Village Sirhama - The
Land of Rising Sun
by Chander M. Bhat
As the dark paths shed their
blindness and Sun sooths to glorify its beauty, the morning dew which enlightens
the face of Sun and harmonizes the veils of life. A first glimpse of such
tranquility is felt in shrine place of Suryahama.
Suryahama is what we
presently know as Sirhama in the Tehsil of Bijbehara. It is 10 km away from
Tehsil headquarter. Morning glory of the rising sun at this place can overwhelm
and inspire the poetical insanity. Morning glory of the rising sun at this place
can be felt any where in area and can inspire any poetical collection in the
hearts of those who value the beauties of nature.
Sirhama earned its
name from the area, being the seat of Surya Shrine. This is probably that sun
scatters its yeast first time in this area in its morning kiss. An idol
resembling the morning sun with a baby smile stands to be the prime attraction
of this shrine. The well circled idol of Devri stone was placed at the forehead
of a little spring facing the morning Sun. Small drops of water from the resting
wall of spring kept the idol wet. This place is also known as Gangbal. Muslims
of the area also revere this shrine. However the era of militancy also fomented
insanity among those who were otherwise pale at the sight of madness. The shrine
is on West side of the village in the raving type little valley. Forced
conversions were resorted to in this village in the times of Butshikan and
Mughals. People were using to bury big earthen posts in the earth to keep the
food grains and valuables away from the heartless agents of the rulers. Even
valuable treasures of antique idols etc were buried under earth to save them
from being desecrated by agents of Afgan rulers and Mughals. Whenever the chest
of mother earth in and around Sirhama is opened for construction or other
purpose, the glimpses of helplessness of those meek Kashmiri Pandits come to the
fore. What a pathetic life they may have had? God! Help their souls now!
Sirhama an apple rich village of Anantnag district nurtures an affluent
population. The village is divided into two segments, Hergam and
Bongam and the principal divider. Sirhama has principal villages like shrine
place Khiram on north-east, Mahind on South and Shaligam on West. There
is a mountainous range (part of Ashdhara) which separates Tral from it
and has an average height of 3000 to 4000 feet. Sirhama had a thick forest belt
in the adjacent hill. Unfortunately same was destroyed by greedy and selfish
people. Maharaja Hari Singh was a regular visitor to this hill station for
hunting and preying wild fowls for his supper. The fowls usually took refuge in
thick forests. The advisors came up with an idea of deforestation to track the
fowls easily. Unsuspected Raja allowed it and the whole hill were cleared of
thick forests and if anything remained untouched, the locals enjoyed that booty.
There is a Shiva Temple in this village close to the mohalla where Pandits
resided. The temple is under a Chinar tree. In the background of the temple
there is a Razabal and some idols of Vishnu and other deities where kept inside
the trunk of an old tree. These idols were in Devri stones carved like mummy
type conical images.
24 house holds were in Sirhama belonging to Kashmiri Pandits. All Pandits were
affluent in education and economic prosperity. Only four families held back
after mass exodus braving the odds of nineties.
Prior to migration, each family had their own lands and orchards and were fully
self reliant. The renowned Tab Bhat family of Sirhama had a leading role to play
in the affairs of the village. From implementation of justice to the deaths or
births, the family had a role to play for both Muslims and Hindus. Be it
legendary Sh. Gopinath Bhat who administered justice by holding regular adalats
to decide the disputes among the people or the other namely Hakim Shambo Nath
Bhat whose nursing touch is fresh in the memories of elderly people even today.
None has forgotten benevolence, mark of welfare and sacrifices of great Pandit
Sham Lal Bhat. He was a great name in the political circles. One Sh. Sarvanand
Bhat was a yogi and adopted a Brahmcharyi life throughout. People proceeding for
Haj pilgrimage used to keep their valuables with the womenfolk of this family
before proceeding for the pilgrimage. The foundation stone of Khiram Muslim
shrine was laid by Pt. Gopi Nath Bhat. Late Pandit Taba Bhat was a great friend
of Maharaja Ranbir Singh and Maharaja Hari Singh.
drive to this village is paradise along a mountainous path with rich natural
scenery. There are number of springs in Sirhama and notable among it is sweet
and digestive spring water of Koot Lum. People of Sirhama are primarily orchard
owners and apple is the main source of earning. Literacy rate is around eighty
percent. Dadi canal [Dadi Koul] flows along the basement of hills and provides
irrigation facilities to the village.
This village has had its share of misfortunes. It is said that there was a great
spring coming out of the hills of Sirhama. This spring was irrigating a large
area of the village. The agents of Afgan rulers used to collect a portion of
product as tax for the water irrigating the lands. A Moulvi is said to have been
so heartless that even in failure of crops he used to terrorize people for
payment of taxes. Once he got nothing from the village and thus ordered blocking
of the spring. The spring was permanently blocked leaving no trace of it. One
can easily hear the sounds of water fall inside the hill even today.
Another incident of misfortune took place in the year 1948 when a stray group of
tribal intruders came to this village to unleash terror and loot Kashmiri
Pandits. These ambitious marauders tried to unleash terror by lining a group of
Kashmiri Pandits and shot them at point blank range on the day prior to Eid.
Late Sh. Sat Lal Bhat was first to get martyrdom and two others Sh. Raghav Bhat
and Sh. Tara Chand were injured. They took away ornaments and jewellery from
womenfolk. Pandit Sham Lal Bhat and other family members took refuge in thick
bushes while Pandit Gopi Nath Bhat and Pandit Shambo Nath Bhat took horses and
proceeded to Bijbehara and Anantnag to inform Police and then federal minister
Mirza Mohd Afzal Beg. The reinforcements of Police reached Sirhama on the other
day. During the night the intruders looked up for Kashmiri Pandits as their
target. A brave Muslim namely Sh. Gh. Qadir Rather decided to disarm the
intruders and save Pandits. He with the help of some local Muslims prepared a
dinner for the looters so that they can be disarmed. As he approached with a
lantern in his hand near the intruders they shot at him and killed him. Salutes
to his martyrdom! On the next day the marauders proceeded to Khiram for further
activities. A pal gloom descended on the village on the day of Eid.
An earthquake of magnitude of over 7 rattled the village during gone by days and
brought big blocks of stones from adjacent hill. A big block of stone even toady
is named as Bunil Pal. Village Sirhama has variety of wild life in hills. The
village is rich with farm animals besides horses and donkeys. It was
Cinematographer cum Director Sivam who filmed his venture ‘Tahaan’ in village
Sirhama by starring a beautiful donkey in this film. The film was acclaimed for
its quality and scenery.
Sirhama in fact looks like a necklace of green diamonds and pearls when greenery
is at its helm best.
Generations may come, generations may go but what will ceaselessly make the
paths of history would be the glories of morning Sun on the pearl dew at its own