Almost a decade back, when the historic Mughal road was commissioned for general vehicular traffic, it brought the regions of Pir Panchal in close contact with this glorious valley of Kashmir.
The road directly connected the far-flung northern-western Pirpanchal regions of Rajuori and Poonch with the valley of Kashmir, and provided these regions a direct road communication link to the valley of Kashmir.
Besides, the commissioning of this historical road opened up a new window to the inaccessible and amazing heritage tourist destinations of the Pir Panchal region.
In fact the historic Mughal road ahead of Padapawan Shopian passes through zig zag curves on the right and left banks of Nallah Panchal, overlooking the wonderful natural heritage sites (rarely the built heritage sites) of the entire stretch and takes one to Pir Ki Gali, (the entrance of the Pir Panchal), the last hill station from this side of the road.
The major heritage sites which one encounters on the either sides of this stretch of the road up to Pir ki Gali, includes the glorious slopes and springs of Dubigan meadow, jungle of evergreen pine frosts, treasure of rising glaciers of Nadan Sir, flowing and dancing little streams from the higher reaches, gushing waters of Nallah panchal , hights and slopes of Ratinpeer hills, vast sloppy meadows of lower and upper Dal Dal, the Mughal era sites of Sukh Sarai, Lal Galam and Aliaabad Saria, the natural gate way of Peer ki Gali and the tomb and shrine of Shiekh Kariam, a sufi saint of early Mughal era standing on the edge of peer Ki Gali. The sightseeing of these heritage sites would make your trip more interesting and adventurous.
Ahead of Pir ki Gali the road slopes down with more sharp curves and horizontal zigzags, to the other side of peer panchal and takes one below the heights of the Pirpanchal, to explore the heritage tourist sites of that unexplored region. Which include Pooshana, Dograin, Panj Sari, Bahram gala, patani , Parkote , Manza and other places.
Speaking historically the total length of the original mughal road from Srinager to Gujrat( Pakitan ) measured more than 300 miles and connected Lahoure with Srinager. But the present stretch of road which now connects Rajouri and Poonch regions with Kashmir valley and passes through several historical towns and sites, of Srinagar, Pulwama, Shopian, Poonch , and Rajouri districts is not so long.
The valley side of this road connects Shopian with Pir ki Gali and this small stretch of this historic road which starts from Padpawan Shopian and rises to Peer ki Gali, covers a distance of less than 50 kms. This is more significant stretch of this historic road in the sense that ahead of Hurpura town , the road passes through non habitation and clam areas and showcases wonderful heritage sites free from all sorts of pollution including that of noise pollutions.
Most of these heritage sites are still free from hustle and bustle of tourists, human vandalism and concrete jungles and offer one a calm, cool and silent atmosphere. There are no tourists bungalows, no concrete parks, no built up tourist cafeterias and above all no kind of tourist fee, parking tickets and toll taxes. It is only natural beauties and natural adventures which offers one a joyful moment in a peaceful environment. There are no sealed mineral water bottles.
It is the natural water which flows all above the ground at most of its sites and provides one neat, clean and cool drinking water. Although, the entire stretch lacks even basic tourist infrastructure and no tourist facilities are available anywhere, but the entire road is maintained well and the road maintaining authorities with their road clearance machinery are always available on the road engaged in clearance of landslides.
The road maintaining authorities have erected the safety signboards at the requisite avalanche and landslide areas of the road thereby ensuring the safety of the commentators. But surprisingly tourist authorities are not seen anywhere on this stretch of this road, neither at any heritage site of this road.
However, at Peer Ki Gali few of the local shepherds and tribesmen on their own have set up temporary arrangements for junk foods, and offer you stuff at a very reasonable rates - Sueth-Chai (Tea with maize flour) is also offered at the Sufi shine of Shiek Kream Sahib.
On this road, the historic town of Hurapur is the last permanent human settlement from valley side where its dwellers have been permanently living since the ancient periods. During ancient periods salt is recorded to have been dispatched through this route from Punjab plains; as such this route has also been known as salt route.
During the reign of Avantivarman (855-883) one of his ministers called Shira Varman is learnt to have built a watch post at the site then called Sura-Pura, which later gradually came to be pronounced in corrupt form as Hura Pura.
Sultan Zainul Abideen Budshah is also known to have developed this south western gate way and built a large gateway at Hurapura which was named as Illahi Darwaza. He is recorded to have also built a labourer colony at the site and brought the laborers from Bimbergali and Rajouri regions and settled them in his this colony.
This place still has preserved its historicity where almost all the royal caravans and travelers where received with full honor. There lives a social tribe called Sawaar, which is suffixed with this name; Sawaar is a local term which literary means horse rider.
The ancestors of this social tribe have been engaged with the trade of horse riding and has been providing this type of traditional transport facilities to the foreign travelers during Mughal, Afghan, Sikh and Dogra periods, or till the commissioning of Jhelum cart road.
The Mughal, Duranni, Sikh and European nobles, travelers and sufis has been adopting this road for their travel purposes and it was the laborers of Hurapur who provided them the horse and other types of ride.
Today Hurpur has emerged as a flouring tourist town and hardly any antiquity of past is visible at the site. However, in the middle of this town, few ruins of Mughal era saria are seen still scattered on right side of the road.
Above the village Hurpura the Mughal route crosses the Panchal Nallah and takes left bank of this stream, crossing over the Panchal valley, the route takes you to Dubijan, where from it would pass from the zigzag paths of Ratin peer hills.
Down the hill on the banks of the Nallah are seen remains of Sari (Inn) called Sukha Sari. This believed to have been built during Sikh period and raised over the plinth of some Mughal era construction. This sari has also followed the same plan material and style which the other saris of this route exhibit.
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.