Bhaderwah- A Fairy Land
THE BEAUTY THAT ENCHANTS
TRAVELOGUE BY FARHAT PANDIT
On my first ever rendezvous, as a youthful zealot, with the enchanting picturesque beauty, almost three decades back landed me into Bhaderwah, Mini Kashmir (Chota Kashmir) - this tantalizing idyllic lush green valley, covered on all sides by conifer forests; the tall coniferous trees swaying to the rhythm of the gusty wind makes.
The valley is traversed on its north by Neru Nalla (stream), with deep bluish water flowing in all tranquility and leisure the world could afford. Neru flows down from the snow-capped peaks in the distance with an irrepressible urge to merge into the mighty Chenab at Pul Doda. Adventurous warm people, pastoral life, gushing mineral water springs, all- pervasive deodar fragrance in air makes it such a special place ever- tempting, hard to resist for me, as if singing fairies in transparent attires from snow-clad mountains on the southeast of the serene valley are calling me over and again to be beside them. Dreamy eyes, long plaits, serpentine gait, graceful looks, unchiselled natural steep landscape and terrain like that of wavering desert sand dunes, with refreshing vibrant soulful folklore music of Dholaks and resonant melodious flute playing shepherds in a free mosaic culture full of gaiety and fragrant local festivals envisioned the enthralled milieu to me “a fairy land”. Kailash Yatra is a pilgrimage of the valley with its natural spell-bound beauty enlightening devotees. Bhaderwahi, the mother tongue, a sweet dialect on delicate lips and folklore dances often send the strongest among men weak in their knees.
Rasa Javidani, the reputed and widely acclaimed romantic ‘Kamdev’ poet from Bhaderwah, a much talked about name almost in all households might be inspired in his exemplary aesthetic poetic expression by the sheer stunning beauty, soul-soothing breeze and frequent calls of fairies from bewitching environs to trigger or stimulate the best creativity in turn.
Thatri, a low-lying terrain just on the banks of mighty Chenab (located almost equidistant between Doda and Kishtawar)- being relatively warmer place without any snowfall in winters- where another tributary Kalgoni meets Chenab river, a perfect eye tonic and, a sight to behold; enjoy the silent merger without a noise; the delicate ripples and misty breeze it creates, which haunt me forever. They say still waters run deep, even the wreckages in a few cases have not been traced from the river, despite best human efforts. Halt journey for a while at Thatri, have a luke warm shower from water spring- a muscle relaxant- to feel on top of the world.
Take a surface link to Bhalessa via Thatri or else, trek on a pony track from Bhaderwah to move to Bhalessa, the unexplored nostalgic uplands, rustic mountain peaks and aisle valleys- stunning virgin beauty- where emerald blue skies peep through clouds, appear to kiss the lofty Pir Panjal mountains, with hovering clouds missing the head by a whisker. The region comprises mainly Kahara, Gundouh (Tehsil Headquarter), Kilhotran, Jakyas, Bhatyas, Chili, Suti-Changahh, Goilbar and Kaljuggesar, with mineral water springs almost after every two to three hundred meters. The tough snowy Pir Panjal mountains surrounding the aisle valley look refreshing every morning as if given a bath during early dawn. On the north, it is bounded by snow clad peaks of Kishtwar and sapphire valley of Padder. In the east it is bounded by Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, through Padri pass.
Jakyas, upland in Bhalessa, is etched in my memory forever as it was my home away from home for almost six months of my memorable stay. Open air baths on mineral water springs, delicious Maki di rooti, fried Rajmah, greenish Sarson ka saag, desi ghee, desi butter, minty whey, pure honey and natural mushrooms are one of the best I have ever tasted so far in life. Grooms riding a horseback in simple dignified marriage ceremonies are a treat to watch. Rains in nights sing many a lovelores in my ears long forgotten in the abyss of time, unmatched to my experiences to date. Tiny patches of maize and mustard fields, like patchwork quilts, straddle the edge of the stream that merges into the Chenab beyond. Overnight drizzle would make mustard fields in early spring season sprout altogether into fresh, soul-soothing green blossoming fields, somewhat beyond my expression of words. Musical flow of water cascades from rivulets emanating from springs, in nights would make me feel staying in a virtual paradise. Swarming buzzing honey bees around the man-made settings in mud houses gliding down on flora during sunny mid-noon is simply an exhilarating joyful experience to narrate. Overwhelmed at the very sight of swarming buzzing honey bees, my physician friend from adjacent hamlet, Pingel, would often delight me with different tunes on his mouth organ. Simplest life, innocent blunt expression, unassuming people, warm gestures, abject poverty but high spirits and self-esteem are all what makes me share a strong bond of love with the people of the place. Move to upland Champal from Pingel, be virtually amongst cloud castles riding cloud nine. A transparent stream reflecting the enveloping environmental images dissects midway the two lofty mountains covered in white blanket of glaciated snow throughout year.
Travelling from Batote onwards on zig-zags with hairpin turns and sharp bends on the brink of Chenab is a thrilling enjoyable adventure in itself. Doda town- 50 kms. away from Batote- perched on a hill-top overlooks the vast Chenab and various distant scattered cluster of hamlets and villages. With the corrugated landscape, dry atmosphere, sparse forests, high altitude peaks and rich wildlife, this destination is suitable for nature walks, mountaineering, trekking and rock climbing. Watch the town in glitterati of flood lights in evenings, the local Jamia Masjid (Grand Mosque) with its high minarets in background to be seen from the distant ridge- Khillani- simply presents a scintillating view of a hamlet drooping on earth. Kastigarh and Dessa villages are situated on either directions of the place along the flow of Chenab. Suspension bridge on under- flowing Chenab river at Pul-Doda, connects two mountain ranges as well as Doda town with the national highway leading onward to Thatri and Kishtawar.
Apart from Kashmiri and Dogri, Pehari dialects like Bhaderwahi, Kishtwari, Siraji, Pogli, Khashali, Gojri, Paddri are spoken in different areas of the whole region.
Given the hard topography of the place; focused attention of a willing aesthete ruling Mogul; the region on the whole with adequate infra-structure could develop and transform into a luring tourist hub, as it offers tremendous potential and avenues for nature lovers and adventure tourism in particular, which in turn would boost the local economy.
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Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 17 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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