Vivid and Clear
Highlands of Kashmir is a breathtaking description of Beauty that Kashmir is Known for!
PROFESSOR MUHAMMAD ASLAM
Title: Highlands of Kashmir
Author: Atta Mohammad Mir
Year of Publication: 2012
Publisher: Mohammadan Mountaineering Club
Place of Publication: Anantnag, Kashmir
Price: (Hb) `500/-
Kashmir valleys have a mesmerizing effect on their beholders. People from different places have written about Kashmir’s charming meadows, snow-clad mountains, murmuring streams, lakes and ponds. Thomas Moore found its rose-like beauty unparalleled, Abul Fazl found languages wanting in having words that would give a true picture of Kashmir, Jahangir would give his entire kingdom for Kashmir and many others have admired Kashmir and called it the Switzerland of Asia. Travellers have written their travelogues describing our place and people, tourists have become ambassadors of our hospitality and good nature, and so on: “Kashmir, the paradise upon the earth since ages has remained a cherished destination of beauty lovers, explorers, trekkers, travellers, writers, artists, scholars and saints” (Highlands of Kashmir, p. 71). However, the feeling of being on top of the world has been felt only by those who have accepted the challenge of our Himalayan mountains, those who have gone on top and looked down on our valleys with awe because of their breathtaking spell. We have felt proud after reading accounts of our motherland when they have come from outsiders. But, on our own we have taken rather very little care in looking for what treasures Nature has bestowed us with. An American friend of mine felt more lured to Telbal Nallah (I am talking of the 70s when there was no foreshore and the Nallah really existed) than to Shalimer Gardens. He asked me why I didn’t go to unfrequented places. I had no answer because I didn’t know any such place. Although Telbal Nallah was just a kilometer away from my home, I had never seen it.
After reading Atta Mohammad Mir’s Highlands of Kashmir I feel really ashamed of myself that I am born in a place that has Nature’s Grace in abundance but it is only me who can’t enjoy it because I am not knowledgeable about it. Mir has been a mountaineer, but his book is a storehouse of immense rich cultural, social and environmental diversity that we possess but have never explored. It is not only a description of our highlands in terms of their scenic beauty but also the people who inhabit these highlands. Mir has not missed the minute details of those who continue to live a life “far from the madding crowd”. Sula Chaupan (p. 167) and his wife are not just a couple but an epitome of the life that high shepherds and shepherdesses are known for: “Shepherds endure treacheries of cold, wind, snow, rain and isolation. Wringing a livelihood from weather beaten land around, they face untold difficulties and hardships about which their low-lander kith and kin are least aware” (p. 167). Their hardships notwithstanding, they live in the environs that we city-dwellers can’t even imagine: “Morning of Phamber meadow is marvelous. The dawn and dew, the shack and sheep, the dell and defile, the sky and silence—all look blissful and thankful to nature” (p. 168). What a photographic description of the place! Mir is manifesting his mastery of creating word images. At the same time, he is making me conscious of what meadows I am missing in my own place. Who other than a keen observer like Atta Mohammad could draw the following picture of scenic beauty around him: “Clouds are the kites of the mountains. For some they are flying glaciers and docile demons of the highlands. But for me they are fairies of the firmament. Could I understand the nature’s message conveyed by such pieces of galloping clouds which at that time kissed and embraced the bough and branches of a lone pine tree, grown at the upper edge of a slanting rock!” (p. 135).
How many of us have heard of Drabmarg? Ask me to name a few “margs”. I can give you only four—Sonamarg, Gulmarg Yusmarg and Khilanmarg—but Drabmarg, a name not even in my wild imagination! And, Mir tells me that it “is a calm and confined glade at the toe of towering Hoksar ridge. Razparin stream while traversing it makes it a scenic camping-ground” (p. 160). Papa Khan’s pasture Liddwas is more bewitching: “a protuberant pasture, commands delighting view of defile below and gigantic vista of vertical rocks above” (p. 130). Mir also tells me that there are places called Nafran and Zamtor Nag ( I don’t know whether ‘Zamtor’ stands for ‘zamtur’ (son-in-law’ in Kashmiri) which I have never heard of before. My tourism has confined itself to the most known places which have now become too polluted because of our carelessness. Nature has bestowed me with pristine places which I am missing.
Highlands of Kashmir is not a book about mountaineering alone. It is about everything that highlands of Kashmir present to the beholder, though beauty is the most precious gift that the book talks about. But, its author has not missed even the social and cultural aspects of the areas that he has visited—marriage of a Gujjar girl and boy at Kungawatan, the life-style of Sula Chaupan and Papa Khan’s “bushy beard, deep and dark eyes, thick eyebrows, pointed nose and thin lips” have not missed his attention. Mir has manifested a sense of geography, sociology and culture while describing the highlands that Kashmir has and should feel proud of.
Mir’s language is simple and his is style lucid. He writes clearly and draws pictures so vivid and clear that one feels that we are walking the hilly areas along with the writer. The book is worth reading and deserves our admiration. It has beautiful hard cover and its printing is good.
Author teaches English at Central University of Kashmir. Feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastupdate on : Tue, 24 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 24 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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