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Information Digest
Volume 4
April 2003

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Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

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Lalla-Ded Educational Trust
Project Zaan
Information Digest - Vol. 4

Har-van

The Land and the People

Land ~ Other provinces of the State

Jammu Province

The province of Jammu lies between the ‘outer hills’ region bounding the Valley of Kashmir in the south, and the hilly tract extending to the plains of Punjab. The Ravi river flows in the east of this region and the river Jhelum in the west. The Chenab issues forth from the mountains into the plains near the town of Akhnoor and flows through the Jammu district before entering the plains of Punjab (now in Pakistan).

 The original inhabitants of Jammu are called Dogras. They speak Dogri language, a mixture of Sanskrit, Punjabi and Persian. A sturdy people, the Dogras are divided into several castes and sects. Their staple food consists of rice, wheat and pulses. Their dress is simple - a short coat or a flowing shirt, with pyjamas loose at the knees and tight-fitting at the ankles.

 Jammu city, the winter capital of the state, stands on one of the spurs of a rugged hill overlooking the plains and river Tawi. It covers an area of 20.36 sq. kms. Its average altitude is 305 meters. The temperature varies from 23.40C to 430C in summer and from 4.30C to 26.20C in winter. 

Jammu province is rich in minerals. Coal, bauxite, copper, zinc and lead are abundant. Sapphire mines are located at higher elevations in the Papar valley. Kishtwar is famous for mines of sapphire and rubies. Kishtwar and Bhadarwah, with heavily forested mountains are rich in pine, fir and deodar.

 Jammu city is famous for temples. Amongst the temples in the city, the Raghunath Mandir, dedicated to Lord Rama, takes pride of the place. It consists of a cluster of temples which makes it the largest temple complex in Northern India. It contains representatives of almost the entire Hindu Pantheon, which makes it a rare sight to see. Work on this temple was started by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1835 AD and was completed by his son, Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1860 AD. Inner walls of the main temple are covered with gold sheet on three sides. There are many galleries with lakhs of 'Saligrams'. Surrounding temples are dedicated to various Gods and Goddesses connected with the epic Ramayana. 

 The Ranbireshwar Temple, located on the Shalamar Road, has one central 'Lingam' measuring 7.5 feet in height, 12 Shiva ‘Lingams’ of crystal measuring 12" to 18" and galleries with thousands of 'Saligrams' fixed on stone slabs. 

 Places of tourist interest in the Jammu province are Mansar Lake, Surinsar Lake, Patnitop (altitude 2024 meters), Kud resort (altitude 1738 meters), Batote resort (altitude 1560 meters), Sudh Mahadev (a holy spot near Patnitop, where a Trishul and a Mace, said to belong to Lord Shiva is worshipped), Gauri Kund (legendry spring where Goddess Parvati used to bathe), Sanasar (cup shaped meadow surrounded by gigantic conifers, also a golf course), Chenani valley, P.mp3andal (40 kms. from Jammu city, often referred to as Chhota Kashi) etc. 

 The famous shrine of Mata Vaishnodeviji is located in the Trikuta hills near Katra, 50 Kms. from Jammu city. About 4 million pilgrims visit this Shrine every year.

 Other places of tourist interest, located in the city of Jammu are Baghe-E-Bahu, Bahu Fort, Amar Singh Palace, Mahamaya Temple & Mubarak Mandi Palace.

Ladakh Province

Ladakh, bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Great Himalaya and the Karakoram, is the biggest district of the state with an area of 97782 sq. kms. One of the highest habitations in the world, Ladakh has an altitude ranging between 2400 meters to 4500 meters. The barren mountain ranges stretch through the area from south-east to north-west. Its valleys, about 500 sq. kms. in area, lie along the headwaters of the Indus, the Sutlej and the Chenab rivers. The mighty river Indus, having originated from near the Kailash mountain and the Mansarovar lake in Tibet, flows in an almost straight line from the north-west to the south-east of Ladakh. Glaciers and the snow-capped mountains encircling the crystal-clear lakes enhance the rugged beauty of Ladakh further. 

Summer temperatures of Ladakh rarely exceed about 270C in the shade, while in winter, they may plummet to minus 200C even in Leh. It is said that only in Ladakh can a man sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade, suffer from sunstroke and frostbite at the same time.

 Ladakh is connected to rest of the country by two motorable roads, one leading to Srinagar via Zoji-la (open from early June to November) and the other to Manali in Himachal via Rohtang Pass (open from July to September).

 An interesting spectacle in Ladakh is presented by hot springs and geysers roaring and throwing steaming hot water up to a height of 15 meters and projecting fantastic rainbow colours. These fountains of water present an interesting phenomenon in winter when the boiling water comes down in the shape of ice blocks with the impact of chilly winds, and f.mp3 mounds next to the geysers.

 Over the Ladakh range and in the north of Leh, is the road to Khardung-la (altitude 5600 meters), the highest road in the world. Further on, is the Pangong Lake, situated at an altitude of 4267 meters, six to seven kms. at its widest point and 130 kms. long. It is bisected by the international border between India and China.

 The people of Ladakh region have Mongoloid, or more accurately, Turanian features. They call themselves Bo-pa, the ancient Bhauttas. They speak Ladakhi language, which is a dialect of Tibetan. It is written in the Tibetan script. Some scholars, however aver that their script is a f.mp3 of Devanagari, which was prevalent in Kashmir in the 7th century. 

 The original population of Ladakh may have been Dards, an Indo-Aryan race, but immigration from Tibet, perhaps a millennium or so ago, largely overwhelmed the culture of Dards and obliterated their racial characteristics. In eastern and central Ladakh, today's population seems to be mostly of Tibetan origin. In and around Kargil, there is much in people's appearance that suggests a mixed origin. The exception to this generalisation is the Arghons, a community of Muslims in Leh, the descendants of marriages between local women and Kashmiri or Central Asian merchants. The staple food of the Ladakhis is grim - a kind of barley, which is eaten as bread or mixed with butter and tea as a paste. They are invariable meat-eaters. A local drink called chang is consumed in ample quantities.

 Buddhism reached Tibet from India via Ladakh, and there are ancient Buddhist rock engravings all over the region, even in areas like Dras and the Lower Suru Valley. Until some years ago, Ladakh used to be the gateway to Tibet, connecting India with Tibet and east Turkistan. As such, it was an important trade centre, besides being the meeting point of the Tibetan, Indian, Chinese and Islamic cultures and traditions.

 Leh, the capital of Ladakh province is 3521 meters above sea level. Leh town is full of orchards, groves, gardens and monasteries and is crowded with people. Places of tourist interest in the Leh town are Sengge Namgyal's nine-storey Palace, Jo-khang, a modern ecumenical Buddhist temple, Shanti Stupa, Spituk Gompa etc. 

 The biggest and most famous of the monastic festivals is that of Hemis and is dedicated to Padmasambhava. Every 12 years, the Gompa's greatest treasure, a huge thangka -a religious icon painted or embroidered on cloth, is ritually exhibited.

 Kargil, about 2750 meters above the sea level, is also enclosed by a network of mountains. River Suru runs through the area. People of Kargil profess Islam and are engaged in f.mp3ing and sheep raising.

 Dras, another village inhabited by a population of mixed Kashmiri and Dard origins, is the second coldest p.mp3anently inhabited spot in the world.

Land ~ Lakes

Wular Lake

The Wular Lake in Kashmir is the largest fresh water lake in India. It is about 16 Kms. long and 9 .6 Kms wide with ill-defined shores. This lake lies between Bandipore and Sopore at a distance of 75 Kms. from Srinagar. The Jhelum enters this lake from the south-east and leaves it from the west. St.mp3s rise in the lake everyday in the afternoon. The deepest part of the lake is at Watlab towards the hill called Baba Sukhuruddin in the north-west. Many small streams, Harbuji, Aarah, Erin and Pohru join this lake. 

Other Lakes

The Anchar Lake is a swampy area. The Sind Nallah enters this lake from one side and flows out from the other. It is about 8 Kms long and 3 Kms. wide. Ganderbal is a famous township on its north-west bank. 

The Mansbal Lake is at a distance of 29 Kms. from Srinagar and is situated at Safapore (Tehsil Ganderbal). It is 5 Kms long and 1 Km. wide. It is connected with the Jhelum by a canal near Sumbal. Mughal Emperors have built a summer palace on its bank. 

The Harvan Lake is situated at a distance of 21 Kms from Srinagar. It is 278 meters long, 137 meters wide and 18 metres deep. This lake is a source of water supply to Srinagar city. 

The Hokarsar Lake lies on Baramulla road about 13 Kms. from Srinagar. It is about 5 Kms. long and 1.5 Kms. wide. Willow trees are grown in abundance around its banks. 

The Konsarnag or Vishno Pad Lake is situated in the Pir Panjal range at a height of 4000 meters above sea level to the south of Shopian. It is about 5 Kms. long and 3 Kms. wide and is the source of the river Vishav. It is at a distance of 34 Kms. from Shopian. 

The Gangabal Lake is situated at a height of 3570.4 meters on the peak of H.mp3ukh mountain. Hindus consider it a sacred lake. 

The Sheshnag Lake is situated near Vavjan, enroute to Shri Amarnath cave. It is at a distance of 28 Kms. from Pahalgam. 

The Neelang Lake is situated in Tehsil Badgam at a distance of 10 Kms from Nagam. It is a beautiful lake with dense forests around it. 

There are two more lakes, Tarsar and Marsar that lie on the northern slope of the H.mp3ukh mountain. Marsar lake is the origin of the Canal Sharab Kohl that provides water to the fountains that play in the Mughal Gardens. Marsar lake flows into the Lidar which is one of the largest tributaries of the Jhelum. 

Sokhsar and Dokhsar are two frozen lakes situated at H.mp3ukh Mountain. These are said to be two tear drops of Parvati; one a w.mp3 tear drop indicating happiness and other a cold one showing grief.

Land 

Garden Tradition and the Mughal Contribution

The conspicuous contribution by the Mughals to the architectural wealth of Kashmir lies in the large number of gardens with their schemes of fountains and cascades which they built at several beauty spots in the Valley. Today they are major attraction to the tourists, both Indian and foreign. Their importance can not be underestimated.

 The history of the garden designs in Kashmir is closely associated with Buddhist landscape gardening in China.  From ancient times, flowers and plants have been admired and cultivated in India. Flower cultivation was almost a religious compulsion with Hindus - one had to make early morning offering of flowers to the deity. The ancient Indian, like the Chinese preferred still-water, lotus bearing waters pent up within paved embankments.

 With the propagation of the Buddhist doctrine, the lotus assumed a special significance. Kashmir, endowed with springs, lakes, glens and beautiful flowers is truly Nature's own garden, requiring hardly any human effort to improve upon. However, slopes touching water reservoirs or areas around springs were well utilised by the  early Hindus in laying out landscape gardens.

 Sir Aurel Stein found evidence of the existence of gardens and ponds with lotuses along the route from Kashmir to Khotan. It, according to him and other travellers, is both reasonable and safe to believe that the Hindu and the Budhist missionaries, especially the Kashmirians, carried the garden tradition with them into China and beyond to Japan. The Kashmirian Budhist monk, Dh.mp3amitra founded a Vihara at Tunghuang in China and planted more than 1000 trees round it.

 In Central Asia and Persia, the garden tradition took a different shape under the Muslim rule. The first condition was always the availability of life giving water. Water was directed through paved channels to a central reservoir. Artificial cascades and fountains were introduced. This f.mp3ed a distinct feature in their garden designs.

 The Mughals from Babar to Shahjehan were great lovers of gardens. Babar had developed a taste to garden designs in Samarkand and Farghana, where Indian garden design had undergone considerable changes as mentioned. The Mughals reintroduced the old Indian art from their homeland. The Mughal gardens in India are copied from the gardens in Turkistan and Persia. 

      Kashmir was brought under the Mughal sway by Akbar who found the place resembling his original homeland in Turkistan. His successor Jehangir and his queen Nurjehan excelled all others in laying out gardens in Kashmir. Shahjehan improved upon them and laid some new ones. Also did some nobles, governors, princes and princesses responsible for laying some gardens. 

Shalimar Garden 

The best example of the existence of a garden tradition in Kashmir from ancient times, is provided by the famous Shalimar Garden on the Dal Lake. A garden existed here in ancient times. During the reign of Pravarsena II, the founder of Srinagar city, there is said to be a villa called Mar Shalla or the Hall of Love. The king used to visit a saint named Sukram Swami living near Harwan. On his way to his Ashram, or back from it to his place, the king used to rest at his garden villa. In the course of time, the villa vanished and the village came to be known as Shalamar.

 In 1619, Jehangir laid out a garden at this spot, calling it 'Farahbaksh' or 'Delightful'. Eleven years later, Zaffar Khan, a governor of Kashmir, extended it and the addition was called 'Faizbaksh' or 'Beautiful'. In the course of time, this came to be called as Shalamar Garden.

 Shalamar is laid in typically Mughal design. It is rectangular in shape, the area being divided into a series of parterres. Being at the foot of a hill, it has become easier to divide it in four terraces. There is a line of tanks along the middle of the whole length of the garden. These are connected by a canal. The tanks and the canal have their own scheme of fountains and cascades. The canal and the tanks are lined with polished lime stone resembling black marble. The water to feed there, is brought from Harwan stream flowing in the back of the garden. The water enters at the upper end and flows down from terrace to terrace feeding numerous fountains. After leaving the garden, the water finally joins the lake by a canal.

 The garden is tastefully laid. There are flower beds on either bank of the canal and around small lawns. Decorative plants lend their ch.mp3, especially in the evenings in the artificial light. Huge Chinars provide shade to the visitors.

 The fourth terrace was private portion of the garden, where the ladies of the harem stayed. It contains a magnificent black-stone pavilion on a 65 feet square platf.mp3. The pavilion is surrounded by a reservoir 52 yards square and about 3.5 feet deep. It is lined with stones and has 140 fountains.

 It is said that Jehangir had the intense delight of making up quarrel he had with his ch.mp3ing queen Nur Jehan, 'the light of the world' while resting here.
 
 

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