Tuesday, May 26, 2015



A Shepherd with his livestock near Ganderbal , kashmir 
( Photo Autar Mota )



 .  (Kulcha being baked in Tandoor)
                              ( The Cake)

I am talking of a period that could be prior to 1947 when Life had its limited demands in kashmir . “ Kam Khyon Gum Na Hyon “ or “ Eat less why worry unnecessarily and “ Yemiss Na Gaerrie Maelli Taemiss Kyaa Maelli Paerrie“ or ” He who can not get it in his hometown , what shall he get in far away places “ These phrases were coined by kashmiris to justify their complacency , refusal to accept change and the strange sense of self-satisfaction that prevailed in valley.
Apart from the section of people that was engaged in ordinary trade or petty jobs, all activities of the remaining locals revolved around Shaali (Rice ) , kangri , Haak vegetable and of course religion .

A kashmiri was always indifferent to mobility and as such suffered on this score.. He moved only when driven to wall or when all other options closed for him. Isn’t it a fact that those who moved out during devastating Floods , Famines , Cholera epidemics or suppression , moved to a better life ultimately ?
Unbelievable But true , a kashmiri possesses enormous survival instinct that remains unseen in his native land . In his native land , he remains a victim of a clogged thought process that he may be forced to acquire .

If we look at the Muslims who moved to Amritsar , Ludhiana , Lahore and other cities for various reasons in 19th century , we find that these groups gradually moved to a better life .From this group ,Allama Iqbal , Sadat Hassan Manto , Nawaz Sharif , Saif Ud Din Kitchloo, Actor Nawab kashmiri , Playwright Agha Hashr Kashmiri , Poet Lyricist Sufi Tabassum,  Wrestler Rustam e Hind Gh Mohd Gama Pehlwan, Urdu Poet Meeraji (Born Mohammed Sanaullah Dar) and many more names instantly come to my mind .
And If we look at the Pandits who moved to Plains of the country and settled in Allahabad , Lucknow , Delhi and other cities , we find them moving to prosperity and better life gradually .Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru , Kailas Nath Katju ,Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, PN Haksar , Pandit Brij Narain Chakbast , Actor Jeevan  and so many names come to my mind immediately . This prosperity was possible due to better avenues of modern education , access to sources of employment , proximity to Means of Production and distribution coupled with resilience and a great survival instinct of people who ventured to move out.

Due to lesser interaction with outside world at large , we kashmiris  ,probably lived in our own world, developed some traits that were area specific and environment specific.We were gentle and simple lot and Inspite of our strong religious beliefs, there was something that a kashmiri lacked. Many Europeans who came closer to kashmiris have observed and commented that When action was desired of him , he would shy away ( Thhaav Third or mey Thhovuss Treathh meaning Run away and I sneaked out ) to such an extent that inaction , unresponsiveness and casualness became a trait of kashmiri Character . "Vasvaas" and "Hai Hey" was our typical trait . In no language world over you find an exact equivalent to word VASVAAS ( originally derived from Urdu word Vasvsaasa) as it means in kashmiri.May be at the back of our mind , insecurity always loomed its large shadows.There is a historical background to this settled and now DNA ingrained insecurity in our mind. We believe in 'Khabar chhaa" Or "who knows what is going to happen". That makes us buy in killograms what others buy in grams. I have seen , in my  own family and also in the  families of some  close relations,  an irresistible habit  of stocking and storing rice , Edible oil. spices and other stuff . They continue to do so even in plains of the country . No one will agree to a change from this "Khabar chhaa ' mindset.

My  Australian friend , who  stayed in Kashmir for some months and picked up another interesting trait of our character .I quote him…......

“ You can never expect a clear NO from a kashmiri for some thing that he can not do. .His Okay is always casual and never means a committed YES .For some job that is apparently full of issues and problems , he would give a stock reply “ NO PROBLEM SIR . WHY YOU WORRY? Or “ No worry Sir . I am still alive”. I wish he stood by these commitments that he made to all and sundry.”

That observation  was largely  true  .  we mostly responded  this way only . This could also be due to a sincere desire to help others without understanding own capacity,  limitations and freedom. I can't say much.

“Hataa Ma Kurr Vaenn Zyaada Vottt a Voth -- Pushraav khodaayuss “ meaning “ Now don’t make more efforts . Pass it on to Almighty ” and “Talaa Beh Chhopp Karithh – Vaen Guvv soruyii Bhagvaanuss Hawaala ”Meaning “ Now you sit without efforts ..Entrust it to almighty god ”. These phrases were a part of our day to day life in kashmir. To analyze them carefully ,I need to break each phrase into two parts . One being “Pushraav Khodaayuss “ and “Vaen Guvv soruyii Bhagwanuss hawalla “ . No issue with this part. This is quite natural and acceptable . I have my issues with the other parts “ Hataa Ma kurr vaen Zyaada Vottt a Voth “and “Talaa beh Chhopp Karithh” .Were not these statements anti initiative meant to stop a person from making efforts himself? A hint towards complacency and avoidance of initiative and effort.

We had another serious problem and complex  as city dwellers .When it came to Gaamuk or a villager's  issue , A city pandit and Muslim would join together to make fun of a poor villager. "Kolla Gaameikkya" or "Gaama Groos " was a taunt that the villager had to face should there be any argument with a city dweller . kashmiris ( Pandits in specific ) would hesitate in marrying their daughters to a villager even if he may have been well settled or better employed . " Kyaa sa kashiri Gayaa Kaah garaa ta Khaanmaaej ditchvun gaam kunn" meaning  “What happened ? Are there only eleven households in city that you have married this darling daughter to a villager ."

We were the best gossip mongers and  derived pleasure by mocking simpletons and at time even insane persons which in local parlance was known as “ GARMAAVUN “. GARMAAVUN meant to tease or mock or laugh at a person till he breaks down . Those who lived in Rainawari shall stand by me when I say how people dealt with a poor and insane Gh Mohd . As he moved through Bazaars and lanes , People Would cry “TAKKA ADDIJJ “ or TAKKA THE BONE , a nick name given to him. The poor fellow would turn violent , pick up a stone and shower nastiest abuses . A crowd of onlookers would collect to watch all this . They would giggle , smile and get entertained .

We were also masters in inventing nicknames and experts in lampooning people . As a group , we could be fine onlookers to any misfortune or tragedy should it visit others . I have personally seen many Pandits and Muslims hanging around a bridge enjoying , provoking and witnessing poor Haanjis ( Boat People ) engaged in a typical verbal dual or fight . Crowds wood rush to enjoy what they called HAAENZ -LADAAI or fight of Hannjis . Together they would giggle , smile and enjoy as a group over the bridge while the poor Haanjis fought for hours below .

And This “Tamaashbeen “ trait was also demonstrated during frequent Fires that erupted in Kashmir in the last quarter of 19th century or the first quarter of 20th century. Crowds ( comprising of Pandits and Muslims ) would come to a house on fire and take comfortable seats away from the heat and smoke . They were excited and would go to witness these fires as if they were going to a cinema hall for a movie. They would look to what was happening around with cries and thrill .
I quote Tyndale Biscoe from the book “ TYNDALE BISCOE OF KASHMIR – AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY .
“ I was teaching in my class in the top room overhanging the river , when I heard a bugle call. Looking up , I saw a figure on the roof of a house some half mile away . I asked my boys what it meant and they replied that the police man was warning everyone that a house was on fire .The boys not being interested , went on with their writing . Within minutes I saw now flames and smoke rising from the same house . I ordered the Boys to stop writing and come with me to help at the fire , But they said that they had nothing to do with it and they wished to continue with their lessons . I then took action and drove them out of the class rooms into the street. When we arrived there , we found that scores of citizens had already taken seats at every available place in order to enjoy themselves at an entertainment for which they would have nothing to pay. As flames spread from one house to another , they seemed highly delighted shouting “ Hurrah ! “.

Thank god, Everything has changed now. This has been possible with the spread of Education and IT Revolution. The kashmiri character has also undergone a metamorphosis towards development.  
Young kashmiris  hailing  from Pandit and Muslim families are now venturing out for better education and employment . I find them going up and up the ladder in all fields . They  are focused , honest and sincere and accordingly much  needed by the employers globally.They are visible in the  sunrise IT Sector , Medicine , Media , Cinema , Sports , Administration and  the New Business Enterprise .

A kashmiri is an acknowledged competitor now , a fierce one in any arena across the globe.

(Autar Mota )

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Sunday, May 24, 2015


 Aharbal water fall Kashmir 

( Photo Autar Mota )
Adding sahir’s poetry to this Kashmir frame …...
Maine dekhaa hai
“Maine dekhaa hai ki Gaatay huvay Jharnon ke qareeb
Apni Betaabiye jazbaat Kahi hai tum ne ..
Kaanptay Honthon se Ruuktii Huyii Awaaz ke Saathh
Jo meray dil mein thhi vo Baat kahi Hai tum ne..”
Maine Dekhaa hai …..
( Autar Mota

 The Warmth of snow in Pari Mahal Kashmir 

( Photo Autar Mota )
Adding sahir’s poetry to this Kashmir frame ..
Maine Dekhaa hai ..
“Aanch denay lagaa qadmon ke talay barf ka farsh
Aaj jaana ki mohabbat mein hai garmi Kitanii
Sange-marmar ki tarah sakht badan mein teray
Aa gayii hai meray chhu lenay se narmi kitanii”
Maine Dekhaa hai
( Autar Mota )

 A foggy Morning scene near Jhelum river , Kashmir 

( Photo Autar Mota )
Adding sahir’s poetry to this Kashmir frame ..
Maine Dekhaa hai ..
" Maine Dekhaa Hai Ki Kohre se Bhari Vaadi mein
Me yeh Kehtaa huun Chalo Aaj kahin Kho Jaayein
Tum Yeh Kehtii Ho Ki Khonay ki Zaroorat Kyaa Hai
Oud kar Dhuundh ki chaadar ko Yahin So Jaayein “
Maine Dekhaa hai
( Autar Mota )

 Badaam Vaari garden Kashmir 

( Photo Autar Mota )
Adding sahir’s poetry to this Kashmir frame ..
Maine Dekhaa hai ..
“ Maine dekha hai ki Phoolon se laddi shaakhon mein
Tum Lachaktii huyii yuun meray qareeb aayi ho..
Jaise muddat se yuun hi sathh rahaa ho apna
Jaise ab ki nahin sadiyon ki shanasaayi ho..”
Maine Dekha hai
( Autar Mota )

Falling Leaves .. Autumn in Kashmir
( Photo Autar Mota )
Adding sahir’s poetry to this Kashmir frame ....
Maine Dekhaa Hai

“Hum chale jaate hain aur door talak koyii Nahin
Sirf Paton se Chatakhney ki sadaa Aati hai
Dil Mein kuchh aissay khayaalaat ne karwat li hai
Mujh ko tum se Nahin apnay se Hayaa aati hai “
Maine Dekhaa hai
( Autar Mota )
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Shalimaar Garden kashmir 
( Photo Autar Mota )

I am adding a mini poem “Jis tarah Koyee kahay “ By Ahmed faraaz to this photo 

Aur tere shahar se jab rakht e safar Baandh liyaa 
Dar o deewar pe Hasrat ki nazar Kyaa kartay
Chaand kajlaayi huyii sham ki dehleez pe thhaa
Uss gadi bhi teray majboor safar kyaa kartay
Dil Thehar jaanay ko kehtaa thaa magar kyaa kartay

“ Hum ne jab vaadiye Gurbat mein qadam Rakhaa thhaa “
Jis tarah yaad e wattan aayi thhi samjhaane ko
Kuchh usssi tarah ki kaifiyat e jaan aaj bhi hai
Jis tarah Koyee qayaamat ho Guzar jaane ko
Jis tarah koyee kahay phir se palat aanay ko

( Autar Mota )

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Thursday, May 21, 2015



( For this photograph my special thanks to Photo Journalist  Nissar Ahmed Photo   who clicked it for "The  HINDU "  Newspaper )


History tells informs us that around 1817 , Germans built the first Archetype of the bicycle that they named draisine. The German Draisine had three and four wheels as well . 
In 1860, Draisine was subjected to some major technical improvisations by the French who named the New two wheeler as Bicycle . It had cranks and a pedal and a popular commercially successful design.
( An advertisement for marketing of old Hercules Bicycle that was imported from UK )


Some time around 1890, Tyndale Biscoe brought the first Bicycle to Kashmir. He would use it as his local conveyance . As and when , Tyndale Biscoe would move to down town Fateh kadal on his Bicycle , Pandits and Muslims would line up on road to see what the metallic animal Tyandle Biscoe was riding . It was named as “Biscoe sahib ka Djjin “.So a Bicycle was a Djjin for kashmiris initially. They also named it as Zal Gurr later .

There is a popular story in Kashmir that once a kashmiri lady came with some animal feed and put it in front of Tyandale Biscoe’s bicycle . She presumed it to be some unknown beast of burden .
I add relevant excerpts from the book TYNDALE BISCOE OF KASHMIR…
“we usually went to school by boat until I brought the first Bicycle to Kashmir, which caused even more astonishment than did the first motor car many years later.My first bicycle ride was at night .As I passed a coolie carrying a load , I heard a shriek and on looking back , I saw the coolie shouting in terror ,
“ Mooduss Ha ! Mooduss Ha ! or I am dead ! I am dead !”
Poor fellow, he had heard much of the Djjins and had at last seen one with his own eyes .What a grand tale he must have had to tell when he reached his home !”
From the diary of Tyndale Biscoe..
( Autar Mota )


After the second world war , cycles stated coming to Kashmir in large numbers . It was considered as  mode of conveyance of the elite . College professors , magistrates, advocates , Europeans stationed in valley were the new users . later , it became an essential item of Dowry given to girls at the time of marriage  in well off families . The brands that came to Kashmir included Hercules , Humber , Raleigh and Robinhood .All these Bicycles were manufactured in England .

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015



( Photographs  source...  Theatre Artist  Sh. Shakeel Rehman With due thanks. Stills from Tele film Habba khatoon )

TRILOKE DASS ( 1931-2000 )

I had seen him performing at Tagore hall Srinagar. He also came to our bank once to meet my colleague and close friend Raj Kumar Sharma . Raj was a close friend of his son who is an engineer and currently lives in Delhi. And then one day I met him in a Restaurant and listened to him for more than two hours . That day , he was lively , entertaining , in a good mood and accompanied by his friend and writer Prof. Sattar Ahmed Shahid . As many guest in the restaurant pulled chairs close to him, He kept singing Ghalib’s Popular Gazal

I saw him performing many times . He was a remarkable stage actor who carried a cinematic style in dialogue delivery and body movements. Tall, well built , and well dressed , you could not ignore his presence on stage or otherwise . And beneath that robust frame , lay a simple and affectionate man, always ready to help others . Quite often at his own time and cost. He was Triloke Dass , the forgotten stage actor of Kashmir.

Credit goes to his father Shri Madhav Dass for developing young Triloke’s interest in fine Arts . I am informed that Pandit Madhav Dass was also a poet and connoisseur of fine Arts, literature and a Drama artist . My maternal Grandfather ‘s family ( Pt. Gopi Nath Tikko of Zaina kadal Gaada Kochaa )and this Dass family were neighbours in Jammu sometime close to 1947 .I can not recall the year but my mother would often make mention of Shri Madhav Dass as an energetic man who knew so many things like cooking dishes , washing and ironing clothes , and even hair cutting apart from writing kashmiri poetry especially Leelas . Lines from a Shiv leela composed by late Madhav Dass were often recited by her.

At the age of 18, young Triloke went to Calcutta to get some training in Theatre and cinema acting . 
From Calcutta he moved to Chennai and joined Gemini Studios and acted in some films produced by this production company .Family compulsions and an emotional letter from his father brought him back to Kashmir and he took up a regular government Job in J&K Government .He retired as Assistant Director Statistics J&K Government .

Veteran Theatre personality Shri Makhan Lal saraf recently informed me  as under ,

“ Triloke Dass  was the most talented Artist who remained under exposed in Kashmir. He was most suitable for cinema , a bigger medium .He was a great friend and for friendship , time was not constraint with him. Never in hurry , he dealt with time in a very casual manner. Sometimes I tended to believe that he probably had won over time. But that could never be so. We acted together and were close to each other . He worked in his own style , dressed well and was too affectionate a man . I still remember his stylish and most impressive role in “ DADA ”, a play on Beggars staged at Tagore Hall Srinagar. He also did superb acting in “ MANGOO “,a play done for Field Publicity Division. ZEB was another play that he did wherein Sh Bal Krishen Qasba did a lady’s role.

I would often see him with his close friend , Mr Shogu , a Muslim from his locality /Mohalla ( Zaindaar Mohalla Srinagar) .He was much above caste creed and religious divide . Autar Ji , At this time , my mind is flooded with memories of old theatre comrades and stalwarts who were dedicated people and pioneers or trend setters . How many should I name and how many can you record ? So many names most of whom have left for their heavenly abodes . Peace be to their souls . We even had master Zinda kaul ji’s ( Kashmiri Poet ) son who would come to act during a time when theatre actors were treated shabbily by the society and nicknamed as Raas-kath . They never thought about anything in return from Theatre . Triloke also set up a Theatre group in Jammu much before 1990 that came to be known as Peoples Theatre Jammu .”

After his return from Chennai , Theatre continued to remain a high priority for him and along with Chaman lal Chrungoo, Suraj Narain Tiku, O N Khazanchi , M L Saraf and some other Artists , he founded his own theatre that came to be known as KALA KENDRA . For the first time in the history of theatre in Kashmir , Prithvi Raj Kapoor came all the way from Mumbai to inaugurate a professional Drama group at Shivala In Srinagar city .

KALA KENDRA was set up inside Shivala Mandir Near Chotta Bazaar / Neelam Cinema in Srinagar city. It was from this Shivala premises only that first professional Drama club known as SUDHAAR SAMITI NATAK VIBHAAG was set up in 1952 .Prior to that there existed IPTA theatre group in Kashmir that worked under the banner of Quomi Cultural front .

Though unwell at that point of time , Triloke Dass also acted in Bashir Budgami’s award winning Tele film “ Habba Khatoon”. He had already done a theatre version of a play on life and works of Habba Khatoon that was written by Dina Nath Madhreir ( Sugar ) .He did remarkable roles in some other plays like Mangoo, Paagal Graduate , Aaraam Haraam Hai and Baadshaah .

Theatre personality Shakeel Rehman informs me ,

" He was a great actor . A friend ,philosopher and a guide. I worked with him in Bashir Budgami's Film Habba Khatoon. We were together when we formed Casual Artists association for Radio and TV of which Sudhama ji koul was president and Triloke ji was vice president .He was brave , outspoken and a real Human being "

 Sh Bansi Raina adds,

“Kala Kendra had a talented and wonderful team.Trilok Dass...Suraj Narayan Tikoo....Chaman Lal Charangu...Ibne Adam....Omkar Khazanchi....LAxmi RAFNarayan Koul ....Kishen Langu....Hirday Nath Gurtu....Som Nath Sumbli....ML SaRAF(initially) ...Piyare Lal Razdan.....MK Raina....Bansi Koul and others.Papa Trilok Dass was the director.He was a very talented actor / director .Even though he carried a big moustache and had ROBDAAR personality , he was a gentle and a very decent human being.I was inspired by him. Though he came to Radio plays much later ,yet his presence on TV and Stage dwarfed every one. A great human being, a great actor who should have been on the forefront of any theatre history of the state. Biggest tragedy of theatre in the state has been that real people and contributors have been sidelined in theatre history compilations.”

Adds Farooq Nazki,

“ Papa or Triloke Dass was the most dignified , soft spoken, talented  and affectionate Artist .He had his own style .He had a rich voice that came very close to the legendry Prithivi Raj Kapoor . “

Adds Bashir Budgami ,

“Das sahib, besides being an excellent actor was kind hearted, loving and affectionate. I have many memories of him and i would write in detail about him someday.”
          ( Triloke Dass in Habba Khatoon Photo Source Sh Bashir Ahmed Budgami )

some years back when I met Playwright sajood sailani , he also made specific mention about acting talent of Triloke Dass. Triloke ji had acted in his play TAAENT KORR written by Sajood Sailani that was staged by KALA KENDRA . The play had a theme based on national integration and was successfully staged in Tagore hall in Kashmir.

I believe anything written on him shall be incomplete unless one makes some mention of his helping attitude and teacher cum trainer like qualities. These qualities and attitude made him to provide a platform and some initial training to M K Raina ( well Known theatre personality of the country who later graduated from NSD ), Bansi Koul and Upinder Khashoo . Even Musician Kishan Ji Langoo also remained associated with KALA KENDRA . Well known theatre artists namely Laxmi Narayan Kaul and Som Nath sumbly were also associated with KALA KENDRA .

Adds well known theatre actor shadi lal Kaul,

“ Triloke Dass shall always remain on the high pedestal of theatre in Kashmir. Any body writing on history of Theatre movement in Kashmir cannot ignore him. What a great actor he was ? I did a play “ WAQTUKK- CHAKKRA ” with him for Door Darshan . He was a very senior artist and out of affection and regard , we would call him Paa’pa or Paapa ji . “

Another couplet of Ghalib that he recited one day in a marriage gathering (where i was also present) , probably meant a humble self estimation in his unique style .....i quote

Hum kahaan ke daana thhay  Kis hunar mein yakta thhay,
Be-sabab huvaa Ghalib  Dushman aasmaan apnaa..

( Autar Mota )
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Sunday, May 10, 2015



( PHOTO Autar Mota )


The Karewas ( plateaus ) of Kashmir, also known as WUDUR , provide fertile soil for any profitable agricultural activity. The karewas of Pampore produce the best quality Saffron in the world. So would the Karewas near present Airport in Srinagar,also known as DAMODAR WUDUR, grow the best quality Almonds in the country.I have also seen quality almonds crops on Parihasspora and Martand Karewas.

Close to independence period (1947) , these Karewas also grew almost 40% of the cotton produced in kashmir valley.

These Karewas or plateaus also produce quality fruits, and walnuts .

In our recent past,these Karewas also supplied Black Cumin seeds (Kaala Zeera ), Mushiq Budij or a fragrant variety Rice and high quality Cucumber seeds (l Kheera Seeds ) to Srinagar city.
While lower plains in Kashmir provide us Gurti (clay), Bahil (Loam), Sekil (Sandy), Nambal (Peats), Surzamin and Lemb soils, Karewas in particular are the richest source of Most fertile alluvial soil in Kashmir .

Irrigated by Martand canal , the oldest canal in Kashmir (It takes its water from the river Liddar at Ganeshpora and travels about 50 kms ), the Martand Karewa in south Kashmir produces Paddy , fruits , Almonds and Walnuts .

The Martand canal moves through Village Aishmuqam , salia and Seer and goes up the adjoining hills to irrigate the entire Khoveripora and Dachinpora 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,fertile soil and the open sunshine of the karewa ,sultan Zain Ul Abdin or King Budshah, encouraged people to raise sugarcane crops on this plateau, something unheard in Kashmir .

As per Historians , the wise king made the first daring and serious attempt to grow sugarcane commercially in Kashmir .

And Jonaraja ends his Rajatarangini as under..

" A collection of wonderful things was made in the kingdom during the reign of this king(Zain Ul Abdin), otherwise how could he be the incarnation of Narayana? He planted the country round Marttanda with sugarcane, compared to which ,the nectar that flows from the moon is as poor as Beggar"

( Page 97 Kings of Kashmir's 2nd series "The Rajatarangini of Jonaraja " translated from original Sanskrit by Jogesh Chander Dutt Published by Gyan Publishing House,5 Ansari Road ,Daryaganj New Delhi)


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Wednesday, May 6, 2015



                                                     (Photo Source Wikipedia )
Cotton was grown in all areas of kashmir valley upto a certain elevation that could not be more than 6000 feet from sea level .These plants can not withstand cold air. Suitable places for cotton plantation in Kashmir used to be sunny Karewas ( Plateaus ) or low lying areas with sufficient irrigation facilities and sunshine . Credit must go to king Zain Ul Abdin for rejuvenating cotton growing activity in Kashmir by importing quality seeds from central Asia .
Frequently ploughed soil that was well pulverized was ideal for cotton plantation. Cotton Seed was soaked in water and mixed with ashes and not much manure was needed for the plant after plantation. April end used to be the sowing season. The plant rarely grew more than 2 feet in height .It was remunerative for the farmer and the State that collected Taxes on its production . A kashmiri farmer also extracted oil from cotton seeds apart from using the oil extracted seed cakes as a good feed for his cattle .
The Industry suffered a major jolt after the opening of Jhelum valley road when Cheap Machine made fabric landed in valley . The local Industry almost suffered a fatal blow and by independence time ( 1947 ) Cotton cultivation was not a part of agriculture activity In Kashmir .
I quote local words used in the cotton manufacturing ,
1 kapas or kapas posh …. Cotton or cotton flower 

 2 Phumbb.... A soft cotton Ball

3 Ko'dd… Carder … ( who beat the cotton to remove dirt and dust . Also known as Dhoo’n . After the arrival of Islam , a community of artisans known as Beften ( Persian Word meaning cotton Dresser ) also came to Kashmir who were Nicknamed as BAFANDS or Bafanda ( Present surname ). Nadafs as these are called in UP or Bafandfas of Kashmir were artisans engaged in cotton dressing . Many Bafandaas became kaalbaafs ( carpet weavers ) after carpet weaving was started in Kashmir and also after death of cotton Industry.
4 Taa'yyii …. Genarally a lady who weaves thread from raw cotton on the spinning needle.
5 Vo'vurr …. Weaver using Handloom
6 Dho'bb … Washerman who would wash the cotton before it went to the tailor .
7 Sae'tch … A Tailor who made clothes from the cloth .
                              ( Cloth Making activity in rural kashmir photo 1922.)

Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani noted scholar and poet adds,

“ Pan Festval of kashmiri Pandits  is actually the festival of newly spun cotton with twin agricultural goddesses Bhima.and Garba being worshipped as its central deities. These goddesses later merged into the mysterious folk figure of Beeb Garabh Maae'j. Ganesh was also worshipped on the occasion but the worship of Lakshmi appears to be a much later affair. Cotton seems to have been cultivated in Kashmir till the early years of the 20th century, but the cultivation was discontinued perhaps because of economic non-viability. When exactly did that happen is not certain. The Kashmiri word "kapas" for cotton is derived from Sanskrit "karpaasa' from which we also have Hindi "kapaas".”

Kashmiris would often say " Massus ti Vanaan Kapuss " or " Hair is also known as cotton  " implying that it needs to be dressed up and kept free from dirt and dust .
Lalleshwari or Lal Ded has established Grand presence of cotton Industry in Kashmir through her Vaakhs wherein she has used cotton as a Metaphor .. I quote the Vaakhs (with my simple English rendering) ,
“ Aami Paa’na sadruss naavi chuss lamaan
Kattie Bozi Daa’y Myon Metti Diyaa Taa’r “
( With Loosely spun cotton thread ,
I tow this boat of existence ,
Would the lord listen my request ,
And carry me across )
Lall Ba Draayus Kapssse Poshe Satcheyii
Kaae’d Ta Dhooen Karnumm Yatchiy”aa Lu’thh
Tuyii Yelli Khaarnumm Zaavijj Tuye
Vovir Vaa’na Gayumm Alaae’nz Luthh..

( Here lalla I moved out ,
desiring to bloom like a cotton flower ,
There came the Carder,
Beating me to eliminate all dust and filth from my being.
The spinner put me over the needle to change me to supple yarn
Hanging me on his loom ,
The weaver shaped me to a coarse cloth . “
( Autar Mota )

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


                                               ( Walnut on a tree Photo source Wikipedia )



WALNUT TREE is Doo’en Kull in kashmiri . 

Indigenous to Kashmir, It grows in all places above an altitude of 5000 feet from sea level up to an altitude of  of 8000 feet . The tree is propagated from seeds or grafting . A tree gives first fruit after 6 years and fully matures for fruit production after 12 years . The tree also attains a great size and spread .Unfortunately old and traditional methods are still employed in picking walnuts from a tree in Kashmir. A long stick called Laaenz in local parlance, is employed to shake branches and the walnuts fall to ground. Many accidents do take place every season during walnut picking season in Kashmir.
In kashmir we have three main varieties of walnuts . Kaagzi , Burzul and Wonth. The wonth variety is hard with more of hard shell and very little of the kernel . It is a wild variety and is not a commercial cash crop. Other two varieties are marketed and grown mainly in Kupwara and Shopian belts though every area in Kashmir valley has walnut trees .I have also seen Good variety of walnuts  only in Banihaal  Area of jammu Province . Otherwise Walnuts produced in  Kishtwar , Bhaderwah , Poonch , Rajouri fall mostly in Wonth category ..

Inspite of the fact that Walnut is a protected tree , its unauthorized felling by smugglers has not stopped . The wood of this tree is termite resistant , dark and hard and as such very expensive . The walnut Wood carving Industry of Kashmir depends on this tree alone 
The bark of this tree was used for cleaning teeth and gums and known as DANDAASA .

Due to presence of  antioxidants and its " Bad Cholesterol" reducing properties , Walnut demand has shown a spurt over the years .Accordingly ,the prices of Walnuts have skyrocketed to about 400 to 450 rupees per kg with kernel selling at Rs1000 to Rs1100 per kg in domestic Market.
Enough needs to be done for survival of walnut industry in Kashmir as China , Iran , USA , Turkey ,Mexico and even a small country like Ukarine ( 1 lakh Tonnes production annually )are far ahead in Grading , preservation and export of quality walnut in world market. According to reliable sources , Kashmir produces about 35000 to 40000 Tonnes of walnuts annually which is about 95% of total walnut production of the country . The domestic demand for walnuts is likely to shoot up to 75000 tonnes per annum by 2020. Based on this survey, states like Uttarkhand, Himachal and Arunachal Pradesh have already started fresh plantation of high quality walnut trees .Much needs to be done in our state .

Dependent on valley’s crop , Most of the Grading and walnut export cum Trading units are presently located in Jammu where from kernel is exported to Europe and USA .This Kernel is generally used in Bakery and confectionery .

Kashmiri Pandits also use soaked walnuts during shivratri Puja They also send soaked walnuts to their married Daughters during shivratri celebrations apart from distributing them amongst friends , relations and neighbors .Soaked walnuts are also used in Kalash Pooja during marriage functions and Homas ( Hawans ) by kashmiri Pandits .

 In 1988, I met a Kashmiri Brahman in Mattan kashmir  , who informed me that during 19th century , Walnut shell or tree Bark ink was also used in drawing sketches and images by Brahmans who prepared Almanac  (Jantris) ,  Horoscopes (Zaataks) and wrote religious texts   .

I conclude this walnut tree story with a poem of Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963 ) titled “WALNUT TREE “. Loved by all Turks but Persecuted for decades by Turkish establishment for his Marxist beliefs , Nazim Hikmet lived an exile’s life .He died in Russia and lies buried in Moscow …..


My head foaming clouds, 
sea inside me and out
I am a walnut tree in Gulhane Park
an old walnut, knot by knot, shred by shred
Neither you are aware of this, nor the police
I am a walnut tree in Gulhane Park
My leaves are nimble, nimble like fish in water
My leaves are sheer, sheer like a silk handkerchief
pick, wipe, my rose, the tear from your eyes
My leaves are my hands, I have one hundred thousand
I touch you with one hundred thousand hands, I touch Istanbul
My leaves are my eyes, I look in amazement
I watch you with one hundred thousand eyes, I watch Istanbul
Like one hundred thousand hearts, beat, beat my leaves
I am a walnut tree in Gulhane Park
neither you are aware of this, nor the police”

(2 )
ALMOND TREE is known as Badaam Kull In kashmiri.
Almonds grow ideally on Karewas in Kashmir though these also grow everywhere in Kashmir valley upto an altitude of 7000 feet from sea level .We had many large Almond fields on Damodar karewas near present Airport . Almonds are also gown in Traal ,Kunzar ( Tangarg ) , Pampore ,Ranbirpora karewa and many other areas of Pulwama , Shopian, Anantnaag and Budgaam districts in kashmir. I also saw an almond Orchard close to Buddhist ruins on Parihaaspura Karewa ( Plateau ) .

The Badaam Vaari or almond field near Hari Parbat , now , has a well laid out Garden with flower beds and pathways. 

An almond tree gives fine blooms in early spring and the crop matures in September / October . Kashmiri Almond tree does not ordinarily grow beyond 15 feet in height though I saw some trees as high as 25 feet and these could be noticeable exceptions . An almond tree matures for production after 6 to 7 years after being planted .It needs a Mediterranean type of climate .

The fruit consists of an outer hull, Hard shell and soft oily edible seed . Sometimes the hard shell has two seeds . The seed is used for bakery , confectionery and eaten raw or after being salted and fried .
Unfortunately , kashmiri almond Industry is still Primitive and dependent on nature whereas In USA , it is highly mechanized . The orchards in Kashmir are more than 50 years old and need immediate scientific rejuvenation. kashmir ‘s almond tree is also attacked by insects and parasites .

The American variety known as Californian Almonds have captured entire world market . Kashmiri Almonds meet mostly domestic consumption in valley and are Traded mostly in Jammu by Dry fruit traders . Some Dry Fruit Traders in Delhi and Amritsar also trade in these almonds .
Smaller in size , kashmiri almond kernel is sweet and oily . Lately , Grading has also been started for kashmiri almonds to improve marketing . We now have something called ONE TREE ALMONDS that belong to one tree and have similar shape and size Lately .

In Amritsar Dry Fruit Mandi , I found Almonds from Afghanistan arriving and being traded in Bulk. A trader informed me that this stuff is gradually capturing market in North India .

In Kashmir we have Burzul ( known as Kaagzi ouside Kashmir )variety of almonds for consumption while the bitter variety that has a hard shell and bitter seed / Kernel is used for extracting oil sold as ROGAN E BADAAM .

Like Walnuts , almond grading and breaking units are also located in Jammu wherefrom Kernel is marketed .The present price of quality almond kernel of Kashmir is Rs 850 to Rs 950 per kg.
Crushed almonds are an important ingredient of famous kashmiri Kehwa tea .
Almonds are a good source of Potassium, Minerals , and vitamin E and these are believed to be having bad cholesterol reducing properties .

                                                    ( Almonds Fruit on a tree  Photo Source Wikipedia )
Almonds have also attracted the attention of many kashmiri poets . I have come across many poems in world literature wherein the poet has compared the eyes of beloved with a beautiful looking almond. So have many kashmiri poets called their beloved’s eyes as CHASHM E BADAAM .

( Autar Mota.... To Be continued ) 

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.