Sunday, February 12, 2023




 Available at Govind Nowdhara's Shop, Ganpatyar,Srinagar,Kashmir, Charanbulgaar was sought in Kashmir , the way the mystery nutritious wafer  is sought in ‘ Soylent Green’ , a  Charlton Heston movie of 1973 . With the onset of winter season , I vividly remember a man coming on a bicycle to Jogilanker Chowk in Rainawari with a hand held mini loud speaker and saying loudly :- 

"Vandha tsali sheen gali beyi iyee bahaar

Yina masha-raavakh charanbulgaar"


( The snow will melt away,

The winter will be soon over,

And the spring shall visit once more .

However, you shouldn't forget 



Sometimes he would add another line , ’ Cycle neri pata pheri or’ the bicycle will leave and then you may have regrets ‘. Men , women and  some shopkeepers would be his buyers. The man would empty his stock there and then.  This author saw the bicycle-man in Safa Kadal locality  also . It was Charanbulgaar ointment kept in small boxes. Charanbulgaar was a wonder ointment for winter frostbite known as Shooh in Kashmiri. Shooh was a common feature in almost every family .Shooh visited many Kashmiris  due to  the exposure of the  skin to minus temperatures. Toes were the first causality.  Shooh gave pain ,irritation and loss of sensation. The exposed skin turned red and in severe cases black as well.Warming up the frostbitten area also gave pain. It disturbed sleep and proved troublesome for the entire winter season. Many families bought Charanbulgaar in advance for the ensuing winter. That is why Pandit Govind Nowdhara ,who lived in Badiyar Bala locality near Ganpatyar temple,  started preparing the wonder medicine in August every year. For him it was one time exercise every year. The formula was known to him only and it remains a secret to this day . The secret died with him. Apart from Charanbulgaar, Govind Nowdhara ,the one man factory would also extract aromatic oil from flowers especially roses to make perfumes and rosewater. He was also selling some dyes and tinctures apart from ‘Rogn e Badaam No 1’ . He also extracted oil from Dalcheeni ( cinnamon) and marketed it as 'Ark e Dalcheeni no 1' . It was also sought after . Even Molvi Farooq's family would buy 'Ark e Dalcheen No 1 ' from his retail outlet near Ganpatyar temple. The rosewater was branded as 'Ark e Gulab No 1 '. ’Sanjeevani Hair Oil’ was also prepared  by Lalla Saeb as a cure for baldness .This hair oil was marketed as hair tonic. Everything was No 1. And for sure ,it was. Three drops of 'Ark e Dalcheen No 1 ' gave a super cinnamon aroma to Kehwa tea .

 His house was always full of drums, cans ,bottles, corks and pipes. In summers , one could see many solutions boiling in pots and containers . The manufacturing  activity was not undertaken during winters .

Wearing dark spectacles and sitting on his shop , GOVIND  NOWDHARA HOUSE  , Lalla Saeb ( as he was fondly called ) would interact with VIPs going up or down the road. To social activists, leaders, educationists, artists and some known office goers , he would pass on a small piece of cotton that had his homemade perfume drops . Any procession passing through his shop would be sprinkled rosewater . To that extent he was always generous. I have been told that every year , he would go to the graves of his Muslim friends and sprinkle rosewater as a token of remembrance.

His real name was  Govind Joo Pandita . Unfortunately ,his father ,who happened to be a forester ,was killed in a murderous attack at Reasi,Jammu. After his father's death, entire family responsibilities fell on his shoulders. These responsibilities included marriage if his siblings and providing sustenance to the family .And Young Govind Joo or Lalla Saeb did not discharge his family responsibilities alone but also proved of immense help to his in-laws . Lalla Saeb’s house was Matamaal to many children who were related to him from his parental or in-laws side. On Zangtrai festival, many Kashmiri Pandit  women in his relation and acquaintance would visit his house where his gracious wife would give them a packet of salt and some cash (Atagath)  as per the age-old custom with Kashmiri Pandits . Prab Jigir ,wife of Lalla Saeb was a generous woman who’s parental home was at Chinkral Mohalla . She belonged to a Kashmiri Pandit family that used ‘Punjabi’ as their surname .And Lalla Saeb was brother to all. Hindus and Muslims would visit his shop

 One day this author saw a Muslim woman coming to his shop and seeking medicine for leucoderma  of her daughter . Lalla Saeb immediately got up, opened a box and gave her a bottle of some oil advising the lady to rub the oil upon the affected skin. He also advised her to visit Tsrar Sharif Ziyarat and SMHS hospital without fail. He asked the woman to pay one rupee for the medicine. When the woman left, he said this :-

 " I can't disappoint a person who comes to me with faith and great hope . I know this oil is not going to cure her leucoderma but it won't do any harm as the oil in the bottle has been extracted from almonds. The cost of the oil to me is more than ten rupees but I charged a token sum of one rupee as she was poor and desperate . I know the social issues attached to  this skin disease. A visit to proper doctor is the real treatment. May the Tsrar Sharif saint cure her daughter." 


At present, the shop  looks pitiable and abandoned. The armed militancy made Kashmiri Pandits run away to safety and shelter.  Lalla Saeb  breathed his last long back. The locality that used to be a hub of Kashmiri Pandits looks deserted and something like a ghost infested area . Every old resident ,who happens to pass through this area now , feels suffocation and pain. He simply wants to move fast and exit. Strangers have occupied old structures where Pandits used to live. Lonely is the ancient Ganpatyar shrine . Gone is the joy of procuring Charanbulgaar before the stocks vanished at ‘Govind Nowdhara House’. The exile changed everything. In this exile, the Shooh at the toes has moved to the soul now. Who will bring Charanbulgaar for the soul ?


( Avtar Mota )

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