The pit temple of Bijbehara in Jammu and Kashmir

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Srinagar: A 29 July 2020 post on facebook illustrated with pics says: “The pit temple next to the river is said to be ancient Shiv temple of Bijbihara mentioned by Kalhana as Vijeshvara.

The word Bijbehara or Vijbor has been derived from Sanskrit word Vijayeshwar. It was an ancient site of Shiva Vijayeshwar.

The sculptures found at Bijbehara, a town in Anantnag district of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are considered the earliest ones in distinct Kashmiri style of sculptures. A lot of material from Bijbehara was moved to Sri Pratap Singh Museum museum by the turn of the 20th Century

Vinayak Rajdan wrote about the Pit temple of Bijbehara in in January 2017. We quote: ” Although lot of old fragments can be found in the pit, John Siudmak mentions about a standing Ganesha, the oldest from around early 7th century AD. Although, Siudmak had seen it in late 1980s, in his book “The Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Ancient Kashmir and its Influences”, a Handbook of Oriental Studies, published in 2013, he reports the statue to be missing.” On visiting the temple site, Rajdan was left wondering whether this was the same Ganesha.

Bijbehara temple in 1906

Much through the 80s the site was a regular victim of religious strife. People would break in and vandalize.

Rajdan wrote this piece when terrorists were launching attacks in close vicinity of this pit temple.

Burzahom archeological site

Whatever remains of the Bijbihara pit temple in Kashmir is a sad reminder of the ancient Burzahom site – a prehistoric settlement in the village of the same name in the Srinagar District, 16 kilometres to the northwest of Srinagar.

Archaeological excavations have revealed four phases of cultural significance between 3000 BC and 1000 BC.

The different period represented by the Burzahom sites stretch from neolithic to megalithic to pre-history.

The remarkable find during this period was of pits which were inferred as dwelling units.

This site was nominated on 15 April 2014 for declaring it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by the Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO, and is yet to be approved. The declaration is still awaited

The Kashmiri Pandits who were driven out of their homes in the Kashmir valley and were made refugees in their own country by terrorists 30 years ago, are sad, heartbroken, bitter, angry but there is also optimism. They feel Kashmir will once again embrace inclusiveness.

This is what they are saying on social media

You dig anywhere in Kashmir, temple’s will erupt – Rakesh Bhat

It’s our destiny given to us by cruel rulers. But destiny changes for sure in a lifetime. – Sanjay Koul

I am still to come to terms – what prompted a mass movement from a peace loving population to taking up guns fighting for liberation of Kashmir. Whether it were Jagmohans of the world or Abdullahs, the verdict was delivered, the society was divided and the brotherhood challenged. Kashmir was a centre of Sufi pilgrimage. Who in Islam doesn’t like Sufism? Is it the Wahabi. Or that some of our elite brethren felt Wahabism can replace traditional Sufism. And in doing so the turmoil erupted….The generations to come will search for answers why the peaceful Kashmiriyat was torn into pieces. Or that I am in a delusion about the so-called fabric of Kashmiriyat – Anil Koul

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