Wednesday, September 16, 2009



Kashmir is a land of walnuts . Walnuts are grown in plenty in areas falling between the elevations of 5000 feet to 8000 feet from sea level.. The tree is propagated from seeds and grafting is also done .The tree is protected under government legislation and liberal felling is not allowed.. A walnut tree gives first fruit after 6 years of plantation . The tree matures for crop after 12 years . This time lag has made people to shift to apple tree plantation where the crop is fast and returns are stable . Kupwara has come up as the largest Walnut growing area of Kashmir . It has overtaken Shopian now.
Old walnut trees are felled with permission and the wood is used for making Furniture and exquisite walnut wood carved items . This wood carving is an industry in Kashmir and about 9000 to 10000 people survive because of this activity only . Walnut wood carving items are exported to Europe , America and Gulf . The bark of this tree used to be exported to Punjab and other states as DANDASAA ( used for Mouth and teeth cleansing mostly by ladies ). Picking walnuts from a tree is a tough job. Many accidents do take place in this process every year as men have to climb tall trees and shake branches with large sticks ( Called Laanz in Kashmiri ) for walnuts to fall on ground. I have seen many trees after the picking is over with a large quantity of walnuts on them as none dared to go up for fear of a fall or fatal injury .
Mainly three varities of walnuts are grown in valley . These varities are locally called WONTH, KAGAZI AND BURZUL. The Wonth is a hard Nut to crack and has thick and large outer shell and small kernel. It is mostly sold locally and used for extracting oil . The Kagzi is a better sized walnut and has thin outer shell but thick and good sized inner kernel . one can crack Kagzi in hands only . The inner kernel of the Kagzi variety is white . The Burzul is a medium size variety a little dark and with a little thicker outer shell . The inner kernel is not so white but tasty . This walnut too breaks easily . It is presently acid washed to make it look like Kagzi .Strangely Walnut grading units are mostly located in Jammu wherefrom the Kernel is exported to Europe , America and other countries . Walnut kernel is mainly used in Bakery and confectionery world over. Local consumption is on a smaller scale . Kashmiri Pandits use walnuts for Shivratri Puja. They also send water soaked walnuts to friends , relatives ,neighbours and most significantly a subsatantial quantity to their married daughters . In valley local consumption is gradually picking up . With the opening of world economy , China is now exporting a better and cheaper variety of Walnuts to major countries of the world .This has badly hit the walnut industry in Valley.
While driving along the Boulevard , Srinagar  , I could find some local Farmers busy in washing freshly picked walnuts on the banks this lake Lake . These walnuts shall be packed in gunny bags and sold to local traders who in turn shall further sell them to Jammu based Grading units . Enjoy these views captured by me some days back. .I conclude this post with two lines from a Gazal of Urdu poet Zubair Rizvi..

Hamaari Bastiyon par door tak umdaa huvaa Baadal
Hawaa ka Rukh agar Badlaa to Sehraaon pe Barsegaa.

( Autar Mota) 

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