Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kashmir Yesterday, December 1977

Sheikh Abdullah on cover of India Today
Cover of India Today Magazine Issue December 1-15, year 1977
Jammu & Kashmir
The Lion Roars
Lamb in lion's guise (Dec 1-15, 1977)

The taxi driver in Srinagar was happy to offer his own assessment of the current political climate.

“Everybody calls Sheikh Abdullah the Lion of Kashmir. But actually he is a lamb at heart,” he said. Pressed a little further, he summed up the situation, “This Ordinance is not a good thing.

It will not solve anybody’s problem.” He was, of course, talking about the recent Ordinance promulgated by Governor L.K. Jha.

Under this law, the Sheikh “in the interest of the security of the state and maintenance of public order”, can arrest or detain anyone for “prejudicial activity” without giving any reason.

For more than four decades now, Kashmiris have depended on a single person to champion their cause— Sheikh Abdullah. If the summer of 1977 in Kashmir was overcome by the sound of thunderous applause at his comeback, the autumn has been considerably subdued.
Via: India Today


A lot of people believe Kashmir would have been saved lot of troubles if only the Media in India had done its job objectively. Naturally I was surprised to see this cover story and the comment of a common kashmiri published in it.


A few days ago, father bumped into some kashmiri youngsters from Anantnag at a roadside tea stall in a satellite town of Indian capital. Oldest among them was 23 years old, working in Chennai and was in town to pursue some professional course. They got talking.  
Yes but bad things happened to us. 
Ha! You were too young. What do you know! Do you know this place in Srinagar...those Harsa'gors of Safakadal. It's winter. They make the best Harsa. You wouldn't have tasted it. So, what about the elections?
What about it. One of my uncles is running for NC and another is running for PDP. Ha.

The boys paid for the tea. They insisted.



According to News reports, Omar Abdullah, grand son of Sheikh Abdullah, is going to be the Chief Minister of J&K.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

a video presentation on Kheer Bhawani Tula mula, Kashmir

video link

The natural spring of Kheer Bhawani is situated at a distance of 14 miles east of Srinagar Tula Mula in Ganderbal.

1. A Kashmiri bhajan/aart in praise of resident deity of the spring - Maharagini.
2. Shantakaram Bhujagashayanam, Sanskrit hymns in praise of Vishnu.
Recorded live at the location.
3. Gauri Stutih, Sanskrit hymns in praise of holy Goddess.

Hymns, in praise of resident deity of the spring - Maharagini,quoted at the beginning and at the end are from a Sanskrit scripture called Mahatmya Shri Shri Maharajni Pradurbhava,Shri Maharajni Stutih

All photographs used in the video presentation taken by me in 2008.

A Goddess is Born: The Emergence of Khir Bhavani in Kashmir By Dr. Madhu Bazaz (Google book link)
It's a diligent work on the origins of Kheer Bhawani and and evolution of her following.

Photographs to be posted soon.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Royal Love Letter at Shalimar

I love you
I know you love me
Because you Are my
1st Love & I was Damn
Sure you will be back
Please Speak
I Love you Since 2002

Photograph: A teenage love story on a wall of the central monument at Shalimar Garden in Srinagar, Kashmir.
June 2008.

In around 1619, Mughal Emperor Jahangir built Shalimar Garden for his beloved Iranian wife Noor Jahan.


Mansaram Ka Dhabba, Peerah

June 2008
Mansaram Ka Dhabba
Peerah, National High Way no. 1A
Jammu & Kashmir
I was standing straight when I took this photo.

Backdoor entry to Mansaram Ka Dhabba

The place is renowned for its Rajma Chawal that come doused in pure Desi Ghee - Kidney bean with rice doused in clarified  butter.

Kidney bean from Jammu are quite popular all over India...thanks to the millions who visit pilgrim town of Katra every year to visit the cave of Vaishno Devi

Basohli Paintings and Calendar Art

Basohli Paintings evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries as a distinctive style of painting by fusion of Hindu mythology, Mughal miniature techniques and folk art of the local hills. The painting style derives its name from the place of its origin - hill town of Basohli about 80 Km. from the centre of district Kathua in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.

This style of painting was first introduced to the world in the annual report (1918-19) of the Archaeological  Survey of India published in 1921. At that time this style was yet to be properly categorized and studied.
Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, who was first to publish them, in Rajput Paintings in 1916, wrote about this style of painting believing it to be Jammu style. Discussing these Jammu paintings, Coomaraswamy observed:
The Jammu are well and vigorously designed often with a decorative simplicity very suggestive of large scale mural art. In several examples there reappears that savage vitality which has been already remarked in the early Rajasthani raginis, but it is here associated with more exaggeration and with a strange physical type, the peculiar sloping forehead and very large eyes are especially characteristics of some of the portraits..the coloring is hot. Silver is used as well as gold. A remarkable feature is the occasional use of fragments of beetle's wings to represent jewelery, and by the peculiar character of the architecture, with turrets, paneled doors, latticed windows and plinths ending in grotesque heads...Krsna and Radha or Mahadeva and Uma play the parts of hero and heroine. 
The most popular themes of Basohli Paintings come from Shringara literature like  Rasamanjari or Bouquet of Delight ( a long love poem written in 15th century by Bhanudatta of Tirhut Bihar ), Gita Govinda and Ragamala. These paintings are marked by striking blazing colors, red borders, bold lines and rich symbols. The faces of the figures painted are characterized by the receding foreheads and large expressive eyes, shaped like lotus petals. The painting themselves are mostly painted in the primary colors of Red, Blue and Yellow.

Collected the following beautiful images from The J&K Bank 2008 Annual Calendar*

Basohli PaintingBasohli Painting

Radha giving butter-milk to Krishna                                                 Krishna lifting the mountain Govardhana

Basohli PaintingBasohli Painting

Radha and Krishna rejoicing the moments of togetherness            The holy family of Parvati and Shiva

Basohli PaintingBasohli Painting

The vigil of the Expectant heroine Utkanthita              Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh paying homage to Trimurti

Basohli PaintingBasohli Painting

Naiyka of Ragamala awakening the Nayak                                Radha listening to the music of Krishna's flute

Basohli PaintingBasohli Painting

Krishna swallowing the forest fire of Vrindavan     Radha holds the restless calf while Krishna is milking a cow

Basohli PaintingBasohli Painting

Krishna bringing the Parijata tree from Indra's Heaven                             View from the window

(Name of artists(not in any order): Lalit Kumar Dogra, Surinder Singh Billawaria, Sohan Singh Billawaria, Dharam Pal, Dheeraj Kapoor, Sona upadhaya, Shakeel Ahmed Raza, Arun Dogra, M.K. Wadhera and Sushil Padha)

You can check out these links if you are interested in knowing more about the art and history of Basohli Paintings:
Recommended Read and Acknowledgment:
Centres of Pahari Painting By Chandramani Singh

Earlier cross posted at my other blog

*Every year J&K Bank comes out with beautiful Calendars. Since this year they featured "Hindu paintings", even though one of the painters is muslim,  it could have been a cause of concern for the muslims of the state(valley). So another calender circulated by them this year had the theme of "Kashmiris Everywhere". It carried photographs if Kashmiris working in various towns and citites of India.

Bengali in Kashmir

If areas around Indian railway tracks (at least in the north) are the dominion of Shahi Dawakhana and Hakeem Sahib, then area around Indian roadways are the dominion of Dr. Bengali. Why the roads? Is it the truckers and the soldiers? Maybe. More baffling is the question why the areas around railway tracks? Is it the coach drivers? Anyway…
In Jammu city you are more likely to see ads for and expect help from Dr. Malhotra. But, the area along the highway to Kashmir is again under the monopoly of Dr. Bengali. Advertisements offering guaranteed cure for unmentionable diseases and unlimited power over unforgivable weaknesses appear all along the road to Kashmir. All along the road their limp message, effective design, snazzy coloring and generous appointment hours(actually a whole day) with the "Dr" hardly change. The frequency of their occurrence is rather high around Udhampur district. Here you can't look away from them as almost every third shop has these ads promoting sex clinics(?) painted on their walls.
What I didn't expect was to see these ads in Kashmir valley. However, I came across them even along the way to Gulmarg.

Dr. Bengali

Earlier cross posted at my other blog

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Collage of Old Images

Old Photographs of Kashmir, Srinagar, Dal Lake, valley
(Click to enlarge)
(Originally posted long ago on my other blog
You may enjoy these photographs of Kashmir in a video presentation also!)

‘who has not heard of the vale of Cashmere,
With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave,
Its temples, and grottos, and fountains as clear,
As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave.’
— Popular lines from Thomas Moore's poem Lalla Rookh

For a man who never visited Kashmir, Thomas Moore certainly had a clear image of the fabled Kashmir. He saw Kashmir through writings of other writer who had seen Kashmir. A generation later people were to be enticed by the images captured by the photographers traveling through the ‘happy Valley’ Kashmir.

This collage comprises of some of these very images and few of the oldest photographs of Kashmir.

About the Photographs:
Starting from Top Right, the photographs in first row are by Samuel Bourne, who visited Kashmir in 1864.

  • Kashmir - The Srinagar Bazaar on the Jhelum
  • Poplar Avenue - Srinagar, Kashmir
  • View on the Jhelum at Srinagar, Kashmir

Found these three photographs here at

  • Photograph of a boat in Munshi Bagh, Srinagar from the Brandreth Collection: 'Views in Simla, Cashmere and the Punjaub' taken by Samuel Bourne in the 1860s. Srinagar the capital of Kashmir is a city of lakes and waterways, gardens and picturesque wooden architecture. The caption states, 'One of the Maharaja's boats such as lent to the Comr or Resident on duty & to others, as myself. He has several of these each with 20 rowers.
The next two rows of photograph are by Fred Bremner

  • Kashmiri Minstrels (called Bhand) , 1900
  • A Village Girl, Kashmir , 1905
  • Specimens of Kashmir Carving, 1900
  • Soonamurg, Top of the Sind Valley, 1900
He writes:
"I arrived at Soonamarg, top of the Valley, early in November, when their happened to be a fall of snow, and interesting were the pictures which I obtained there. Soonamurg is at an elevation of 8,000 feet and some years ago it was looked upon as the resort for a residence of several months, and many were the Europeans who used to camp in and around the meadow."
(Forty Years, pg. 52)

  • The Jhelum River, Kashmir, 1900
"Passing through the Jhelum Valley and river the steep mountain sides are clad with pine, deodar and other trees of stalwart height, and in the depths of the valley below, some 3,000 feet, the river winds its tortuous way, just as the road winds through the mountains as far as the river below and rising again to the summit of a few thousand feet - their eye may sometimes rest on a figure slowly gliding through mid-air with no apparent support whatever. Coming to close quarters one sees a crossing by rope bridges. It is a curious way of engineering these people have. One of the bridges is merely a single rope made of tough twisted cowhide and secured at both banks of the river. The passenger is seated in a small suspended cradle. He then lets himself go and his own impetus carries him fully half-way over and he is pulled across the remaining distance by a smaller guiding rope."

  • View on the Jhelum River near Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, 1900
"Leaving the city one cannot do better than be rowed up to the Dhal Lake, which is aid to be one of the most beautiful spots in Kashmir. . .. Entering the Dhal Lake, which measures about 4 miles by 2 1/2, one cannot help but admire the works of nature which are depicted in a variety of beautiful ways in the stillness of the water combined with mirror-like reflections of the mountain ridges."
(Forty Years, pp. 48-49)

  • The Dhal Lake, Kashmir, 1900
"The stillness and clearness of Dhal Lake make it comparatively easy to catch fish with the aid of a spear instead of by rod and line. Boatmen are the class with whom visitors to Kashmir come most intimately in contact. They are said to claim Noah as their ancestor, and certain it is that if they did not borrow the pattern of their boats from Noah's Ark, Noah must have borrowed the pattern from them! Families live permanently on the boats, and they all have their little cooking places on board, and an enormous wooden pestle and mortar with which women and very often children pound the rice or grain."
(Forty Years, pg. 48).

Next six rows of photographs are by John Burke and appear in the book From Kashmir to Kabul: The Photographs of John Burke

  • Ruins of the Small Temple at Pattan, 1864-68
  • Resident's Boat on the Dhul Canal, Srinagar, Kashmir, 1868-72
  • Akbar's Bridge on the Dal Lake, 1868-72
  • Old Bridge on the Mar Canal, Srinagar, Kashmir, 1868-72
  • Two Nautch women from Kashmir, 1862-64. The name of woman on the left is given as Sabie, a prominent Nautch woman of her time

  • A Group of Dancing Girls, Kashmir
  • Down the Jehlum river from the 3rd Bridge of Srinagar
  • The Fakir and Cave of manusbal(Manasbal) and the next photograph is of Ladakhians
  • Azeezie, seems to have been a popular nautch girl, a fact testified by her numerous photographs in the Burke collection. These Nautch girls were a prominent feature of Kashmir and most of them stayed and worked in Shalimar Gardens. ( Read more about Nautch girls of Kashmir)
  • A Gentleman, Srinagar, 1862-64
The next bunch of photographs are mostly uncredited:
  • Group of Famous Brahmin Pundits, circa 1900
Found it at
  • Two photographs of Brahmins of Kashmir. The second photograph one is from 1875.
  • Much extolled Beauty in Kashmir, 1910 (Read more about fables of Kashmiri beauty)
Back of the card reads - Printed: Views of India Series Printed in Saxony

Another set of Photographs by John Burke

  • Pillar Near the Jumma Masjid in Srinagar, 1868

    Gateway of enclosure, (once a Hindu temple) of Zein-ul-ab-ud-din's Tomb, in Srinagar. Probable date A.D. 400 to 500 (?), 1868. John Burke. Oriental and India Office Collection. British Library. Photograph of the gateway and enclosure of Zain-ul-abidin's tomb at Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, taken by John Burke in 1868. This photograph is reproduced in Henry Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India report, 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir' (1869), when Cole wrote, 'In the Panels of the Gateways, there is proof that buildings had previously existed, in which columns play a part...The break in the roof is also remarkable as occurring in conjunction with the simplicity of the enclosing wall, and indicates, I think, that the Gateway is probably more modern than the wall, and may perhaps have been set up by the Mahomedans out of some of the materials of other ruined temples of which a quantity lies strewn all over Srinagar.' Zain-ul-abidin (ruled 1421-72) was one of Kashmir's greatest rulers from its Islamic period, under whose reign it enjoyed peace and prosperity and progress in the arts. His father Sikandar has been tainted in Kashmiri history as Butshikan or idol-breaker, but Zain-ul-abidin was tolerant towards his Hindu subjects. The fertile valley of Kashmir offered a retreat from the crossroads of Asia in the high Himalayas, and developed its own distinctive architecture. Buddhism was established here from the 3rd century BC but was eclipsed by the 8th century AD by the flourishing Hindu Vaishnava and Shaiva cults. Kashmir finally became a great centre of the Shaiva religion and philosophy and a seat of Sanskrit learning and literature. By the 14th century Kashmir came under Islamic rule. Most of its early temples were sacked in the 15th century and their remains were sometimes incorporated in later Islamic monuments. The tomb of the mother of Zain-ul-abidin was built in c.1430 on the foundations of an old Hindu temple, and was decorated with glazed tiles. Immediately to the north of this building is an enclosing wall and gateway made of Hindu materials, which contains a number of tombs, one of which is said to preserve the remains of the Sultan himself.
  • Temple at Pathan (Pandrethan), 1868
  • Temple at Pandrethan, 1868
  • Three photographs of Sun Temple of Martand, 1868
  • Another photograph of the temple at Pandrethan
Found these photographs here at

Rest of the photographs are uncredited*

  • Butchershop called as pujwaan in Kashmiri Language, Kashmir
  • Chenar Bagh, Srinagar, Kashmir
  • Photograph of Fatheh Kadal, 1941
  • A typical rural household from Kashmir
  • Lotus flowers called as pamposh in kashmir, Dal Lake, 1943
  • Fisherman or Gad'e Henz., Dal lake, 1940.
  • Jhelum River winding through Kashmir Valley, 1890
  • A Labourer at Dal lake , 1941
  • Gade'wol Man with catch of fish, 1937.
  • Shankaracharya Temple, Kashmir. Also known by the name Tukt-I-Suliman or The Throne of Solomon

The oldest temple in Kashmir, both in appearance and according to
tradition, is that upon the hill of "Takt i Suliman," or Solomon's
Throne. It stands 1,000 feet above the plain, and commands a view of
the greater part of Kashmir.

The situation is a noble one, and must have been amongst the first
throughout the whole valley which was selected as the position of
a temple. Its erection is ascribed to Jaloka, the son of Asoka,
who reigned about 220 B.C.

The plan of the temple is octagonal, each side being fifteen feet in
length. It is approached by a flight of eighteen steps, eight feet
in width, and inclosed between two sloping walls. Its height cannot
now be ascertained, as the present roof is a modern plastered dome,
which was probably built since the occupation of the country by the
Sikhs. The walls are eight feet thick, which I consider one of the
strongest proofs of the great antiquity of the building.
From: Diary of a Pedestrian in Cashmere and Thibet by William Henry Knight
  • Dal Lake, 1937
  • Vegetable Shop or Sabzi' wan. Wan being the Kashmiri word for 'Shop'.
  • Woman rowing a Sikara, Dal Lake, 1944
  • Kashmiri potter, rural Kashmir
  • Saraf Kadal on Mar canal, Srinagar, Kashmir
Not without a reason was Srinagar called the 'Venice of the East'
The Mar canal formed an interesting waterway meandering through the city. Wherever the back waters of the Dal lake flowed through the city, it was known as the Mar canal deriving its name from the beautiful Marsar. The major portion of the water of the Dal lake came from the Marsar lake situated beyond the Harwan water reservoir. There was a network of Mar canals flowing through the city. An interesting clustering existed along the canals, some of the houses belonged to the rich merchants, as can be deciphered from the scale and magnificance of the buildings along the waterway. The canal has since been filled up to form a road. An interesting feature here is the row of shops along the bridge which formed an interesting walking experience across the canal. The shops appear to project out along the length of the bridge, as can be seen, with the help of timber columns resting on the banks on both sides. At Sekhi dafar there was an interesting streetscape. It was probably an important street within the cluster along the waterway. There was a row of shops on the ground floor of the houses along the street. The houses overlooked the waterway on one side and the street on the of the houses along the street. The houses overlooked the waterway on one side and the street on the other.
Read more here

  • A view of Srinagar City
  • A locality in suburb of Srinagar
  • Shankaracharya Temple, 1942
  • Backwater of Dal Lake, 1941
  • The Maharajah's State Barge, 1873
  • A Kashmiri grocery store or Kiryan'wan
  • The daily life of Kashmiri Woman in rural Kashmir
  • A Sketch of Floating Gardens of Kashmir. These are known as raadh in Kashmiri
  • Women working in field, weeding, while a royal guard looks on.
  • Papier machie work in progress
  • The weir at Chattabal, a suburb of Srinager ,1934. That's the place where I was born.
  • Habakadal, Srinagar
  • On the Dhul canal with Tukht (throne), 1864-68 by John Burke.
  • The bank of river Jhelum, 1937

The pictures (towards the end) having the watermark India Pictures are from the website IndiaPictures 
. *Most of these photographs were taken by famous photographer Ram Chand Mehta  for Royal Geographical Society in 1930 and 1940s.

Also thanks to those that I may have missed!

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