One of the most revered Hindu pilgrimage destinations in Srinagar, the Shankaracharya Temple is located atop a hill known as 'Takht-e-Suleiman'. The ancient temple stands at a height of about 1100 feet above the surface level of the main Srinagar city. A visit to this sacred temple involves a trek to the top of the hills.
Devoted to the worship of Lord Shiva, Shankaracharya Temple is believed to have been built by Raja Gopadatya in 371 BC. During those times, the temple was known as Gopadri. The great saint Shankaracharya is supposed to have stayed here when he visited Kashmir in the early part of the ninth century with the primary aim of spreading the philosophy of Vedanta. This perhaps led to the renaming of the temple as Shankaracharya Temple. Shankaracharya was also instrumental in popularizing the worship of Lord Shiva in Jammu and Kashmir.
Shankaracharya Temple is a monument of great significance, not only because of its religious importance, but also for its architectural beauty. A high octagonal platform supports the temple structure, reached by a flight of around hundred steps. The sidewalls of the steps are believed to have once bore valuable inscriptions.
An inscription in Persian inside the Shankaracharya Temple dates back to the reign of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan.
Shankaracharya temple, as it stands today, has undergone several renovations in its lifetime. The first of these is believed to have been done during the rule of Lalitaditya. Later, more repair work was done by Zain-ul-Abideen, after the temple got damaged in an earthquake.
The main surviving shrine of Shankaracharya Temple consists of a circular cell, providing a breathtaking view of the valley below. The inner chamber, after being renovated, is presently covered with a modern ceiling.