Human civilization has covered a long journey and evolved over a period of thousands of years. There have been many prominent places where civilization grew and flourished. Culture and tradition are prominent parts of any society and the society has been associated with both since ages.
We come across monuments that are associated with a particular culture or a society and are symbolic of it. Monuments or ‘Dharohar’ are representatives of a culture which speak of its past glory and are still present thus making it a junction point between the past and present. Some of the monuments may have broken down during their historical journey of hundreds or seldom thousands of years but they still inspire us with their cultural and traditional values.
Kashmir is a place with rich cultural heritage since pre-historic ages. We find the name of Kashmir in our holy scriptures and this is how we came to know about the ancient cultural heritage of this land. There are many places and monuments which are associated with the ancient culture of Kashmir. Despite various attempts by enemy forces to erase and manipulate Kashmir’s roots and lineage, despite attempts to vandalize its monuments, they still stand tall as a witness of Kashmir’s past glory and give a message of deep civilizational roots. The Martand Sun Temple of Anantnag is a vivid example. It was built by 3rd ruler of Kashmir’s native Karkota dynasty -Emperor Lalitaditya between 725-756 CE. Later in the medieval times, it was brutally vandalized by Sikander Shah Mir a foreign king who attempted to erase Kashmir’s hindu lineage. He is coveted by titles such as Buth Skhikan (idol destroyer). But Kashmiris are aware about such attacks on their civilization in the past centuries, and at every step they have attempted to restore and renovate their landmark monuments, thereby collectively trying to protect their rich cultural history which goes back thousands of years.
Many more Monuments like the sun temple, stand as a mark of Kashmir’s cultural identity brimming to show the path to the future generation but awaiting restoration.
Ideally, monuments and places of cultural significance must be preserved. Any society that has forgotten its past is amputated from its rich cultural heritage and is doomed to repeat the mistakes and errors that have occurred in the past.
The importance of monuments as historic inspirational tools can never be underestimated and they will always remain an inspiration. However, their importance can only be preserved if we visit them with due regard & respect and absorb the message of culture, peace and harmony which they symbolize. In order to make people visit these places, we need to make it accessible by various means of transport, provide some basic facilities to the visitors and spread awareness about its cultural and historical significance and about legendary persons associated with it. This will enable the present generation to associate themselves with their rich historical and cultural roots. However, care must be taken not to disturb the original ancient identity of the monument while providing these facilities as their historical uniqueness must be maintained. Unwanted and uncontrolled commercialization must be avoided.
Monuments remind us of our rich cultural heritage and they are considered national treasure and a symbol of pride for a civilization. They not only inspire the local population about their glorious past but also enlighten enthusiastic tourists about that unique culture. We need to have proper authentic research carried out about our cultural heritage and then enlighten our society about it. Once people start realizing their rich and ancient cultural roots; then the effect of radicalization by external agencies will greatly diminish. People must have pride in their own cultural identity, of being a part of an ancient culture and should not fall prey to a negative ideology propagated by certain agencies that will only lead to identity crisis and subsequent self-destruction. Visiting monuments of historical and cultural relevance plays a very significant role in this direction. It must be organized as part of school trips and encouraged as family leisure trips.
As a culturally conscious society, we must preserve our landmark monuments, draw inspiration from them and enlighten our future generation about our rich cultural heritage.