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As PM Modi shares pictures of ‘Shankaracharya Hill’, read how the place was attempted to be Islamised as ‘Takht-e-Suleman’ in attempt to erase Hindu past of Kashmir

The website of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC) mentions the Shankaracharya Hill as Takht-e-Suleiman

On Thursday (7th March) Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Srinagar to unveil development projects worth more than Rs 6,400 crore. Taking to X, PM Modi shared some pictures of the majestic Shankaracharya Hill as he arrived in Srinagar.

“Upon reaching Srinagar a short while ago, had the opportunity to see the majestic Shankaracharya Hill from a distance,” PM Modi wrote. Notably, this is PM Modi’s maiden visit to the valley since the abrogation of Article 370 by his government. Notably, Shankaracharya Hill holds special importance for Hindus, and the Islamists have been attempting to ‘Islamise’ it by giving it Islamic names.

Hindus say that Adi Shankara, a Hindu scholar, saint and preacher, visited the temple on top of the hill. Adi Shankara is the name of both the hill and the temple atop. Hindus visit the temple during the Amarnath Yatra. During the yatra, Lord Shiv’s sacred mace is brought to the temple.

The Prime Minister calling the said mountains Shankaracharya Hill holds immense significance given the past attempts at Islamising the place as ‘Takh-e-Suleman’. There have been countless efforts to erase the Hindu heritage across the country, but none at the scale seen in Jammu and Kashmir.

Historically, the hills where the Shankaracharya Temple is situated have been known as the Shankaracharya Hill and Hariparbat, however, back in 2013, a major protest erupted in Srinagar after it was alleged that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) renamed Shankaracharya Hill to ‘Takht-e-Suleman’. The displaced Kashmiri Pandits alleged that the ASI has distorted the history of the ancient Hindu monument.

Back then, Predhuman K Joseph Dhar, an expert on ancient Kashmir history had said the ASI not only renamed the place but also replaced the earlier plaque with the one mentioning the name of the place as ‘Takht-e-Suleman’.

“It is a matter of great concern that ASI has given the name Takht-e-Suleiman (Throne of Solomon) to it, replacing the earlier plaque. How have they come to this conclusion warrants an answer,” Dhar said.

According to the new plaque, Shah Jahan, the Mughal ruler, built the roof of the Shankaracharya Temple in 1644 AD. However, it made no mention of King Gopadhari, who repaired the temple, or King Lalitaditya, who refurbished it centuries before Islam arrived in the valley in the 13th century.

“While the plaque informs the people that the roof of the temple was constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1644 AD, there is no mention of King Gopadhari, who [repaired] the temple, King Lalitaditya, who renovated it several hundred years before the arrival of Islam in the 13th century, and Dogra rulers, who placed the lingam of Lord Shiva, which was destroyed on the orders of Jehangir’s wife Noor Jehan, ” Dhar said.

During a protest in Pune against the alleged renaming of the Hindu heritage site after Islamic names, Rohit Bhat, Pune coordinator for Youth 4 Panun Kashmir had said that hat after throwing out Kashmiri Hindus and Nationalist forces from the Valley, a planned activity is going on to convert the state to an Islamic state and destroy and distort the places of worship and faith of Kashmiri Hindus, the aborigine of the Kashmir. He further said that it is a matter of shame that such a change in the name of the pious hill is even reflected in the official tourist website of the Jammu and Kashmir government.

As OpIndia checked the website of the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC), it mentions the Shankaracharya Hill as Takht-e-Suleiman.

“The Shankaracharya temple is housed in the Srinagar district on the hill known as Takht-e-Suleiman. It is at a height of 1100 ft. above the surface level of the main city on the peak of the hill. The Shankaracharya Mandir in Kashmir is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is thought to be the oldest shrine for worship in the Kashmir valley. The temple as it is today has undergone many repairs throughout its life. Ever since under the rule of Lalitaditya and then repairs were undertaken by Zain-ul-Abideen after the temple got damaged in an earthquake. The repairs were also carried out during the Governorship of Sheikh Mohi-ud-Din. Maharaja Gulab Singh, a Dogra ruler, who is credited for the stone steps that form a part of the passage to the shrine. In 1925, the electrification of the temple was done,” the JKTDC website states.

Screengrab of the J&K Tourism Development Corporation website

It is pertinent to mention here that in the year 2014, the then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah had ‘assured’ that “there is no proposal to change the name of the Shankaracharya Hill.” He even dismissed the claims of the renaming of the Hindu heritage site as a ‘figment of imagination.

“Let me be as clear as I can – there is NO, repeat NO proposal by the state to change the name of Shankaracharya Hill in Srinagar. I had wanted to stay out of this discussion since it was based on the figments of some very active imaginations but no such luck,” Omar Abdullah stated.

Notably, the most important information about its history is provided by an old historian named Kalhana in Rajatarangni, the renowned historical chronicler of the monarchs of Kashmir and Northwest India. Kalhana’s work is regarded as an authority in the study of the history of Kashmir.

According to Kalhana, the hill was originally known as Jeetlark or Jetha Larak later as Gopadari Hill. He further states that King Gopadhitya gave the Brahmins who had arrived from Aryadesa (Aryan region) land at the foot of the hill. The land grant was named Gopa Agraharas.

Hari Parbat renamed as Koh-e-Meran

After their ethnic cleansing and exodus attempts were made to even erase the remaining few traces of Hindu existence in Jammu and Kashmir. Hari Parbat, which overlooks the town of Srinagar, is home to a temple dedicated to Jagadamba Sharika Bhagwati, Gurudwara Chatti Patshahi, and other Muslim shrines. However, the name Koh-e-Maran has become popularised.

In the year 2016, a Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department advertisement explicitly referred to Hari Parbat as Koh-e-Marran, giving the name de facto validity. Koh-e-Maran means “mountain of snakes” in Farsi, the name is claimed to have originated during the Mughal era. The blatant attempt at Islamising the Hari Parbat was met with severe criticism and outrage by Kashmiri Pandits who alleged that it was part of “a deep-rooted conspiracy.”

In addition to the government, the local media outlets also contributed to normalising and popularising the Islamic names of Shankaracharya Hill and Hari Parbat. These media outlets went all out to pass off the Islamisation of Hindu religious sites as ‘syncretic culture’, ‘religious bonhomie’ and whatnot.

The Islamisation of Kashmir post-independence, however, started in the 1980s under the Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah-led government. According to a study, the drive for Kashmir’s Islamization had begun in earnest. Sheikh Abdullah had renamed around 2500 villages to Islamic names in the 1980s. The goal was to break away from Kashmir’s pre-Islamic heritage and traditions.

Excerpt from a study titled “Kashmir Conflict” by Priyanka Bachaya and Sumeet Bhatti

Several towns having Hindu names were given ‘Islamic’ names including Anantnag, which was renamed “Islamabad”; Ramghat Mohalla in Baramulla was renamed “Sayeed Karim Sahib”; Post Office Road in Baramulla was renamed “Shah Masal Market”; and others.

It is widely known that the separatists/Islamists referred to the town of Anantnag as Islamabad, which is known for the remnants of the Martand Sun Temple, which were destroyed by Sikandar Butshikan (Sikandar the iconoclast). Anantnag relates to Vishnu’s Sheshanag, but it also means “numerous springs” in Kashmiri. It is said that the history of the town’s name dates back to the Puranas.

There have been ongoing efforts to impose the name Islamabad instead of Anantnag to alienate the town from its Hindu history and roots While in the 1990s it was made mandatory by the Islamic terrorists later, their sympathisers and politicians furthered their agenda.

Back in 2010, Jammu and Kashmir’s Law and Parliamentary Affairs and Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar had called Anantnag as ‘Islamabad’ in the then-state legislative assembly.

Notably, the Martand Sun Temple is believed to have been built in the eighth century, but it was nearly destroyed multiple times between 1389 and 1413. The Martand Surya Temple, dedicated to the Sun God or Bhaskar, is said to have been constructed in the eighth century AD by Hindu king Lalitaditya. Lalitaditya was a surya (Sun) Dynasty Kshatriya.

Other than Islamist terrorists and politicians, Bollywood has also contributed in enormous measures to the Islamisation of the once Hindu land of knowledge, wisdom and science in addition to furthering Hinduphobia.

In 2014, filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj faced severe condemnation for slandering Hindu customs and hurting Hindu sensibilities by joining the ranks of Islamists and portraying Kashmir’s historic Sun Temple in his film ‘Haider.’

Shahid Kapoor starrer Haider went on to allude to one of the country’s greatest temples, the Surya Mandir, as Shaitan Ki Gufa in one of its songs, ‘Bismil,’ which features Shahid dancing inside the Hindu temple.

Kashmir, one of the cradles of Hindu civilization, had witnessed antagonistic foreign rulers from the early fourteenth century until the reign of Shah Mir in 1819 when Maharaja Ranjit Singh liberated the region. The indigenous people had a little respite from the violent  Islamic invaders during the reigns of Sikh-Dogra rulers between 1819 and 1930.

Invasions, genocides, exoduses, Islamisation, politics and propaganda, Islamists have used all the means at their disposal to erase the Hindu history of Kashmir. Interestingly, Maa Sharada, a manifestation of Maa Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom, is revered as the tutelary deity of the Hindu Kashmir. Even the prayers refer to her as “Kashmira-pura-vasini” (she who resides in Kashmir).

Beginning in the 1930s, Kashmir was once again infected by Islamism, with critical figures like Sheikh Abdullah. Ironically, Sheikh Abdullah himself was a descendant of a Kashmiri Pandit Ragho Ram Kaul. 

However, as the country experiences an unprecedented Hindu resurgence with the recovery of the Ram Janmbhoomi Mandir in Ayodhya, Prime Minister Modi’s reference to Shankaracharya Hill by their original name rather than the imposed Islamic names demonstrates that Hindus will not perish in oblivion.

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