Part II|Highway to Heritage

These heritage sites make your trip more interesting and fulfilling
View of Aliabad saria
View of Aliabad saria

The next destination of this route is called Lal gulam. It is a mysterious place which is named after a Mughal slave called Lal. A curious legend states that at this site during Mughal era the way passed through a narrow passage which often slipped down to the nallah. The Mughal caravans during their journey on this route at this spot had to suffer losses. To avoid these losses they offered one time sacrifice of Lal named slave called Lal gulam. Since then this site is known by this name. Although the present Mughal road has overlooked this site and passes through the higher attitude, but it has still been named after this legendary Mughal salve and his name inscribed on a sign board which has been raised here at this spot.

Aliabad Sari

Lalgulam is followed by another famous heritage destination called Aliabad Sari. Aliabad is not any village or town. It simply is a meadow in the internal stretch of Panchal. There are no permanent settlers found anywhere in the Aliabad stretch. But as the local folklore says that once there was a hamlet of about 15 Muslim families that who permanently lived at the site. The remains of an old graveyard are still found at the site. These days one can see few nomadic families living seasonally in their small muddy kothas. These are mostly Bakawals and shepherds who come from the hot plains of Rajouri and Poonch areas. Aliabad Saria is situated on the left bank of Nallah Panchal, down the hill of Ratinpeer mountains.

The records suggest that earlier the sarai was built by Mughal emperor Jalal ud Din Mohammad Akbar. He had built it for the convenience of the travelers who used to arrive to Kashmir via pirpanchal route. However, records further suggest that the Sari was later on restored by another king Shahjahan who named it after his faithful governor Ali Mardan Khan, as such the sarai came to be known as Aliabad sarai.

The sarai has also followed the Mughal architecture and is square in plan. It faces south. The sari is built of rubble stone and small baked bricks which are raised in red lime mortar. Sarai has internally several cells and rooms which are believed to have been used by the travelers as their shelter. The roof is laid of earthen layers on which have grown green vegetations. The sarai is raised on the bank of nallah Panchal. It has a stone gate, the door of which is missing. The sarai is believed to have been provided the required water supply which was carried to it from the nearest nallah. A team of local archeologists who had been to the survey of the Mughal route reported to have found the remains of earthen pipes on the banks of the nallah which according to them were directed towards the structure. The travelers who have been to this site in the earlier times have recorded that the sarai of Aliabad has been most glorious site of this hilly track. It has provided shelter not only to royal Mughal caravans but to the general travelers, shepherds and bakerwals as well,

Peer Ki Gali

From Aliabad, Mughal route passes through vast and green sloping meadows of Ratin pir, called locally Dal Dal, lower and upper stretch and reaches to Peer Ki Gali, the way to Pir Panchal.

Peer Ki Gali basically is a natural gateway to Kashmir. It is a mountain pass which times immoral has served as south – western entry point to Kashmir valley. Most of the ancient warriors from Punjab plains have adopted this pass to enter the valley of Kashmir. Albaruni , the Arabian traveler who arrived here during the first half of 11th century, while recording the frontier gates of Kashmir valley has also mentioned this Pir Panchal pass in his records.

Peer Ki Gali, besides revealing a long history of its travelers, also in its lap carries the evidences of spiritual legacy, which includes an ancient mosque and the Sufi shrine of Sheikh Karam (RA) Shihab. This abandoned place with its cool and calm atmosphere has also offered facilities of meditation, and Sufi saints traveling on this route have been meditating at this silent place. They would hold their respective Sufi practices here and major practice has been held every year in the harvest season, when devotees of this saint observed the Urs day of this Sufi saint. The practice has not stopped, devotees, which mostly comprise tribes of Poonach and Rajouri regions throng this famous Sufi site and perform their Sufi practices. They pay their respects at the shrine and also offer their donations.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK

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