The name Pulwama outside the valley is perceived as a violent and conflict zone. The main reason behind it being the national and international news of a suicide attack, an explosive laden vehicle rammed into a bus which was a part of a CRP convoy on 14th February 2019.
It led to the death on the spot of 40 soldiers on the national highway near Awantipora in Pulwama district.
The district was also in news when Burhan Wani of Hizbul Mujahedeen was killed in 2016. He also belonged to Tral, a part of Pulwama district.
The actual name of what is called Pulwama today as per the records was Panwangam.
A place comprising four villages: Malikpora, Dangerapora, Chatpora and Dalipora. Panwangam changed to a shorter name Pulgam and subsequently Pulwama.
This area has a very rich history which figures in the Rajatarangni, a chronicle of the kings of North India especially Kashmir, who used to rule over the territories east of river Indus, now called India, about 2500 years ago. Rajatarangni was written from 1148-1150.
Lalitaditya Muktapid occupied the throne of Kashmir for 37 years beginning 724 CE but his rule was followed by anarchy till Jayapida Utpala ascended the throne and his dynasty ruled from 8th to 10th century. King Awantivarman was his descendent.
He brought in prosperity to Kashmir and consolidated his rule and brought in peace. He built the town of Awantipora on the banks of Jhelum River and made beautiful buildings and temples.
Two of the most prominent structures are Awantiswarman temple dedicated to Vishnu and Awantishwar temple dedicated to Shiva.
The ruins of this city can still be seen on the national highway just opposite the present Pulwama city on the banks of Jhelum. All these structures come in the present Pulwama district which was formed in year 1979 with the division of district Anantnag.
Before the Dogra regimen the area as other parts of the valley were ruled by the Kashmir Sultanate from 1346 to 1586. The Mughal rulers came here in the 16th century and during the early 19th century, the Afghans began to rule the region.
The old Mughal route which has been developed as a motorable road, from Srinagar via Shopian to Bufliaz in Poonch is a shortcut to Rajouri and Poonch, and also an alternative route to Jammu. This road passes through Pulwama town. Mughals used this route to enter Srinagar during their times.
Pulwama is a very picturesque area with many places of tourist attraction. Some of them in and around Pulwama are the Ahrabal falls, Shikargah, Hurpora, Aribal springs and two beautiful lakes, Tarsar and Marsar.
The breathtaking meadows of Kungawattan and Nagberan are other beautiful spots. Nagberan has a historic temple near Tral, a part of this district. The beautiful Kounsernag springs can be approached by a short trek from Ahrabal.
Other well-known Sufi shrines of this district and its neighbourhood are Shah Hamdan and Syed Hassan Mantaqi. Both are popular sites visited by locals and also the tourists. In close vicinity of Pulwama are the mosques, Jama Masjid Shopian and Asar Shareef in Pinjoora. Both are very famous religious centres.
The present-day district Pulwama is an area which is the rice bowl of the valley. Besides, it supplies milk in abundance, achieving more than 7.50 lac litres per day, thus earning the name of “Anand of Kashmir”. In addition, it is also a very large poultry supplier with a record number of around 295 lac broilers per year.
One of the prized cultivations of the district is Saffron in Pampore area. The soil of Kareva area, its altitude and the weather are very conducive for the saffron flowers. There are 3 to 4 stigmas inside each flower which is the saffron. It is plucked by hand and dried.
Kashmir saffron is of a very high quality and better than that from Iran with higher percentage of the colouring, fragrance and medicinal property.
Experts believe that saffron was grown in Kashmir for more than two thousand years and came from the Persian influence in the valley. However, Kashmir saffron is superior to that from Iran and constitutes about 7% of the total world’s supply.
The health services in Pulwama district are improving steadily. The Gauri Kaul Foundation in order to continue with their ongoing “No Heart Attack Mission” have started a facility Prasad Joo Khan Heart Care Centre in Village Hawal, block Rajpora.
It, besides providing state of the art diagnostic centre with an OPD, plans to screen the population for major risk factors of heart attacks. The foundation also plans to make a 50 bedded Heart Hospital close to the centre in this area.
In spite of all the good things about Pulwama the district still has pockets of terrorist activities. This area being far away from the LoC had lower surveillance for militancy and became a safe haven for them in the beginning of this century.
In addition, the lingering influence of Jamaat e Islami and their sympathisers, despite arresting separatists and the stone pelters, continues.
Recent years has, however, seen emergence of an understanding administration with a popular DC in Mr Baseer-ul-Haq Chaudhry who is very approachable to the local population and resolves their difficulties in a short period of time.
It is hoped that forthcoming elections will bring in people’s representatives which would usher in more prosperity, safety and happiness to the district.
Prof Upendra Kaul, Founder Director, Gauri Kaul Foundation
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.