The foundation of the town of Avantipura has been ascribed to Avantivarman (855-83 A.D) by Kalhana who noted : “ At the site called Visvaikasara, which procures final beatitude for those who die (there), the king founded the town of Avantipura, an adobe of abundant enjoyments’. From this statement it appears that the place had already been a holy centre before the town was established by the king after his own name.

Avantipur Ruins Kashmir
Pic Source: Our summer in the vale of Kashmir’ (1915) by Frederick Ward Denys.

Located in Anantnag District, about 30 kilometers South-east of Srinagar at the foot of one of the spurs of the mountain Wastarwan. Overlooking the river Jhelum, which wends its way gently by the side of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway has maintained its importance for many centuries. Kalhana has reffered to Avantipur in course of his narrations of the anecdotes during the reigns of Kalasa (1063-89 A.D.), Harsha (1089-1101 A.D.), Sussala (1112-20 & 1121-28) and Jayasimha (1128-55 A.D.). References to Kings stopping at Avantipura on their way to Vijayesvara (Vijabror) from the Capital and back are scattered in pages of hisotry.

The earliest notice of Avantipura, possibly is by  George Forster, who visited Bhyteepour (Wantipur, Avantipur) in 1783 on way to Srinagar by the Jhelum. He noted: “in the vicinity of Bhyteepour are seen remains of an Hindoo temple, which, through impaired by the ravages of time, and more by the destructive hand of the Mahometans, still bore evident marks of a superior taste and sculpture”. Apparently he was referring to the Avantisvamin temple. William Moorcroft, who saw Wantipur in 1823, left a brief note of the remains of not only this temple but the other one also ( Avantisvara), locally known as the building of the Pandus, at the adjacent village. The gateway of the Avantisvamin temple had still to that time two pillars supporting the entablature, one each on either side. The temple itself was reduced to a confused mass of ruins. Stuck by the magnitude of the remains of the two temples and immense size of the stone blocks used in their constructions, he felt that the chief cause of the overthrow of the temple was earthquakes.

Baron Charles Hugel, who visited Ventipoor in 1835, said very little about the two temples mentioned under the name of Vencadati Devi and Ventimadati (smaller one).

Back in the past, the town of Avantipura has also been a location of many battles and sometimes also used as a station for the troops. The town was a place of importance even up to the reign of Sultan Hasan Shah (1472-84 A.D.) as referred in the Chronicles of Jonaraja, a contemporaty of Zainul Abidin (1420-70 A.D) and his pupil Srivara who was a contemporary of Zainul Abidin, Haidar Shah, Hasan Shah, Muhammad Shah and Fath Shah.

Another interesting historical episode is connected with Sultan Jamshid (1342-43), his borhter Ali Sher, who after deposing him ascended throne under the name of Alau di Din. There are references that when Alau d Din was away from Avantipura, Jamshid with a formidable force besieged the town. This resulted in the slaughter of Ali  Sher’s partisans , the number of whom was so many that the current of the Vitasta (Jhelum) having been blocked by the dead bodies is said to have flowed backwards.

The history of the town of Avantipura covers a period of more than six hundred years. In course of its existence, the town, being  on an important route to the capital, witnessed both prosperity and adversity. Being a halting place of the Kings and a camping-ground of the troops, it, no doubt, had, apart from palaces, many edifices, both secular and religious. With the exception of the remains of two temples built by Avantivarman, none of  these edifices is now in existence.  All the remains of the town and long stretches of stone-walls and rubble foundations along the slope of the spur are being obliterated by the modern constructions.

Being on the bank of the Jhelum, Avantipura formed a favorite quarry of sized stones which were conveniently carried through the river to Srinagar.

Reference source : Archaeological survey of India

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