Shankaracharya Temple of Srinagar: Complete Guide

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Last Updated on March 24, 2022 by asoulwindow

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Information about Shankaracharya Temple

Shankaracharya Temple is the oldest Hindu temple of Kashmir. This Shiva temple was visited by Jagat Guru Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century. To date, it is the most important place to see in Srinagar.

For centuries Kashmir has been the centre of Shaivism. Kailash Parbat, the abode of Shiv ji in Tibet and Himalayas are not very far after all!

Shankaracharya Temple is an ancient Shivalaya which has played remained an important Hindu pilgrimage since times immemorial. Archaeological Survey of India or ASI takes care of the upkeep and maintenance of Shankaracharya Temple.

Shankaracharya Temple is the nationally protected temple under the Archaeological Monument, Sites and Remains Act, 1958.  

My experience of visiting Shankaracharya Temple

During my first visit to Kashmir, I was most keen to pay my respects to all the ancient temples of Kashmir. The place where Rishi Kashyap roamed. I decided to visit Martand Temple, Avanti Swami temple, an unnamed temple in Drung and Shankaracharya Temple. I did not know what to expect but I was mesmerised with what I saw.

With my blog, I try to bring the truth about the places which are not talked about much in mainstream media. My blog A Soul Window is a leading travel blog of an Indian backpacker.

We will explore the mystery of Shankaracharya Temple in this detailed blog. This is the most comprehensive travel guide on Shankaracharya Temple of Kashmir. Do share this information packed blog with your friends and family.

Who is the main deity of Shankaracharya Temple?

The main presiding deity at the Shankaracharya Temple is Shiva Bhagwan. Called by Europeans as Lord Shiva, thousands of people visit this Hindu temple every day. I have been to many Shiva temples across Bharat and I found this temple to be so unique.

Unlike many other Hindu temples of Kashmir which were heartlessly vandalised by Muslim barbarians, the Shankaracharya Temple is still a functioning temple.

Also Read: Which Muslim Invader destroyed Martand Temple?

Why is Shankaracharya Temple Famous?

What is special about Shankaracharya Temple? Here is all you wanted to know.

There are many reasons why tourism in Srinagar is centered around Shankaracharya Temple. This ancient temple is a popular religious and spiritual centre of pilgrimage. This is why Hindu devotees visit this temple in large number every day.

What makes Shankaracharya Temple so famous is the fact that Adi Shankaracharya himself spent a long time here, composed some of his greatest works and meditated in silence.

Shri Amarnath Yatra and Shankaracharya Temple

Hindu pilgrims do not forget to visit the Shankaracharya Temple in large numbers while they perform Shri Amarnath Yatra, one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimages of the world. The holy mace of Shiv Bhagwan is brought to the Shankaracharya Mandir on the lunar phase of the new moon. This tradition has been performed since many years during the sacred Amarnath Yatra.

Nomenclature/Etymology of Shankaracharya Temple

As per Shri R.C. Kak, a respected archaeologist, “Neither the hill nor the Shankaracharya temple preserves its ancient name. He had spent a long time researching the hill.

The other name of Shankaracharya Temple are as below:

Shankaracharya Hill is also known as below

Islamic names of Shankaracharya Hill include

Takht-i-Sulaiman is also known as Throne of Solomon. It is a recent name. The Buddhists call it as Pas-Pahar.

Connection of Shankaracharya Temple with other faiths.

Just like Kailash Parbat in Tibet, many Muslims, Buddhists and Persians also claim their connection to Shankaracharya Hill. This is why Shankaracharya Hill was addressed differently by different people. I learned many such facts during my tour to Srinagar. No wonder Shankaracharya Temple is very popular among all faiths.

Did Jesus Christ visit Shankaracharya Temple? It remains an unsolved mystery till date. Many historians claim that Jesus Christ had also paid a visit to the Shankaracharya Temple aeons ago. It is also possible that he had actually lived here for a long period. Some say that the event is inscribed on the walls here. It is a must-see place.

Also read: The Mystery of Awanti Swamin temple of Srinagar

Where is Shankaracharya Temple located?

Shankaracharya Temple is perched atop Shankaracharya hill on the Zabarwan Mountain Range of Srinagar in the Jammu and Kashmir region of North India. Shankaracharya Temple is located in the heart of Srinagar near Nehru Park. Located within the Dal Lake, Nehru Park is a small island visited by locals. Shankaracharya Temple is located towards the South East direction of Srinagar city.

Shankaracharya Hill

I was impressed to see the dense forests that surround the Shankaracharya temple. The large variety of flora and fauna on this sacred hill is worth documenting. The hill is so rich and abundant in biodiversity that several zoologists and biologists also visit the place for study and research.

For a regular tourist, the mere greenery and pollution free environment of Shankaracharya Hill is rejuvenating. The scenic path way to temple is refreshing. It is a peaceful place, located far away from the touts who harass tourists around Dal Lake. No wonder, it is the favourite sightseeing attraction of many people.

Is Shankaracharya Temple a volcano?

Is Shankaracharya Temple a volcano? It is a commonly asked question. Shankaracharya hill on which Shankaracharya Temple is built is believed to be a dormant volcano!!!

Shankaracharya Hill is a well preserved Panjal trap which was formed centuries ago during the Permian period volcanic activity. The Permian era started as early as 298.9 million years ago and ended 252.2 million years ago.

Height of Shankaracharya Temple

Shankaracharya Mandir is located at a height of 335 meters or approximately 1,100 feet abovesurface level.When I arrived here, I had no idea that it is located above the valley floor. Like most prominent and small Hindu temple Shankaracharya Temple is also built on the top of the hill.

View from Shankaracharya Temple Srinagar

The platform that surrounds Shankaracharya Temple overlooks the sprawling Srinagar city. Landmarks sightseeing attractions of Srinagar such as the voluptuous Jhelum River, Hari Parbat and the busy Dal Lake is clearly visible from this vantage point. The view of snow-clad Pir Panjal Range from the terrace is breath-taking.

This wide panorama which offers a bird’s eye view of Srinagar city and Jhelum Valley is a major attraction here. The view of river meandering its way through the bustling Srinagar city is a grand spectacle. This is why this temple is a must-visit place in Srinagar of Kashmir.

British writer, Justine Hardy (born April 1966)has waxed eloquent after he counted around 1350 shikaras on the Dal Lake. I was awestruck at the magnificent view of the valley below. The mountain ranges enveloped in snow add to the beauty of the place.

After dark, you can enjoy the lovely night view from the courtyard of the temple. It looks like stars have descended upon the entire city of Srinagar as the electric lights are switched on.

However, the lakes of Wular, Gandarba and Manasbal can not be seen from here. I was able to see Shankaracharya temple from the Dal Lake too! Soaking in the views is the thing to do with family and kids.

History of Shankaracharya Temple

Much of what we know about the historical significance of Shankaracharya Temple is through the works of Kalhana, who was a renowned historian and author of the famous book Rajataringini. It was Kalhana, who had addressed the Shankaracharya Hill as Gopa Hill or Gopadri.

As per Kalhana, the nearby village was known as Bhuksiravatika which later became Buch’vore or Buchwara.

As per historical records of Kalhana, many Brahmins lived in a nearby village under the patronage of King Gopaditya. This Brahmin Village was located in the vicinity of the hill itself. This village is said to the place which is known as Galgate now.

According to the written accounts of Kalhana, the ruler Gopaditya had given some land to Brahmans. This land was located on the foothills. This Agraharam or grant of land came to be known as Gopa Agrahara. Gupkar is now the name given to this area at the base. The two villages donated by King Gopaditya were Gupkar and Buchwara.

Soul Window Facts

Agrahara or Agraharam were commonly granted in old days and was an inseparable part of the ancient town-planning and Hindu architecture. The tradition of Agrahara was common in South Indian Temples, such as those of Thanjavur in Tamilnadu.

The Agraharam of the world-famous famous temple in Thiruvananthapuram of Kerala, is known as Valiya Sala. It is the lengthiest Agraharam in India.

Who built Shankaracharya Temple?

Did you know who constructed Shankaracharya Temple? It is a frequently asked question and the answer is not simple.

Construction and re construction of Shankaracharya Temple in Kashmir is credited to several Hindu rulers of Kashmir since ancient times.

Some historians claim that Shankaracharya temple was originally constructed by King Sandhiman from the Gonanda Dynasty. In fact, the name, Jyeshteshwara was given by him. The hillock was known as Sandhiman Parbat after him.

At present, Shri Karan Singh serves as the sole chairperson trustee. Shri Divakar Singh is the president of the trust. Shankaracharya Mandir has been managed by the Dharmarth Trust from as early as the 19th century C.E. J & K Dharmarth Trust was established in the year 1846 by Maharaja Gulab Singh, founder of Jammu and Kashmir state. It is now functioning under the control and able supervision of Dr. Karan Singh, the scion of the royal family.

When was Shankaracharya Temple constructed?

How old is Shankaracharya Temple? Shankaracharya Temple is unarguably the oldest Hindu temple of Kashmir. It is a 2500 years old temple.

However, the historians and archaeologists are unable to conclude the exact date of construction of Shankaracharya Temple.

Who renovated Shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar? Several additions have been made to Shankaracharya Temple over many centuries. The roof of the temple had collapsed in an earthquake. However, it was repaired later.

Many earlier Hindu Kings such as Lalitaditya Muktapida (reigned between 724 C.E.–760 C.E.) of the Karakote dynasty and modern Hindu Governments have made major changes and repairs to the structures in and around the temple premises. Howevere, the name remained unchanged. The Dogra ruler, Maharaja Gulab Singh for example, built the stone steps here.

Below is a detailed time line of human activity at the spot where Shankaracharya Temple exists.

371 B.C.E.

From the works of Kalhana, the historian of Hindu Kashmir, we know that the powerful ruler Gopaditya (426–365 B.C.E.) had constructed the temple in 371 B.C.E. atop what is now known as Shankaracharya Hill. King Gopaditya had devoted this temple to Jyesthesvara (Shiva Jyestharuda).

200 B.C.E.

Many historians claim that the original Shankaracharya Mandir has existed on this very same spot since 200 B.C.E. As per Rajatarangini, which was composed by Kalhana, King Jalauka or Jaloka has also been associated with Shankaracharya Temple. Kalhana was the feted 12th century C.E. historian of Kashmir. King Jalauka was the son of King Ashoka of the Gonandiya dynasty. It is also said that it is the same Ashoka-the great from the powerful Mauryan Empire.

King Ashoka of the Gonandiya dynasty ruled in 2nd millennium B.C.E.

6th century C.E.

However, the recent Shankaracharyatemple structure was built as recently as in 6th century C.E. The uneducated Scottish historian James Fergusson, made a controversial claim about the date of present Shankaracharya Temple.

8th century C.E.

When did Shankaracharya visit Kashmir? The much-revered Hindu Vedic Scholar Acharya Adi Shankara visited the Shankaracharya Temple in 8th century C.E. This is also why the Shankaracharya Temple is named so.

17th or 18th century C.E.

In the year 1899, he claimed that the Shankaracharya Temple was constructed in 17th or 18th century C.E. This conclusion was dismissed and rendered baseless. He had wrongly taken in to account the repair work and super structures solely. Later Aurel Stein who was a British archaeologist with origins in Hungary, begged to differ. Aurel (1862-1943) concluded that the stairs and base are much older.

20th century C.E.

While paying a visit to Kashmir in the year 1925, the Maharaja or Mysuru, commissioned the electrical search light installations in the premises of Shankaracharya Temple. While one light was installed at the top of the temple, 5 lights were installed around the temple.

In the year 1961, on 20th April, an idol of the famous seer Adi Shankaracharaya was installed in the temple by Shankaracharaya of Dwarkapeetham. This white marble bust is also worshipped by devotees.

Our car drove up to the Shankaracharya temple through a smooth road which was built by the BRO or Border Roads Organisation in the year 1969 C.E. Before this, pilgrims used to walk up to this ancient temple. This winding road is 5.6 kilometres or 3.5 miles long.

Visit of Acharya Adi Shankaracharya

When did Shankaracharya visit Kashmir? Jagat Guru Adi Shankaracharya visited Kashmir 1,200 years ago. Not only did Acharya Adi Shankara pay a visit to this ancient Shiva Temple in 8th century C.E. but he also composed Soundarya Lahiri here. It is one of his most celebrated literary works.

After the great philosopher Adi Shankara accepted the Shakti faith which was prevalent here, he composed Soundarya Lahiri. This ancient temple is also the place where Adi Shankaracharya attained enlightenment. Adi Shankaracharya was a proponent of Advaita Vedanta.

Adi Shankaracharya had stayed for a long time on the tip of this hill during his Kashmir visit. He had meditated here for a long time. He was instrumental in reviving the Sanatan Dharma in Kashmir. He went through severe penance with the aim of renewing the tenets of Sanatan Dharma.

Shankracharya tapasya cave

Shankracharya tapasya cave is also a must-visit place. Do not miss the signboard which says, “Jagat Guru Shri Shankaracharya Tapasya Sthal.” There were of course no stairs, road, electricity and other modern frills back then. This place is off the beaten track.

Also known as Adi Shankara’s Gufa, this was the place where he sat and performed tapasya. A visit to Shankaracharya temple is incomplete without a visit to the Shankracharya tapasya cave.

Ever since this temple is known as Shankaracharya Temple. Adi Shankaracharya has been credited for reviving Hinduism in India.

What are the four mathas of Shankaracharya?

Adi Shankaracharya had established 4 mathas in the four corners of India to uphold Sanatan Dharma which is known in West as Hinduism. Mathas are monasteries or mutt.

Below are the four mathas of Shankaracharya:

Also read: Secrets of Puri Jagannath Temple!

Famous People who visited Shankaracharya Temple

The famous People who visited Shankaracharya Temple are as below

  • Adi Shankaracharya (8th century)
  • Sri Aurobindo (1903)
  • Vinoba Bhave (August 1959)

Shankaracharya Temple Srinagar Steps

Shri Gulab Singh (1792-1857 C.E.), who was the world-famous Dogra King is credited with building the steps to the hill from Durga Naag temple side. Durga Nag temple is taken care of by the J&K Shri Durga Nag Trust (JKSDNT). It is an unexplored place.

How many stairs in Shankaracharya Temple? There are approximately 243 steps which devotees take to reach Shankaracharya Temple. There are 23 landings here. Two small shelters for the holy men known as Sadhus are constructed by the Dharmarth Trust in the vicinity. This is a lesser-known fact.

Islamic Attacks on Shankaracharya Temple

Not many know that the steps existed much before the construction work carried out by Shri Gulab Singh. But, as we all know, the Islamic invaders were very impoverished and always struggled for money, they plundered in Srinagar as well.

Sultan Sikandar who was a cruel and uneducated Muslim invader had damaged the temple. Not only did he destroy the sacred Shiva Linga but he also damaged the surrounding Hindu structures. The iconoclast he was, he didn’t even spare around 300 idols of Hindu Goddesses and Gods. The repairs were later carried out in the Sikh rule. The 2nd Dogra ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Ranbir Singh had repaired the temple again.

The original stairs extended all the way towards the world-famous Jhelum River. But, as it has happened several times in India, the Muslim invaders removed the stairs which led to the hill from the banks of picturesque Jhelum River. Not many know that the temple was connected directly with Jhelum River near the temple of Goddess Tripurasundari on the right bank. It is known as Shudashyar Ghat.

Nur Jahan, the puppet wife of Mughal plunderer Jahangir had a bright idea. The cunning lady that she was, she destroyed the area and re purposed the stones of the steps to construct the Pathar Mosque. Also known as Naev Masheed, it is located in old Srinagar. Not so naïve, I guess!

Soul Window Thoughts

Interestingly the Sunni Muslims never visited the Pathar mosque of Kashmir since it was constructed by a Shia woman. Noorjahan was a Shia woman who was married to a Sunni Muslim who was also a half Hindu Rajput. Jodha Bai or Mariam-uz-Zamani was after all his mother.

Inside Garbhagriha of Shankaracharya Temple

A Shiva Linga encircled by a snake is worshipped here daily by the devout Hindus. It is a large oval shaped Lingam. Some claim that the huge Shivalinga which is reddish black in colour was perhaps brought all the way from Narmada River valley in Madhya Pradesh in central India. Sheshnaag (Snake deity) encircles the Shivalinga.

The cell which is circular in shape has a diameter of 13 feet. Externally the structure is square shaped and has 2 projecting facets on both sides.

Devotees sing bhajans, chant ‘Om Namah Shivay’ and offer milk, fruits, sweets and flowers. Monday is the best day to have a darshan here. Located away from the crowds, this temple is a must-see place.

Architecture of Shankaracharya Temple

Shankaracharya Temple is built atop a solid rock. I was impressed by its unique architecture which was both simple and awe inspiring at the same time. The temple reflected the temple architectural style which was prevalent in Kashmir in old days. The main building of the temple is 30 feet tall. The impressive Shikhara of the temple is visible from a far distance. A large part of the wall has unfortunately fallen.

The square shaped shrine is built atop an octagonal solid rock base which measures 20 feet or 6.1 metres in height. I observed that not much of design is to be seen on the temple. In fact, the flanks, front and back of the temple are plain and bereft of any ornamental designs.

From the terrace, I climbed upon the stone stairs. It was a narrow and short stair to reach the temple. Two solid walls flanked either side of the stairs. No wonder, it is a major tourist attraction here.

Soul Window Observations

There are around 36 stairs that lead to garbhagriha. In Hinduism, nothing is a co incidence. There is great thought behind everything that we see in temples. Number 36 has great significance in Hinduism. Thirty-Six stairs represent the elements with which the cosmos is made up of.

I noticed that 4 octagonal columns support the ceiling of this historical temple. I noticed that the garbhagriha or sanctum sanctorum of Shankaracharya Temple is very small and dark. Not many people can stand here together at same time. The ceiling of the temple is modern. The walls here have a thickness of 8 feet. There are 84 recesses on the exterior of the temple.

There is a striking similarity between Shankaracharya Temple and the larger temple of Ladhuv which is located in Pulwama district, also in Kashmir. Shiva Temple of Ladhoo is also a must-visit place in Kashmir. This ancient temple if also known as Jeevnath Temple.

I admired the indigenous early Kashmiri style of architecture for a long time before leaving. Devotees perform parikrama or circumambulation around the temple on a parapet that surrounds the temple. Most of the places of interest of this temple is located next to each other on hill top.

Marble Tank

A white marble tank is located behind the Shankaracharya Temple. It is made with slab stones. It measures 10 square feet. This tank is located towards the south east direction of the temple base. It is located slightly lower down the hill. You may ask the local priest about its located. Do not miss this hidden gem.

Inscriptions in Shankaracharya Mandir

Old inscriptions used to exist on side walls of the steps. A Persian inscription has also been noticed in the temple. These medieval inscriptions belong to the era of Islamic plunderer Shah Jahan. These inscriptions from an era when Mughals plundered around are located in the south-west column of the temple.

This is an unusual place to see in Shankaracharya Temple. This is a lesser-known point of attractions here. Offbeat places like these always get me excited.

Top things to do in Shankaracharya Temple

What is there to do in Shankaracharya Temple? There is a lot you can do at this tranquil temple.

Below are the top things to do in Shankaracharya Temple

  • Meditate in silence
  • Walk up to Shankaracharya Temple
  • Observe the architecture of Shankaracharya Temple
  • Offer prayers to the Shivalinga and Adi Shankaracharya
  • Soak in the splendid views of the Srinagar city from Shankaracharya Temple

Places to see near Shankaracharya Temple

Below is a list of top places to see in Srinagar near Shankaracharya Temple:

  • Durgjan
  • Dal Lake
  • Hazrat Bal
  • Pari Mahal
  • Jami Masjid
  • Nigeen Lake
  • Nishat Garden
  • Shalimar Bagh
  • Chashma Shahi
  • Pandrethan Temple
  • Durga Naag Temple
  • Bhuteswara Temple
  • Avanti Swami temple
  • Martand Surya Temple
  • Mamal Shiva Temple, Pahalgam
  • Sharika Devi Temple, Hari Parbat
  • Jwala Mukhi Temple, Khru, Srinagar
  • Jeevnath Temple or Shiva Temple of Ladhoo

Excursions from Shankaracharya Temple

There are many nearby places around Shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar which you can visit. Some of the best nearby attractions are listed as below

  • Baltal
  • Verinag
  • Sanasar
  • Patnitop
  • Gulmarg
  • Kupwara
  • Pulwama
  • Anantnag
  • Sonmarg
  • Pahalgam
  • Aru Valley
  • Chandawari
  • Khilanmarg
  • Betaab Valley
  • Yusmarg Valley
  • Amarnath Yatra
  • Martand Temple
  • Suchetgarh Border
  • Aharbal Waterfalls
  • Mata Vaishno Devi
  • The Great Lakes Trek
  • Avanti Swami Temple
  • Drung Waterfall and temple
  • Dachigam National Park
  • Doodhpathri Gurez Valley

You can also visit the saffron fields of Srinagar, Budgam, Kishtwar and Pampore in Pulwama district. Anantnag is located towards the southeast of Shankaracharya Temple. It is here that the water of the mountain streams such as Bhringi, Arpat and Liddar join the Jhelum River. In fact, Jhelum becomes navigable from Anantnag.

Temples of Kashmir

Kashmir is a pre dominantly Hindu region in North India. How many Hindu temples are there in Kashmir? There are approximately 1,842 Hindu places of worship in the entire Kashmir valley. These include ancient temples, holy trees, holy caves, shrines and holy springs. As per the official records, there are around 952 Hindu Temples which are scattered across Kashmir.

Of these only 212 temples are running. Unfortunately, 740 temples of Kashmir now lie in dilapidated state. Things worsened after Kashmiri Hindus were forced to leave Kashmir valley by uneducated people with weapons. Since then, only 65 Hindu temples continued to remain open under strong security presence. Few Kashmiri Pundits who luckily didn’t leave Kashmir still visit the temples regularly.

I had visited an unnamed medieval temple in Drung (Between Srinagar and Gulmarg), the grand Martand Temple, Avanti Swamin Temple and Shankaracharya Temple on my first Srinagar trip. All of these temples were badly neglected and needed care.

Hindu names of the places

Kashmir is the land of Rishi Kashyap. Anantnag is the land of the Shesh Naag or the King of Nags. Srinagar was originally known as Surya Nagar or the land of the Sun. Baramulla was earlier Varahamul which was named after Varaha Avatar of Bhagwan Vishnu.

Below are some of the other interesting facts about Hindu places of Kashmir.

Gauri Marg was old name of Gulmarg.

Krishna Ganga Valley was old name of Neelam valley.

Maa Vitasta River was old name of Jhelum River.

Martand Mandir is the real name of Shaitan ki Gufa (As mentioned in a flop movie Haider)

Bhadar Kashi was old name of Bhaderwah.

Kasht Niwar was old name of Kishtawar.

Panchaldhar was old name of PirPanjal.

Festival of Shankaracharya Temple

Maha Shivratri which is also called as Herath in this region is the main Hindu festival which is celebrated at the Shankaracharya Temple with much fanfare. In fact, Herath is celebrated across Jammu and Kashmir. The entire night is dedicated to the worship of Shiva Bhagwan.

Kashmiri Hindus which include the persecuted Kashmiri Pandits along with Hindu tourists ensure that they pay a visit to Shankaracharya Temple on Mahashivaratri or Herath.

The festivities during Herath or Mahashivaratri attract Hindus from all walks of life. The Shankaracharya Temple is beautifully decorated and lit during Herath. Flowers and lights are used for decoration in the temple on this occasion.

Devotees cook traditional food of Kashmir to celebrate Herath. Walnuts are distributed as prasad to the devotees on Herath. It is a good time to visit Shankaracharya Temple. Herath or Maha Shivratri is the biggest festival of Kashmir. This day is also observed as the wedding day of Shiv Bhagwan and Parvati Maa.

Kashmir Hindus also offer prayers at Ganpatyar and Hanuman Temple at Amira Kadal of Srinagar.

The festivities are carried out under the alert eyes of the district administration because in past, there have been many barbaric Islamic attacks on Hindu temples. Therefore, in order to ensure public safety adequate precautionary measures and preparations are taken here during Hindu festivals. After parking our car, we had to walk for sometime till we reached Shankaracharya Temple. Shravan Poornima is also celebrated here.

Vegan and Vegetarian Food near Shankaracharya Temple

You can sample some great tasting vegetarian and vegan dishes of Kashmir in the valley below. You should carry a water bottle before you start the journey as there are hardly any shops here. Do try the Tzir czot (or tsir tchot). It is a Kashmir style chilla or crepe which is prepared with rice flour, cumin and green chillies etc.Also try Nadru Yakhni (lotus stem curry), Dum Alu or Dum Olav, Kashmiri Rajma etc. Muji Chatin which is Kashmiri Walnut Radish Chutney is also delicious.

Other vegetarian dishes of Kashmir are Lyader Tschaman, Modur Pulao, Nadir Monji and Kashmiri Baingan. These are often served with Sheermal roti.

Is it safe to visit Shankaracharya Temple?

I was impressed to see tight security on the road leading to the Shankaracharya Temple. This is a high security area. CRPF controls the access to the entire hill. We had to undergo strict security check at the police check post before we could enter the road that took us to Shankaracharya temple.

The main objective of the 5.6 kilometres long road which was built by BRO was to support the setting up of a communications tower.

It is still a restricted area and proper security checks are done before one crosses the police check post. Free movement with camera or weapons is strictly not allowed here.

Also read: Why only Hindus are allowed in Puri Temple

What is allowed inside Shankaracharya Temple premises?

We were not allowed to carry mobile phones, action cameras, DSLR cameras, electronic gadgets etc. since it is a high security zone which faces constant threat from Islamic plunderers.

Since Kashmir has been subject to planned attacks on Hindu temples, so in order to be on a safer side, cameras and phones are not allowed inside the Shankaracharya Temple complex. We had to leave behind the electronics in the car itself. There was no locker facility here.

However, it was not the same in 1980s. Kapil Gupta bhaiya and Saurabh Gupta bhaiya, who were my neighbour in Panki Power House officer’s colony of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh had shared an old picture of Shankaracharya Temple where we can clearly see them posing against the structure of the garbhagriha. This picture of Shankaracharya Mandir was clicked in 1987 or 1988.

I have seen many such pictures of Shankaracharya Temple. Perhaps, this new rule came after the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus which was recreated so honestly in the Kashmir Files, a blockbuster movie by ace director Shri Vivek Agnihotri which has broken all the records at the box office.

We were allowed to wear shoes until the courtyard that surrounds the main garbhagriha aka sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

Souvenirs Shopping Guide to Shankaracharya Temple

There are not many shops around Shankaracharya Temple. Most of the souvenir shops are located in the valley below.

Movies on Shankaracharya Temple

The famous ‘Jai Jai Shiv Shankar’ song from film Aap Ki Kasam, featuring Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz was shot in Shankaracharya Temple. The temple of nearby Gulmarg is also featured in this 1974 movie. The song showed the main leads celebrating Maha Shivaratri. They are shown dancing under the influence of Bhang which is associated with Shankar Bhagwan.

Pukar and Mission Kashmir also featured the Shankaracharya Temple. Both films released in the year 2000. In both the movies, a looming attack on Shankaracharya Temple by Islamists was shown. Kashmir Files directed by the talented Vivek Agnihotri ji also mentions Shankaracharya Temple. Kashmir Files is the best movie on Kashmir ever.

ATM in Shankaracharya Temple

There are no ATMs around Shankaracharya Temple. It is better to withdraw some cash from the Srinagar city, which is just a few minutes away.

Photography Tips for Shankaracharya Temple

Due to the unrest in Kashmir, photography is strictly prohibited inside the campus of Shankaracharya Temple. The temple itself is an architectural gem and great for architecture photography. The views from the temple are worth capturing. But due to strict rules, no one is allowed to take pictures or videos in and around Shankaracharya Temple.

Hire local tourist guide in Shankaracharya Temple

Hiring a local tourist guide will not help much. We had hired a tourist guide but since he was a converted Muslim, he accompanied us only till the terrace of the temple. He refused to enter the temple and show us around because Islam didn’t allow him that.

Major attractions of Kashmir can anyways be easily seen independently, so hiring a guide is not important. Most of the picnic spots of Kashmir can be easily visited without the need of a guide.

Languages spoken around Shankaracharya Temple

Kashmiri is the main language of Srinagar. Hindi and English are also easily spoken and understood in Srinagar. You can easily enjoy a vacation in Srinagar without worrying about language barriers.

UPSC Exam question on Shankaracharya Temple

Questions on Shankaracharya Temple are often also asked in the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exam for for IAS, IFS, PCS.

Toilet facility near Shankaracharya Temple

Please ask around the temple authorities about the toilet facility.

Entry fee in Shankaracharya Temple

Much like all Hindu temple, Shankaracharya Temple is a free place to visit in Srinagar. A visit to this ancient temple has always been the best free thing to do in Srinagar. In fact, you can take free walking tour at many places in Srinagar.

Also read: Everything about Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi

Backpacking Budget Travel Tips for Shankaracharya Temple

I prefer going to inexpensive and pocket friendly places and thankfully Shankaracharya Temple is one of them. The only thing I spent here was on car fuel and offerings to Shiv Bhagwan. There were no other expenses I incurred.

Solo Trip Tips for Shankaracharya Temple

It is quite easy for solo travellers to visit Shankaracharya Temple. Located just a few minutes away from Dal Lake, several modes of transports are available to reach Shankaracharya Temple.

Luxury travel Tips for Shankaracharya Temple

If you are a luxury traveller, you can stay at one of the posh houseboats or luxury hotels. They can also arrange for trips in and around Srinagar.

Where to stay near Shankaracharya Temple

Several 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotels are located around Shankaracharya Temple. You can also stay in houseboats. Budget travellers can easily find low-cost hotels and lodges in Srinagar.

What to wear in Shankaracharya Temple?

Shankaracharya Temple is a highly sacred place, so tourists are expected to dress respectfully. Full sleeve shirts and full-length trousers or salwar which cover the knees are preferred.

Timings of Shankaracharya Temple

Shankaracharya Temple opening time is early morning at 7 a.m.

Shankaracharya Temple is open everyday from 7 a.m. in morning to 8 p.m. in evening.

Devotees must note that cars are not allowed to ply on the road after 5 p.m. It is therefore advised to return from Shankaracharya Temple by 4 p.m. in case you came here by car.

Best Time to visit Shankaracharya Temple?

Shankaracharya Temple of Kashmir is a year-round destination.

Winter

The Shankaracharya temple looks stunning when partially covered in snow. December and January are the coldest months in Kashmir. The weather is quite pleasant in winter.

Summer

I had visited Shankaracharya Temple in the month of April. It was the onset of summer here. While it snowed heavily in Gulmarg on the same trip, Srinagar was completely dry. March, April, May and June are hot months in Srinagar. The temperatures are high during these months in Srinagar.

Monsoon

It rains a lot in Shankaracharya Temple in June and July. It is however, still possible to visit Shankaracharya Temple during rainy season. Expect a pleasing climate in rainy months.

Duration of Visit in Shankaracharya Temple

2 to 3 hours are sufficient to visit Shankaracharya Temple. How many days to spend in Shankaracharya Temple? Tourists are allowed to spend only few hours in Shankaracharya Temple. You can not stay here overnight like Mata Vaishno Devi temple.

Local Transport for sightseeing in Shankaracharya Temple

Several cabs, autorickshaws etc are easily available from main city of Srinagar. You can easily hire one to reach Shankaracharya Temple.

How to reach Shankaracharya Temple

How can I go to Shankaracharya? It is easy to reach Shankaracharya Temple. Srinagar is an easy weekend destination from New Delhi, if not quick.

There are two ways to arrive at this ancient hill top temple. You can also take a Kashmir Tour Package which takes care of all the logistic.

Below are all possible ways to arrive at Shankaracharya Temple:

By foot

If you are physically fit then you must trek up to Shankaracharya Temple. The trail starts from Durga Nag Temple in the Civil Lines area of Srinagar. The climb is 7 kilometres long. One needs to take a lot of steps in order to reach the temple.

By road

Due to paucity of time, I had the easier route. I had booked a cab to arrive at Shankaracharya Temple from the Boulevard Road.  I was surprised to see the lovely views as my car snaked around the densely forested area. This area is rich in natural resources, flora and fauna.

By Rail

Nowgam Railway Station in Srinagar city is located only 17 kilometres away from the temple. Nearest big railway station from Shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar is located in Jammu. It is located 300 kms away.

By air

I had taken a flight to the Srinagar air force base aerodrome which is located just 11 kilometres away from the temple. The other nearest airport from Shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar is located in Badgam District.

Badgam is located 25 kms away. Much of the driving is done in mountainous terrain, therefore a little experience helps. Thanks to the air connectivity, Shankaracharya Temple is an easy weekend getaway from New Delhi and NCR region.

By Road Trip

You can take Highway NH1A to reach Kashmir Valley. Buses and taxis are easily available here. You will also pass through the Jawaharlal Tunnel. Cars of all size and style are available for hire in case you do not wish to drive. Though the way to this historical place is picturesque.

Cars like Ambassador cars, Taverns, Mahindra Scorpio, Amaze, Tata Sumo etc are available for hire. Omni mini vans and Tempo travellers can be hired if your group is large.

Conclusion: Is Shankaracharya Temple worth visiting

Why visit Shankaracharya Temple? Here are my final thoughts. In a nutshell, Shankaracharya Temple has been the most important place to visit in Srinagar since times immemorial. To summarize, a visit to the ancient Shankaracharya Temple is an important pilgrimage which attracts Hindus from across the world.

Devoted to Shiv Bhagwan, Herath or Maha Shivratri is also celebrated on a grand scale in Shankaracharya Temple. This detailed travel guide is the most exhaustive article on Shankaracharya Temple. I have explained all the aspects of this temple in this travelogue. This information is not available in not found in traditional guide books.

The view from my Soul Window is older than time!

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