Sunday, October 28, 2012





Water, so essential to life on this planet was perhaps provided free to us by nature .Our selfishness made us to spoil it wherever it existed . We even did not spare the sources. We treated our lakes shabbily dumping all our wastes . They  got choked and contaminated . We threw our drains and sewerages back to the pure water source below the soil making everything unfit for consumption. The village wells have since dried up . The village ponds are nothing less than mud and filth . Our underground water has arsenic , lead and other poisonous substances .Our rivers carry entire filth of the lanes and drains of our cities .we have angered the rain god as well. Where is the water to drink now?

Yes buy in bottles and pay for the collective negligence .Buy a litre for 12 Rupees or 15 Rupees or 20 Rupees or even 80 rupees . On my recent visit to Goa , I bought it at Rs 15 a litre from the market . Again inside the departure lounge of  Indira Gandhi international Airport  I bought half a litre HIMALAYAN brand drinking water bottle  for   Rs40 . The Hotel where I stayed for my morning flight to Goa charged Rs40 for one litre bottle .

I have also checked up and found that the wholesale price of  a litre bottle of quality  drinking water  is just Rs 6 to 7 only. The manufacturer must be selling for Rs4 to 5 at the most . A huge margin ranging from Rs5 to 75 per litre bottle is coughed up by the  greedy men involved in the supply chain  of this commodity. Does any authority  regulate the sale price of bottled drinking water in the country ?Every one  needs  to know .Could  any person let us know?
 Should not our government  intervene and ensure that the sale price of one   litre bottle  of drinking water does not go beyond Rs10 at any station or centre in the country?  I am sure we shall be shortly buying this commodity at Rs100 a litre .

Aey Mouje balaa Unko Bhi Zara - Do Chaar Thapeide Halqe Se ,
 Kuchh Log Abi Taq Saahil se Tufaan Kaa Nazaara kartey Hain    . 

(O High Tide! Reach to them and splash them gently three four times ,

Since some  people still continue to watch the turbulence

from the safe distance of the sea shore)

(  Photo And Text by Autar Mota  )

28th October  Sunday 2012 .. Time 3.20 PM Good Afternoon
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:\\\.



 One can see a variety of boats in lakes and rivers of kashmir. you can see a House Boat , A shikaara , a Doonga ( small version of a house Boat meant for a familiy. Previously Boatmen community locally known as Haanjis used to reside in Donngas.Every Doonga has a small living room and a kitchen ), Bahach( for carrying goods )and a roofless small boat known locally as Demb Naav.
 Since i grew up in Rainawari , i am pretty familiar with all of them. We were asked to go inside a houseboat by school authorities when these moving houses would touch inner side of Naidyaar bridge and get trapped underneath the bridge. The houseboat owners would come to the school and request for about 100 boys to be brought in so that the Houseboat sank in Canal waters of Rainawari making it easy to pass underneath the Naidyaar bridge. Lo! The boys would survey entire house boat . Eat from the kitchen and write funny words on its walnut wood carved walls . The Shikaraas would ferry tourists to Nageen lake while the Bahach would bring rations for the inhabitants from Government food and supplies Department . The Doongas were always there with Haanjis living in them .The small roofless boats or Demb Naav was a poor man's mode of transport in the lake . It was used to drop children to school , carry vegetables to the market from the lake , bring groceries from shops in the lake , carry the sick to doctor and bring fresh green feed from the lake for cattle .These boats were also used by residents of rainawari to collect beddings and utensils from their friends and relatives in the area during marriage or other functions .

This small roofless boat known as Demb Naav would frequently be engaged by us on daily rental basis on Holidays and taken to Dal lake for bathing and picnics . we would paddle it to the bathing ghats of Gagribal for swimming in the lake . Quite often We sank the boat in the lake . we would also jump from it to learn diving .Finally we would wash it clean and paddle it back to Rainawari. Many boys from Rainawari are used to these boats . Enjoy the views with a small poem ( In translation )of Faiz Ahmed Faiz :

A wish
Never do i believe in Miracles ,
but this wish i do nurture ,
that when death welcomes me in its lap
for my journey to the other world ,
it should grant me this permission once ,
I may be allowed to return from the grave ,
knocking at your door ,
i would like to Cry
"Should you need a consoler , Here i am ,"
And if you say No ,
I may return to the other world immediately .
( Faiz Ahmed Faiz )

( Text and Photographs by Autar Mota )
Sunday October 28th , 2012 …Time 1.25 PM ..Good Afternoon )                                                                   

Creative Commons License

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:\\\.

Saturday, October 27, 2012



Who is  Prof.Jay Lal Kaul ?

I am reading Professor Jay Lal kaul’s Book on Lal Ded published by Sahitya Academy. Matchless translation of Kashmir’s tallest saint poetess. Simple , erudite and apt. I am floored by the scholarship of the author. Many friends reveal that Prof. Kaul was also known as Johnsonian scholar and linguist extraordinary.

I learn that Prof Jay :Lal Kaul (1900-1986 ) was a distinguished literary critic and scholar from Kashmir who taught English and later headed S P College as its principal . Lucky are the people who came close to him as his students or friends. One such person happens to be Agha Ashraf Ali .
Agha Sahib Told meis :- th

‘ Prof Kaul Is the final name and authority in translation of Kashmiri poetry to English . I have yet to find any other teacher who can equal his knowledge and style. Incidentally Kaul Sahib was my teacher who later became my intimate friend. You must read kaul sahib’s translation of Mirza Ghalib. A new dimension has been added to the poetry of Ghalib by this translation. This translation book has a foreword by none other than Maulana Abul Kalam Azad .’’

.Apart from Lal Ded Prof Kaul has translated a good number of Kashmiri poets into English . I can say with conviction that he is the first person who opened the window of Kashmiri poetry for the outside world with his apt English translations. These translations appear in his book 'Kashmiri Lyrics' .He has also authored another interesting ans informative books titled studies in Kashmiri . He also worked as Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Arts, Culture and Languages for some years .

      ( Handwriting  Specimen of  Prof Jay Lal Kaul  from an Inland Letter  written to Prof. Jaya Parimu . For  Providing this me a photograph  of this letter , i remain indebted to Prof Jaya Parimu )

During our college days , Prof. Firaq ( English professor and well known Kashmiri poet ) once informed that Kashmiri section of S P college’s Partap magazine was started by Prof .Jay Lal Kaul in 1936. . He would often quote Prof. Jay Lal Kaul while teaching English to us .I also came  to know from Prof. Firaq that Prof.Jay Lal Kaul had done his post graduation in English from Allahabad University  .

( Prof. J L Kaul with students of S P College 1954 )

I also gather from some senior friends that Prof. Jay Lal Kaul’s father Pandit Lala Kaul accompanied Swami Vivekananda to Kheer Bhawani shrine in Kashmir .Lala Kaul was also associated with noted Indologist George Buhler. So have Prof. Jay Lal Kaul’s children notably Maj Gen A Kaul and Bhuvnesh Kaul carried forward their father’s literary tradition and scholarship . Though living away from Kashmir ,both have written and contributed towards the development of Kashmiri language and culture . For readers I quote Prof Kaul’s translation of Lal Ded ………

I will weep and weep for you, my Soul,
The world has caught you in its spell.
Though you cling to them with the anchor of steel,
Not even the shadow of the things you love
Will go with you when you are dead.

With a rope of loose-spun thread am I towing
My boat upon the sea.
Would that God heard my prayer
And brought me safe across !
Like water in cups of unbaked clay
I run to waste.
For ever we come, for ever we go;
For ever, day and night, we are on the move.
Whence we come, thither we go,
For over in a round of birth and death,
From nothingness to nothingness.
But sure, a mystery here abides,
A something is there for us to know
(it cannot all be meaningless)
Impart not esoteric truth to fools ,
Nor on molasses feed an Ass.
Do Not sow seed in sandy beds ,
Nor waste your oil on cakes of Bran.
I might disperse southern clouds,
I might drain out the sea ,
I might cure the incurable sick,
But I can not convince a fool…
And permit me to end this brief write up with a Mantra from Rigveda …….

May we live in harmony together,
May we enjoy(our days) together,
May we do great deeds together,
May our studies be light and strength unto us,
And may we not bear ill-will towards anyone!
( From Rigveda Translated into simple English by Prof. Jay Lal Kaul )


I  reproduce some comments from  my Facebook  page in response to a mini post on this scholar ..

Dr. Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani  Poet ,Historian and Scholar adds ..

"Prof. Jia (he later changed it to Jay) Lal Koul was really a person of wonderful disposition. He was among the first to have translated Kashmiri poetry into English and introduced it to non-Kashmiri readers. Published in the early forties of the 20th century,his book 'Kashmir Lyrics' is a valuable contribution in the field. His other books like 'Studies in Kashmiri' and 'Lal Ded' establish him as an outstanding scholar and literary critic of Kashmiri language. His efforts at projection and promotion of Kashmiri language and culture in his capacity as Secretary, J & K Cultural Academy have been well appreciated. Besides being a close friend of my father, he was also my teacher when I was a postgraduate student of English literature. I have also had the good fortune of having interacted with him on numerous occasions on issues related to Kashmiri literature and culture"

Sh Muneebur Rehman  Poet and  writer (son of well known Kashmiri  writer and poet Amin  kamil ) adds ..

I have read his Studies in Kashmiri and his translations of Kashmiri poetry. I haven't seen another translator like him to this date. His translation of Kamil's Rot Mokal is as good as the original, probably better than the original. I discovered Kamil poem only through his translation."

Sh Jawahar Lal Bhat  writer and author of newly released book  LAL DED REVISITED adds,..

. "Lal-Ded" by Prof. JayaLal Koul is a landmark contribution to Lal-Ded classics in Kashmir. My head bows low with veneration before this supreme soul who had great command over both language and literature.”

Shri. Ram Krishen Sadhu adds:

“ Prof Kaul has been one of the outstanding writers who was known for his command of the English language and his overall knowledge of both Urdu and Kashmiri literature. His book on Lal Ded which I read decades back has been a masterpiece. I did not have the opportunity to be his students but had the good luck to know him well. My last meeting with him was in Mumbai when I visited him at the Army Command House at Colaba (his son's official residence that time) to Enquire about his health. Those moments were rare but painful as he was recovering from a very serious ailment. ”

 Bansi Raina adds :

“ He was secretary of the State cultural Academy when King Mahindra of Nepal  visited  Kashmir. He was invited to witness a cultural programme at Togore Hall. Prof. Kaul delivered the welcome address and what a speech it was. This is nearly half a century back  yet  the speech is still fresh in my memory.”

Mohammad Sayed Malik ,Veteran Journalist  from our Kashmir adds  :

“ Kaul Saheb' high literary standing was matched by his equally wide social standing across the society. He commanded respect, never demanded. Shamim Ahmed Shamim had a long close association, thanks to their high-literary commonality. Kaul Saheb maintained his dignified social profile until the end, braving his serious health problems.”

T K Jalali ,musician , vocalist and former principal, Institute of Music And Fine Arts :

“ Every body is aware of the immense contribution of this great man to the  society as a teacher, litterateur & administrator in the  state’s  education Deptt. What most of us may not be fully knowing is Prof Kauls great contribution to art and  culture in the state during his long stint as the  Secretary of State Cultural Academy. Holding of annual art exhibitions, Drama festivals, On the spot painting and  music  competitions, music concerts, best publication awards and other activities which are  still being followed were initiated by him. In order to promote visual and  performing arts , his greatest contribution has been  the  establishment of  the  two Institutes of Music And  Fine Arts at Srinagar and  Jammu in the  yr 1965.It was his initiative which got the  agreement of the then CM Sadiq Sahib  and  the   patron of the  Academy Dr Karan Singh that these institutions were established. And the  rest is  a history..Art lovers of  the  state shall always be indebted to him for this contribution to the  society” 

I add my  small  tribute to  Prof Jay Lal Kaul through four lines that I wrote for him....

Vo Jo ilam thaa teray zehan mein
Vo thi roshini Jo chamak uthi,
Kayee Raaston ka pataa milaa
Kayee Manzilon se guzar gaye...

( Avtar Mota )


Creative Commons License

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:\\\.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


                              (Very old black and white photo of Martand Spring)       



Just about 60 kms from Srinagar city on srinagar - Pahalgham road , lies MATTAN village . This village is also known as BHAWAN or MARTAND TIRTHA. This Tirtha finds mention in Bringesh Samhita ,Neelmat Purana , Rajtaringini and many Hindu scriptures.It is also mentioned that is in Neelmata Purana that "one who bathes and performs Shrada and austerties over here gets the same fruit as he gets at PRAYAG or KURUKSHETRA". Adds Neelmata further that "one who offers Pindas , Milk , Honey , Ghee , Dharba and water to the deceased over here gets the same fruit as giving 100 cows in Charity ."

Legend says that Aditi wife of sage kashyapa of kashmir gave birth to SURYA as her thirteenth child . Syrya built his abode at Martand Tirtha . Legend goes a little further to say that the Two sacred springs inside the Complex called KAMAL KUND and VIMAL KUND (full of fresh water and fish )were used by Aditi for bathing this new born child Surya .The water of Vimal Kund and Kamal Kund ultimately flows out in a small stream locally known as TSAAKA. Legend also has it that the fish in the Pond and TSAAKA represent Yoginees . It is said that PARSHURAM also did penance over here .History has well recorded the visits of Mughal Emperor Akbar and our own king Zain Ul Abdin ( Budshah ) to this Tirtha .

I need to clarify a little . As a matter of fact there are two Sun Temples in this area . One is the The Martand Tirtha temple , well frequented, having two springs with gushing water and a temple complex . Within this complex lies the temple of SUN GOD personified with four arms bearing lotus , Book , Rosary and riding the magnificcient Cart driven by seven horses . This temple is in Mattan village and is a place for performing SHRAADA during Pitra Paksha by Hindus from Northern India essentially from Punjab , Himachal , Haryana and Delhi. Shraada can also be performed any time over here. The other is the 8th centuary Martand sun temple built by King lalitaditya presently in ruins. This is a National Monument and protected by Archeological survey of india . This temple complex is atop the Karewa ( Plateau about 3 kms from the Martand Tirtha ).

I worked in this area for about 3 years and have visited almost every village . I am familiar with colours of the trees in all the seasons over here . I have enjoyed many evenings on the banks of Lidder at Akura bridge . I have witnessed flowers opening up gradullay in the beds of the gardens of Akkad and Sun Temple complex on Ranbirpora karewa (Plateau). The trout fish , The silent and soothing breeze , tossing willows on the banks of river Lidder , Mighty and shady Chinars of Bongam area , Fish going up against the water current in Tsaka stream , The Faquir like naked Autumn Poplars , tree Branches breaking under heavy winter snow or the night long murmur of the Tsaaka stream below my room have built the concept of nature's beauty and bounty in my mind .The Villagers from Nambal , seer , salia , Nanil , Ranbir pora , Achabal , Akkad ,Wantrag ,Hutmura and many more areas who would come to the bank were all simple , god fearing and truthful.During Amarnath Yatra , The Chari Mubarak used to be brought to this place for overnight halt . It was like a village fair . This Yatra would bring groups of Sadhus to this tirtha for overnight stay . locals would also throng to the Tirtha to see some Sadhus standing on one leg , some with 15 feet long hair , some only living on milk , some with black clothes and many just simply naked . Many locals like Mustafa Bodha , Gh Mohd Bodha ,Kartar singh , Anand Ji Razdan , Badri Nath Patwari and family members of Makhan lal Fotedar ( Congress party leader from Mattan based in New Delhi ) and entire purohit fraternity would Join to welcome the Yatris to Amarnath .

The Tirtha complex is near the Main bazar of mattan village . From Spring season to Autumn , One can find Purohits coming from their present places of stay to this Tirtha , ready to perform religious cermonies for any Pilgrim . Before the turmoil in kashmir , they would go to Punjab , Himachal or Haryana to pass winter months . The purohits are kashmiri Brahmins with castes as Sher , Kachru , Musa , sidha , Yogi , Khar etc etc. Most of them used to Maintain BAHEE ( Record ) of the families they dealt with . You could go as back as 200 years and trace your ancestors . You could find their signatrures in these BAHEES .I have seen many VVIPs coming to Mattan and signing BAHEES . Once Rajinder Kumar , Dara singh , Raj Kumar visited the Tirtha together enroute to Pahalgham. The Purohits of this place are well organized and have a powerful Association and are deeply attached to this Tirtha and its Development . They are the preferred purohits at Haridwar as well since most of them are well versed with Hindu KARM KAAND. Shradda is performed inside the Tirtha Complex near the main spring or outside it on the banks of the TSAAKA stream. During the MAL MAAS- BAAN MAAS time , entire area is full of pilgrims from all parts of northwern India .The temple of BHARG SHAAKHA overlooks the Tirtha below . This temple is situated on the hill adjacent to the LalitaDitya Sun Temple ruins . Guru nanak Dev ji has also visited this Tirtha . kashmiri Poet Parmanand ji was from this village . So was Pandit kirpa Ram the religious teacher of guru Gobind singh ji the 10th sikh Guru .A gurudwara has also been built at the place where Guru nanak Dev ji had discourse with Puriohits of Martand . I have uploaded views of the kamal Kund , vimal kund , Tsaaka stream with Shiva lingam at its centre , Purohits basking in the Autumn sun , pilgrims performing shraada at Kamal Kund , Marble image if Sun God in the main temple and a Bazar view of Mattan village for you to enjoy. . Permit me to end this post with a vaakh from  LALESHWARI  OR LAL DED ,   kashmir’s greatest saint poetess ..
I will weep and weep for you, my Soul,
The world has caught you in its spell.
Though you cling to them with the anchor of steel,
Not even the shadow of the things you love
Will  go  with you when you are dead.
( Translation from kashmiri by Prof. Jay lal kaul  )
( Text and Photo by Autar Mota )

Thursday 25th October , 2012  Time 11.45 PM Good Night ..

Creative Commons License

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:\\\.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012



“We had many Muslim boys in the school who were wonderful players . some of them did rise to high posts in government service . Shri farooq Renzu a senior Bureaucrat in J&K Admiistration has also studied in this school. Some Kashmiri Pandit boys like Artist Vir Munshi and Actor K K Raina are a product of this school. In fact K K Raina was a teacher as well in the school later. Of teachers, who does not know Prof. D N Madan who was the Chairman of the school. Daya krishen koul our head Master or janki nath Koul who was also known as Jana Military for his tough disposition as a Physical Training instructor of the school were men of a different class . We also had teachers who were proficient in their subjects like Dina Nath koul ( English ), Shiben Ji ( science teacher ) and shridhar Joo Bhat . The school had free access to boys from any caste , creed , colour or religion. All our teachers would treat every students like a member of his own family . They were all simple living and high thinking individuals.”

Said Ashok Khazanchi a former student of the school and now working as senior Manager in a Public sector Bank..

“Mohd Amin Bhat and Bashir Ahmed officers in our bank are students of this school only.”

Said Ashok Daftari an officer in our bank .

“ Jenab , there were three four institutions run simultaneously from this premises known as Sheetal Nath . That is the Sheetal Raaza Temple ( Bhairava ), That building is the old Yuvak sabha and ASKPC office and this building is Hindu High school.. There is a committee which operates the school . Some members of the committee are at Jammu .They have appointed me as care taker . I live nearby . This is AMAANAT of our Hindu brethren.. The school is open and functioning . Today is Sunday. You should have come tomorrow. Every thing has changed now . That is Rattan Rani Hospital. This road will take you to Brai Kujjan . That good House belongs to Wazir family ”

Said Ali Mohd Bodha the elderly caretaker who opened the school gates for us when we visited the Sheetal Nath complex..

I can only add that the boys of this school always threw tough challenge to students of Various other schools in March past event of 15th August at Bakshi stadium . Some times they would be given trophy as excellent March past team of the function .
This is Hindu High school Sheetal Nath . Enjoy the views with some lines of Allama on Honesty and integrity ;-

Aey Taayare Lahootee
Uss Rizq se Maut Achhi ,
Jiss Rizq se Aatee ho
Parvaaz me kotahee

( Allama iqbal )

O thee high soaring bird of free sky,
Prefer death to such grains ,
As slow down thy flight ,
And impede thy upward journey .

( Text and photographs by Autar Mota )
24th October , 2012 …. Time 11.20 PM … Good Night
Based on a work at http:\\\.

Sunday, October 21, 2012



  “Listen Friends , When I die , take my body  to its last journey from  this road please ”

Said Johny our friend and colleague in the bank .Johny would be in Residency Road area from 5 PM to 8 PM every day . Some times in the coffee House , some times outside Shakti sweets , Some times having Tea , Chicken Patties and Kebabs in AHDOO’s Hotel  and quite often  enjoying Masala Dossa at SURTI GUJRATI HOTEL nearby.  He could also be  seen gossiping with Meer sahib at MIR PAAN HOUSE .Johny wore a typical Cap . Perhaps Devanand had set the trend for such caps in Kashmir with his   movie Jewel Thief.  Johny would wait for us to come . We would then walk upto Zero Bridge via The Bund . Gossiping , discussing films , writers , Artists and politics to everybody’s amusement .At times we would go to SURTI GUJRATI  Hotel to have Crisp plain Dossa and coffee . Johny preferred Kebabs or Mutton Tikka . He would always say that he does not eat GHASS- PHOOS ( Waste Grass ).Then One day Dr B K Jalali ( That time a leading surgeon in Kashmir ) told us that your friend has Hydatid Liver Cyst and he is to be operated upon . All of us got worried. Many friends and well wishers joined together to ensure that he gets good treatment . Johny got himself operated upon in Mumbai and bade good bye to Kebabs and Mutton Tikkas .He never said good bye to Residency Road area .He was now regularly seen at Coffee House or outside Shakti Sweets . Some times standing outside watching people and sometimes sitting with the owners and gossiping . The owners were Punjabi business men., Active and enterprising who  had mixed well with locals . They spoke their language  and had developed excellent relations with entire shopkeepers of the area . They did not move out from Valley even under grave provocations and threats .

Presently SHAKTI SWEETS  has undergone extensive renovations . Sitting space has been created inside the shop with 8 tables .Glass pieces decoration in Jaipuri style looks   attractive . The show case has variety of sweets like Kaju Barfi , Pinni , Kalakand , Jalebi , Russ Malai , Patisa ,Laddu , Pedda , Chocolate and Chhana Murgi. It is almost a monopolistic business for them as Prabh Dayal and Sant Ram Sohal’s family has migrated out from valley. Though NATHU’S have also opened a Franchise on Boulevard but they primarily cater to tourists .

The hustle and bustle of residency Road continues as it used be in those days when we moved around . Crowds still move leisurely in this area . Shoppers walk with fresh purchases .Groups of smart young men standing outside Shakti Sweets talk , gossip and laugh in between .Girls from nearby Women college keep coming in groups  to have Tikkis , Paapdi and Channa Bhathura . Meer sahib still serves Paans to stray customers . Visit to this area still means meeting friends and new faces in the city .Bars ( Marina , Premiers and Gold Dustin ) have since closed down. We have a Good book shop in place of the Fashionable Ready made garment shop Blue Fox. Vir and co still run their Dry Cleaning shop in Lambert lane . Coffee house has since closed down. Surti Hotel was gutted in a devastating fire . Ahdoo’s Hotel continues to serve delicious patties and excellently brewed Tea. Paul Brothers , Fashion House and Subhana still stitch elegant and fashionable suits for the city dwellers. PRECO and LICA STUDIO still run their photography shops though many new photography shops have also come up in the area . Pashmina shawl dealers SHYAM AND CO are now in Karol Bagh New Delhi. Kashmir book shop and Hind book shop have since sold out their shops and business. Sri Chand Chinar Udaseen Temple( Exactly opposite Coffee house ) is renovated and visitors keep pouring in during daytime .Enjoy some views of this area with some lines from a poem of Ali Sardar jafri

Phoolon ke Katoron me
Shabnam ki gulaabi Hai
Aur Baade Sehar Gaahi
Badhmast Sharaabi Hai.
Kal Subh Ke daamun me
Tum Hoge Na Hum Honge
Bas Reit ke seene pe
Kuchh Naqshe Qadm Honge
Saaye me darakhton ke
Phir Log Baham Honge
Kis Desh se Aaye ho
Kis Desh Ko Jaana Hai
Aey Waqt ke Mehmaano

( Ali sardar jafri )

The dew filled flower Petals Look like
bowls filled with wine .
The Morning Breeze ,intoxicated ,
Moves around softly in this garden.
Both you and me shall not see
Tomorrow’s glorious dawn.
Just our footsteps on sand ,
Shall all what others shall see .
People shall again come and
sit under these shady trees .
To them I shall say
“ Where from do thee cometh ?
Where have thee to go ?
O you guest of brief stay

(Text and photographs by  Autar Mota )

New Delhi( In travel ) 21st october 2012 ... Time 1155 PM ... Good Night . Let me sleep now .

Creative Commons License

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:\\\.



                            ( AHADOO'S   HOTEL, SRINAGAR )

“ I do not know How they mix it. We use Red Label and Green Label tea. Here is your order sir! chicken patties, pineapple pastries and one set tea. Anything else.? ”

Sharma a new waiter in the hotel said this when I asked him the trade secret of tea brewing in the hotel.  Saying so , Sharma moved ahead to take order from another table. I know all the waiters of this hotel. Three of them though old, still serve you delicious patties, excellently brewed tea, fresh pineapple pastries, crisp butter toasts and a variety of non-vegetarian preparations for lunch and dinner including the much relished Kashmiri Wazwaan.

This is Ahdoo”s hotel of Kashmir. Started by an enterprising gentleman Haji Mohammad Sultan,  in 1918 as a bakery cum confectionery shop under the patronage of Maharaja Hari Singh, Very soon the promoter added a restaurant to this shop. Haji Mohammad Sultan had learnt the art of bakery and confectionery from Kolkatta. The Bakery from this shop was bought by Maharaja and his ministers apart from the city's elite including the British residents.

In a short span of time , the Wazwaan of this restaurant became a  much sought after speciality in the valley. 

After Haji Mohammad Sultan, his son Ghulam Hassan took over the business. The baton then passed on to the next generation. 

Visit this place to know the quality of the tea served over here. I have tried to seek the formula of this excellently brewed tea from every waiter. One said that Red Label and Green Label Tea is mixed in the ratio of 75and 25 respectively to create a particular flavour and taste. Another said that the ratio is 60 and 40. I tried both at my place but failed and kept coming to the hotel to have the tea brewed magically. The tea is served in stylish heavy metallic tea sets by the waiters in proper uniforms. Heavy bone china cups, neatly laid out table cloths, laundry fresh napkin sets and the ambience inside makes you feel special. Whatever you order, you are given a cup of chutney free. The waiters are pleased to make your cup of tea if you so desire. Hot chicken patties, delicious pineapple pastries, a variety of cookies, cakes, black forest, crisp butter toasts, Paneer Pakoda, Kebabs, boneless chicken Tikkas and mutton Tikkas can be ordered with tea. For lunch or dinner, you have a variety in vegetarian dishes including green Haak ( Kashmiri delicacy ), Nadru Yakhani and Dam Alu. The non-vegetarians can relish mutton Yakhani ( mutton in yoghurt), Rogan Josh, Gushtaaba, Tabak Maaz ( yoghurt fried mutton from the breast portion ), Ristaa, Methi Maaz (, Chilli Korma, Dhaniwal Korma and chicken. One can also order a plate of complete Wazwaan dishes. They serve a variety of desserts and ice creams. You can also order coffee and juices. The hospitality inside the restaurant has to be experienced to be believed.

The hotel cum restaurant has undergone several changes since 1989. The ground floor is totally occupied by the bakery section and the restrooms. The first floor is used for the restaurant. The second and third floors have well maintained 24 deluxe rooms for the guests. The hotel has also added three spacious conference halls now.

The hotel has two entrances. One from the Residency Road while the other is from the Bund. Internet, resident doctor facility, cab hiring arrangement has also been added for the guests by the hotel management now.

Many memories are tied to this Hotel. Late Mohan Lal Aima and other artists of his team finalized the operational aspects of Dina Nath Nadim”s opera “ Bombur Ta Yemberzal ” over cups of hot tea and sizzling kebabs in this hotel only. So were the shooting sequences of the first Kashmiri movie “Maenziraat ” finalized in this hotel. Some very important meetings which changed the course of political streams in Kashmir took place in this hotel only. Raj Kapoor, Ajit, Saira Bano, Johny Walker, Jeevan, Pran, Dilip Kumar, Balraj Sahni and Kabir Bedi have visited either the Bakery or the restaurant Ahadoo's hotel. There is hardly any Kashmiri writer or artist who has not sat and gossiped with friends in this hotel over a hot cup of tea. We once saw the poet Nida Fazili in the hotel lobby. The present proprietors confirmed to me about the visit of many film stars to their restaurant during good old days prior to 1990.

 In 1985,  I was  attached to a parliamentary delegation that visited Kashmir. Our bank played  the host for this visit. Bal Kavi Bairaagi from Saagar ( M.P. ), Vithal Bhai Patel from Ahemdabad and Prof Samson ( If I remember his name correctly   ) from North East were also the members of this delegation. They were all men of different tastes. Bal Kavi Bairagi became quite friendly. He was a poet/ lyricist who wrote the popular film song “ Tu chanda mein chandini , tu taruvar mein shaakh re , tu badal mein bijri ” for Sunil Dutt’s movie ” Rashma Aur Shera ”. Bairagi Ji and his wife asked me for a good cup of tea and I took them to Ahdoo's. Both relished the tea and the pineapple pastries.

My friends in the bank especially Basharat Fazili, Tej Dhar and Ashok Padroo would pool money to go to Ahdoo’s on every Saturday. Bashrat would order patties, pastries, tea and end up having ice cream as well. Rinchen Bhutia ( A management trainee from Darjeeling who stayed in the valley for more than 15 years and worked with us ), Baleshwar Taneja ( a smart officer who worked in the valley with us ) and even our boss  Mohammad Shahid Aftab ( from Kanpur who worked in the Valley ) fell in love with Ahdoo’s tea. Shri Aftaab rose to become executive director of Vijaya bank after being posted out of Kashmir. He never forgot Ahdoo’s.

 We had devised a novel way of meeting the expenses of our weekly visits to the Ahdoo's hotel. Our friend Ashok Padroo took up an agency from the LIC in the name of his wife. Basharat Fazili and Tej Dhar would bring him business. Padroo would possibly get 35% of the first year's premium as his commission from the LIC. A part of it would be shared with the policy-holder and the remaining would be spent at Ahdoo's. The new policyholder was brought to Ahdoo's and humoured to foot the tea bills once he signed policy papers. He was made to believe that the best bargain had been organized for him and a tea at Ahdoo's was due from the portion of the commission paid to him by Ashok Padroo. So one policy for Ashok Padroo meant two sittings at Ahdoo's. 
Many like me miss Ahdoo's hotel. 

‘ Kabhi to subah tere kunj-e-lab se ho aagaaz 
Kabhi to shab sar-e-kaakul se mushk o baar chale’

( Faiz Ahmed Faiz )

(Let the dawn, for once, arrive
through the archway of your lips.
Let the dusk spread its perfume
like musk from your tresses.)

( Avtar Mota )


(  Photo and text by Avtar Mota)

Creative Commons License

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:\\\.