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Remains of Sharda Peeth

By Prakhar Patidar

Sharda University, situated on the borders of Kashmir in a region called Sharda Peeth, was an eminent site of higher education known for attracting scholars from all over Asia between the 6th to 12th centuries. It was a part of the famous Sharda Peeth temple on the banks of river Kishengenga. Today, this area falls in the Pakistan administered Kashmir region close to LOC.

The famous historian Al Bruni has also written about Sharda Peeth stating it to be a famous religious site in ancient times. In terms of academic excellence and elaborate libraries, Sharda Peeth was at par with the other great universities of the time: Taxila and Nalanda.

Historians have recorded the religious importance this university enjoyed amongst Buddhists, Hindus and Jains. Highly active in its time, the site is known to have attracted as many as 50,000 pilgrims, even the Kings of Kashmir in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The book Sharda Evolution of History by Ghani tells that it is a site of learning philosophy, science and religion for the elite. The ruin of this university, its history and heritage are an exciting topic of research in the University of Muzaffarabad with a dedicated Centre for Learning Archaeological Heritage.

Sharda Peeth

Kashmir is known for its beauty. Whatever remains of the university today is but a fragment of what a view it must have been - set by a river in the serene mountains. Not only is the region known for being beautiful, but it has also been a site of severe political turmoil between India and Pakistan. The political issues revolving around the university extend beyond the contention over the region where it is placed.

Apart from claims of wrongful occupancy of the region by both countries, there is the question of the religious value the site holds for Hindus, Buddhists and Jain all over the state and the country. While many would like to visit the ancient site of knowledge and pilgrimage, given the political scenario that chokes Kashmir, the probability of it is nil.


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