Tuesday, June 30, 2009


These are recent typical kashmir views . enjoy
a k mota

All photographs bear copyrights and may not be reproduced or downloaded without the specific permission of the blog writer


Lall Ded( lalleshwari ) and Sheikh Noor ud din Wali are the Tallest saints of kashmir . Both are revered by hindus and Muslims alike . Hindus call Sheikh Noor ud din Wali as Sehja Nand or Nund reshi while muslims call him Sheikh ul Aalam or Alam daare Kashmir . Muslims call Lall ded as Lalla Arifa while Hindus call her Lalleshwari . Both have composed their sayings in the shape of VAAKHS . While Lall Ded’s thought is Shaivism simplified it is also identical with the Nirguna concept propounded by saint Kabir in India Shiekh Noor Ud din attempted to synthesize the essence of Bhagwat Geeta and Holy Quran and what ultimately emerged is the Shining Rishi order of Kashmir which produced numerous saints and Sufi poets subsequently. . Wahab Khar , Shamas Faquir, Sochh Kral , Nyam Sahib,Rehman Dar , Waza Mehmood Ahad Zargar ,and Samad mir can be called an extension of the thought and concept of Rishi order of Kashmir. through their Sufi poetry .

Kalahana , Jonaraja , Sridhar ,Shuka and Pragya Bhat do not make any mention of Lalleshwari in their works . Khwaja Mohd Azam Dhadmiri makes a reference of Lalleshwari in his work Vakaate Kashmir and adds that she lived during the rule of king Alla Ud din ( 1344AD -1355AD ). From all accounts it can be assumed that Lalleshwari was born in early 14th centuary and left this world some time between 1373 AD to 1389 AD implying that she was senior to Sheikh Noor Ud Din Wali ( 1373AD – 1438AD ). There is a story attributed to the meeting of Lalleshwari and Sheikh Noor Din wali as well.. So is the commonality of thought in the Vaakhs /Shrukhs of these two towering saints of Kashmir . Sheikh pays due tributes to Lalleshwari in a Shrukh( translated in english from original kashmiri ) as under :-
“That Lalla of Padmaapore,
she drank Her fill of divine nectar;

She was indeed an awataar of His
O Supreme One , grant me the same boon!"Sheikh Noorudin (Nund Reshi)
Ancestors of Sheikh Ul Alam were Surajvanshi Rajputs of Kishtwar . Sheikh’s Shrukhs convey that NAFAS ( implying Appetite or the desires ) is an elephant like in demands and has to be kept at Bay Else this enemy wihin is going to devour the individual..Sheikh’s Mother Soder Mouj and wife Zai Ded were poets and also wrote VAAKHS. Sheikh did preaching in almost all the areas of south kashmir but finally movd to CHRAR. Shiekh’s Vaakhs are Called SHRUKHS ( shlokaas ) in Kashmiri.. His Mortal remains are buried inside the Shrine in CHRAR E SHARIEF. I shall not quote his SHRUKS but please read them as they appear in the photographs taken by me right from NAGAAM to CHRAR E SHARIEF. CHRAR is about 35 kms from Srinagar and can be approached by road via Natipora , Chhanpora , Kralpora , Chadura , Nagaam and finally at Nagaam a distance 14 kms of beautiful plateaus is to be covered to reach CHRARE SHARIEF. I have photographed the Shrine as well as the BAZAR . I have also photographed ZAR- KASAI and TEHHAR distribution by devotees at the shrine. ZAR KASAI is MUNDAN and TEHHAR is the rice cooked with a pinch of turmeric and laced with oil familiar to both Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir . The shrine suffered extensive damage in Turmoil / Militancy . It is under total renovation. So is the CHRARE SHARIEF village which has already been declared as a Model village by government . I heard almost every one coming to the shrine saying loudly :

YA PEER MYANO YAARI KAR(Oh my saint be merciful to us)
So Be it .

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I have been asked by a dear friend to put some verses of Allama Iqbal on the blog. Before doing so let me tell my dear readers that ancestors of Dr Iqbal were also Kashmiri Brahmins from village Sopur ( near village Dhanuv ) Kulgam area and were Saprus by caste. The family traces its origin to one Birbal pandit of village Sopur kulgam.A large population of Anantnag district moved out to Kishtwar , Bhaderwah and Punjab in early 19th century due to three successive famines in the valley. Ancestors of Nawaz Sharif Bhat (Ex Prime Minister of Pakistan ) and Gh Mohd Gama Pehalwan ( wrestler Rustame Hind who lived in in Amritsar before the partition of the country ) and Ancestors of Kulsoom Nawaz Bhat wife of Nawaz Sharief are also from Kulgam and she is incidentally the niece of GAMA PAHELWAN. Obviously all of them have kashmiri roots. Ali Sardar Jafri has made a beautiful reference to an incident in one of his articles Iqbal Fun Aur Shaksiyat which is indicative of Allama's feelings for the land of his ancestors. . Jafri Sahib writes that Iqbal would never get up for a send off to his visitors and guests. Once Kashmiri Pandit girl students from Lahore came in a group to meet him . Allama not only got up to call for the servant for ensuring that the girls have tea but he personally came upto the gate to see them off.
During his college days Iqbal came under the influence of Si a scholar of modern philosophy . Arnold exposed the young man to Western culture and ideas, and served as a bridge for Iqbal between the ideas of East and West . Later Iqbal was profoundly influenced by Western philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson and Goethe . Even his book Javid Nama or Book of Eternity considered to be one of the masterpieces of Iqbal is inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy and just as Dante's guide was Virgil, Iqbal is guided by Moulana Rumi.
In brief Iqbal was a thinker of east , a poet and a Philosopher .

I have uploaded some photographs of Kulgam on this Blog as a tribute to Allama. You can see the highly revered shrine of sufi sanit Syed Samnani , Kulvageshwari temple ,the bazar views , Two kashmiri pandit shops selling electric items in main Bazar , an apple orchard , two views of veshav river( originating from Kounser Nag ) taken from Khudwani bridge and many other views . Kulgam is a district head quarters now.It has 5 blocks Quimoh, Pahloo, Damhal Hanji Pora , Devsar and Kulgam.. It has 3 assembly segments Noorabad, Kulgam and Homshali Bugh . I end up with some Quatrains  of  Allama Iqbal  .

Tere sheeshe me mai Baaki Nahi Hai
Bataa Kya Tu Mera saaki nahi Hai
Samandar se mile Pyase ko Qatra
Bakheeli Hai Yeh Razaaqi Nahi Hai
( There is perhaps no wine left in your Tavern now
Tell me My saki where should we go now !
If the sea also gives few drops to a thirsty ,
I Call it miserliness O Provider ! )

Teri Duniya Jahaane Murgo Maahi
Meri Duniya Fugaane Subho Gayee
Teri Duniya Me Mein Majboor o Mehkoom
Meri Duniya Me teri Baad shahi
(Your world is a world of beautiful birds and animals
Mine is just to get up at morning call and sweat it out for the whole day
In thy world i am helpless and desperate
Alas ! in the world within me you rule like a king .)

Ab Kya jo Fugaan Meri
Pahunchi hai Sitaron Taq
Tune hi sikhai thee
Mujh ko yeh Gazal khwani
Iss paikare Khaki me
Jo Shai hai woh hai teri
Mere liye mushkil Hai
Iss shai ki Nigeh baani
( Now why you look at me if my voice reaches the stars and the skies ,
You taught me to sing in this style.
Whatever lies in this bodily frame of mine belongs to thee only
How difficult is for me to keep a vigil on it. )
To the persons who just acquire knowledge but do not put it to any utility for the mankind Dr Iqbal says
Tere seene Me Dum Hai Dil Nahin Hai
Tera Dum Garmiye Mehfil Nahin Hai
Nikal Jaa Aqal se Aage ki Yeh Noor
Chiraage Raah Hai Manzil Nahin Hai

( You certainly Exist but you don’t have a compassionate heart
Your existence is not the driving or motivating force for any group or gathering O Traveller Move ahead of this acquired wisdom ,
This wisdom is just the illumination of the path and not the goal in itself.”)

Allama regarded the western civilization as decadent and was extremely critical about it. However he pays rich tributes to Nietzsche and Goethe in his poems.

                                                 ( Sheikh Noor Mohd Father of Allama Iqbal )

                                                                 ( Allama Iqbal )
                                                               ( Allama Iqbal )

( Autar Mota )

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Neither Swami Lakshman Joo nor his Ashram at NISHAT (in close proximity to Nishat Garden )need any introduction . Swami Ji was authority on Kashmir shavisim. Always Pheran Clad,Tall , Gracefull , erudite scholar , kashmiri to the core and compassionate human being . Swami ji was son of Late Shri Narayan Joo Raina  known in Kashmiri pandit circles as Nau Naran (who owned the first House Boat in Kashmir) . Swami Ji always considered Mehtab Kak and swami Ram as his Gurus. I am poorly equipped to comment on his books but i have personally seen Swami ji Engrossed in serious discussions with Smt Indira Gandhi , Dr Karan Singh and Gh Rasool Santosh ( Painter ) though many people would visit his ashram and have his blessings . The Ashram is well managed at present also by some devotees . I shall be failing in my duties if i do not make special mention of two individual devotees . One Kama ji and the other Sh Mohan Ji wattal. Kama ji who permanently lives in the Srinagar Ashram , will never allow you to go without food or Tea as the occassion be. I had the privilege of having food from her motherly hands . The motherly affection shown to one and all by Khema ji is to be experienced to be believed. Another person doing round the clock selfless service for the Ashram is Sh Mohan Ji Wattal . Life has come a full circle for Watall sahib. I happened to know him in late seventies when he was a leading exporter of the valley. Prior to that he worked in Grindlay's bank Srinagar. At present he is engaged in full time management of ISHBER ASHRAM Srinagar . Wattal Sahib lives in srinagar only and has been amongst the immediate disciples of Swami ji. I quote two incidents .Dr Farooq Abdullah came to Ashram once with Late Sh P L Handoo . He had some discussions with swami Ji and asked for permision to leave . I quote verbatim the conversation. Here it goes ;-
"Farooq take Your Food. Why should you leave without food."
" Ok Sir then i shall have Haak and rice only "
" Mohan Ji Farooq shall be taking Haak and rice with us "
Wattal Sahib ensured that Haak and Bhatta was ready in half an hour . Before her death, Indira ji had come to the Ashram and swami ji had cautioned her to be careful as threat to her life is in the Air. Wattal sahib was asked by Swami ji to bring a pashmina shawl for Indira ji which swami ji put on her shoulders as a protection from the imminent threat . While Indira ji sought Permission to leave ,Swami ji again asked her to be carefull . Swami Ji told wattal Sahib
" AMIS HA BAA CHHU SANKAT SAMAY . " " This lady has serious trouble in her desitny at the moment " Indira ji was killed just three days thereafter. So Long so much.
I have uploaded some views like the the gate of Ishber ashram, The Bhairav temple in the Ashram where Swami Ji would perform Bhairav Puja .The double storey builiding where swami ji would reside. The bed on which swami ji would recline . The Vatika hut where swami ji would often take his day meals . Present day Puja Hall with Swami Ji's photograph . The fountain in the garden laid by devotees as per his wishes .Kama ji distributing Prasada has also been photographed . Wattal sahib is siting in a chair behind. Enjoy and let us have Swami ji's blessings from his heavenly abode.


Friday, June 26, 2009


 I shall tell you  about a wonderful art of making wooden ceiling in Kashmir known as KHATAMBANDI. Brought to Kashmir from IRAN in 1541 by Mirza Hyder Douglat, Khatamband is an art of making ceiling, by fitting small pieces of wood (preferably walnut or deodar wood) into each other in geometrical patterns. All this is done entirely with hands without use of nails. The wood is processed, cut into buttons and panels and fixed in the ceiling in various floral and geometrical designs.
Indeed a painstaking work, which once used to take months to finish a 10 feet by 10 feet ceiling. The uniqueness of this art is that when the ceiling is complete, it acquires a unique geometrical pattern. With fewer or no nails used at all, the Khatamband ceiling can easily be dissembled and re-assembled at another place.

Earlier Khatamband used to be domain of shrines, palaces, houseboats and royal houses, but now every other person wants it for their house. There are more than 170 designs for the Khatamband in Kashmir, but today's artists can only reproduce about 100. Artists have however greatly compensated the lost designs with newer ones, where they experiment with mirror, colour combination and other things and there is no limit to their creativeness.
 The names of designs are derived from various cities of Iran and central Asia. The Khatamband ceilings cost about Rs 140 /= per square foot. The art is also being exported. There are many Kashmiri artisans, who work for about three months outside in different states of India, fitting various houses, hotels and other malls with their creative genius.