Saturday, December 12, 2009


"I do not know how to thank Bhat sahib . God bless him and his family where ever he is . In fact it was he who gave employment to my son .He was from this village khrew . He was a very senior officer in state bank of India ."

said Ghulam Nabi who met us at Village khrew and who joined us on foot to the Hill top shrine of Jwala ji .

The temple is located on Zabarwan mountain range on a small hillock overlooking Khrew Village . A flight of about 350 devri stone steps up from the base takes you to the shrine .The temple is in fine kashmiri wooden architecture with Blck stone image Jwala ji inside . Khrew is about 20kms from srinagar .Even though the area is undergoing rapid developments on account of location of various cement Industries , the road from Athwajan to Khrew and finally to Wastarwan continues to be in a bad shape. The shocker of my car had to be replaced after this journey. we returned from pamore . That road is in better shape.

This shrine is dedicated to Fire Goddess Jwala ji .Jwala ji is Ishta devi of many kashmiri Pandits .kashmiri Pandits organize a fair at this shrine on 14th bright fortnight of Ashada ( June - July ). Yellow rice or TAHAR ( a kashmiri tradition ) and SHOOSHNOR ( Lamb's lung ) are offerred to the deity . As per Twareekhe- Hassan , occasional flames sparked in this temple from time to time .Some elders from the village Khrew also confirmed having seen the flames in early sixties .
Kalhana makes clear mention of springs of the area .We also saw a well maintained spring in Khrew .
" Here on the twelfth of the dark half of Jyeshta , he will come for the pilgrimage of TAKSAKA ; ____ "
(Taranga I canto 220 Taksaka Naga is nothing but the sacred spring at ZEWAN ( Jayvana ) .This Spring is believed to be the abode of patron saint of the saffron fields which grow in the neighbourhood. )
The temple is in good shape . It was also informed to us that a Brahmin from nearby village Lodhoo visits this temple for Puja once a week.
Mohd sultan a resident of Lodhoo added
" See those cement factories and see the smoke rising from them. It comes down on us and these saffron fields "
That was a story on Jwala ji temple of Khrew which we visited in september 2009.
Sab Ki Pujaa Ek Si , Alag Alag Hai Reet.
Masjid Jaaye Moulavi , Koel Gaaye Geet .
Barkhaa sab ko Daan De ,Jitni Jis ki Pyaas .
Moti Si Yeh seep me , Maati Me yeh Gaas.
( Nida Fazili )

Monday, December 7, 2009


Dekh To Dil Ki jaan Se Uthataa hai .
Ye dhuan Saa kahaan se Uthataa hai.
Yuun uthe Aah us gali se ham,
Jaise koi jahaan se Uthtaa hai.
Naalaa sar khenchtaa hai jab mera,
Shor ek Aasmaan se uthataa hai.
( Mir Taqi Mir )

This is how Dry Chinar leaf charcoal is made in kashmir. This charcoal is locally known as Punn Tsenei( Chinar Leaf Charcoal ) .This charcoal is most effective tool to fight winter in kashmir. It is used in Kangris . During October and november you see people burning these leaves in parks and gardens to make charcoal. There is a skill involved in making charcaol from these dry Chinar leaves . A stick , water buckets and a technique to douse flames is needed . A little carelessness and you have just Ash .

Now i shall say something about Samad Mir . Samad Mir (1894-1959) was an Aari Kash(Timber sawing ) at Timber godowns in Srinagar for most part of his life. Born in village Nambal haar , he moved to srinagar in search of livelihood. He also worked as a labourer in Maharaja Hari singh 's palace in srinagar .This experience he put in his long poem Vepraavun pyom( i had to make compromises ).He was almost illiterate. Inspite of this ,he rose to become one of the towering Mystical poets of kashmiri Language who combined Islamic Sufism with Hindu Vedanta in his poetry. Samad Mir has used the folk tale of Akanandun to give expression to his own mystical experiences and present a synthesis between Tassavuf and Shaivism .

Dulloo family had many houses in Rainawari. They Lived in Moti Yaar area .During their marriages, they would Call the renowned CHAKRI singer Gh Ahmed sofi ( Ama Kandhur ) , who lived in Rainawari, to sing for the Mehndi Raat . In One such gathering late sofi sahib sang a beautiful composition of Samad Mir called TARAWATI . It is actually a combination of Hindu Shaivism and Islamic Tassavuf at its peak. The Number became popular in kashmir as TARAWATI ( Name of a Kashmiri Pandit women Generally ) . I quote some lines from this poem:-

Praraan Praraan Tarawati
Aeti Tse Nazar Traav .
Puzai Khaarith Jaafir Fatiye
Aeti Tse Nazar Traav.
( samad Mir )

( O Tarawati! why do you wait for thy Lord?
look around thy self only .
Baskets full of marigold you bring for your Puja ,
Look around thyself only .)
( Translation a k mota )

Another poem of samad Mir goes as under

Tunn Naar Daez Aarwali
Kyoh Kalee karu Thehraav.
Yaavunn Lolhath loli,
Bei Akki Latti Roi Haav,
Dohay Vuchh Hai Thali Thali ,
Kyoh Kali Karu Thehraav.
( samad Mir )

Saturday, December 5, 2009




"You know there was a poet in our Kashmir, Ghani by name, who was well known as “Ghani Kashmiri.” A poet from Iran came to visit him. The doors of his house were open. He used to say, “What’s there in my house that I should keep the doors locked? Well, I keep the doors closed when I’m inside the house because I am its only asset.” The poet from Iran left his poetry note book in the vacant house. One couplet in that notebook was incomplete. He had composed the second line but could not do the first one. The second line ran thus: “The smell of kebab is wafting from your clothes.” When the Iranian poet returned and looked in his note book, he found the first line written there: “Has the hand of ablighted soul touched your fore-cloth?”Pundit-ji, I am also a blighted soul. I’ve taken issue with you because I am dedicating this book to you."

Sa‘adat Hassan Manto

This is how Saadat Hassan Manto Made mention of Poet Ghani Kashmiri in his famous letter addressed to Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru sent just before his death in Lahore Pakistan.


Like the potter's thread,
your tresses made me dazed and senseless,
severing the head (pot)
from the body (lump of clay).

This verse, contained in "Dewan-e-Ghani", had a kashmiri word KRAALPAN meaning Potter's Thread .Saib Tabrizi ( 1601-1677 ) ,well known Persian poet from Isfahan Iran, unable to understand the meaning of a famous verse - in which Ghani had intermingled both Persian and Kashmiri words - travelled all the way from IRAN to Kashmir to meet him. When the Iranian poet arrived ,Ghani Kashmiri was not at his residence but out some where yet the doors of his house were open. Allama Iqbal refers to this incident thus:

That nightingale of poetry, Ghani,
Who sang in Kashmir’s paradisal land,
Used, while at home, to shut up all the doors,
But leave them open while away from home.
Somebody questioned him concerning this.
"O charming bard," he said, "Why do you do
This strange thing, which nobody understands
The meaning of ?" Ghani, who had no wealth
Except his gift of poetry, replied:
"What people see me doing is quite right.
There is nothing of any value in my house
Except myself. When I am in, the house
Is to be guarded like a treasure-house.
When I am out, it is an empty place,
Which nobody would care to walk into."

Mulla Mohd Tahir Ashai or Ghani kashmiri was the most famous persian poet of the subcontinent who was widely read in Iran .He was a student of another unsung persian poet of kasmir known as mulla Hassan Fani. Ghani belonged to the highly respected Ashai family of Kashmir.He never attended any Darbar or wrote any Qasida ( poetry of Praise ) for any ruler of his time.He even refused to visit Aurangzeb's Court when summoned repeatedly by the Mughal King. 

This 17th century poet lived during the reign of Aurangzeb and till this day he is considered one of the great masters of Persian poetry. This Kashmiri poet exerted a great influence on the development of persian and urdu poetry in India . He is considered a great master of SABAK E HINDI or THE INDIAN STYLE OF PERSIAN POETRY patronized by Mughals ..Mirza Ghalib translated more than 40 of his couplets into urdu. Kashmir Poet Ghulam Ahmed Mahjoor refers to him in his famous poem ‘Arise, O’ Gardener’:

Litterateurs of Iran will bow
To you in reverence
if you create a poet with powers of
magical narration like Ghani.

Ghani also wrote in urdu . I quote one of his couplets as under

"Dil yun khayale zulf mein phirta hai n'ara zan

Taarik shab mein jaise koi pasban phire"

I have always said that kashmiris have neglected their icons . It applies truly to Ghani Kashmiri .Ironically his writings are prescribed as study material for scholars in Iran , but just outside  in Rajouri kadal area ( Downtown kashmir ) lies his dilapidated house and neglected grave .I end this post with a Persian couplet of Ghani kashmiri..

Husn e Sabz e Bakhat e Sabz Maara kard Aseer
Daam Hamrang e Zamin Bud Giriftaar Shudam

Splendid Down 
set against a splendid face had me trapped .
the snare matched the ground 
And i was trapped .

( Autar Mota )

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


( Photo Avtar Mota )

Started in 1958 to mark Rabindra Nath Tagore ( 1861-1941 ) Centenary Celebrations , TAGORE HALL SRINAGAR was inaugurated by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed In 1961 .  Shri Morarji Desai was the chief guest at the time of inauguration. It  remains the main centre of Cultural activities in Kashmir even though bigger events are held now in SKICC on Dal Banks . 
I have witnessed Many plays , Musical programmes , Theatre Festivals , Mushairaas and Public functions in this Hall. Prior to Turmoil , this hall has been a breeding ground for almost all the actors and theatre Personalities of Kashmir . This Hall has a seating capacity of 675 persons .

Remembering Tagore Hall,   Artist Bansi Raina adds ,

“Tagore hall taught us ,how plays can be presented with the help of sets...lights..cyclorama .Tagore hall taught us how an artist should react in a house full or  huge gatherings. Prior to Tagore hall ...we had facilities as Shivala, Women”s College , Teachers Training college...but without basics. it had magic.The credit for revival of theatre in kashmir valley goes to Tagore Hall.Tagore Hall was our Mandir.My association with it stated in sixties with a play by ISJohar named Budh Kaam Shudh under the banner of a theatre "Kalasangam situated at Wazir Bagh.Latter Bansi Parimu dragged me from coffee house to help in arrangements for Ali Mohd Lone’s   play  TAQDEERSAZ   presented by Rangmanch  Theatre. It was annual Drama festival.The play was a great success and remained a topic for discussion in coffee House for weeks. Thereafter ,as a member of Rangmanch theatre, my association continued with Tagore Hall till eighties with occasional absence because of PAPI PEIT. The Incharge officer  of Tagore Hall was Padam Shri Moti Lal Kemmu and his deputy my friend Hasrat Gadda.Yadoon ki Baraat.”

Many fond memories are linked with this Hall. Memories of Assa singh Mastana and Surrinder kaur memories of Runa Laila singing Damaa Dum Mast qalandhar , Memories of Begum Akhtar , memories of some Mushiaras wherein poets like Firaq Gorakhpuri , Arsh Malsiani and Bashir Badr participated . Mohd Rafi and Talat Mehmood performed in this hall . Pandit Birju Maharaj danced over here. 

Dina Nath Naadim’s  celebrated opera  Vitasta was also performed at Tagore Hall with Mirza Afzal Beg as chief guest. He came to Dais after the show was over to hug Makhan Lal Saraf and shower bouquets of praise for Naadim  ,G R Santosh ,Pran kishore and the Artists.  Makhan lal Saraf  played the role of Neel Naag or father of bride Vitasta at that point of time.

Adds Bashir Ahmed Siraj,

“This building was in its prime during the early sixties. The stage was fully equipped with modern light and acoustic systems, curtain operation and various other stage props commonly used in performances. I was involved with production of a few performances of a play by Akhtar Mohidin, and a play by Krishen Chander named Kitab Ka Kaffan. I also produced a magic show in this hall, through a magician friend from Bombay. Makhan Lal Saraf, Omkar Aima, Hirday Nath Gurtoo are some of the names that come to mind who acted in the play by Akhtar. “

And this Tagore Hall is currently closed .The Renovation of Tagore Hall was started in 2008 but I found it incomplete when I visited the site in 2014. I do not know what further damage the floods of sep 2014 did to this structure . We are now led to believe that the Hall shall be ready by October 2015 .

And Similar lies the fate of Abhinav Theatre ( Inaugurated in 1978 seating capacity 805 persons ) Jammu that is closed for some repairs / renovation since long.

( Avtar Mota )


--This post was updated on 19.05.2015 .
--Inside Jammu University’s New Complex across Tawi Bridge , Prof Amitabh Mattoo the then VC built a sprawling Modern Auditorium ( Zorawar Singh Auditorium ) , many times bigger than Tagore Hall , in less than three years .

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Sunday, November 29, 2009


This post is for children of our state who have also seen pain and suffering :
Naye Daur ke Naye Khwaab Hain ,
Naye Mausamon ke Gulaab Hain,
Ye Mohabbaton ke Chiraag Hain ,
Inhein Naf-Raton Ki Hawaa Na Dhe.

Mein Gazal Ke Shabnami Aankh Se ,
Ye Dukhon Ke Phool Chunaa Karoon ,
Meri Sal-tanat Mera Fun Rahe
Mujho Taajo Takht Khudaa Na Dhe .
( Bashir Badr )


These views have been taken in November 2009 exactly behind Hotel Shangrilla in Sonawar srinagar . There is a narrow walk way on the Jhelum Bund over here . These are all morning views . You can see Chinars in the Morning haze spreading gold on the pathway.

Na Gilaa Kiyaa na Khafaa huye ,
Yun Hi Raaste Me Judaa huye ,
Na Tu Bewafa Na Mein BeWafa
Jo Guzar Gayaa So Guzar Gayaa.
Woh Vafaayein thi ke Jafaayein Thi ,
Na Yeh Sonch kis ki Khatayein thi,
Woh Tera hai Usko Galey Lagaa
Jo Guzar Gaya so Guzar Gaya .
( Bashir Badr )


These lines too for my belovd Kashmir .

Mein Tamaam Taarey Uthaa Uthaa
Ke Gareeb Logon Me Baant Dhoon,
Kabhi Ek Raat woh Aasamaan
Ka Nizaam De Mere Haath Me .
Kabhi Saat Rangon Ka Phool Hoon
Kabhi Dhoop Hoon Kabhi Dhool Hoon,
Mein Tamaam Kapdey Badal Chukaa
Tere Mausamon ki Baraat Me .
( Bashir Badr )


Those who have lived in kashmir know what Kangri is . It is a poor Man's weapon to fight terrible winter . Kangri is actually an earthen pot covered by fine willow work . Charcoal is put in it and it is held close to body to transmit heat. Kashmiris carry it underneath the pheran. Some are so experienced in handling it that they can sleep with it in their bed. None can say that he did not use it should he have stayed in kashmir during winter season.

Pheran is the long overall or apparel used in kashmir to keep body warm. kashmiris who live in plains also use it during winter season.So fashionable did it turn during seventies that even Mrs Gandhi , Pandit Ravi Shanker , V P Singh and many prominent personalities photographed themselves in Pheran.It is certaily an overall warmer.
Jejeer ( Hookah ) or the hubble Bubble is an old entertainment with Kashmiris . In olden days, even women would enjoy it ( Both Pandit and Muslim ). Having a Jejeer in the house meant keeping a kangri burning for the Chillum. Keeping a box of Tobacco. My Grandfather( Mother's side ) was used to this Jejeer .Whenever we would go to his house in ZainaKadal , i did have a puff or two from his jejeer in his absence .
Aankhon Me Rahaa Dil Me uttar Kar Nahin Dekha.
Kashti Ke musafir ne samander Nahin Dekha.
Pather Mujhe Kehtaa Hai Mera Chaahne wala,
Mein Mom Hoon Usne Mujhe Chhu Kar Nahin Dekha.
( Bashir Badr )
You just entered my eyes only ,
Alas! you ignored this heart nearby.
O traveller of a small boat in the river ,
You never experienced the ocean.
Love! call me not an insensitive stone ,
For you have never touched this wax soft heart.
( Translation from original urdu A K Mota )
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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autar mota


As promised i am uploding some late autumn Views of Naseem Bagh srinagar . The Chinars are spreading gold everywhere. Mrs Indira Gandhi would come to srinagar in late November every Year to enjoy these Chinars and their fascinating leaves shedding season.The photographs have been taken in November 2009.

Hamaara Dil Savera Ka sunehara Jaam Ho Jaaye .
Chiraagon ki Tarah Aankhen Jalein Jab Shaam Ho Jaaye
Ujaale Apni Yadon Ke Hamaare Saath Rahne Do
Na Jaane Kis Gali Me Zindgi Ki Shaam Ho Jaaye
( Bashir Badr )