Pandrethan Temple may now be in ruins, but this beautiful structure (built in the middle of a spring) still attracts tourists from near and far. Dedicated to Shiv-Rilhanesvara, Pandrethan was built in the 10th Century AD. According to Kalhana, who mentioned this place of great religious significance in his history of Kashmir; Pandrethan was one of the historic capitals of the valley and was founded in the 6th century AD by King Pravarsena. It was known as Rajatarangini and has derived its current name from the word Puranadishthana or 'old town'.
There is a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that dates back to the mid-10th century and is said to have been erected by Meru, a minister. Set in the serene surrounds of a spring-fed tank, this temple has its plinth submerged under water. Tourists are mesmerized by the beauty of its interiors and high ceilings –which are the finest across all the surviving temples of Kashmir. The ceiling boasts of three intersecting squares that are created by diagonally placed lintels and the soffits are adorned with lotuses and other beautiful sculpted carvings.
The general view of this beautiful temple has been well captured in the words of Henry Hardy Cole and reproduced aptly in the report generated by the Archaeological Survey of India. His narration in 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir' (1869) state that the quaint village of Pandrethan located on the banks of River Jhelum, was at a distance of a mile and a half from the south-eastern parts of Srinagar. He also added that the temple stood close to the village –in the midst of a water tank and the level of water was at least two feet over the floor of the temple, at the time of his last visit. He and the other surveyors in the team had to use the services of a boatman to take the measurements and go about their work.
The famous stone ceiling of this temple has elaborately carved bas-relief figures and boasts of some of the most perfect and popular pieces of ancient carvings existing in Kashmir. Its pyramidal shaped roof is partitioned into two areas by an ornamental band. Carved capitals surmount its corner pilasters and melon-shaped ornaments add the edges to the pediments of its porches. The ceiling is carved out of nine large blocks of stone; with four of them resting over the angles of its cornice and reducing the opening to a small square. The upper part of these stones is accurately covered by a large lotus and reduces the opening even further —a “must visit” for all tourists in the area.