Parihaspora: The City Of Smiles

Parihaspora is an old town situated near Baramulla district,about 26km north of Srinagar in J&K. The town was built in the 8th century by king Lalitaditya of the Karkota dynasty. Located on the Karewa plateau above the point where Jhelum meetsSind, it was a magnificent setting with the Harmukh, the reigning peak in the valley, standing tall before it. Named the city of smiles, Parihaspora stands today as a testament to the phenomenon of time, ravages, and dynasties bygone, whispering the remnants of a spectacular past.

Most of what we know about Parihaspora comes from the Rajtarangini written by Kalhana who is said to have spent his life there. Rajatarangini tells us about Lalitaditya Muktapida, the 5th ruler of the Karkota dynasty who ascended the throne in 724 B.C.E. Lalitaditya was a great conqueror who generated wealth through multiple conquests and built a number of monuments across Kashmir including a new capital called Parihaspora. He embellished it with a series of magnificent edifices, Buddhist and Brahmanical, which if they had survived in their entirety, would have surpassed in grandeur all the ancient buildings of Kashmir. Even in their ruin they are impressive memorials of the king’s generous patronage of art and religious enthusiasm. Three of the Buddhist buildings, a stupa, a monastery, and a Chaitya or temple have been excavated.

a) Ancient Stupa: on the north eastern corner of the plateau is the Stupa of Cankuna, the central Asian minister of Lalitaditya.
b) Ancient monastery: the large square structure is the Rajavihara or the royal monastery. The four sides of the courtyard are enclosed by 26 cells. A couple of stone drains and a large stone trough can be seen among the remains.
c) Ancient Chaitya: the Chaitya or the prayer hall stands on a two tier base. It has a square sanctum surrounded by a circumambulatory passage. A flight of steps on the east lead to the entrance.

Parihaspora today is referred to as Kani shahr by the locals, meaning ‘the city of stone.’ This old city of stone glimmers beneath the glorious sun, the rock engravings standstill; as the locals go about their business, a few good men glance at the city that had once dared to smile.

– Hayan Naim

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