, on which the proceedings of Kanishka’s council were engraved, lay buried here.

The importance of this shrine is described in Kotitirthamahatmya [part of Bhringisha Samhita]. Presently, the shrine is known for the Shiva temple, inside the sanctum sanctorum of which stands a unique five feet Shivlinga with a face. The shrine has a dharamshala and a holy spring. The water of the holy spring is cold in summer and hot in winter. At present dharamshala is occupied by CRPF and its maintenance is being done by them.

Right above this temple there is another temple which is called Ganganor. Ganganor is a holy spring at Mohalla Rajghat. A small temple has been built on this sacred spring. It is said that the spring receives water from seven springs existing above at an elevation on the small hillock called Gousain Teng. There are seven springs on Gousain Teng with a temple. Each spring has its name viz. Ram Kund, Sita Kund, Laxhman Kund etc. Simultaneously, water from all the springs with independent out lets combine to form a brook and passing into a phase of journey. It is believed that it belongs to the Lord Rama’s period.

There was a number of Kashmiri Pandits living in Baramulla. After invasion of tribal invaders, many Kashmiri Pandits of Baramulla choose to migrate to other parts of the country and many more were killed by tribal invaders. Before migration some 536 Kashmiri Pandit families were living in Baramulla and had their households scattered in Rajghat, Dewan Bagh, Khowja Bagh, Kanlibagh, Jetty Road and Ramghat. After mass exodus only one Kashmiri Pandit namely Sh. Mohan Lal stayed back braving all odds. Some Kashmiri Pandits families from Jammu have returned back and are staying in a temple. They are doing small trades in Baramulla now. Two families staying at Khowja Bagh did not migrate and are still residing there.

The shrine topography described above remains incomplete without getting mention of Ram Mandir of Ramghat. A Janki was always taken from this temple on occasions of Ram Navmi and Dussehra. Another temple near Kotitirth is the temple of Bhairav known as Bhairav sund [Bharaiv Bagh]. Shushnoor was offered on dates of festivals specializing the occasions in the honour of the deity.

Near Kotitirth there was a ghat on river Vitasta called Kotighat. This place was used for the purpose of 10th day Kriya of the departed souls. The ashes of the dead were immersed in Vitasta at Kotighat. Adjacent to Kotighat is cremation ground comprising of five kanals of land.

All these things are there but the people whose presence once thrived on the face of Varamul are now few and far between.

Place Names in Kashmir by B.K.Raina and S.L.Sadhu published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi

Main temple a Kotitirth

Icons outside Kotitirth Shrine. Colors have not changed the concept of these icons

a Parkama of the temple. Path of salvation

Chinar near the temple shading the faith of the devotees

Dharamshala in Kotitirtha. Ruins and remains of the resting place of devotees

a Shiv Lingam inside small Shiv Mandir near Kotitirth

Shiv Lingam at Bairav Bagh teaching meditation to devotees.

Shankh [Conch Shell] inside the temple waiting for blower since last 21 years

Wooden Pillar inside the temple. How long will it bear the weight of the faith without the strength of devotees?

Unique Shiv Linga inside the main temple..JPG

Holy spring inside the temple known as Ganga Noor. Sacred waters of Ganga giving darshan over here

Brashib guarding the temple saying Koti Koti Pranam to the founder of the Universe

Main entrance of the temple. Door to the Nirvana

Goosain Teng. Tower of faith

Shail Putri temple just opposite Kotitirth trans Vitasta

*Born on 20th March, 1960 in Murran a village in North Kashmir, Chander M. Bhat is presently working as an Assistant Supdt. Posts, in Department of Posts, Govt. of India. His articles regarding Posts and of non-political nature stand widely published in various papers and magazines of the country. A booklet 'How to Collect Stamps" published by the Department of Posts, has earned him genuine accolades. He worked on the project of tracing the roots of his co-villagers and of the village Murran, resulting into the culmination of a widely acclaimed book "Murran -My Village". Man with depth, Chander M. Bhat has also another book, "Ocean by Drops" (collection of poems) in his vase having colorful poems. His book "Ancient History of Jammu and Kashmir", confirms his researching capability. Various research papers like "The Splendor that is Amarnath" and "Vitasta" The Sacred River of Kashmir" are valuable additions to his works that has proved very fruitful and guiding force in the exile period of Kashmiri Pandits community of which the author is also a member.

Presently the author is working on "OOL - THE NEST" a six volume project on all the 595 (each volume of about 2500 pages)Kashmiri Pandit villages of Kashmir.

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Brought back memories of childhood. We used to trek up the Gosain Teng many times a year.
Added By Raj Pandita
You are a nice job.A fine documentation,with its spiritual meaning. Regards CL Raina
Added By Chaman Lal Raina
C.Mohan continues to be doing a splendid job in chronicalling ancient temples and shrines of Satisr It is a herculian task in these days of hostile Jahadi turbulence for which his services need to be recognized
Added By pushkar ganjoo
Sir,I am deeply touched by your writings and presentations.Thanks to you and all others who are here to preserve our history in cameras and books.
Added By Ashish Raina
Chander Mohan ji has really worked hard in getting the information about Kooti Tearth(My grandfather used to tell that it has Mahima of Crore Teerath and is holiest of holiest place in valley).From the Shiv Linga itself we come to know abt the grand Vishnu Temple which once existed there and it was also a important resting place for Amarnath yatris who long time back travelled from Amritsar via Baramulla route.Ushkara,Kanli Bagh, Khanpur and Boniyaar have lot of temples(in ruins) around.
Added By ajay pandita