Avantipur is known for its two temples. They are both situated on the road southeast of Srinagar. The temples were built in the 9th century. They are situated at a distance of 1 kilometer apart. One temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva while the other one is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. These temples were built by King Awantivarman who ruled over Kashmir from 853 to 888 AD. The temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is the larger of the two temples and is called Avantiswami Temple. This was built before he succeeded to the throne. The smaller one, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is called Avantisvara and was built after he attained sovereignty. Greek architecture is prominent on the outer side of the temple. Sandstone has been used to build the temples. With the passage of time, the carvings have lost their richness. The Avantiswami Temple is almost in ruins.
The Avantiswami Temple was dug out in the 18th century by the English. Many idols were carried to England to be kept in museums. SPS Museum of Srinagar contains quite a few idols.
The temple is open for visitors all throughout the year. For 20 years, the same local guide has worked here. He happily shows you the striking features of the temple.
The excavations for this sight were conducted by D.R.Sahni. He discovered the entire quadrangle of the temple down which contained the central shrine. A total of 121 coins were also found which were issued by Toramana, Sultans of the Shah Miri dynasty, Durrani Afghan rulers, etc. Some manuscripts were also discovered.
The temple consisted of an erected central panel with a wide space. The four corners had four small shrines each. The circumference was paved by an array of cells. The central shrine was right in front of the staircase. A roof was built on top of it supported by 4 pillars. The temple walls contain beautiful architecture and graceful sculptures are also found inside the temple.