Tag Archives: rainawari

srinagar pictures

post office Rainawari

kathi darwaza

chatthi padshai Gurudwara

hari parbhat-a distant view

A distant view of Hari

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some photos of Rainawari, Srinagar, Kashmir

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visit to my Homeland…Kashmir

After so many years,23 years to be precise, I touched the land of my Birth- Kashmir with a bit of excitement and some trepidation .My Brother’s Facebook Friend Shahid was waiting for me at the Airport to receive me. He had made it unequivocally clear that I have to stay with him at his house in Nagin area .He and his family greeted me with open arms, though It was the first time they had ever met me. They made me feel so comfortable, I felt I was at home.

Next Day, My Father’s Friend Mr Sheikh greeted me with open arms at his residence at Khanyar. Mr. Khan’s son was killed in a Gun-battle with the Indian forces and is revered by all in his locality for his Son’s “Sacrifice”. I was in touch with him through phone for many months now and he had promised to accompany me to my former residence at Rainawari as well as Ganderbal.

Yesterday, As I visited Rainawari,I could not believe it is the same place that I and my family left 23 years ago .Though the lanes and sub-lanes are the same, yet something is amiss. The lanes and sub-lanes have been encroached by some people living there. My Father’s friend told me that many low-income people had purchased houses of Kashmiri Pandits in the Nineties and many affluent Muslim families migrated to the plush localities of Srinagar
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As I was approaching my house in Kralyar, Rainawari,I got lost in the thoughts of my childhood and the memories flashed in front of my eyes. It was as if yesterday, I left this place amidst violence, But the depilated erstwhile Kashmiri Pandits houses quickly pulled me into the present reality. I recalled my neighbors who lived there. How could I forget Jallas, Bhandaris, Duranis, vakils and jallalis!!!

I stood for a while , looking at those houses and the members of those houses, for a while, seemed to come alive. My childhood came to life again ,After all ,it was in these lanes and by-lanes ,I had played games like chupan-chupayee(i-spy) and cricket .

I was shocked when I saw my ancestral home, It was in shambles but so was I.

Somehow, I reposed myself and entered my home. There was another surprise waiting for me. As I opened the door, a voice interrupted me ”who are you”? I looked around and saw an elderly man, I said, ”This is my home and I had come for a visit, who are you?” I could see his face had turned pale, but he feigned a bold reply, ”No! This is my Home. I can even show the papers of this house.”I maintained my calm , gave him a smile and said ”I have come to sell this property”. Before he could say anything, my fathers friend intervened and said to him,” He has not come to disturb you, he will have a look at this house and leave”. The occupant of my home agreed half-heartedly.
I knew this is a very common problem, which Kashmiri Pandits are facing in Kashmir. I recalled when I had met a senior politician of Kashmir, I was told that the people who oppose most, the return of Kashmiri Pandits into the valley ,are those who have illegally occupied their properties. Even my friend Sunil is also fighting a case in Kashmir as his property has also been occupied illegally.

I have made my mind to sell the house in Kashmir. I have changed in the last 23 years ,but so has my house in Kashmir. It is not the same place which I had left 23 years back. If my neighbors had been living there, like in the past, I would not have thought even for a second to come back and live there. The neighborhood temple Whom we called Bod-Mandir has also changed, no longer the temple bells remind the people in Rainawari, of the existence of Bhairava .Had I heard even one ringing of the temple bell, I would have stayed without a second thought, but that is not the case.

Will I be interested in coming back to Kashmir? My answers is “yes” I will, when my neighbors will be filled with that much love, which they showered me pre 1990.I will come that day when I will have freedom of choosing and practicing my religion without getting hounded again. Until then, I will choose to live separated from by beloved Homeland.

Yesterday, I had also visited Hari-Parbat and Vizarnaag. Though Hari-Parbhat is maintained to some extent, Vizaarnag is in a very bad state. It has turned into a archeological monument surrounded by marshy land. A virtual quagmire both physically and literally.

Overall, I am enjoying my stay in Kashmir, I will stay in Kashmir for some more days and hopefully untangle many knots both physically and emotionally…..

by-M.Zijoo

Hari Parbat—-a memoir

JAN 1988,Rainawari,Srinagar……

It is the month of January in Srinagar, Kashmir and I am awakened by my Paternal Grandmother, My wrist watch shows 5.00a.m in the morning, I rub my eyes and see my Brother already up and smiling at me. It is the month of Magh which is considered auspicious by all the Kashmiri Pandits and many devout KP’s throng to Mata Sharika’s Mandir ,which is also known as “Hari Parbat”, to invoke her blessings.

It is freezing cold outside and I have put on my Pheran(Traditional dress of kashmiris used in winter), with a fur cap on my Head and woolen gloves to cover my hands, I feel protected to some extent from the cold of horrendous winter of Kashmir. We move some 50 meters from our Home and stop outside our neighbors house, It is pitch dark and silent , suddenly my Grandmother coughs,” ahhoo,ahhoo”and wait for some seconds and then again she repeats the artificial cough, ”Ahhoo, Ahhoo”, This time I hear the sound of same type of cough , ”Ahhoo, Ahhoo” coming from inside. My Grandmother says to us,” They are coming out within few seconds”, I see 3-4 dark images coming from gate of our neighbor’s home. We are joined by our friend also who is of our age as he greets us with excitement.

The group walks swiftly towards Bagh Jogi Lankar and many a times the atmosphere is filled with the Barks of Street Dogs that are ubiquitous throughout our Journey. Since we are now a group of 8 people, there is nothing to fear about those ferocious Dogs that had the dubious distinction of biting lone strangers who ventured into their territory.

We again Stop in front of Post Office and Again my Grandmother repeats the same procedure of coughing, this time however a couple of elderly Gentlemen emerge from the Dark sub lane. Now we are a bigger group with 5 males including us(I, my brother and friend) , There is hardly any conversation between the members ,the group walks at a good pace until we reach Malkah(Burial Ground).We amble through probably the biggest Graveyard of Muslims of Kashmir as I overlook and pass through thousands of Graves until I am greeted by the wall which encircles Hari Parbat, this wall must be running over several Kilometers. I along with the group pass through the opening of that wall and walk further until all the elders stop at a point. It is Maqdoom Saab, a Sufi Saint of Kashmir who is revered equally by Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir, though we don’t go up the stairs but all of us bow our heads in reverence. Some meters further , I see hundreds of burning lamps(Ratandeep/Diyas) and I soon realize that we have reached Ganpat/Ganesh Mandir. We all lit the diyas(lamps) in front of the idol of Ganpatji.The Ganeshji here is present in the form of a large Boulder smeared with Sindoor(vermilion), Inside the temple there is congregation of hundreds of devotees singing Bhajans that Culminates in the morning Aarti.

 The group comes out of the Ganpat Mandir, It is already Dawn, our group walks in the by lanes of that area until we reach a open space. We walk through a dense mini forest at the bottom of the Hari Parbat Hill as I leave behind Kali Mandir which comes en route and walk further, until, I see the first glimpse of the stairs which our group climbs and finally reach the temple compound of Sharika Mata.

 Here again a big Boulder smeared with Sindoor, silver and Gold foils represents the power known to us as Goddess Sharika. At the left side of the compound though an idol has also been made by the devotees of Mata, This compound is reverberated by the Bhajans sung by youths who mostly have come from Habbakadal and Rainawari areas , I recognize many faces among that group and recognize some of musical instruments as Harmonium, Tumbaknar and Nout(earthen pot).

The group I am travelling with genuflects in front of the Mata in the open compound, My grandmother and other elders read sholokas/bhajans (Hymns) from the handbooks which they are carrying with them, while we(I, my brother and friend) go inside the covered compound where the singing of Bhajans is going on with full energy and soon ,we also become a part of the chorus.

 On our return, the old group disintegrates and now our new group consisted of my grandmother, I and my Brother, My friend and his Mother. We soon left the main Bhawan(compound) and descend a few stairs, though our return route is different from the route we came from. We pass through a nursery planted with saplings and some almond trees, those almond trees looked beautiful especially in the spring when white flowers bloomed on these trees and the fragrance could titillate and intoxicate anybody’s olfactory.

 As we walk further , we see a temple which is also known as” Ramchanderun Mandar”(Ram temple), I enter the temple compound and pay my obeisance to Ramchanderji. From this temple I can see beautiful vistas of Nagin lake as well as Hari Parbhat fort. our next stoppage is Pokherbal which is situated at the banks of Nagin Lake.

 I don,t have much memory of pokherbal, so I will move forward. We all crossed Kathi Darwaza -That part of the encircled wall which once used to protect the Hari Parbat fort. Our group walks further some meters and then stop at Chatti Padshai Gurdwara, the religious compound that is connected with the legacy of Guru Hargobind singhji, the sixth Guru of Sikhs. As it is a Sunday, we all go inside and in reverence bow in front of the Guru. On Sundays, the sikh volunteers of the Gurudwara serve hot tea to everybody as a part of Sewa, our group also drinks the tea served in steel glasses and feel refreshed.

We again start our journey back to home as our group bypasses Malkha, soon an acrid smell hits us and I cover my nose with the Muffler, I instantly know that we have reached pouj Mahal (Buther colony),the Drains are filled with blood of the sheep, Occasionally we could hear the cries of the dying sheep screaming “mhea, mhea”. our increased pace help us to leave the “pouj mahal” and its acrid smell behind us.

further down, we stop at the Kandur’s shop(Kashmiri Bakery) near hari sing high school and get some hot lavaasa (a sort of kashmiri unleavened bread) from the oven to eat as we(I, my brother and friend) were feeling hungry by now. The Group amble through the bagh jogi lankar Bridge and soon we reach the comfort of our home as I tuck Kangir under my pheran and wait for the Kahwa to be served to me…..