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.























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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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