Sunday, April 29, 2012

Map of Kashmir,1909



Map of Kashmir from 'Five months in the Himalaya a record of mountain travel in Garhwal and Kashmir' (1909) by A.L. Mumm.

Folk tales from Kashmir by S.L. Sadhu,1962


Almost seventy five years after Rev. John Hinton Knowles came out with his famous collection of Kashmiri folk tales, in 1962, S.L. Sadhu, came out with a new collection of Kashmiri folktales that had some old popular stories, like 'Himal and Nagrai', 'Akanandun', 'Shabrang' and 'Musa - Kapas' (interestingly, a cousin recently informed me that a version of this famous Kashmiri folktale was published in popular Indian Children's magazine Target in 1980s with phrase 'Musa - Kapas' replaced with 'Kong - Posh') and then it had some new stories too. While Knowles told these stories like an Orientalist, with extensive notes and with an eye for origins of the tales, in a language that was at times too pedantic, S.L. Sadhu seems to have written the same stories with a sense of enjoy, a joy that might have been felt while hearing these stories in person, on cold dark night, curled up in bed, holding on to a Kangri, doing Shalfa with family. The Kashmiri in these stories does not come across as a specimen compiled by an Orientalist for study. Kashmiri in these stories comes across more strongly. And the language is what would now qualify for 'Indian English' with its seemingly strange use of phrases (the kind that makes western readers throw fits).

The book is also interesting as it also ties to add some new folktales to the Kashmiri literary space. Thus we have a story like 'The Hydra-Headed': they say a mysterious monstrous creature now infests waters of Jhelum, it is devouring unsuspecting people, waters are dangerous. The story is about the way news used to float around Srinagar. We are offered various sound-bites from the city-folks about this monster.
As we near these sounds, a picture of Kashmri society - imagined, dreamed -around 1960s and not from early 1900 when this news about a 'man-eating crocodile' was in fact doing the rounds of the city, an incident recorded by Tyndale Biscoe and a imaginary beast slayed by 'Biscoe Boys' by swimming en-mass in the river. S.L. Sadhu, a former student of C.M.S. Biscoe School, was probably paying tribute to his school in that tale.

Reading S.L. Sadhu's collection along with the book from Knowles actually broadens the space of Folk tales in Kashmir. Sadhu wrote these stories with young readers in mind. The book embellished with some wonderful sketches by Mohan Ji Raina.

It is a shame that while the book by Knowles is still in print and easily available both offline and online, S.L. Sadhu's book is not so easy to find.

I came across the book recently at Digital Library of India and converted it to pdf format for easy reading.

 
[Download Here]
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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Metal Works.
Jammu. 2012.
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Batte Sabha







Kashmiri Pandit Sabha, Ambphalla, Jammu. 2012.
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Happy Valley in pen and pencil, 1907

Illustrations from 'A Holiday in the Happy Valley with pen and pencil' (1907) by Major T. R Swinburne.
 
Bund

Circular Road, Gulmarg

Dal

Gangbal

Harmukh

View of Hari Parbat

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

17 tomatoes : tales from Kashmir by Jaspreet Singh

17 tomatoes : tales from Kashmir by Jaspreet Singh
First published 2004. 
Publisher : IndiaInk (2006)
Rs. 225

It is one of those book in which something really strange happens exactly on page 30. In this one, an ageing Sardarji who is about to Umpire an India-Pakistan cricket match in Srinagar gets kidnapped by a bunch of veiled Kashmiri women who want him make India win so that a vengeful Army does not destroy their homes in case India loses. The episode ends with Sardarji getting fatally hit by a ball to his head and the match ending in an nail-biting towards an Indian win, a win decided by the dying man trying to save his recently one eared daughter. This is just one of the many strange tales told in this book about two Sikh boys growing up in an Army camp.


The stories draw on the time tested formula of telling 'growing-up' stories and 'Kashmir'. So we have spin-offs on events that really happened, in this case Kargil war, The Cricket match, the 'milk-guzzling-Ganesh', (and I suspect Top Gun?) things like that. For Kashmir, we have silent un-speaking Kashmiris and we have Kashmiris who have strange view of the world, which include its poets. There was a time when no book on Kashmir could be published without a line or two from Thomas Moore. It seems that literary space have now been accorded to our very own Agha Shahid Ali. So we have a tale about a captured Pakistani ISI Intelligence officer and an Indian Intelligence officer, his interrogator,  both lovers of  Shahid. And in between the author pays tribute to master story-tellers. Author does a little number on Manto - in one of the stories, in a obvious allusion to a Manto story, we have a bewda Major named Manto who is haunted by thoughts of his run-away wife.  Then there are tales that are inspired by Rushdie's work - there are passages that offer what seems to be magic realism, or it's just that the realities offered here are just oddly unrecognizable as they unfold in Kashmir that is almost unrecognizable (even the geography of it) in these tales. (What would one call a pregnant woman who develops a fetish for jumping down from hill tops. A parachute aunty). Oddly enough when the action shifts to Indian plane, even though the oddness continues, the canvas on which they unfold become recognizable with all their madness and violence.

Strange set of stories, almost like 'The Wonder Years' meets 'The Twilight Zone' meets Kashmir meets India. Nah...I exaggerate. Just another book on Kashmir. But this one about two Sikh boys growing up in an Army camp. And yet a happy read because the writer has deliberately kept things simple. The real problem is that as not all these tales were written originally to be part of a single tale, reading them together is a bit confusing, if for no other reason, just the timeline of the stories.


P.S. I like the fact that in one of the stories that old villain of Kashmiri women, Victor Jacquemont is made butt of a joke. How did he get away with saying something like this, 'In Kashmir, my friend, I find it difficult to disrobe and make love until I have satisfactorily explained to my beloved Kepler's laws of planetary motion.' But to be fair, in this particular case Jacquemont was making a fool of himself by talking about a French actress named Mademoiselle Schiasetti.

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Purchase link:

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Archaeological Remains In Kashmir by Pandit Anand Koul, 1935

Part 1 of this old book lists the various ancient Hindu shrine spots of Kashmir along with their contentious history (most of these places are already forgotten and so, not so contentious anymore).

Part 2 lists all the Gardens of Kashmir, not just the bog famous ones but almost all the gardens ever built in Kashmir during Mughal time). Anand Koul argues that C.M. Villiers Stuart's 'Gardens of the Great Mughals' (1913) ( posted earlier here for easy reading) had only scratched the surface and that the history of these gardens had a deeper link with the locals and were not just a result of Mughal passion of Gardens. I believe these two works, one by Anand Koul and the other by C.M. Villiers Stuart, together cover all that you ever wanted to know about history of Kashmiri Gardens.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sketches of Happy Valley, 1879

Illustrations from 'The Happy Valley: Sketches of Kashmir & the Kashmiris' by W. Wakefield (1879)

Fateh Kadal,  the third bridge

Shah Hamadan

View of Anantnag town

Marble Pavilion, Shalimar

who spends the summer wandering in Kashmir

wanderers in Gulmarg. 2008.

To feel the cool breeze on a body
covered with drops of perspiration;
to taste the water, cold and clear,
in a mouth all parched with thirst;
after travelling far, to rest
the tired limbs beneath the shade:
blessed indeed is one who spends
the summer wandering in Kashmir

~ Bhatta Bana, Sanskrit stylist in court of King Harsha of 7th Century CE, Kannauj.

Came across it in 'Subhashitavali: An Anthology of Comic, Erotic and Other Verse', translated from the Sanskrit Subhashitavali of Vallabhadeva (fifteenth-century CE, Kashmir ) by A. N. D. Haksar.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kshemendra Three Satires from Ancient Kashmir by A. N. D. Haksar


'Victory to that lord supreme,
the illustrious bureaucrat,
infalliable, who can at will
delude the whole world with deceptions'

~Narma Mala, Satire 1

'This humbug is a scoundrel in search of prestige and recognition. Indifferent to merit, he will fawn on those without it. Hostile to his own kin, he will exude fraternal compassion for outsiders. He is also pitiless. With bowed head, he will be all sweetness when it suits him. But once his purpose is served, he will only wrinkle his brow and say nothing.'
[...]
Hambug seemed upset at having to wait for long. He fixed his gaze on his progenitor and the god's lotus throne, and stood proud and motionless, as if impaled on a spear. The four-headed god realized that the newcomer wished to be seated. His teeth gleaming in a smile, as if at his carrier, the swan, he said kindly,'Son, sit in my lap. You are worthy of it by virtue of the dignity that your great and remarkable austerity and other merits have given you.'
On hearing these words, hambug carefully sprinkled water on the creator god's lap to purify it, and quickly sat upon it.'Do not speak loudly,' he said to the god,'and if you have to, please cover your mouth with your hand so that your breath does not touch me.' Brahma smiled at this unparalleled concern for ritual purity. ' Hambug you certainly are!' he said with a wave of his hand. 'Arise. Go to the sea-gridled earth and enjoy pleasures unknown even to the denizens of heaven.'

~Kalavilasa, Satire 2

Victory to the Heramba!
The ten directiond smile, lit up
by the brilliant radiance
of the playful raising of his tusk,
slender as lotus.
And victory to the courtesan,
lightning in the clouds of vice;
to libertines, the thespians
in the artful play of crookery;
and to that river of deception,
the procuress, whose forceful current
sweeps away, like trees, the people.


Desopadesa, Advice from the Countryside, Satire 3

More about the eleventh century CE funny guy from Kashmir:

'Kshemendra's work was earlier known only from quotations in some anthologies and a refrence in the Rajatarangini. In modern times, its first manuscript was discovered by A.C. Burnell, at Tanjore, in 1871. This was the Brihatkathamanjari, the abridgement of the lost work [of Gunadhya's] already mentioned. In the succeeding half-century Indologists G. Buhler, A. Stein, B. Peterson, S.C. Das and M.S. Kaul located manuscripts of his other works, at different times, mainly in Kashmir. So far, eighteen of these have been found, and their texts edited and printed. Another sixteen are known, at least by title, from reference or quotations in the discovered texts, but still remain lost.'

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It is tempting but wrong to see present in past. To read these ancient sketches, to see the scene in front of you and go, 'Indeed nothing has changed.'  Even if it is not the intention, the work for the troubled place of its origin, and the way it is presented in this book, the translated words of this ancient Kashmiri does seem to offer the bitter sweet pill of present coated in past. The book runs a little trick on simple readers, casual book-self browsers. Trick, the cover say's 'Three Satires from Ancient Kashmir' but inside you find one of the satires, Kalavilasa, the one in which Muladeva, the king of thieves describes the ways of swindlers of the world, was in fact set in Ujjayani, near present Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. The blurb on the last page claims, 'these little-known exposes of eleventh-century society find resonance in India even today.' If sketch of  bureaucrats, scribes, gurus, traders, and the all thieves of the world in Kshemendra's writing be true, be still relevant, then what about his sketch of women, his blood sucking witches. who make a man 'struct and dance like a pet peacock.' While Kshemendra's sketch of men may still be acceptable, identifiable, to today's Shabhya people, but probably not his sketch of women and 'their ways'. No cultured man will quote Kshemendra to score a point in a debate on 'women's liberation'. This is not ancient times. There has been progress.  We live in modern age. We...

'A Nit-picking man. One of the many hambugs infesting Kal-yug. Listen, stop scratching your bum, wondering what-this-what-that, you Kashmiri bum, trader of black-ink, dweller of ivory island. You have to run down one of your own. Look around, ask the man on street what he thinks of 'women and their ways'. The man pours his heart and piss on walls of public urinals. Don't be surprised if he says the same sundry things that I wrote a thousand years ago. Just read me in translation. Me in translation by a bureaucrat and marvel. '

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You can purchase the book here:

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Friday, April 13, 2012

but you have no mangoes

Near Fatehpur Sikri. Summer. 2011.
"It was spring-time in Kashmir, and the flowers were all out to greet the couple on their honeymoon. They were as happy as any newly-wedded couple has ever been, but even in that time of bliss they could not forget the lonely man in Anand Bhawan who was sweltering in the heat of the plains to prepare the country for the final struggle.
From Gulmarg they sent a jointly signed telegram:
WISH WE COULD SEND YOU SOME COOL BREEZE FROM HERE.
He must have been touched by their affectionate concern but Jawaharlal summoned his celebrated and subtle sense of humour to promptly send the telegraphic reply:
THANKS. BUT YOU HAVE NO MANGOES."

Came across it in fantastically titled book 'Indira Gandhi: Return of the Red Rose' (1966) by K.A. Abbas.

Summary:
Kashmir: Cool. India: Hot. But. India: Mangoes. Kashmir: No Mangoes. And so it is appropriate, you too shall be ordained to brotherhood of mangoe-hood.
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come, ye burnt soul, ye roasted fowl

Runs to Mountain.
 Gulmarg. Summer 2008.


Har sokhta-jaaney ke ba Kashmir dar aayad 
Gar murg-e-kabaab ast ba baal-o-par aayad


Every burnt soul that comes into Kashmir gets life;
 If it be a roasted fowl, it gets wings and feathers at once.


~ Urfi, 16th century Persian poet of Akbar's court. He accompanied Akbar on his Kashmir visit in 1588. Died of dysentery in Lahore in 1591. Thirty years after his death his body was dug-up to be reburied in Najaf, Iraq. [more about him].

Came across the translation in 'Surname Book and Racial History: A Compilation and Arrangement of Genealogical and Historical Data for Use by the Students and Members of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' by Susa Young Gates (1918)



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Previously: Garmiyon may Kashmir jannat hai

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kalidas Kashmiri


Bharat Bhushan in costume drama Kavi Kalidas (1959)

Birth-Place of Kalidasa By Pandit Anand Koul. Published in Journal of Indian History VII (1928).

 THERE can be no Indian who has not heard the name of the greatest dramatist and the most illustrious poet that India has ever produced, namely, Kalidasa. The great poet, Goethe, bestows unqualified praise on his works. The richness of creative fancy of this genius, his delicacy of sentiment and his keen appreciation of the beauties of Nature, combined with remarkable powers of elegant description, which are conspicuous throughout his works, rank Kalidasa as the prince among the Oriental poets. Kalidasa's fame rests chiefly on his dramas but he is also distinguished as an epic and a lyric poet, possessing great magic power and spell to entrance. He has written three plays - Shakuntala, Vikramorvasiya and Malavikagnimitra. He has also written two epic poems, entitled Raghuvansha and Kumarasambhava. His lyrical poems are Meghaduta and Ritusamhara. He carried ornateness to a pitch far beyond any poet's a pitch which deserves the epithet of 'exalted excellence'. He occupies a throne apart in the ideal and immortal kingdom of supreme creative art, poetical charm and dramatic genius.

It is, by no means, improbable that there were three poets of this name; indeed, modern Indian astronomers are so convinced of the existence of a triad of authors of this name that they apply the term Kalidasa to designate the number 3. One Kalidasa was with King Bhoja of Malva at about the end of tenth century of Christian era, about whom it is said, that he had gone to Ceylon to see the king of that island named, Kumaradasa. This king was a good poet and had sent a copy of his own poem Janaki Harana as a present to King Bhoja. This poetic work had pleased Kalidasa very much and he became anxious to make a personal acquaintance with him. He went to Ceylon and there he was staying in an old woman's house. King Kumaradasa used to pay frequent visits to Matara and when he was there he always stayed in a certain beautiful house. During one of these visits he wrote two lines of unfinished poetry on the wall of the room where he had lived. Under it he wrote that the person who could finish this piece of poetry satisfactorily would receive a high reward from the king. Kalidasa happened to see these lines when he came to this house in Matara and he wrote two lines of splendid poetry under the unfinished lines of the king. He was In hopes that his friend king Kumaradasa would be well pleased with this and would recognize his friend's poetry. But the unfortunate poet had not the pleasure of getting either reward or praise from the king, because the authorship of this poem was claimed by a woman in the same house, who had seen that the poet Kalidasa had written these verses. She secretly murdered Kalidasa and claimed the reward, stating that the poem was her own. But nobody would believe that the woman could have written such poetry which could have only been the work of a real poet. The king, when he saw the lines of the poetry, said that nobody but his friend, Kalidasa, would be able to understand him so well and to complete in such an excellent way the poetry which he (the king) had written and he asked where Kalidasa was, so that he could hand over to him the promised reward. Nobody knew where he was and at last search was made everywhere and, to the great sorrow of everybody, his body, which had been hidden, was found. One can hardly imagine how sad King Kumaradasa was when he heard that Kalidasa had been murdered, for he had loved him so much both as poet and as friend. A very grand funeral pyre was erected and the king lit the pyre with his own hands. When he saw the body of his dear friend consumed by the flames, he lost his senses altogether through his great grief and, to the horror of all the people assembled, he threw himself on the funeral pyre and was burnt with his friend (see page 147 of Stories from the History of Ceylon by Mrs. Marie Musseus-Higgins).

 To return to Kalidasa of our subject. He was appointed as a courtier by Vikramaditya and was greatly esteemed by him for his eminent merit. He was one of the nine gems of his court What a genius he was, may be found from the following anecdote :-

King Vikramfiditya once composed a poetic line - Bhrashtasya ka(a)nya gatih ? meaning - What other end may not a fallen person come to ? or, in other words, the vicious wheel of vice revolves. He asked Kalidasa to complete this unfinished verse. Next day Kalidasa went purposely to a butcher's shop whereby the king had to pass. When the king came and saw Kalidasa there, he stopped and held the following dialogue with him in poetry, which Kalidasa completed with that very line which had been composed by the king himself the previous day : -

V. Bhiksho mamsa-nishevanam prakurushe?
K. Kim tena madyam vina? 
V. Madyam, chapi tava a priyam bhavatah? 
K. Varanganabhih saha. 
V. Vesya (a)pyartha-ruchih, kutas tava dhanam? 
K. Dyutena chauryena va.
V. Dyuta-chaurya pardgraho (a)pi bhavatah? 
K. Bhrashtasya ka(a)nya gatih?

V. O mendicant, do you indulge in eating mutton ?
K. What is the good of it without liquor ?
V. Do you like liquor too ?
K. Together with prostitutes.
V. A prostitute requires to be given money ; wherefrom do you get it?
K. Either by gambling or stealing.
V. Are you addicted to gambling and stealing too ?
K. What other end may not a fallen person come to ?

Pandit Lakshmi Dhar Kalla, M.A., M.O.L,., Shastri, late Government of India Research Scholar in Archaeology, is to be thanked for the research he has recently made, fixing the birth-place of Kalidasa the sun among the poet-stars of the world - in Kashmir. He has given a new interpretation to Kalidasa's poetry in the light of the Pratibhijna philosophy of Kashmir. He gives five following proofs from the works of Kalidasa that determine the birth-place of the poet in Kashmir:-

 I. (a) Disproportionately detailed and minute physical and natural description of the Himalayas,
     specially of the northern parts of Kashmir, or more definitely, the Sindhu Valley in Kashmir.

    (b) Feeling shown for, and patriotic references to, Kashmir.

 II. Unconscious and spontaneous references to scenes, sights and legends of Kashmir.

III. Direct allusions to local sites and usages, social customs and conventions along with such other  
      miscellaneous matters as are preferably known only to the natives of Kashmir.

IV. The personal religion of Kalidasa was the 'Kashmir Saivism' known as the Pratyabhijna School of  
      Philosophy, which has its home in Kashmir and which was not known outside Kashmir during the
      days of Kalidasa, till after its popularization by Somananda in the ninth century A.D.

 V. 'The argument of Meghaduta points to Kashmir as the home of Kalidasa.

Matrigupta, who was appointed as king of Kashmir by Vikramaditya, is considered to be Kalidasa by Dr. Bhaudaji (see footnote on page 83 of Stein's Translation of the Rajatarangini). Matrigupta was no doubt, a poet, but he could not be identified with Kalidasa, because the latter was sent to Kashmir as king by Vikramaditya after only six months' attendance at his court and he left Kashmir after Vikramaditya was dead (see Stein's Translation of the Rajatarangini, page 95) ; while Kalidasa was with Vikramaditya at Ujjain for many years. There is a saying current among the Kashmiris - Kalidasas chhuh panani vizih wunnan (i.e., Kalidasa falls into darkness in his own case). Proverbs prove facts which are handed down from generation to generation. The above saying goes to prove that Kalidasa was a Kashmiri. Evidently it has reference to a certain indiscretion on his part in his lifetime which must have brought him into some sort of trouble.

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Among others Hindi writer Mohan Rakesh too seems to have believed that Kalidas had a Kashmiri touch. It comes across in his Ashadh Ka Ek Din (1958) based on Meghaduta (made into a film by Mani Kaul).


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Alternative title for the post: Did Kalidas ghost-wrote the 'Jai-tries-to-not-talk-Mausi-ji-into-offering-Basanti's-hand-to-his-best-buddy-Veeru' scene from Sholay? 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

three weeks in Cashmere, 1920


Rest of the photographs from 'Cashmere: three weeks in a houseboat' (1920) by Ambrose Petrocokino who fought in Greco-Turkish War of 1897, the Boer War and the First World War.[bio]

Avantipur

Kashmiri Gaots

Chenar Bagh. Note Deodar logs.

Pampur

The Gate. Hari Pabat. It is still there but the surroundings are  a lot more congested.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Routes to Srinagar

Compiled from a list of old routes to Srinagar given in 'The Happy Valley: Sketches of Kashmir and the Kashmiris' by W. Wakefield (1879).
Travellers in Kashmir.  By  Miss G. Hadenfeld  

Route 1

The Gujerat and Pir Panjal Route (or the Mugal route)

Gujerat to - 
1. Dowlatnagar
2.Kotla
3.Bhimber
                  Distance: 28 and a half miles
 4.Saidabad
                  Distance: 15 miles
5.Naoshera 
                  Distance: 12 and a half miles
6.Changas
                  Distance: 13 and a half miles
7. Rajaori
                  Distance: 14 miles
8.Thanna Mundi
                  Distance: 14 miles
9.Baramgalla
                  Distance: 10 and a half miles
10.Poshiana
                   Distance: 8 and a half miles
11.Aliabad Serai
                   Distance: 11 miles
12. Hirpoor
                  Distance: 12 miles
13. Shupiyan
                  Distance: 8 miles
14.Ramoo
                  Distance: 11 miles
15.Srinagar (arrive via village Wahtor)
                   Distance: 18 miles

Route 2

The Rawal Pindi and Marri Route

Rawal Pindi to -
1. Barakao

                  Distance: 13 and a half miles

2. Tret

                   Distance: 12 miles

3. Marri

                   Distance: 14 and a half miles

4. Daywal

                   Distance: 10 miles

5. Kohala

                   Distance: 11 miles

6. Chatar Kalas

                   Distance: 11 and a half miles

7. Rara

                    Distance: 12 miles

8.Tinali

                    Distance: 12 miles

9. Ghari

                    Distance: 10 miles

10. Hatti

                    Distance: 12 miles

11. Chakoti

                    Distance: 15 miles

12. Ooree

                    Distance: 16 miles

13. Oorumboo

                    Distance: 11 miles

14.Baramula

                    Distance: 15 miles

15. Pattan

                    Distance: 14 miles

16. Srinagar (arrive in city after passing through suburb of Chatterbal)

                    Distance: 17 miles



Route 3



The Gujerat and Punch Route (when Route 1 is under snow)





Gujerat to - 
1. Dowlatnagar
2.Kotla
3.Bhimber
                  Distance: 28 and a half miles
 4.Saidabad
                  Distance: 15 miles
5.Naoshera 
                  Distance: 12 and a half miles
6.Changas
                  Distance: 13 and a half miles
Changas to -
7. Rajaori
                  Distance: 14 miles
8.Thanna Mundi
                  Distance: 14 miles
9. Sooran
                  Distance: 16 miles
10. Punch
                  Distance: 14 miles
11. Kahoota
                  Distance: 9 miles
12. Aliabad
                  Distance: 8 miles


13. Hydrabad (have to cross Haji Pir Pass)

                  Distance: 7 miles

14. Ooree

                  Distance: 10 miles



15. Oorumboo

                    Distance: 11 miles

16.Baramula

                    Distance: 15 miles

17. Pattan

                    Distance: 14 miles

18. Srinagar (arrive in city after passing through suburb of Chatterbal)

                    Distance: 17 miles

Route 4

The Rawal Pindi and Abbottabad Route

Rawal Pindi to -
1. Barakao

                  Distance: 13 and a half miles

2. Tret

                   Distance: 12 miles

3. Marri

                   Distance: 14 and a half miles

4. Khaira Galli



                   Distance: 9 miles

5. Doonga Galli
                   Distance: 11 miles
6. Bara Galli
                   Distance: 8 miles
7. Abbottabad
                   Distance: 14 miles
8 Mansera
                   Distance: 15 and a half miles
9. Ghari
                   Distance: 19 miles
10. Mozufferabad (crossing Krishenganga river)
                   Distance: 9 miles

11.Hattian



                   Distance: 17 miles

12.Kanda
                   Distance: 11 miles
13.Kathai
                   Distance: 12 miles

14. Shahdera
                   Distance: 12 miles
15.Gingle
                   Distance: 14 miles

16. Baramula



                   Distance: 18 miles

15. Pattan

                    Distance: 14 miles

16. Srinagar (arrive in city after passing through suburb of Chatterbal)

                    Distance: 17 miles



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Route 5



Banihal Cart Road


The Banihal Route from Jammu was off limits for visitors and for the longest time was only meant for personal use of the royal Dogra family based in Jammu.*

The route began at Railway terminal at Jammu Tawi. Involved crossing Banihal Pass (at 9,200 feet) and you arrived in Srinagar via Verinag. 

* From: 'A guide for visitors to Kashmir' (1898) by W. Newman, Updated by A. Mitra.

Route 6
via The Hindustan and Tibet Road. Given in 'Travels in Lad√Ęk, Tartary, and Kashmir' (1862) by Lieut.- Colonel Torrens 

You could arrive into Srinagar (and still can) via Leh. But to reach Leh you had to take the The Hindustan and Tibet Road road (for sometime the British did think about road linking Delhi and China). Shimla to Shikpi Pass.  Crossing Chandra Bhaga (Chenab) at Koksar on dead inflated buffalo skin.   

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Map of the Kashmir Valley and Jehlum Valley. From 'The Panjab, North-West Frontier Province, and Kashmir' (1916) by Sir James McCrone Douie.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Old Photographs of Hazrat Bal, 1917

I asked my mother if she had ever been to Hazrat Bal. Yes. She has been. She went many moons ago with her then office colleagues. It must have been the 80s. The way a little stream of free flowing water washed your feet as you entered the complex impressed her much. 'Like it does at Golden Temple,' I propose to come up with an appropriate image. 'Not a lot of Pandits used to go there, certainly not the older generation. They would go to Makhdoom Sahib on Parbat but seldom to Hazrat Bal. But younger generation had started exploring.'

The image of the famous Srinagar mosque that now comes to mind is of a hard marble dome and a minaret on the banks of Dal. But it wasn't always like that.

Here are photographs of the old Hazrat Bal in around 1917 that I came across in a wonderful book titled 'Cashmere: three weeks in a houseboat' (1920) by Ambrose Petrocokino.



Hasrat Bal. Arriving for the Fete.

Hasrat Bal. The Ghat.

Hasrat Bal Ghat during the Fete. Sona Lank in distance.

Hasrat Bal. The Fete.

Hasrat Bal. The Mosque.



The story of the spot goes back to Mughal times when Sadiq Khan, the governor sent in by Shah Jahan, built a garden and palace at this picture perfect spot on the side of Dal. He called it Ishrat Mahal or the Pleasure House. It was 1693 and in time the place around it came to be known as Sadiqabad or Bagh-i-Sadiq. When Shah Jahan visited the place in around 1634, he converted the pleasure palace into a mosque. Around the same time, in around 1635, a holy relic was brought to India by one Sayeed Abdullah, a keeper at  Kaaba, who settled somewhere at Bijapur in the state which in now known as Karnataka.. Syed Hamid, son of Sayeed Abdullah, having fallen on hard times after Aurangzeb's conquest of Bijapur, sold it to a Kashmiri trader named Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai. One knowing about the sale of such an artifact, Aurangzeb imprisoned the Kashmiri trader at Lahore on charges of perpetrating hoax, but later had the said relic sent to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer. Aurangzeb later had a change of heart (some say it was 'divine intervention') and allowed for the relic to be sent to Kashmir. But by this time Nur-ud-Din Eshai was already dead in prison, so the relic was brought to Kashmir in around 1699 by his daughter Inayat Begum whose progenies came to known as Nishaandehs -  keeper of the sign. Initially, the relic was kept at Naqshband Sahib Shrine at Srinagar. But soon, keeping in mind the growing number of people thronging to take a look at the relic, a new place for keeping the relic was proposed - the shrine at Bagh-i-Sadiq.  And so moi-e-muqaddas was placed at the shrine that came to be referred as Madina-i-Sani and Dargah-i-Sharif.  The mosque was set to distinct Kashmiri  architecture - wood, slanting roof and iris on the roof. The present look of the shrine came in around as late at 1968 when Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as head of Muslim Auqaf Trust had the old structure dismantled and started work in a new structure. This new structure was completed in around 1979.


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Aside: To get a better understanding of the politics and economics of Shrine culture in Kashmir, do check out Chitralekha Zutshi's 'Languages of Belonging: Islam, Regional Identity, and the Making of Kashmir.

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Update:
"All round the sides of the Dal Lake there are broken walls and terraces, the remains of early Mughal gardens. Hazrat Bal, the village close to the Nisim Bagh, stands on the site of one of these. The large mosque, where the hair of the Prophet is preserved, and specially venerated once a year at a great mela, is built round the principal garden-house. The narrow stone water- course runs beneath it, and through the village square, in the midst of which a beautifully carved stone chabutra figures conspicuously and still forms a convenient praying platform. The old entrance can be seen in the long line of stone steps leading down to the water, but the most interesting feature at Hazrat Bal is the carved stone fountains. "

C.M. Villiers Stuart's 'Gardens of the Great Mughals' (1913)
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