Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ambaran Buddhist Stupa, Akhnoor, Jammu

28th November, 2015

It is tough. It is tough to track down Buddhist remains in the state. Most of the times, no one seems to know the exact location even if you give them the name.

I hired an 'auto' and told the guy he is going to be with me for the whole day and go where I ask him to go. I was going to look for Ambaran in Akhnoor, a place considered the norther-most border of Harappan civilization.



On leaving the Jammu city, on way to Akhnoor, the road is lined with these local temples.




The road is also lined with brickkiln.


After much roaming around in Akhnoor proper, asking people around, we found the way. It took some extra time to reach as the place is near a traditional river bank crematorium and someone had died that day. Entire road was blocked by mourners.



The Buddhist monastic complex is on the right bank of river Chenab. I found trucks dumping construction waste all day long into the river.


The place itself has been "restored".


I found the complex locked, with not a soul in sight. I watched the site from the fence.



The excavations at the site started around 1990 even though a lot of terracota figures ( 7th century A.D.) now known as "Akhnoor Buddhist terracotta heads with Greeco-Roman influence" had been found in Akhnoor around 1950s. The figures are closely related to figures found at Ushkur near Baramulla, Kashmir (to be visited).








The site is dated along 4 periods:

Period I: Pre-Kushan period (circa second first century B. C.)
Period II: Kushan period (circa first to third century B. C.)
Period III: Post-Kushan (Gupta) period (circa forth fifth century A. D.)
Period IV: Post Gupta period (circa sixth seventh century A. D.)



Mourners of the Sikh man who had died


That was Ambaran, the oldest Buddhist site in entire Jammu and Kashmir.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gharana Wetlands, Jammu, Indo-Pak International Border

23rd February, 2016

When the bird season arrives, around February, the local villagers burst crackers. They scare away the visitors. The villagers don't want visitors, not the birds, not the bird lovers. Gharana Wetlands fall in a region that has rich soil for Basmati production. It is called "the city of white gold". Agriculture has brought prosperity where doom is just a shell away from Pakistan border. People want more progress. Men who came as visitors to the land of birds have now claimed the land and are increasingly staking further claims. The conflict goes on.

When I visited the place, the birds had not yet all arrived. The water was low, you get more water if a water pipe bursts in a Basti in the city. Yet, this is the Gharana wetlands, divided by an International border between India and Pakistan.





















Indian Roller


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Friday, December 9, 2016

Hasantika/Kangri Mankha



Winter arrives in Srinagar
Hasantika
of many blazing holes
is seen flashing in women’s quarters
like a row of lovelorn eyes
on fire
out to conquer Siva
~ lines from 12th century Kashmiri poet Mankha in his work Srikanthacharitam. This is the earliest reference to use of 'hasantika' in Kashmir, the early form of beloved Kangar. 









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Eugen Hultzsch gives the original line in 1886 article on Kashmiri Kangri published in IA. His article was in response to 1884 article by Knowles on trying to locate the origin of Kangri in Europe.

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Video Dastangoi: Episode 1



video link

Retelling the 15th century tale of a Pandit woman who became sister of a Muslim Prince. Re-interpreting the undying symbols of mixed masala culture. This is SearchKashmir video Dastangoi Episode 1.
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Nund Rishi Image and Image of Mulla



Nund Rishi. 14-15th century. This popular image Nund Rishi comes from a manuscript dated 17th century and titled "Kashmiri Kalaam".

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The Mullas flourish on money
fests
These Sheikhs like honey
stick to wealth
The sufis half-naked
do no work
yet, enjoy
unrepentant
many scrumptious meals

None pursue knowledge,
It’s all just another game
these selves
unrestrained

Seen them lately?
Catch them live
Try this old trick:
Announce a grand feast,
from pulpit
now watch
This Mulla run to the Masjid
"Run sick Mulla! Run!
Run to your Masjid."

Friday, November 4, 2016

of hair and cut



A group of kids. 1950s. Kashmir.

The thing to note in the photograph is a glimpse of ancient pre-islamic Kashmir. Notice the kid in the front with the partial tonsure. The one with Ronaldo cut.

Tarikh-i-Kabir of Muhammad-ud-Din Fauq (1892) mentions that muslim kids just like non-muslim kids used to grow a tuft of hair on the crown of their head. This hair used to be later shaved off on a particular day, at some shrines (like at Baba Rishi near Gulmarg), and the event was much celebrated (zarakasai). The tuft was known as Shika (Sanskrit), topp ("cap" in Kashmiri) or bichur ('tuft' as in Bil-bichur like of Bulbul).

The act of having tonsure was and is common in eastern religions.


In Islam, there are hadith against keeping partial tonsure. As the Kashmiri Muslim society moved closer to following a more literal and puritan version of Islam, the practise disappeared

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Islamic art in Pandit religious art




Left: Goddess Sharada enthroned surrounded by fairies. From a Private collection. Probably 18th century. Kashmir. Notice the way angels are painted around the orb. Came aross the image in "Cosmology and Cosmic Manifestation: Shaiva Thought And Art Of Kashmir by Bansi Lal Malla (2015). While writing about the image, the author missed an important art connection.

Right: 16th century, ᚢafavid Iran. Miraj painted by Sultan Muhammad for a manuscript of Nizami Ganjavi's Quinary ("Panj Ganj" or "Khamsa". Art styling inspired by Buddhist China. Khamsa was a work popular in Persian and Mughal courts. Notice the way fairies are drawn and the headgear on them.

In the right image, Khamsa influence on the court culture of Kashmir can be seen as late as 18th century. This mixing of culture, arts and "sacred" was not a phenomena unique to Kashmir, other major cultural centers also experienced it and continue to experience it. Only in case of Kashmir, it is least studied in detail.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Vesiye Gulan aamay bahaar (enhanced) by Raj Begum

farewell to the voice of Kashmir. Rest in Peace Raj Begum. End of an era. Last of the great songstress from valley.

Vesiye Gulan aamay bahaar
Perhaps the best remembered song by Raj Begum. Lyrics by Maqbool Shah Qraalwari (1820–1876)

Here's a cleared and voice enhanced version of the recording. [The original audio (probably from tape) was uploaded by Muneeb Haroon]


Video: Clipping from "Spring Comes to Kashmir" (1956)



Lyrics:

Parvaan laegith gath Karas tath shamah royas tal maras, chum kal tuhinz moul chum ni haar, az saal antan balyaar. Vesiye Gulan aamay bahaar az saal antan balyaar.
Tath prani maaye Goi tche kyah maeshrovthas kyah chum mea rah ousukh zche myonui ghum gusaar az saal antan balyaar
Chum loal chi gaemich mea yaad, peoy na zche myonui zanh ti yaad, Goi na kanan paighaam yaar, az saal antan balyaar.
Aey yousuf khursheed ro Dar misr tchandath su ba su kaerthas zulaikha khas ta khaar az saal antan balyaar
Trevith cholum thavith firaaq, chum loal jigras ishtiyaaq mea haevith anun vanas bi zaar, az saal antan ballyaar.
Yaktaash Kot goam dhaali dith Zainul Arab chas jaan Nisar, khhooni jigar kormas Nisar Az saal antan balyaar
Shaaman cholum kaerithy sou graaiy paaman mei thavith goam jaaiy daman ratas Rozay shumaar az saal antan balyaar
Yas Zaali badnas ashequn naar su Zaani kyah gov hijr e yaar, Maqbool kornas dil nigaar Az saal antan balyaar.
Vesiye Gulan aamay bahaar az saal antan balyaar.


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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Suchetgarh Border


February, 2016

Suchetgarh Border in RS Pura sector, Jammu.

A Thirsty Special Train.
First Train to Jammu from Sailkot. 19th Cent. A.D.

Prior to 1947, Suchetgarh used to be an important railway station connecting to Sailkot. The railway line is now defunct and the place is now being promoted like "Wagha", a place from where you can see Pakistan.


This is the season of mustard. All the border villages burn beautiful yellow.

Border fences cut through the agricultural fields
Sailkot is only 11 kilometers from here. This is the shortest road from Jammu to Pakistan.


 The other side




Here, at the border date, an old banyan tree is the function border pillar. Half of it is Indian and half is Pakistani.


On the Pakistani side, under the shade of the same tree, a worker.

A Pakistani tower


On the Indian side, the BSF office is where stood the old railway station. The wall facing the border has bullet marks, tagged as "Bullet Marks fired by Enemy". The firing occurs only when tensions between the two countries run very high. When the body burns in fever, bullets arrive like sweat. The last recent bullet marks were from time Kargil war of 1999.



Tourists from Kargil region



Just next to the border post is an old Hindu temple. This is said to be original Ragunath Temple that was later shifted to Jammu.


Across the temple is shrine of Muslim peer "Baba Neeli Tali Walla" that was recently renovated.


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I wonder if there's any old temple being renovated across the border fence at Post Inayat.
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