Monthly Archives: January 2008

trip to mahadev at 11000feet above sea level

It was year August 1989.I along with my friends Sanjay Bharti and Naveen raina decided to have some adventure. Being a native of Kashmir,It was natural for me to have love for mountains and hence I loved trekking and hiking nearby mountains like Zabarvan, Amarnath, Dhyaneshwar(Bandipura). Zabarvan was my all time favourite, since it was the closest to my home in Rainawari. Apart from trekking, swimming also used to give me an adrenaline rush.

Raksha Bandhan, A sacred festival among Hindus of Kashmir used to be celebrated with lot of enthusiasm, KP devotees used to pay their obeisance to their deities by visiting various holy places, especially places connecting to Lord Shiva, Like Amarnathji,Harsher,Sersher,Dhanshewar,Shankarayacharya temple etc.

I  along with my two friends had decided to go to Mahadev. My elders had warned me that Journey to Mahadev is strenuous , Tougher than Amarnathji. We had decided to meet on Aug 16 at the lal chowk bus stand .We all met at the desired place at around 1.00p.m.

We boarded a bus to a village known as Dara. Village  Dara is very near to haarvan,  and famous Dachigaam national park. We took some snacks along with us…some biscuits and bread and started our ascend. I was wearing a brown baggie pant and a brown and white check shirt which our family tailor Gulzaar had made and whose shop was at jogi lankar bridge. I was also wearing a liberty sports shoe(white with orange stripes).

We started our ascend at around 2.00p.m and were ascending through the narrow gorge which accompanied us right up to our next base camp at lidwaas. After one hour’s ascend,we were already feeling hungry and satiated our hunger with whatever was left with us. We were ascending at a leisurely pace and occasionally stopping at some places and resting on boulders. We could not see a single person in our first 3 hours of ascend. After  3 hours or so, We met some people. My Muslim neighbor was also among them. His name was “Arif” I asked him “what are you doing here!”, He said” I had been to tarsar and marsar and I am in these mountains from last 4-5 days” (Tarsar and Marsar are high altitude mountain lakes). They were a group of around 4-5 boys and they were fully equipped with tents, haversacks, carry mats etc.(After some years after this incident came to know that ”Arif” had become a militant and  mentally co-related our last meeting ).

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we were enjoying our trekking, it took us almost six hours before we reached a place known as “leedwas”.This place is a small meadow with some 10-20 houses, at around 10,000 feet above sea level, belonging to nomads known in kashmir as” Gujjars”. For these gujjars their lives revolve around their livestock. By the time we reached leedwas, it was around 7.30-8.00p.m. We met some other Kashmiri pundits(KP) also . Total number of devotees were around 8-10 people. We were told normally every year at least couple of  hundred  devotees  come to Mahadev, But that year situation was somewhat different.(It was an early stage of Militancy in Kashmir).As carefree teenagers, we could not understand politics neither had any inclination.

We had thought that we will be able to find something to eat once we reach leeedwas,

but to our disappointment, there was nothing that we had hoped for. However, another group of KP devotees, had before hand seen coming events and had brought a stove, utensils and enough rice and raw bottle gourd with them to feed at least a dozen mouths. In the late evening all of us (8-10 people) contributed   some way or the other in making our dinner which consisted of cooked rice , bottle gourd and pickle. We were already hungry as wolves and guzzled our dinner in no time. Next thing that was forcing me and my friends to get worried was to find a place to stay put for night. That worry was also taken care of by other KP’s, as they had arranged 2  Gurjar Kotha’s for all of us. We were   given a place to sleep in a Gurjar Kotha  by the  local Gurjars at a very nominal cost. We  three friends were the youngest among all the devotees, and we were well guided  and looked after by other KP’s.

Gujjar “kotha” or gujjar house is a rectangular shaped single room and single storey house, may be 15 yards long and 10 yards wide, made of mud. Inside the Kotha, there is a  low horizontal partition whose height will be approximately 2-3 feet. Front side of the partition is used as living, dining and bedroom by The Gurjar’s and the back side is used by  their livestock. This means both gujjars and their livestock share that one room or kotha. It was a bit uncomfortable sleeping in that kotha as there was hardly any decent flooring. We used deodar twigs covered by a blanket as  Mattress. We spread one Blanket on the flooring and one to cover our bodies. I remember vividly the eyes of goats and Sheep’s, looking directly to me over my head.their eyes were shining like fireflies in the night. That night, I slept like a log…

We were woken by our fellow KP’s at 4.00 a.m. For our next and final stretch, an experienced and elderly person of around 55 years took the charge of leading the way further up to Mahadev shrine.  It was a Full moon night and we were all walking in a line, ambling and climbing the mountain very cautiously. We were following literally each other’s footsteps. Our leader and other KP’s had constantly captivated our minds by their interesting anecdotes. “I had seen many a times a Hangul here in my previous journeys, maybe we will see a Hangul today also” said the Leader who was also acting as a guide.Another one said,”look at these lights twinkling below in the plains,that is chandpur,my village”.Another Gentleman took his monocular to look a the the village below that was described as “chandpur”.

After some 3 hours we reached a place, where we saw a huge boulder. That boulder must have been at least two story tall and standing at the edge of a precipice. We were told that we have to climb this rock as Mahadevji is on the other side of Rock. Our little ascend on that rock boulder was bare footed. The rock was very rough and I could feel the rough edges piercing my foot soles. That rock was right on the ridge of the mountain, just above the famous dachigaam national park. Finally, I had the darshan of Mahadevji. It was a image of shivlingam naturally carved on the rough rock and looks quite distinct than its surroundings. It was like a smooth black/grayish marble carved on that rough rock, just above the ridge. It must be around 4 feet tall and two and half feet wide .At any given time, maximum, two to three persons can stand in front of  Mahadev as that place is cramped.The danger of falling down the precipice is very high there. It was an early morning by the time we reached there , everything looked so beautiful, scenic and divine…

After having darshan, we immediately started our journey back to leedwas. We reached leedwas in less than 2 hours. I remember from Leedwas, we could see a bus, which was moving down somewhere in valley. From that height it looked like an ant. It was already 10.00a.m, I was worried as I was given a deadline to reach home back by 10.00a.m…

From leedwas, I with my friends Sanjay and navin hurriedly descended back. we were actually running and It took us another two and half hours to reach back to Village Dara.We could not find any transportation back to the Srinagar Bus Stand as a “Harta” was called by the Muslim fundamentals in memory of  Pakistan Military Dictator Zia-ul-hak’s first death anniversary. Instead of waiting we started walking and running back to Srinagar and after 2 hours we got a lift from the truck driver. That truck dropped me midway at Nishat. From Nishat, I knew there was a short cut via the famous bundh to reach Rainawari.It was another 4-5 Kms ,before I could reach my home. Alone, walking through the bundh, my only accomplice was a big water pipe which comes from haarvan and quenches the thirst of many in Rainawari and adjoining areas. It was a hot day, My only consolation was that pipe which was icy cold and water was oozing out at some joints, those weak joints acted as my thirst quenchers. I crossed the famous 7 bridges before I reached back to my home in Rainawari. I was exhausted and tired by the time I reached my home at 5.00p.m. I don’t need to write how I faced the fiery stares of my Parents. ..

Today, my friend Sanjay Bharti is working in Mumbai and Naveen Raina in Delhi, Occasionally in touch through a phone call or e-mail .Mahadev episode pops up each time we meet as That  trip was our last in Kashmir and thus remains  one of  our most cherished trips……

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hidden facts about kashmir

Facts you must know!!!

Last Year India celebrated its 60th year of Independence. What does Independence means to me and my friends! We were not born before 1947 so we can’t really say how much really India has changed. But still in some ways I can say yes! India has changed …for good or bad ….may be both….. Earlier it was congress (I) …and only congress (I) ….with very little opposition before 1947- till Pundit Nehru’s death… Almost all freedom fighters that fought for independence were from congress and the ideological guru was Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi was no doubt an extra-ordinary human being and he gave new meaning to non-violent ways of achieving objectives…

Majority of Kashmiri Muslims supported Pakistani support to militancy because they felt Pakistan is a Muslim country and they felt more inclined to their religion. They believed everything which Pakistan radio and Pakistan news reported. Once I asked my friend about the reason of successive defeats of Pakistan’s army by Indian Army? He replied”wo to America ne Pakistan to fuss bomb diye the,is liye Pakistan har gaye”Meaning U.S.A had sold fake bombs to Pakistan and that was the reason Pakistan lost.These guys believe they are fighting independence struggle.

Kashmiri pundits or kashmiri Hindu’s were targeted because of our religion and our strong feelings towards India. Most of the children of kashmiri Muslims of low income group were sent to madrassas instead of normal schooling and brought up by their parents in such a way that they grew up hating Hindus and Most of the people who took to arms in early nineties belonged to this section of society. The seeds of hatred sown by Muslim parents can be seen clearly in Kashmir. One such instance was a Muslim child may be of 3-4 years old .This child said to a kashmiri Hindu without any provocation ” Batta goye cancer” meaning “Kashmiri pundit! may you be infected with cancer” without any reason and His mother was also there with him and instead of teaching him, she just laughed hysterically as if she had won a gold medal.

At another instance, My drawing teacher whom we used to call “faroq sir” was once asked by my friend”parvez”…..”Sir! You have started aging. One of your hairs in beard has turned white” He replied prophetly….”Yeh iman ka Baal hai” Meaning this single white hair denotes divine sincerity.

“Nizam-e-mustafa” is like what we call”Ram-Rajya”.But as usual everyone believes that” my religion is the best and only my religion is true” It is mainly because of the ignorance about other religions, their teachings and their principles. Once I had an argument with my Muslim friend. He told me something which secretly every Muslim beleives.He said” Neil Armstrong had heard the voice of Allah when he was at moon and he later converted to Islam.” Another gossip which every Muslim believes is “Islam is the fastest growing religion in U.S.A” I don’t know their source of news and I don’t care as it is not actually the news, it is the faith which they want to believe in. Same is true with us Hindus also. But I must add here Hindus are much more tolerant than all the other religions. Because Hinduism is a way of living life in harmony with the nature. That is why we worship almost everything which follows circle of life and death; we worship Living and non-living because we believe that God is in everything. He is in life and death, in good and bad and we worship god in form as well as in formless.

Coming back to Kashmir issue, Pakistan has outscored India in Kashmir. Common Kashmiri Muslim look to Pakistan for instructions and emotional support .At the same time they look towards India for monetary support. India could not do much in Kashmir and they failed in all fields. Main reason for militancy in Kashmir was long support of Pakistan towards separatists of Kashmir. Routing of foreign militants from Afghanistan and other Muslim turbulent countries to Kashmir with the  active support of Pakistan .The other main reason for deteriorating condition in Kashmir was inclination of national leaders towards Muslim leaders of Kashmir after the death of Mrs. Gandhi. In nut shell Indian leaders from center were misleaded by the Muslim leaders of Kashmir. At the time of Mrs. Gandhi, Things were better as she more head strong and politically more active and was in constant touch with the Hindu leaders of Jammu& Kashmir including Kashmiri pundits and Dogras.

You will find it very interesting that for any political party(except congress and BJP) to grow and sustain in Kashmir valley…..you have to follow one proved formulae——-Speak anti-India, act anti-India and make people of Kashmir  believe that we will bring ”nizam-a-muztafa”.

 

Kashmiri pundits have seen it all and are victims of Minority vote bank politics of India.

I don’t know whether Muslims of India are living as second grade citizens of India or equal citizens, But in Kashmir, Kashmiri Hindus are living as second grade citizens because of our religion and Indian Nationality. exploitation can be seen very clearly Between Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir. As all of you know There is a property boom all over India. But in Kashmir valley there is boom only for Muslim properties. Properties of Hindus are underestimated because Muslims think that “yeh property to aaj bi hamari hai or kal be hamari hooni hai,kharidani ki zaroorat kya hai”and even If a Hindu property is bought, It will be usually half the prevailing  market price.  All this has happened and is happening in Kashmir and govt at center knows everything but they are helpless to solve this problem as  they think about their minority vote bank and they don’t want these things to be known publicly as this tarnish their image and will create a threat to minorities of India.

This is definitely the double standards of Indian democracy.If hindus who constitute the majority population of India are treated in such a step motherly way, just for the sake of vote bank, Then Definitely time has come when Indian constitution needs amendment.In Kashmir… politians and terrorists run a nexus and work jointly to ensure that Kashmiri hindus are kept outside the valley..An organised lobby is trying its best to illegaly capture the properties attached to  various temples and religious shrines of Hindus by tampering with the original documents…. 

I sometimes wonder”What will happen if Majority population of India behaves same way as Kashmiri Muslims  behaved with Hindus of Kashmir?”