Archaeologists in Kashmir, over the years, have recovered the remains of scores of mysterious terracotta tile pavements from the valley lands. However, years have passed and these pavements are still to be properly identified and their purpose is yet to be established.
Of course, certain progress has been made in dating of these sites and it is widely believed that most of these tile pavements had been raised here during the period of mighty Kushans. That is the period in between first century AD to 5th century AD but what was the basic purpose of raising of these wonderful tile pavements is yet to be established.
The scientific investigations under taken at few of these sites have provided the life data of these sites which revealed that most of these tile pavements are about two thousand years of age. The earliest discovery of such pavement was made in the year 1923 on a plateau at Harwan in Srinager District. This was followed by a series of such finds at Hionar, Daradkote, Kutebal and Ishrat Nar sites.
The archaeologists have documented about 22 such sites where from the evidences of these pavements have been acquired. These pavements are laid in circular shapes and the floor of the pavement is decorated by major bricks called by archaeologists as terracotta tiles. The tiles are sometimes plain and sometimes stamped in varied floral and human motifs.
Mohammad Akbar Bhat, who has done research on these tiles states, “Such sites have mostly been laid in the upper lands. Archaeologists have not been so far successful to establish the basic purpose of these pavements. They have been advocating quite different stories about these constructions. Most of the experts have been attributing these pavements to the Buddhists while few attribute them to the fire worshipers. These sites have been dated from 1st century to 4th century AD. This is the period when Kashmir was under the rule of Kushans. I doubt whether there has been any scientific dating of these pavements. On the other hand the real and basic purpose of these foundations is also not known.”
No doubt, at few sites, these pavements have been found on such terraces which are enclosed by diaper pebble walls. In plan they resemble with the plans of ancient forts but in constructions these have no any such resemblance with the traditional fort constructions. These terracotta pavement have also been found at Sumbal Kral Check, Gurveit and Donipatti and Taykibal.
These pavements follow highly advanced architectural styles and are decorated by highly ornamented terracotta tiles. These tiles some time are square while some times rectangular in shape. There are few concave shaped tiles found at these sites. These are all baked tiles.
The placement of these tiles is in wonderful order and all most all pavements are circular in shape and the centre is occupied by a full blown lotus design tile.
These tile pavements are approached by miniature paths which are also laid in tiles. The outstanding feature of these tiles lies in their carved motifs, which at every site speaks of highly advanced art. These tiles represent an advanced civilization which arrived in the glorious valley in first Century AD and continued here upto fourth Century AD.
Historically these terracotta tile pavements marked the first evidences of Kashmir’s built architecture, but unless and until their purpose of establishment is not known they would be called as mysterious pavements. The archaeologists and researchers should come forward and put their effort in proper identification of these pavements.