Thursday, December 24, 2015

Old Banihal Cart Road



A photograph of old Banihal pass (at 9,200 feet) by A. Hodgson for National Geographic magazine 1921.

'A guide for visitors to Kashmir' (1898) by W. Newman mentions Banihal route to Kashmir but adds that it was meant only for the royal family. In addition, Walter Rooper Lawrence, the Land settlement officer in Kashmir from 1889 to 1895 in his book 'Valley of Kashmir' (1895) regrets that valley in not connect to plains via Banihal pass which was something achievable and desirable. The route linking Srinagar to Rawalpindi railhead, Jehlum Valley Cart road was already operational by 1890 using help of Spedding & Co, a private army of civil engineers maintained by Charles Spedding. The modern route via Banihal must have first come up in between those years. The road called 'new' Banihal route  [BC Road, Banihal Cart Road] was finally completed in 1915 at a cost of about 40 lakh and opened to public in around 1922. The main Kashmiri engineer for the Banihal project was Pt. Laxman Joo Tickoo. With the opening of the motor-able all weather road, the dreaded 'Begar' system, in which people would be forceful made to act like coolies for people crossing the treacherous passes, died

Jawahar Tunnel,
the present route
2008
-0-

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