Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kashmir belongs to United States of America

Does Kashmir - the bone of contention between India and Pakistan for over 50 years - really belong to the US? This is the startling revelation made by Dan Brown, the internationally bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code , in a shortly to be released non-fictional work, The Secret of the K-word .

Using spectroscopic analysis (a technique described in detail in The Da Vinci Code' the author claims to have discovered the original document over which the Instrument of Accession, signed by Kashmir Maharaja Hari Singh and preserved in the National Archives, New Delhi, was later superimposed.

The secret document reveals that Hari Singh, equally apprehensive of joining either India or Pakistan, covertly ceded Kashmir to the US. According to Brown, when the map of Kashmir is reversed it becomes, uncannily, congruent with the hilly state of Kentucky in the southern US.

In a telephonic interview with The Times of India , the Houston-based author said...
he had employed the ancient Kabbalistic form of numerological interpretation to discover "amazing co-relatives between Kashmir and Kentucky which by no stretch of the imagination can be put down to pure coincidence".

For instance, when the longitude of Frankfort, the capital of Kentucky, is divided by the latitude of Srinagar, the Kashmiri capital, the prime number so obtained has the same numeric valency as Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which accords a special status to Kashmir.

Describing it as "one of the best-hidden secrets of the modern world", Brown acknowledged that his book would "create a global furore" and "open many cans of worms".

Disclaiming that America's Central Intelligence Agency had any role in these developments, the author said, "The truth can no longer be suppressed. We owe this much at least to the long-suffering people of Kashmir. May the truth set them free, at long last."

-  Times of India dated 1 Apr 2005.

More about the issue here


Monday, March 30, 2009

Nov Sheen Mubarak: Traditional Kashmiri April Fool

I have been twice in Kashmir when the new snow has fallen. About the 10th of December the summits of the Panjal are enveloped in a thick mist and the snow usually falls before the 20th. This is the great fall which closes the passes (as already noticed) for the winter. It frequently happens that a casual fall takes place a month or three weeks earlier. This remains on the ground for three or four days, and then disappears beneath the sun's rays. I am speaking now of its falling on the plains of Kashmir. It occasionally falls on the mountains as early as September, and the cold blasts which it produces do injury to the later rice crops.
They have a custom throughout these countries which answers in some respects to what we call making an April fool. When the new snow falls, one person will try to deceive another into holding a little in his hand; and accordingly he will present it to him (making some remark by way of a blind at the same time) concealed in a piece of cloth, on a stick, or an apple folded in the leaves of a book, or wrapped up in a letter, &c. If the person inadvertently takes what is thus presented to him, the other has a right to shew him the snow he has thus received, and to rub it in his face, or to pelt him with it, accompanied with the remark in Kashmiri, "No shin muburu"* - new snow is innocent! and to demand also a forfeit of an entertainment, or a nach, or dance, or some other boon, of the person he has deceived. The most extreme caution is, of course, used by every one upon that day. Ahmed Shah of Little Tibet, told me that some one once attempted to deceive him, by presenting him with a new gun barrel, and pretended that he wished for his opinion about it; but that he instantly detected the snow in the barrel, and had the man paraded through the neighbourhood on a donkey, with his face turned towards the tail.

- G. T. Vigne, an Englishman visited Kashmir in 1835, wrote in Travels in Kashmir, Ladak, Iskardo, the Countries Adjoining the Mountain-Course of the Indus, and the Himalaya, north of the Panjab with Map, Volume 2.
 Snow at Gulmarg, Kashmir. - April, 2006.Photograph: Gulmarg,  April 2006

I don't know if this funny tradition was popular or if it still is popular in the valley; I haven't heard about it from my elders.
* Shouldn't that Kashmiri line be -" Nov Sheen Mubarak". Yes, it should be.


I talked to my parents and it turns out that the tradition prevailed even during their younger days.
 Nov Sheen Mubarak
One the morning of first snow, while shaking hands with someone, if you found snow in your hand, you could expect the line Nov Sheen Khoti, New Snow is On You - which meant you owned that someone a treat.

Nov Sheen, New Snow, also had a special significance for newly wed brides. If a mother-in-law played out this prank on her new daughter-in-law (and she often did), then the bride's parents were obliged to send over gifts to their daughter's new family.

With time, this curious practice became an ingrained tradition and during the first year of marriage, after the first snow of winter, a bride's family was expected to send gifts to the bride's new family.


One fine day, a telegram was received in Srinagar.
On receiving the news of snowfall in Kashmir, a young and recently married man, who at that time happened to be posted 'on duty' in the distant land of Jammu, sent the following message to his in-laws in the Srinagar city:
 Nov Sheen Mubarak. Namaskar. Send Transistor.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Connection between Zeethyaar Shrine and Shankaracharya Temple

The Shiv temple atop Shankaracharya Hill was originally dedicated to a form of Shiva known as Jyesthesvara and is believed to have been (partly) built by King Gopaditya (253 A.D. to 328). The hill was known as Gopadri and even today, at foot of this hill, in south direction, there is a village called Gopkar.

The Shrine at Zeethyaar is dedicated to Zeestha Devi, a form of Parvati.

But interestingly enough, Aurel Stein, in notes to his translation of Kalhana's Rajatarangini, mentions 'Zeethyaar' as the spot of a shiv temple dedicated to Jyesthesvara (the name of the lingam present there) and the spot for holy Tirtha of Jyether. According to the Mytho-folklore ( based on Jyesthamahatmya), at this particular spot, Siva liberated Jyetha, i.e. Parvati, from the Daityas (demons) and on marrying her took the name Jyesthesa. [Check out his 'Note C-i.124 Jyestharudra at Srinagari']

Later, on page 453 he asserts:

"In Note C, i.124, I have shown that an old tradition which can be traced back to at least the sixteenth century, connected the takht Hill with the worship of Siva Jyestharudra or, by another form of the name, JYESTHESVARA (Jyesthesa). And we find in fact a Linga known by this name worshipped even at the present day at the Tirtha of Jyether, scarecely more than one mile from the east foot of the hill.
This Tirtha, which undoubtedly derived its name from Jyesthesvara, lies in a glen of the hillside, a short distance from the east shore of the Gagri Bal portion of the Dal. Its sacred spring, designated in the comparatively modern Mahatmya as Jyesthanaga, forms a favorite object of pilgrimage for the Brahmans of Srinagar. Fragments of several colossal Lingas are found in the vicinity of jyether and show with some other ancient remains now built into the Ziarats of Jyether and Gupkar that the site had held sacred from an early time. It is in this vicinity that we may look for the ancient shrine of Jyestharudra which Jalauka is said to have erected at Srinagar. But in the absence of distinct archeological evidence its exact position cannot be determined."

Oddly enough, among the the Kashmir Pandit community, Zeethyaar is now mostly remembered as a "Devi" spot.

  1. Shiv temple on Shankaracharya Hill, as seen (zoomed in) from Dal Lake. June 2008. 
  2. New Shiv temple at Zeethyaar Shrine, on the foot hills of Zabarwan.June 2008.
You may also like to check out my post (with photographs) on the Zeethyar Temple

Kashmir Valley as seen from Banihal Pass, 1928

Rice fields in the Kashmir Valley as seen from the Banihal Pass
Photograph dated 1928 taken by Swiss photographer Martin Hurlimann (November 12, 1897 – March 4, 1984)

[found via: columbia.edu]

A photograph taken by me in June 2008. View of Kashmir Valley after crossing Banihal Tunnel.

Martand, House of Pandavs, Pandav Lar'rey

In 1889, Walter R. Lawrence, the British Land settlement officer in Kashmir, writing in Valley of Kashmir (1895), for the chapter Archaeology, quotes these line written by Sir Alexander Cunningham:
“The ruins of the Hindu temple of Martand, or, as is commonly called, the Pandu-Koru, or the house of Pandus and Korus - the cyclopes of the East - are situated on the highest part of a karewas*, where is commences to rise to its juncture with the mountains, about 3 miles east of Islamabad. Occupying, undoubtedly, the finest position in Kashmir, this noble ruin is the most striking in size and situation of all the existing remains of Kashmir grandeur."
 Pandavs, of course, still get credit for all kind of ancient structures strewn across India.

Sir Alexander Cunningham (1814-93), British archaeologist and army engineer, better known as the father of Indian Archaeology, as a young officer, was stationed in Kashmir after the first Sikh War of 1845-1846. In November 1847, he measured and studied most of the ancient that existed in Kashmir. On the subject of Martand, Pandavs and Ptolemy - the celebrated Greek geographer of the second century AD who lived in Egypt, Cunningham wrote:  [The ancient buildings of Kashmir]
 " are entirely composed of a blue limestone, which is capable of taking the highest polish, a property to which I mainly attribute the present beautiful state of  preservation of most of the Kashmirian buildings; not one of these temples has a name, excepting that of Martand, which is called in the corrupt Kashmirian pronunciation, Matan, but they are all known by the general name of Pandavanki lari or " Pandus-house," a title to which they have no claim whatever, unless indeed the statement of Ptolemy can be considered of sufficient authority upon such a subject. He says " circa autem Bidaspum Pandovorum regio " — the Kingdom of the Pandus is upon the Betasta or (Behat), that is, it corresponded with Kashmir. This passage would seem to prove that the Pandavas still inhabited Kashmir so late as the second century of our era. Granting the correctness of this point there may be some truth in the universal attribution of the Kashmirian temples to the race of Pandus, for some of these buildings date as high as the end of the fifth century, and there are others that must undoubtedly be much more ancient, perhaps even as old as the beginning of the Christian era. One of them dates from 220 B. C.** "
The origin of the Sun temple of Martand is a bit blurry, but King Lalitaditya (A.D. 693 to 729) is believed to have built it. Cunningham mentions that the Rajatarangini credits King Lalitaditya as the builder of Martand temples. But, he further mentions:
"From the same authority we gather — though the interpretation of the verses is considerably disputed — that the temple itself was built by Ranaditya, and the side chapels, or at least one of them, by his queen, Amritaprakha. The date ' of Ranaditya's reign is involved in some obscurity, but it may safely be conjectured that he died in the first half of the fifth century after Christ."

* karewas: Kashmiri word for plateau like geographic formations found mostly to west of the river Jhelum and believed to have been created by draining of the great ancient lake that was once supposed to be Kashmir.

** Francis Younghousband in his book Kashmir (1911) mentions the temple believed to be dating back to 220 B.C. is Jyesthesvara Temple built atop a hill by Gopaditya (253 A.D. to 328). This is the site of present day Shiv temple atop Shankaracharya hill. The temple is first supposed to have been built by Jalauka, the son of great Emperor Ashoka, in around 200 B.C.


About the old Image of Martand Temple near Bhawan:
The Photograph was taken by John Burke in 1868 for Henry Hardy Cole's Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir. This and one more photograph was later was used in  many other later publications. I found it in the book: Archaeological Survey India: Kashmir 1870.

John Burke (1843-1900) was an Irishman who came to India as an apothecary (pharmacist) with the Royal Engineers, but in 1861 became an  assistant of an already established photographer William Baker, a retired Sergeant who had a studio at Peshawar. Between the years 1864 and 1868, the duo was one of the first to photograph Kashmir. Together they started the famous Baker and Burke Studio (1867-72). In 1873 Burke parted ways with Baker and started his own studios J.Burke & Co. in Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore. The studio in Lahore opened in 1885 and was in business till 1903. Burke was also one of the official photographer to the army during the Second Afghan War of 1879 - 1880.

Here's a slide show of old photographs of Martand temple taken from Archaeological Survey India: Kashmir 1870.

Some of these may have been taken by Samuel Bourne, a prolific British photographer who worked in India from 1863 until 1870. He first photographed Kashmir in 1863.

You can take a look at the book "Archaeological Survey India: Kashmir 1870" here at the digital archive of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts

Saturday, March 28, 2009

View of the Valley and An Atmospherical Phenomena

Image: View of the Kashmir valley on way to Qazigund.
June 2008.

Qazigund of Anantnag district, is the first major a town and a major road stop on way to Kashmir. Hence, it is often called the "Gateway to Kashmir".

Karl Alexander A. Hügel (April 23, 1795 – June 2, 1870) born in Bavaria, Germany, was an Austrian army officer, a diplomat and a botanist. After experiencing rejection in love, he decided to roam around the world and became a explorer. He set out in 1831 and by the end of his journeys in 1836, he had visited lands as far and distant as Australasia, Far East, near East and much of Indian sun-continent including Punjab and Kashmir.

In late 1835, after visiting the plains of Punjab, Hugel traveled to Kashmir valley, entering it using the Muzaffarabad route - the then preferred route for Kashmir.

The account of his travel to Kashmir and Punjab can be found in 'Travels in Kashmir And The Panjab By Karl Alexander A. Hügel', Translated from German (Kaschmir und das Reich der Siek (Cashmere and the Realm of the Sikh), published 1841) by Thomas Best Jervis, published 1845.

On Tuesday, November 24th of year 1835, Karl Alexander A. Hügel was traveling in the area that is now known as Anantnag district and was on his way to a place that had already been renamed, only a couple of centuries ago in  seventeenth century by Aurangzeb, as Islamabad. With a small entourage of servants and guides, Hügel, riding on a horseback, arrived at the ancient town of  Bijbehara, a place whose ancient Sanskrit name, he thought, must have been 'Vidya Wihara', Temple of Wisdom. He rode across the ancient bridge built on the river Jehlum and noticed how "Large lime-trees overgrow the piers of this ancient bridge." At Bijbehara, he found no ancient great ruins, no signs of this place being an old capital of a Kingdom. Instead, he had to content himself by buying some old coins "of a date prior to the Mohammedan dynasties" from the local bazaar and thought "bazars are the chief attraction in every place throughout India." About half a mile up ahead from "Bijbahar", on the either side of the Jehlum river, Hügel noticed the 'Badsha Bagh' or the 'Garden of High King' - the ancient gardens built by Dara Shikoh, according to Hügel it was the "the residence of the luckless Dara, the brother of Aurungzib." and was told that in ancient times a bridge used to connect the two spacious gardens of both sides. From here he decided to proceed for Mattan and have a close look at Korau Pandau. But, it took him so much time trying to find a guide for this place that by the time he reached the ancient "caves", running late, he thought it best to leave immediately for Islamabad. Had he stayed longer at Mattan, maybe his guide would have mentioned that Kashmiris know these ancient structures as Pandav Lar'rey - Abode of Pandav and believed to have been built in around mid 8th century by King Lalitaditya (A.D. 693 to 729).

During this journey in Anantnag district, Hügel took note of an interesting atmospheric phenomena and made a very curious comment. He wrote:
I observed with much interest to day the optical illusions, at this season almost peculiar to Kashmir. There is so little transparency in the air, that places at a mile's distance only, appear to be removed to four times that distance, and mountains only four miles off seem to be at least fifteen or twenty. If the weather be tolerably clear, one can see to this last distance, but the twenty miles appear twice as much. To these peculiarities of the atmosphere, I attribute the exaggerated terms in which many travellers speak of the extent of this country. It was dark when we reached our halting place but every thing was in the best order and a supper of trout from the sacred tank of Anatnagh was a great relish after the day's journey.

Friday, March 27, 2009


On way to Qazigund from Banihal tunnel.
Views that welcome you to Kashmir.

Navreh 'thal barun': Kashmiri New Year

It's March 27th 2009 and it's the first day of the New Year. It's Nevreh - the Kashmiri New Year decided in the pages of Jantri or nachipatir, almanac, Vijeshwar Panchang that's based on the movement of moon and not the sun. It's a Lunar calender. So Nevreh Mubarak everyone!

Navreh  'thal' steel plate looks pretty much like the Soonth Thal. Thali has some rice (in older days it used to be paddy),  tcho'vor - small roti made of rice flour/bread (here it is actually a bread piece), pen (it is supposed to be standing, so in older days they had pen stand also placed in the plate), inkpot, some currency notes (here we have a coin), milk or curd (we got milk), dooyn - walnut in odd number (here we only got one almond), some salt (actually meant to be took noon or rock salt from Pakistan), some flowers - narcissus flower would be great, and a small mirror. I also read that in older days they used to put in some newly sprouted grass and a weed known as Wye (it supposed to be good for sharpening memory functions of the brain. At one time, my nani fed me a lot of this weed). The specialty of Navreh thaal is the new year's nachipatir - the one with the great image of 'Vishnu in Space'.

The thal is prepared on the preceding night, then covered with a piece of cloth and kept overnight at the center of the house i.e. kitchen, chowk'e or may be the thokur kuth, prayer room right next to chowk'e.

In the early hours of the morning, eldest woman of the house, grandmother or mother, with the thal in her hand and blessing on her lips, one by one  wakes everyone up and asks each one to look at the thal, look one's face in the mirror, take up the pen and write something, anything, but OM would be prefect.

In the after noon, using the rice from the thal, yellow rice taher is prepared.


"The 2nd of the month Caitra is a festival to the people of kashmir, called Agdus(?)*, and celebrated on account of a victory gained by their king, Muttai**, over the Turks."
- India by Al-Biruni, page 258
Abridged Edition of Dr. Edward C. Sachau's English Translation
Edited with Introduction and Notes by Qeyamuddin Ahmad,
Second Edition
Third Reprint 1995

* Okdoh in Kashmiri. It literally means 1st day. But the festival 'Hur Okdoh' marks the first day of fournteen days leading to Herath (Shivratri).
** Lalitaditya Muktapida, emperor of Kashmir from 724 AD to 760 AD whose military might (Kashmiris claim) captured areas as far and as wide as Central Asia, Bengal and Karnataka.


Received the following traditional Navreh greeting through SMS:

Sount'ik vaavan Kul'aye
aleravith nave navreh
huk dutnei sadda
shushur chel'ravith
poshwaren manz
anuun bahaar 
Navreh Mubarak 
Aurzu Te Aay


Read more about Navreh here


Thanks to Kashmri pandits around the world (mostly USA) and thanks to the post about Soonth, search query stats of this blog yesterday (and today morning )looked like this:

Notice the "thal" queries: Kashmir thaal barun rice walnut pen, thal barun things, thal barun how, thaal barun and thal barun song.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

clouds moving down on pir panjal

Clouds moving down on Kashmir side of Pir Panjal Range and the distant moon.

Kashmir side of Pir Panjal

Something miraculous happens when you cross to the Kashmir side of the Banihal Pass. Your spirit seems to soar. It's true. While the weather was rainy and gloomy on the Jammu side of Banihal, on the Kashmir side, it was a perfectly day - The air was light, cool and clear, and the sun was shining benevolently. You almost turn an animist.

Almost every one who wrote about visiting Kashmir from this particular route, at this particular moment - the after 'Jawaar Tunnel Moment', takes a pause, gives in to the churning of the spirit inside and takes another heartful look at the unbound beauty of nature.

"Ahed Raza" Comedy King of Kashmir

Nazir Josh, "Ahed Raza"or Comedy  King of Kashmir, performs at Delhi International Week of Justice Festival (2008).

The act here is a sharp satire of government machinery.

Nazir Josh, a man from Budgam first became a comic phenomena that swept Kashmir in the early 1980s thanks to a 52-episode serial called "Hazar Dastan" or "One Thousand Tales". The serial directed by his cousin Bashir Budgami for the State Doordarshan channel. It proved to be an instant hit and Ahed Raza Nazir Josh became a household name.


I was young and "Shae'hi Dokkur", Royal Hammer, a phrase from that serial, was part of the vocab that I was building. And then I forgot all about it.

Jawahar Tunnel, Banihal Pass

2194.56 meters above sea level, Jawahar tunnel or Banihal tunnel, situated between Banihal and Qazigund, has been operational since 22 December 1956 - built with the help of german engineers, at that time it was the longest in Asia.

This 2.5 kilometer long tunnel, dug through a mountain of Pir Panjal range, is the main link that connects Kashmir to the rest of the country. In fact, it's not a single tunnel, "Jawahar Tunnel" is a set of two long wet tubes, each 2825 meter long, dug inside the mountain range.

Prior to the construction of these tunnel, to enter kashmir through this route, people had to cross the Pir Panjal  using a mountain pass high up in the range. This old mountain pass is still visible from the main highway.

World's Highest Rail Bridge in Jammu!

The railway bridge being constructed at Kauri, a hamlet in Jammu's Reasi district, will stand 359 m above the Chenab River. The bridge is supposed to complete by December 2009. Once completed it will dethrone the Millau Viaduct of France (343 metres) as the the World's highest bridge deck. Built at a cost of more than 600 Cr Rupees, the bridge will be 1315 metres long.
Here's a NDTV new report from year 2007.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Misty Mountains and the Road

The weather was rainy. Air cool, it must be raining somewhere. Raindrops, not so frequently, hit the windscreen and became water..

Traffic slowed down to a crawl and then stopped completely. During some stretches of the highway, this road becomes a one way narrow lane ploughed in the mountain range.

The vehicle stopped, it's going to take some time for the traffic to get going again. The driver jumped out. All the people in the bus got talking, shared some old stories and some domestic gossip. The truck drivers of this route seen to have a peculiar habit. If the spot be right, they make it a point to park the truck right parallel to the edge of the gorge. Those big fat tyres sit just  inches away for the plunging depth of hundreds or thousands of feet - it makes no difference to them if it's hundreds or thousands, they just park their truck and get out of the other door. Is this a fool proof method to protect the truck from truckjackers? Or is it their institutionalized method of maximizing the road surface area so that other vehicles can still pass by while their truck just sits on the corner of the narrow road. I don't know.
Time passed, the traffic snarled back to life. But our driver was nowhere to be seen. From the window we looked for him in every direction. Minuted passed, a plastic ghee dibba in hand, our driver came walking down a nearby mountain pathway looking calm and content. Jangal pani. He got into the vehicle and put the dibba back at its place, under the seat. I don't think he washed his hands.


The area around Banihal looks kind of strange. Some things here seem to suggest it is culturally closer Kashmir and some things that make it  look like part of Jammu district. A masjid seemed to be designed like those in Kashmir, particularly like charar-e-sharif.

The dhabbas lining the road make it a point to tell you that they are offer 100% pure Hindu vegetarian Vaishnav food, and the dhabba right next to it advertises 100% pure Muslim Non-vegetarian 'Waazwan'.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Gogji. Turnip. Gonglu.

A vegetabele.
A place in Srinagar called Gogji Bagh, Turnip garden.
A pandit who left Kashmir ages ago, but misses kashmir: Gogji Batt'e.

A song to be sung like a Kashmiri singing a Punjabi or a dogri song: Asi Gonglu pakaya, tusi khaan nahi aya. hata lo lo.

Monday, March 23, 2009


The man used to walk around the old mohalla of the city wearing a pair of dark sunglasses. Sun or no sun, morning, afternoon or sun-down, those dark glasses were always resting on the bridge of his beak. Hidden behind those dark shades, his sharp roving eyes, each one of the pair working independently, used to look for any and all unusual activities, foreign spies and people who frequently indulged in dangerous stories. He had his eyes on everyone and no body could tell. He could be looking at you and he could not be looking at you. This man was no ordinary man, he was a secret agent, his mind was always taking notes and the sunglasses were a perfect cover for his covert art. These sunglasses were his weapon of choice.

The man was C.I.D, it was well known. Goggles long ago gave away his ruse. People knew it all and they had a hearty laugh everytime he walked past. In the city, this man became known as 'Nab'Ga'gal', Nabi of Dark Sun Goggles.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

infamous Khooni Nala

Before passing through the Banihal tunnel, one has to pass through a stretch of road simply known as Khooni Nala. Here the human race battles the powerful forces of nature. And you can almost see this struggle. Man maybe winning but once in a while nature lands in a crushing blow.

Khooni Nala got this name because of the alarming number of people who died in road mishaps and accidents at this very spot. It is the "Killer Rivulet".

A steel mesh structure (a rather recent engineering solution) protects the passing vehicles from falling boulders. The steel nets need to be replaced every few months. During winter, this stretch of road becomes avalanche prone.

From the road in this area, you can see mountains that just seem to be melting away, eroding swiftly, mountains turning into sand and stone, mountains flowing down into rivers.

another dhabba at Peerah

Tourists and travelers waiting for their fix - Rajma Chawal.

Previous post on famous dhabba of Peerah

on road, Baglihar Dam, Chenab

That's no monastery perched on top of a hill.

Baglihar Dam on river Chenab as seen from a place called Peerah.

Wiki Entry:

Baglihar Dam, also known as Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project, is a run-of-the-river power project on the Chenab River in the southern Doda district of the Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir. This project was conceived in 1992, approved in 1996 and construction began in 1999. The project is estimated to cost USD $1 billion. The first phase of the Baglihar Dam was completed in 2004. On completion on 10 October 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India dedicated the 450-MW Baglihar hydro electric power project to the nation.
In the 90s, this project was a one of the major source of discontent between India and Pakistan. Matter was sorted out amicably with the help of World Bank. Without doubt 'Water' is going to be the big issue of future.


Added this image to wikipedia page about Baglihar.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

on road, Kud

Photographs around Kud.

Kud, around 103 Kms away from Jammu, is a place of some great scenic beauty. Kud is popular as a spot for trekking and camping. But among the people of Jammu, Kud is famous for its sweets and sweet shops, actually the famous shop is just one. These sweets are made in the purest desi ghee possible. Pickles, aanchar, of Kud are equally famous.

Shiny steel roof tops of houses.

Birdworld Mall. Kud will be next know for this establishment. Hiring process for birds is still on.

Pine trees. Electric wires.

NH1-A to Srinagar, built precariously along ravines, cutting thorugh dicey mountain sides, at times too narrow, nature reclaiming the ground, never too wide, is a highway of diesel fumes, trucks and buses. Kud provides some respite during the journey.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Habba Kadal, old and new

A boy looking at the old bridge of Habba Kadal from the new bridge of Habba Kadal.
A ghat, rusty dome of an old temple, another old temple and in the distance, new mobile towers. Eagles are the same.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Trounz: Strange creature from Kashmir

Trounz ain't no ordinary Ponz.

One year, news spread all over Kashmir about a strange looking creature. It looked like an ape but had very little flesh or muscles on it, it was thin, in fact it was bone and skeleton, and hence its name: trounz. Trounz was believed to have emerged from underneath the earth, somewhere near Baramulla. But some people recalled that in older times trounz could even be sighted in cities in great numbers. The truth however was that nobody knew anything about trounz.

ponz: monkey
Image: Morlocks from the film H.G. Wells' The Time Machine(1960). Morlocks were a fictional species created by H. G. Wells for his 1895 novel, The Time Machine. Morlocks dwelled underground in the English countryside of A.D. 802,701 in a troglodyte civilization, maintaining ancient machines that they may or may not remember how to build. Their only access to the surface world is through a series of well structures that dot the countryside of future England.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kashmiri Kulcha

Photograph: Kashmiri Kulcha on a plate.

soonth, first day of spring

Summer is about to start, almanac,Vijeshwar Panchang, says today is the first day of Spring, Soonth.

First morning of spring, the first sight you are supposed to see: a big (here we have a small) thali having some cooked rice, a kulcha/bread, pen, inkpot, some currency notes (here we have some coins), milk or curd (we have curd), dooyn - walnut (here we only got some almonds, walnuts of hayrath didn't last long enough), some salt (actually meant to be took noon or rock salt from Pakistan, probably called took noon because of took-took sound it produced on striking a thal while being consumed with rice), photograph(s) of anyone of the gods, some flowers - narcissus flower would be great, and a small mirror

Traditionally, the thal was prepared on the preceding night of the first day of spring, then covered with a piece of cloth and kept overnight at the center of the house which often meant kitchen, chowke or may be the thokur kuth, prayer room right next to chowke. This was the rite of thaal barun for welcoming soonth spring.

In the wee hours of morning, eldest woman of the house, grandmother or mother, with the thal in her hand, wakes everyone up, one by one, from slumber of winter and asks each one to look at the thal, look one's face in the mirror, take up the pen and write something, anything but OM would be prefect.

In the afternoon the family will probably eat Kaanul Haakh ti Gaa'de, fish cooked with fine fresh first Haakh of a renewed spring soil.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Horse "Ghura" Joke

Once, long ago, a foreign tourist was on a visit to Kashmir. He wanted to go from downtown Srinagar to Dal Lake, so this foreigner walked up to a nearby tangadda and asked a tangwol, tongawalla, who was at that time was grooming his not so big horse and mounting the sideblinds on its eyes. The foreigner gingerly asked the tangwol if he would give him a ride to Dal Lake. Tangwol replied, "Why certainly Janaab," and while brushing the coarse sparse hair of his little horse using his own coarse long fingers, he added, "and it would only cost you rupees ten." The foreigner was no fool. He had heard all about the wily ways of Kashmiris and their evil bargaining powers. And this particular foreign gent was also well read and at this particular moment he remembered a line written in 1783 by an Englishman named George Forster: Kashmiris are "endowed with unwearied patience in the pursuit of gain."

The foreigner, crossing his arms across his puny chest, the big collar of his bush shirt looking stiff, said, " I know the route and all the roads, it should cost me not more that five rupees," and then, with some difficulty, putting his hands inside the side pockets of his tight at hip bell bottom pants, added, "I will only pay five. Fine." At this the tangwol moved close to the foreigner and in a hush-hush tone said, "Ahista Bowlaow, not so loud," and then moving still closer, into the foreigner's ear, whispered, "mera Ghura sunaiyga toh hasaiyga, if my horse hears that, it's going to throw a laughing fit. You see it knows all the routes." After this the bargaining session ended.
After a ride that lasted around forty minutes, the foreigner reached Dal Lake and paid the tangwol the promised sum of rupees ten.

Photographs: A horse and a Horseman at Gulmarg

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Snowfall in Jammu!

I was in Jammu last month. The trees in the garden looked devastated, most of tress were leafless and leaves that were still clinging on to some of them looked rusty. I asked around if it was the work of locust or was it some tree disease.
"Didn't you read about it! It was the snow". And I remembered reading about it in papers and I remembered being told about it after a telephone conversation call from Jammu. It was the freak hailstorm - greatest in last twenty years - that caused it. I had often heard about the kind of destruction that hailstorm causes to the vegetation and standing crops, and now I got a glimpse of it. It had been almost a month since then and still the green here hadn't recovered.

On the morning of 27th January 2009, people in most areas of Jammu woke up to see the ground covered in about 6 inches of hail. Even as the warm sun came out, it took almost the entire day for the hail to melt away. During my visit to Jammu, I read an article written by an uncle of mine for a Kashmir Pandit magazine. He remembered snow of Kashmir. He remembered sheen'e bhagwan -  Shivling made and setup in courtyards and gardens from freshly fallen snow and he remembered snowman that children used to enjoy making from the first snow of winter, snowman that for its eyes had two pieces of black charcoal, Tchyin, often taken from a dead Kangri.

That article carried a photograph of a garlanded sheen'e bhagwan and a snowman made from the hail that fell down upon Jammu in the wee hours of 27th January 2009.

Got these photographs of hail from another uncle of mine.

Monday, March 9, 2009

sek'lyob is falling

Found them all sleeping in the courtyard one early morning, the entire family of a neighbor. They hadn't slept inside their house that night and probably many more nights.
When asked, they replied, 'Don't you know? Sek'lyob is about to fall! We are just prepared for the worst.' Walking on street, people were playing pranks on reach other: 'Watch your head, look at the sky, sek'lyob is falling. Haha! Got'ya!'

July 1979
The American Sky lab vehicle, nine stories tall and weighing 77.5 tons, was expected to slip into the earth's atmosphere. Somewhere, ten fragments, each weighing 1,000 Ibs. or more, were to crash down to earth at speeds of up to 270 m.p.h. with the force of a dying meteor. Thus would have be observed, after a series of miscalculations, the tenth anniversary of man's proudest achievement in space, the walk on the moon.

NASA'S statisticians contended that the chance of any remnant striking a human being was only 1 in 152; the probability of any specific person being struck was 1 in 600 billion—far less than the chance of being hit by a bolt of lightning or winning a lottery.

 One of the heaviest pieces of Skylab, a two-ton lead-lined vault used for film storage, was capable of digging a hole 5 ft. wide and 100 ft. deep. And within the band of Skylab's orbital paths lied some of the world's most populous areas, including all of the U.S., much of Europe, India and China. Indeed, the chance of debris falling in some city of at least 100,000 inhabitants was a sobering 1 in 7. Only 10% of the earth's inhabitants could be considered totally free of any risk from Skylab's metallic fallout.

Image: Haar


Nadru have to be soaked overnight in saline water before you actual cook them.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sheikh Abdullah by RK Laxman

A caricature of Sheikh Abdullah by the famous cartoonist R.K. Laxman
Found it in: Faces, Through the Eyes of R.K. Laxman (2000)

Friday, March 6, 2009


Va'vij: A hand fan

I tell her to stop, I tell her, 'I do not need it'.
She won't listen, my nani.
She sits right near my head and the vavij  in her hand goes round and round.
She says, 'You must be feeling the heat!. Jammu my dear is just too hot.'
'This heat, I love,' I tell myself. 'It's true. It's true.'
A late afternoon sweet delirium triggered by million buzzing bright white suns. Disturbed.
I tell her to stop, but the vavij in her hand still just goes round and round.
Jammu my dear is just too hot. And then the vavij goes around to fight a few house flies too.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

girls, school, dal road

"Go even unto China in search of knowledge."

Girls walking back from school
Boulevard Road, Dal Lake

boy, father, school

waiting for school bus

Again somewhere in Pulwama district.

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