Awantipora, located in the middle of Kashmir valley, is famous for its natural beauty and archeological heritage. The town was established in the middle of ninth century AD by the legendry king Awanti Verman. Although the temples built by him lie in ruins today, one is still mesmerized by their grandeur.
Temples in AwantiporaIt is believed that Awanti Varman ascended the throne of Kashmir in 855 AD. He then decided to build a new capital for himself and chose this spot located on the bank of River Jhelum. Here he built two magnificent temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. When Sultan Sikandar Butshikan of Afghanistan invaded Kashmir in 14th Century, he destroyed these temples. Since then they have been lying in ruins. Today however, these temples are maintained by Archeological Survey of India.
Avantisvamin Temple in Awantipora
Out of the two temples built by Awanti Verman, the one, which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is slightly smaller than the other. It is located on Shrinagar Jammu Road just outside the city on the bank of River Jhelum. This temple is known is Avantisvamin. It is believed that the king built this temple before he came to the throne.
Awantisvamin Temple had a series of columns placed at regular intervals confirming to the colonnaded peristyle of architecture. The main shrine was located in the centre of the courtyard. It had a double base. Although this base can still be seen the sanctum, which measured 33 square feet, is almost gone. There were also four smaller temples located on four corners of this complex. Vaikuntha Vishnu illustrated in this temple draws admiration from art lovers even to this day. The ornamentation on the walls of this temple is also highly admired by many.
Awantishwar Temple in Awantipora
The larger temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is known as Awantishwar or Avanteshvara Temple. It is located in Jawbari area of Awantipora. It is believed that the temple was constructed after Awanti Verman ascended the throne of Kashmir. Both these temples are similar in style.
Avantesvara temple is also located at the centre of a courtyard surrounded by a colonnaded peristyle. The base of the main shrine was quite high. One had to climb a number of stairs to reach the temple. These stairs were located on all four sides and were 28 feet wide. Like most Shiva temples, it did not have any recess at the back.
Apart from these two temples, Sheer Mutt, located 6 km from Awantipora is another ancient temple in this area. Ruins of temples built by Lalitaditya Muktapi?a (724 CE - 760 CE) of Kashmiri Karkota dynasty are also visible in the vicinity of his town.
Other Attractions in AwantiporaAwantipora abounds in natural beauty. With river Jhelum meandering by and green fields lying against hilly backdrop the town offers an out of this world view. The fauna and flora of this area also adds to its charm. You can also try your hand at angling in River Jhelum. Many use this town as the base for adventure trips. In addition, Awantipora Railway Station offers a glimpse into the Kashmiri art and architecture and therefore one should take time to visit it. Then there are many small villages to visit from here. Litter Village, located close by, is one such village.
Litter Village near Awantipora
Litter Village is famous not only for its pristine beauty, but also for its Sufi culture. As you enter the village, a myriad natural color welcomes you with an openness that can be witnessed only in the rural Kashmir. Farms and orchards dotted all over create a fascinating vista that is perhaps only seen in children’s storybooks. The snow clad mountains located at the backdrop adds to its charm. Indeed, if you are trying to get out of the mad rush, you must come to Litter Village.
To be sure, this quaint little village is more than just a beautiful corner on this world. It is also the abode of religious saint Syed Ahmed Qureshi. He was the maternal uncle of most revered saint Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani. Those who are seeker of spiritual balm often come here for a prolonged spell of meditation. The Shrine of Syed Ahmed Qureshi attracts devotees from far and near. Although a large crowd gathers here every Friday thousands throng this shrine in the month of August, when a three day fair is held.
Not to Miss in Awantipora
Shooting Area located at a driving distance of 15 Km from Awantipora is another place to visit. Once upon a time, this area was reserved as a royal hunting ground. Today it is popular tourist spot famous for its bio diversity. Besides, there are many natural springs located in nearby regions that also draw many visitors.
If you are interested in Saffron cultivation, you may also take a trip to the neighboring Pampore Tehsil; if you are in season you will see saffron flowers in bloom. You can also interact with the farmers to lean how saffron is produced from this small flower.
Indeed, Awantipora, like many other regions in Kashmir, offers something to everybody. Therefore, if you are in Kashmir, you must take time to visit this small town located on NH 1A.
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