Friday, September 11, 2020


      ( Maharaja Hari Singh's Castle in Gulmarg)




In 1928,Maharaja Hari Singh established Tourist Department in the state that used to be known as Visitors Bureau .This Bureau focused on development of Gulmarg as prime destination.A polo ground was created in Gulmarg.A ski club was started in Gulmarg.A golf field was also developed.2,3,4 bedroom huts were also built. Since Britishers would flock to gulmarg with their families, Nedou's Hotel created a dancing hall  and a recreational  club. At Gulmarg. A hut was available for an annual lease of  about Rs 500 in 1939 .

Maharaja also  brought piped water to Gulmarg from nearby springs.Almost all the shops in Gulmarg belonged to  the Kashmiris.The Pandit shopkeepers sold medicines,toiletries and wine while the Muslim shopkeepers sold jewellery,leather goods, provisions, shoes ,handicrafts etc.Some Bandookhaars / gunsmith from Rainawari had their shops in Gulmarg.

A pair of good quality leather shoe was available for 3 rupees.You had to give measurement and then a  try to get your new shoe made in about 4 days at Gulmarg.Leather was of a fine quality imported from outside the state. Many Britishers bought shoes from Gulmarg only. .

A photo shop was also opened by W Lambert ( A britisher who had his main business in present day lambert lane in Srinagar) at Gulmarg.W. Lambert also opened a chemist  shop at  Gulmarg.The Saint Mary' church in Gulmarg was built during the rule of Dogras . Maharaja Hari Singh also built a wooden castle with 15 rooms at Gulmarg. The exteriors of the 7700 sq feet  building are reminiscent of  the European architecture.  Maharaja' s European guests would stay in this castle. In 1927,  a ski club  was also established in Gulmarg and two annual ski events were hosted one each during Christmas and Easter. The motorable road to Gulmarg was also started during the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh.


        ( Mahatta photo shop Gulmarg)

It was during Maharaja Partap Singh's  rule that the Duke of Bedford sent trout eggs to J&K.  A second  consignment  from Scotland arrived thereafter. These eggs were released in Dachigam first and then  in other streams of the Valley. The rainbow and brown trout adapted well to the J&K, while the snow trout continued to flourish. Happy to see this, the Maharaja created the first fisheries department in J&K. It was during the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh that most of the streams and Nallahs of Kashmir were stocked with the  trout fish . This included  Ningle   Nallah  in Gulmarg.

The Rani Temple in Gulmarg was built by Maharaja Hari Singh’s wife Rani Mohini Bai. She was from Dharmpur’s Sisodia clan of Rajputs. Maharaja Hari Singh had married three times before he finally married Tara Devi from Katoch Rajput family of Kangra who bore him a son. All the three wives died issueless ( Rani from Sisodia clan of Dharmpur died during pregnancy in 1915 AD ). A Kashmiri Pandit Jia Lal from Sathu Barbarshah, Srinagar used to be the caretaker of this temple. 

( Avtar  Mota)

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