Sharda – also known as Shardi – is a mesmerising town nestled within the mountains of Azad Kashmir. Like many places in Pakistan, this town too is a hub of history and culture with many landmark monuments in the area.
One of the famous sites that tourists often visit include Sharda University, also known as Sharada Peeth. The structure is 142 feet in length while the width is 94.6 feet, whereas the outer walls of the temple are 6 feet wide and 11 feet long.
Positioned at the height of 11000 ft above the sea level, the origins of Sharada Peeth are uncertain. Some historians believe that it was built under the Kushan Empire (30 CE-230 CE). Others believe it was built by Lalitaditya (724 CE-760 CE), because of similarities between Sharada Peeth and the Martand Sun Temple.
Situated near the Line of Control, the monument for Hindus today, stands as a spiritual location where the goddess Sati’s right hand is said to have fallen. Hence, it is one of the three holiest sites of pilgrimage for Kashmiri Pandits.
But there is more to the place apart from religious relevance. Before the site became sacred for Hindus, it was a recognised institution where Buddhists and Hindus gathered for spiritual learning. Many philosophers from over the world used the Sharada Peeth Library for their philosophy works since it used to carry some rare books of Hinduism.
Later, the university also became an important centre for the propagation of Buddhism in the region and was visited by scholars from different countries. In addition to Buddhist studies, the university was also a source of learning history, geography, physics, and philosophy.
While Hindus have their own culture and history linked to Sharada Peeth, the Muslims residing in the region have different legends regarding the spot.
According to locals, there were once two sisters, Sharada and Narada, who ruled the world. The day Sharada died, giants began to flee from her body. Seeing the destruction the giants were causing, Narada summoned them all and built a tomb for her sister. The tomb is now known as Sharada Peeth.
Another urban legend famous among locals nowadays is that the monument was constructed by djinns. They also believe humans and djinns were friends centuries back and both the species utilised the university premises for educational purposes. According to them, some djinns still reside in the crumbling building.
Don’t be scared! We too visited the building and did’t encounter any supernatural activities. But if you are a history buff, this is one site that you should definitely stop by if you are travelling to Kashmir.