Dardistan: Kashmir’s link to Central Asia, Afghanistan
Gurez Connected Valley With Historic Silk Route
Gurez, Sept 10: A ride along the Gurez-Tulail road, over 150 kms from Srinagar, is not only reflective of the beautiful valleys and meadows but also the rich cultural and archaeological diversity, most of which is yet to be explored.
There are no two opinions that Gurez, also known as Dardistan (the land of Dard community) was once a major link connecting Kashmir with Central Asia and Afghanistan. There are hardly any doubts that this link houses some of the important historical places, monasteries and other archaeological treasures. But what has marred the exploration of this rich cultural and archaeological diversity is little effort by archaeologists on this front, primarily in the wake of restricted movement in the area, which would connect Kashmir to Gilgit, the central point from where sub-links to Central Asian countries would emerge.
“Gurez has been one of the major links of Kashmir with Central Asia and Afghanistan. Hordes of traders, pilgrims, adventurers and missionaries have taken up this route to enter and exit Kashmir,” says Prof Mushtaq A Kaw, an authority on Silk Route.
Kaw, director Areas Studies Programme at Kashmir University’s Centre for Central Asian Studies (CCAS), says that the route is understood to house many monasteries and Gompas “whose historical remains are still visible”.
While archaeological surveys along the Silk Route have reportedly revealed inscriptions recorded in stones (in Tibetian and Hebrew), it is also believed that the 4th Buddhist Conference might have been held in Kanzalwan area of Gurez, barely a few kms before Dawar, the main township of Gurez.
“It is a fact that it (the 4th Buddhist Conference) was held in Kashmir which was then Greater Kashmir, including Gilgit. There are several versions to this assertion, but the exact location in Kashmir is yet to be explored. But there is no doubt that it was held in Kashmir which at that time had a very vast range including Gilgit,” Kaw told Greater Kashmir.
He, however, said the exploration of the Silk Route would depend upon restoration of the road and better relations between India and Pakistan and China as well. “It can be done through an integrated research project with the faculties of these countries and it would help us to know the cultural affinities among the people of the region as a whole,” he said. “This exploration can also lead to the study of changes that have taken place in areas along the Silk Route over the years.”
Interestingly, the mention of Dards has also been made in Kalhana’s Rantarangni. It reads: “The Daradas are the modern Dards. Their seats, which do not seem to have changed since the time of Herodotus, extend from Chitral and Yasin, across the Indus regions of Gilgit, Chilas, and Bunji to the Kishenganga Valley in the immediate north of Kashmir. The tribes inhabiting the latter valley (Kishenganga) are meant in most of the passages in which the chronicle mentions the Daradas or Darads.”
Dards, who claim original Aryan ancestry, speak Shina language and share dress and culture with Gilgit-Baltistan rather with the Kashmir Valley. But now a significant Kashmiri population also inhabits the region.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 10 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 10 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 11 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
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