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Kashmir is the land of spirituality set in an immaculate environment full of religious fervor. The spirituality of this place is evident in its religious places as well as the pious Kashmiris who venerate their faiths and beliefs to the fullest. Anantnag is a prominent seat of religion in Kashmir valley due to its numerous shrines belonging to both Hinduism and Islam. The district has some of the most stupendous temples and dargahs that are revered for their virtues. Not to forget that it is the place from where the holy Amarnath ji Yatra takes off every year. Amarnath Caves are located in this district itself and Anantnag serves as the base to begin this religious yatra. Apart from this shrine, there are also many other temples located in the district Anantnag.
Uma Devi Temple in Anantnag
Devi Temple is located at Umanagri in Uttarasoo Tehsil of Anantnag.
Here, Uma Devi is believed to have originated as a spring with five
channels resembling an Omkar. This shrine also has the relics of a
revered saint Swami Shivanand who is said to have discovered this spring
after goddess Uma Devi appeared in his dream and directed him to find
her holy abode in the village Uttarasoo.
Shivanand did penance at this place and lit a perennial pyre near
spring. The place where this pyre was lit, an annual vedic yagya is held
on anniversary of this saint. Out of the five springs forming Omkara
here, two get combined depicting the communion of Lord Shiva and Goddess
Parvati in manifestation of Shakti. To witness this pious phenomenon,
thousands of devotees visit this shrine.
Amarnath Temple in Anantnag
The religious and famous Amarnath ji cave is situated some 46 km away from Anantnag in Pahalgam Tehsil of this district. Every year, a huge procession of devotees passes through this place and arrangements for the same are made by the state government. In this holy cave, an ice Shiva lingam is formed every year with two smaller ice blocks. It is termed as the abode of Lord Shiva who resides with Goddess Parvati and his son Ganesha. It is said that this cave was discovered by some Muslim Kashmiri shepherds and their descendants still offer their prayers and offerings at this temple.
Martand Sun Temple in Anantnag
Once what would have been a magnificent temple complex, is now in the ruins at Mattan in Anantnag. This Martand Sun Temple is counted among the oldest religious places in the world as it was built in about 500 AD by Kashmiri king Lalitaditya who belonged to Surya Dynasty. This massive temple structure dedicated to Sun God is revered for its religious values and stupendous style of architecture that represent the aestheticism of ancient Hindus.
This grand structure stands tall amid a square field on top of a plateau from where it overlooks the splendors of Kashmir valley with snow tipped Himalayas acting as its milieu. The temple was ruined later by Sikander Butshikan who took one year to demolish this complex. But as an irony of his intolerance, the temple still shines bright in the impressive sunlight that falls upon it and sings the praises of its glorious past.
Devibal Temple in Anantnag
In a prominent locality of Anantnag, this shrine is located. It is also called Kheer Bhawani Asthapan Temple situated in Mohalla Khaki Sahib, where famous Hazrat Sheikh Baba Dawood Khaki Mosque is also there. A small and sacred spring originates from the place where this one storey temple stands today. This spring is believed to be the abode of Goddess Durga and it is a highly revered place for Kashmiri Hindus. As per the legends, the famous saint Reshi Molu once offered his prayers to the goddess to appear in this place.
Goddess then appeared in his dream and told him about her presence in the form of this spring called Kheer Bhawani. Another legend says that the goddess appeared in the dreams of Wazir Panu who later discovered this spring and appointed a priest to look after it. Maharaja Pratap Singh, who ruled Kashmir in those days, used to take a stop at this place while travelling to and from Jammu. He used to offer a lot of milk in this spring and also he donated vast arable land adjacent to this temple. The spring originating here has the water that changes in color which is again a marvel of nature.
Nagdandi in Anantnag
This is a huge Bhagwan Ramakrishna Mahasammelam Ashram of Vivekananda Kendra in Nagdandi, which is located at a distance of three km from Achabal village of Anantnag district. It covers an area of about 100 kanals over which there is lush greenery, structured flower beds, Samadhi of Swami Ashokananda, and some exquisite botanical plants. There is a free kitchen for the visitors and disciples coming to this ashram. It is a revered place in entire Anantnag district.
Bumzu Cave Temples in Anantnag
These caves are located near Mattan in Anantnag district overlooking the Lidder Valley. There are two main caves that are worth mentioning in terms of religious significance. First cave is long and dark with no presiding deity. It was used as a place of meditation by ancient saints. It has certain manmade structures carved out of stones. The second Bumzu cave is an ancient Shiva Temple which has its citation in Rajatarangini as well. These caves are believed to be older than Martand Temple and were supposedly built around 1st or 2nd Century AD.
The second temple cave of Bumzoo is situated at a height of 50 feet from road having flight of around 150 steps. It is in an enlarged fissure of limestone cliff which was later constructed with a door way that reflects typical Hindu Triad. There is fenced verandah in front of this doorway that leads to a 50 feet long passage. Inside the cave, there is a small plinth which is the sanctum sanctorum with idol of Lord Shiva approached with flight of few steps.
Other Temples in Anantnag
Apart from these prominent temples, district Anantnag in South Kashmir Valley has many other temples as well. These temples are: