Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Every Kashmiri is a compulsive buyer of large food stocks essentially rice, edible oil and And spices . He buys in kilograms what his counterparts in the plains buy in grams .His dishes must have oil and colour . For colour he makes liberal use of Red Chillies .For dishes like Rogan Josh , Chilli Korma , Rista , Chicken , Mutsch , Damalu , Fish ,Beans , Brinjals ,Cheese and a variety of other popular Kashmiri Dishes , Kashmiris use red chilli Powder as the colouring agent . The vibrant red chilli powder imparts rich flavour and colour to dishes it is used in.Chillies that upset his stomach frequently is a spice of choice with him . No matter he be a Pandit or a Muslim you shall find him popping up Anti acid tablets or Omperzole formulations habitually .I have yet to find any community buying medicines over the counter or doing self medication on a scale as kashmiris do. He just needs one prescription to keep buying the stuff life long for similar symptoms .Certainly kashmiris suffer from Bleeding Hemorrhoids , Duodenal or peptic ulcers or Hypper tension and various other digestive ailments primarily because of the enormous quantity of spices they consume. Medical professionals and pharmaceutical traders do a roaring business in J&K thriving essentially on this trait of kashmiris.

Everyday we have been looking at advertisement displaying availability of Original Red powdered kashmiri chilli ; original stuff from valley, Pungent , aromatic , the ultimate spice , long , fleshy , seedless , deep red ,natural food colouring agent and so on and so forth .In Kashmir I have seen the COOKS ( WAZAS ) advising a bride or bridegroom’s family that Red chilli powder be purchased from Gana’s shop in Maharaj Ganj or from Kalwal’s shop in Maharaja Bazaar or from Haji Mohd Sharif wani ‘s Masala ( Spices ) shop in Qaziyaar ZainaKadal for the feast they propose to throw in their marriage function. Similarly in Jammu Cooks engaged by Pandits for marriage functions advise them to buy Red chilli powder from Prasad Koul’s shop or from jain Masala Pacci Dakki or from Ram Sham Traders in Subash Nagar . The cooks , the bride’s or bridegroom’s family and the guests continue to remain ignorant about the real story of much Hyped Red Chilli Powder of Kashmir. Leading Kashmiri Chilli powder producing units of the state know it better wherefrom to procure the raw material for the much hyped Kashmiri’s Red chilli powder .

Where are Kashmiri Chillies grown to such an astronomical commercial scale so as to feed the entire market of the state and throw tons of surplus for PanIndia market and also set aside sufficient stock for the international market ?.
Can any one make me understand ?Oh Yes I could see Chillies grown on commercial scale in Noor Bagh , Bugaam area of Chadura or pampore in kashmir or some villages in Anantnag and Baramulla districts that too by individual farmers using seeds imported from Andhra Pradesh or Karnatka . This particular brand has lesser seeds , larger and fleshy red skin. Other wise Kashmir’s traditional Red Chilli crop is frequently hit by pests , full of seeds , with thin skin and insufficient to cater to the demand of consumers from Kashmir Valley alone . Add to this there is no aggressive SAVE KASHMIRI CHILLI campaign from the government side so as to bring more area under its cultivation , supply quality seeds at door steps to farmers and train farmers in pest management of this crop. Simple truth : Much of the Red Chilli powder sold in the PanCountry market as kashmiri Mirch is obtained from the Chillies grown in Andhra ( Guntur ) , Karnatka , Tamil Nadu ,Orissa , Maharashtra and west Bengal. I have also seen red and fleshy chillies sold in various Mandis of Rajasthan. especially Jaipur and udaipur. These chillies are definitely a quality stuff .
It May not be out of place to add that Chillies are also used for controlling Rheumatic disorders . Chillies are a good source of Vitamin C.The Botanical name of of Red Chillies is Capsicum Annum L. Kashmiris burn thenm in Kangris( fire Pots ) to ward off evil spirits . Garlands of red chillies being dried under sun on windows is a common scene to watch in kashmir especially during Autumn . Shopkeepers too have learnt the trick of the trade . They keep two or three gunny sackfuls of kashmiri uncrushed Chillies for customers to see but sell Andhra or Karnatka red Chilli Powder. Kashmiris are not the only Chilli lovers . Chillies are grown and consumed in China , Spain , Mexico ,Morocco , Turkey and Pakistan..
Pungency , Initial colour and colour retention properties are closely related to maturityof the crop . If the harvested chilies are not properly dried and protected from rains or pests , it may loose colour , glossiness and pungency . Sun drying is the age old traditional method employed for drying chillies . Chillies are now dried in Solar Driers . One such solar drier has been set up in Pampore which ensures complete drying in 4- 5 days . 100 kgs of freshly plucked chilles give just 25 kgs of chilli powder after drying . Enjoy the views of Chillies as they appear in Kashmir Bazars or roads or Mandis during this Autumn. What poetry can be combined with chillies I am unable to make out . Still then enjoy some lines from Naadim Sahib’s Immortal Anti War ( or pro Peace ) poem “Me Chhum Aash Paghich Pagaah Sholey Duniya ” meaning " I AM HOPEFUL OF A SUNLIT TOOMORROW". In these lines an expectant mother also hopes for a sunlit tomorrow . she also wants peace to prevail for her to deliver her baby.

Yinam Saderei Paninei,

“Vadhav Chhay Mubaarak”
Ba Chhus Potaray Maej ,
Chhatrei Buen Phikri Taarukh.
Heumakh Kochhei Heivin,
Az Ba Maah Kenh Ti Prarukh.
Me chum Aash Paghich ,
Pagaah Sholey Duniya .
Dapaan Jung Chhu Vothvun ,
Paggah Gochh Na Sapdun,
Pagaah Gochh Na Aassun.
( Dina nath Naadim )

My friends and companions shall come ,
wishing the welfare of the new child.
Me , A male child's mother then or like a tall shaddy chinar ,
shall teach them their due lesson.
should they attempt to take the baby in their lap ,
i shall seek the Kochh Hevin amount ,
Nothing shall stop me to seek this money.Let us not talk about the war rumoured to be imminent .
God! How can this war be tomorrow?
It should never take place tommorow.
I am hopeful of a sunlit tomorow."

(Avtar Mota)

Crushed under the joint family system prevailing in kashmir and serving every one till her death , a poor kashmiri woman be a Pandit or a muslim would lead a similar life.The only happiness to her would be the birth of a male child. This would elevate her social status a little . Koch Hevin is a custom still practised and the friends and relations who visit a house upon the birth of a child give some money to the mother for holding the baby in their lap . in olden days , this money was meant Possibly for the poor lady to buy some clothes or keep with her to be spent on the child. My mother explained to me once that in every household the mother in Law would immediately come after the guests were out to snatch this Kochh Hevin from her Daughter in law as she had her own expenses connected with cermonies to be performed for the baby.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Soan Wattan Posh Hue ,
Taav Hyot Yaavun Bahaaruk ,
Shaalmaruk Gosh Hue.
Navi Poshaakuk Bosh Hue ,
Pholvunay Pamposh Hue ,
Soan Wattan Posh Hue

( Dina Nath Naadim )

Our country is like a flower
Like the fresh spring , full of vitality
Or like the scenic Shalimaar garden ,
Or like the happiness displayed in Newly worn clothes ,
Or like a fresh lotus flower opening its petals ,
Our country is like a flower only.

( Translated from original Kashmiri by a k Mota )

Some days back I had to visit Handwara town for some official assignment . In fact i visited the area thrice during 2009. This area was previously known as UTTER MACHIPORA .You can go to Handwara via Sopore or through Baramulla . It is about 24 Kms from Baramulla and in all about 88 Kms from Srinagar city . Plenty of Tata sumo Vehicles ply on this route from Srinagar and the journey is covered in just two hours. The road from sopore or Baramulla is lined with apple trees on either sides with some Walnut trees in between .Handwara is a tehsil Head quarter with a degree college , old market , two Higher secondary schools and roughly 20 private schools . The town has a functional Municipal committee catering to a rough population of 10700 persons living in 1245 households at present .From the main Chowk in the Bazaar , roads branch off to Villgaam , Kupwara , Baramulla and Bhadrakaali shrine via wadipora village . Bhadrkaali shrine situated in Raajwar forest range is about 7 Kms from the town. Gushi Sharda is about 12 kms from this town . A temple dedicated to Goddess Sharda still exists in this village . In olden days people would assemble at Gushi Sharda to perform pilgrimage to SHARDA TEMPLE ( Presently in POK ). A beautiful stream known locally as POHRU, coming from Kupwara and kunangaam , passes through the town and finally joins jhelum ( Vitasta a) at Doabgaah ( Sangam ) near Baramulla.. I could not find the name of this stream in Nilmata Purana or Rajtaringini though about 60 streams and rivers of kashmir have been mentioned in Nilmat Purana. It is certainly not Hiranya mentioned in Nilmata Purana as this river is clearly the present Erin Nallah flowing into wular lake . It is also not river Vaitarani mentioned in Nilmata as some people in Shopian area still call the RembyAra as Vaitarani. It is also not Kanakvahini as this river as per Nilmata joins Sindhu to finally merge in Vitasta . It is somewhat close to Madhuri mentioned in Nilmat Purana ( Page 33 Volume I Translation by Dr Ved kumari Ghai ) since Madhuri is mentioned to be a river flowing through Machipur Pargana though many rivers of Nilmat Purana like GOTAMI , GOTRANADI, KUMUNARI, MADAVA, MALINI, MANDAKINI, SAMULA, SATASILA, SILAMA, SANDILI, SUGHANDHA, SUKHA, TRIKOTI and VISVAMITRA remain unidentified .

Presently the town is inhabited by warm hearted people known for their hospitality .Pocket full of fresh walnut kernel were given to me when I interacted with traders in main Bazaar .

“ Stay for a night at ours ”
said Mohd Ramzaan Chopaan a trader in Main Bazaar .

“ Visit Bhaderkaali Shrine since you have come all the way from srinagar . it is just 7 kms from my shop ”
said Ghulam Rasool Pandith another Trader .

“ Did you meet B L Pandita Advocate from this town? . He is like my father . He is presently supervising construction of the Shiv Mandir complex in Main Market .”
said Altaf Ahmed another shopkeeper

“Recently (in July 2009 ) a tragedy struck this area . A fierce high velocity windstorm damaged several houses , shops , cowsheds and injured about 40 people and killing a woman besides damaging crops . It all happened in a few minutes . Trees were uprooted and roofs were shattered by high velocity winds . ”
said Gulzar Ahmed a trader of the town to me

During my visit to the Bazaar I observed that Handwara must have been a very old trade centre . Many Punjabi Khatri traders had their shops in the main market. One lala Madan lal still runs his cloth shop in the main market. So do family members of Kishori Lal have their independent shops in the main bazaar. Many Sikhs from DeedarPora , HutchiPora , Badrah and Chogul have opened their shops in the main bazaar and are engaged in selling medicines , Dry fruits and general merchandise . Jujhar Singh and Mohinder Singh are two Prominent Dry fruit traders of the town from Sikh community . A Gurdwara also has been built in the town. The town has a beautiful and spacious mosque known as Jamia Masjid or Idd Gaah .

Since apples especially Delicious variety are brought to market in October , the bazaar was busy with sale and purchase of Walnut kernel. Pavements were full of men grading the kernel or drying it and packing it for jammu Market . I could also see villagers coming with bagfuls of this kernel for sale to traders in the market. Lala Madan lal told me that Mrs sheela Dhar and Shamboo Nath Raina ( Contractor ) were his customers and they still lived in Handwara . Sh Maharaj Krishen Pandita who is General secretary of the Shiv ji temple committee Handwara (along with Sh B L Pandita as the president ) informed that Pandits lived in Razdan Mohalla , Kaw Mohalla and Ganesh Mohalla in Handwara for centuries in peace and tranquility with their Muslim brothers. "We enjoy enormous goowill of our muslim brethern overhere" added Maharaj Krishen Pandita . Mr Wani president Beopaar Mandal Handwara felt happy to receive us in his office . A Kashmiri to the core he did not allow us to leave without having tea since we had visited him after EID. EID was celebrated in Kashmir on 21st September 2009 .Enjoy some views of the town captured by me on 22nd September 2009 and some previous visits to the town .

(Avtar Mota )
I may informed my readers that while taking photographs at Lal Chowk srinagar , my camera slipped from my hands and its LCD got damaged. I had to buy a New Camera . Between the period of my purchasing a New Camera and the return of the old camera from the repairs shop at Abi Guzar , i clicked some views with a borrowed Camera . The camera used at Handwara belonged to Mr M K Pandita who is based in Srinagar ( 09419064007). The camera had the year preset as 2007 instead of 2009. The date appearing in some photographs is 22.09.2007 wheras it should have been 22.09.2009 when the views were actually captured by me at Handwara . In fact we opened a branch on 22.09.2009 at Handwara and i had to visit the area in this connection only.I regret the error.



I have already conveyed much about river lidder flowing through Pahalgham valley or popularly known as Valley of Shephards .I have also posted much about SUN TEMPLE on MARTAND Plateau ( Karewa )built by King Lalitaditya of kashmir . 

While driving to Pahalgham by road , one notices a small barrage just 6 Kms after The Ziyarat of AISHMUQAM near village Ganeshpora . Water from Lidder is diverted to a canal here only. 

 Irrigated by Martand canal ,  the oldest canal in Kashmir,  the  Martand Karewa ( Plateau ) in south Kashmir produces , Vegetables , Paddy , Flowers and fruits , Almonds and Walnuts .  This canal moves through Village Aishmuqam , Silligam , salia and Seer and goes up the adjoining hills to irrigate the entire Khoveripora and Dachhinipora area around Mattan or MARTAND. In a way entire Martand plateau is irrigated by this canal only. The canal is reported to have been built during the rule of King Lalitaditya of Kashmir .

Trusting the irrigation potential of the canal and the open sunshine of the karewa , Budshah encouraged people on this plateau to raise sugarcane crop something unheard in Kashmir  .  As per Historian Shrivara ,  the wise king made a daring attempt to produce sugar in Kashmir  for the first time. The crop proved economically unviable and the idea had to be shelved .
He also imported many fruit grafts from central Asia and got them planted on this Plateau. Rice , Vegetables , Fruits and and Oats are produced from this Plateau as a result of this canal . As a result of this well laid out irrigation system on this arid Plateau , Sikh rulers of Kashmir settled sikhs from Frontier area in Ranbirpora and Chathi Singh Pora on this Plateau. .So did Afghans settle some Pathan families in Village Wantrag on this plateau. These Pathans still speak PUSHTO (their mother tongue) apart from Kashmiri . During my posting at Mattan , i had given loans to some Pathan families and they proved quite good in repayments .Both these communities continue to live in this area and are engaged in fruit growing and rice cultivation .This gravity based canal irrrigates about 9.5 thousand Hectares of land around Martand plateau.lately govt of J&K has planned to irrigate more areas of Ananatnag district through Upgradation of this canal at an estimated cost of 200 crores . The lift irrigation schemes of Brah , Hapatnaar , Ainoo and Vailnagbal are a part of this project.

Enjoy the views of MARTAND CANAL as it moves from Ganeshpora and Aishmuqam Ziyarat area .
Aadunuk Badaam Hue,
Dal Bathis Peuth Shaam Hue,
Gaam Peuth Yechkaali Vothumut Treil Heith Zun Maam Hue,
Assi wattan Rut Gaakm Hue.
( Dina Nath Naadim )

Like the fresh Almond fruit of the season ,
Like an evening on the banks of Dal lake ,
Like the maternal uncle , after long time ,bringing Treil fruit
from his village Orchard ,
Our country is like a beautiful Village .
( Autar Mota  )
( Treil is Small late Autumn fruit resembling an Apple. It is juicy and tastes like an apple. )

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Gujjars and Bakerwals have statrted their annual down movement from Hilly pastures . Gujjars sell milk and rear cows or Buffalloes and Bakerwals rear goats and sheep to be sold to Butchers in cities or towns through a network of middlemen known locally as KOTHDAARS . Both are nomadic tribes . Presently they are moving to Plains of punjab and Jammu to save their stock from ensuing winter snow . we have regular trafic jams in Kashmir as they now move along highways . Previously they used to travel through tough mountain passes but now they camp on highways and move close to city or towns . O ! what a terrible and ferrocious dogs they keep with them to ward of thieves who might attempt their hands on the stock they carry with them.Though some gujjars and bakerwals have left this tough life and settled in cities and given education to their children yet most of them continue to stick to this age old hard existence .

Na Jaana Aaj Taq kyaa Shai Khushi Hai
Hamaari Zindgi Bhi Zindgi Hai.

( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Till this day we are unknown to the world of happiness
Pity ! Is this existence worth calling a living ?

( english translation from Original urdu by a k mota )


If you travel from Srinagar to Anantnag town by road , you find a strange Natural green tunnel just before Bijbihara town. The tunnel is about 2 Kms in length and is made of tall poplars standing erect on both sides of the road. So dense are thsese poplars that apart from providing soothing shade , barely do they allow sunlight to pass through them . They provide a shady stretch of 2 Kms on this road which every driver or commuters enjoys . This stretch is known to everyone over here as GREEN TUNNEL. We had a similar feature on Srinagar Baramulla road but due to widening of this road , most of the Poplars on one side have been felled . The scenic beauty of this road has been wiped out by ruthless cutting of Poplars .Tonga drives on Srinagar Baramulla road by popular movie stars were often picturised in Bollywood movies of yesterdays . Now that Poplars on this road have been felled , the beautiful stretch of 2 Kms developed on Srinagar Anantnag Road with tall, shady and majestic Poplars , we do have an alternate visual delight while driving or commuting on Srinagar Anantnag Highway .Drive through this Green tunnel to enjoy its beauty and shade .Till then enjoy the views of this Green Tunnel with some lines from a popular song of Kashmiri Poet Ghulam Ahmed Mehjoor known as wordworth of Kashmir

Roz Roz Bozu Myaan Zaar Madno
Daadi Chaani Chhuss Bemaar Madno

Kaach Zoon Gajithuss Safras Laajthuss
Chhor mukh Haa Gaam Shahaar Madno

Roz Roz -----------

Nazrey Chhanei Saeti Bemaar Baley Kaeit
Myaani Viz Loguth Haa Be Aar Madno

Roz Roz -----------

Khoon Goum Jaari Aush Haari Haari
Phael Phael Gomaa Mokhta Haar Madno

Roz Roz ----------

( Ghulam Ahmed Mehjoor )

Stay, O Love, and hear My plaint!
Love sick, I yearn for you .

You have made Kartik full moon peak and pine ,
Seeking you over hill and dale .

Stay ,O Love, ----------

You Have cured so many with your loving eyes ,
But why was no compassion left for me ?

Stay , O love ,----------

My blood joins now with streams of tears
Like scattered Necklace pearls I lie !

Stay, O Love ---------
( English
Translation by Prof .T N Raina )

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Nearest City ..    Srinagar  (Kashmir ) , District Anantnaag  ( J&;K )

Nearest  Town  .. Pahalghaam Valley  (95 Kms from Srinagar By Road )  

How to Go .. Buses , Taxis from Srinagar go to Betaab Valley directly .Ponies can be hired from Pahalghaam . Srinagar can be approached by Air from any part of the country . One can also travel from Jammu to Srinagar  (  About 300 Kms distance  and 8 Hour Journey through Hills ) in Buses , Taxis and Tata sumos .One can also come from jammu to srinagar by Air in just 35 minutes.

Other Places of Interest Nearby ..Pahalghaam  Town ( Known as valley of shephards ), Kolhai Glacier,Tarsar and Maarsar Lakes  ,Trout fishing in Lidder river ,Aru Valley ( 14 Kms from Pahalghaam ),Tulian lake ,Shikargaah , Baisaran and Ancient Mamal  Shiva Temple  on the banks of river lidder in Pahalghaam ( 11th centuary temple built by King Jaysimha ),and Martand Sun temple ruins ( 40 Kms from Pahalghaam town towards Srinagar near Mattan Village )

Just 7 kms up on Pahalgham Chandanwari Road , Lies a beautiful valley of DREAMS known now as BETAAB valley. It derives its name from Sunny Deol’s ( Action Hero of Hindi Cinema and son of another veteran actor  Dharmendra )Movie BETAAB which was shot extensively in this area . The producer of the movie had also built two Huts for the Movie and stayed in the area for about 2 months to shoot . Those who saw the movie can also recall the songs

1 Jab Hum Jawan Honge
Jaane Kahan Honge

2 Dekho Maine Dekha Hai Yeh Ek Sapna
Phoolon Ke Shehar Me Ho Ghar Apna

Both the songs were shot in this valley and the song Dekho Maine Dekha hai was shot actually in the Hut built by the producer of the movie. The Hut has been demolished and a lodge cum rest house has come up in the area . A beautiful garden and a bridge to cross the Shesh Naag stream has also come up now. some more construction activity is in progress and Pahalgham Development Authority proposes to Develop this valley as a Beautiful Holidaying spot .
The Valley is surrounded by Snow Covered Mountains Peaks , Dense Pine and deodar Forests With  Sheshnaag stream  originating from Sheshnaag Lake ( Holy Amar Nath cave area ) flowing majestically through it . The stream Moves to join Lidder just 7 Kms below At Pahalgham .Clusters of Willows tossing each other in wind are lined on the banks of Sheshnaag stream . Like Lidder ( Ancient name Lambodhiri ) , this river is also a home to TROUT fish . For fishing, Anglers have to procure a proper permit from Pahalgham . A group of photographers are always there to take your snaps in this Picturesque valley . I was informed by some Gujjars in this valley that monkeys and Bears have been seen by them regularly near their DHOKS ( Temporary huts built by Migratory Gujjars ) . Like ARU valley in Pahalgham , this area is now a favourite destination of Tourists from Europe and America who camp in this valley and trek the adjoining mountains . Enjoy some views of this valley captured by me in September 2009 with some lines form the noted kashmiri Poet Farooq Nazki .
Shikwa Shikaayat Saarie Traav
Paath Kunn Gudreumut Mashraav
Cheiti Raaviy Armaanun Grendh,
Meiti Kuss Shar Az Taamath Draav

( Farooq Nazki )

Come forgetting the complaints and grievances Love !
Forget what you went through as a past story.
Alas! you too lost count of your dreams in this suffering ,
Pity ! I too failed to achieve anything love .
( Autar Mota  )