Parihaspora – The Smiling City of Lalitaditya

Parihaspora – The Smiling City of Lalitaditya

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Situated on a plateau (Karewa) near Baramulla district of Jammu & Kashmir, at a distance of about 26 Km from Srinagar is the erstwhile capital city of Kashmir founded by the King ‘Lalitaditya Muktapida’ in the 8th century. He (the king) named this city ‘Parihaspora’ which means smiling city. Parihaspora was once a prosperous city and hence was a smiling one until it was abandoned by its people and it ultimately became Kanishaher meaning city of rocks. 

As of today, Parihaspora has ruins of some old structure built during the reign of Lalitaditya. Even though the monuments of the city of Parihaspora have decayed but it doesn’t mean it isn’t a travel-worthy place of Kashmir. This place has really interesting stories related to it, even the remains of these monuments are simply magnificent and like the rest of the Kashmir, this place is also surrounded by picturesque views. All of this makes it a Places to visit in Kashmir but sadly not enough people seem to care about this precious heritage.

Glory day of Parihaspora:

Parihaspora was capital of King Lalitaditya who was one of the most powerful rulers of his time, Lalitaditya named this city Parihaspora meaning a smiling city which it was because it was one of the most prosperous cities of India during the reign of Lalitaditya.   

It was truly a magnificent city that had some of the greatest architectural structures including the temples, Chaitya, Vihar, Buddhist Monastery, stupa, and the royal palace.

The temples and other structures of the city were mostly built in Indo- Greek architectural styles. One the major attraction of this was magnificent Vishnu Temple constructed by Lalitaditya. This temple incorporated some of the most unique architectural features.

It is said that the Vishnu temple that existed here was even bigger than the Martand Sun temple. This temple was adorned with Gold, Silver, Bronze, and other valuables. It also housed an idol of the lord Mukteshwara, built out of gold which weighed about 8400 kilograms.

Parihaspora was a legendary city. And People from different parts of India used to come here, especially to visit the temples of Parihaspora as their charm was unlike any other.   

It is said the king had also built magnificent Buddhist structures to celebrate the religion, it also reflects toward his secularity and the fact that Lalitaditya respected diversities.

Although today this place is in ruins and all that you will see here now are stones scattered on the ground and plinths of few buildings. But looking at those about 10-12 feet high plinths you can imagine that the size of these building would have been massive and must have had grandeur like no other.  

Parihaspora the ancient capital of Kashmir

Destruction of Parihaspora:

It is said that after about 40 years of Kingship, Lalitaditya decided to give up everything and become a saint. So, he declared his eldest son ‘Kavalyapeeda’ the next king and he accepted Buddhism and left for the Himalayas and never returned.

That was when Parihaspora started to lose out on its glory. One of the reasons that led to the end of Parihaspora was unavailability of water. The route of Jhelum had been diverted during the reign of Raja Avantivarman. This change is said to be engineered by Soya Pandit. This led to the shifting of people as well as the capital from here.

If you think this is the only reason for its current state hold on. Selfishness and brutality of the kings led to the destruction of this beautiful city. The valuables of this place were cannibalized by King Avantivarman and his son. Another king named Raja Harsh one attacked the city Parihaspora, it is said he suspected that his enemies were hiding in the temple. In order to get rid of him, he set the temple of fire.

Yet another brutal wound to the temples of Parihaspora was given by Islamic ruler Sikandar Butshikan who attacked this place in the 14th – 15th century and ruined whatever existed.

Other than this, irresponsible acts of people have also been a cause of its decay. People stole stones from this place for their use which obviously taxed upon these magnificent monuments of Parihaspora.  

It is disheartening to see this magnificent city lying in ruins today. Even in this helpless state, it almost feels as if the ruins of the Parihaspora want to tell you their story. And of curse thinking and knowing about, what great efforts would have gone into making something that marvelous that is now lying abandoned is quite sad.

Present State of Parihaspora:   

Once called a smiling city is called Kani Sahar, meaning: the city of stones by locals. Built by the greatest yet neglected king of India, ‘Lalitaditya Muktapida’ (often called as Alexander of India) the city is abandoned by the authorities. As even after declaring it a monument of national importance no proper facilities even proper security is not provided to this place.

Wanderer’s comment:

For most people, Parihaspora does not even make it to their list of places to visit in Kashmir. And the reason behind this is lack of awareness among authorities and people. To me, Parihaspora is an outstanding tourist spot and has a ton of potential. Rare and exquisite heritage like this must be preserved and not ignored. 

It pains my heart to see this magnificent city that housed many exemplary monuments, on its knees. As amazing as this place was, it could rightly be referred to as an erstwhile phoenix that is now lying in the ashes.

“If made efforts, Can this phoenix rise from the ashes again? I wonder.”

Right noise is needed to be made regarding is conservation and restoration of such valuable sites.


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