Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Chapter---(11 & 12) of my Mughal Road Motor Biking Escapade

Chapter—(11 & 12) of (15)

In this chapter also, I have complied two days (29 & 30 July) travelling into one. The reason is that because of both the days, our most of the time went only in travelling
and very little of sightseeing.

On 29th of July 2012, after our breakfast at Gulmarg, we rode our motor bikes back towards Srinagar city through the same route through which we had come. But just 20 Km before Batmalu (central bus stand of Srinagar city), at Naebal we took the by-pass road, which by- passes the whole crowded Srinagar city and this by-pass road joins near Badami Bagh cantonment area. By using this by-pass road, not only did we save distance wise, but we tremendously saved on travelling time also. We nearly saved about one and ½ hour.

As per our today’s plan, for the night we would be staying at Anantnag city. From Gulmarg to Anantnag city we had to travel via Tangmarg---Manigam---Naebal---Badami-Bagh-(cantonment-area)---Pampore---Awantipora---Bijbehara---Anantnag City. At moderate and comfortable speed, we took about five hours from Gulmarg to reach Anantnag city. At Anantnag we stayed at Forest department’s guest house where our prior booking was already confirmed, courtesy Bushan parimoo.

Pampore Town

From Srinagar on the way to Anantnag, the very first popular town that comes on the way is Pampore Town. It is on the south of Kashmir and is roughly about 10 Km from Srinagar city. It is situated at Jammu-Srinagar National highway. Pampore Town is famous for Saffron cultivation. In whole of Kashmir Valley, Pampore is the only area where saffron grows.


Pampore area is the best producer of saffron in Kashmir valley. Saffron is one of the costliest spices of the world. The estimation given by the saffron dealer of Kashmir, Pampore has a capability to grow more than 385 KG of saffron in a year. But because of the industrial waste of chemical pollution of Wuyan cement factory at Pampore, the industrial cement dust and the industrial soot has gradually declined the saffron growth. In 2004 it went down up to 248 kg of saffron in a year. But the continuous problem occurred by these cement industries have shown great decline in this saffron cultivation. In 2010 the saffron traders have not done deal of saffron more than 73 kg in a year. The sad part is that despite the continuous strong protests of the saffron growers, Government of Jammu and Kashmir has not done anything to take care of the severe industrial waste problems caused by the cement factories around Pampore area. The net result is that the saffron growers are frustrated, dejected and helpless.

At pampore as per our prior communication, we met two good friends of Bashan Primoo. They are Mr. Chaudrey Mohamad Yasim and Mr. Zakir Hussain who were informed to wait for us at a known location. These friends of Bushan Parimoo are saffron growers as well as the members of Saffron growers association of Kashmir.

After our friendly meeting with them, they arranged to serve us with hot, hot Saffron-Khawa. Khawa is local Kashmiri sweet tea, which is brewed with saffron and honey. Khawa is tasty, aromatic, delicious, refreshing and rejuvenating.

The next important town on our journey comes Awantipora.

Awantipora Temples

The ruins of Awantipora temples are located at Awantipora town which is about 25 km from the state capital Srinagar. Awantipora is a small town located at Jammu-Srinagar National highway. This town may be about 25 Km from Srinagar city.

Awantipora has a number of ancient Hindu temples built by King Awanti Varman (AD 855- 883) when he chose this site as his capital.

History of Awantipora

Avantishwar temple located at Jawbrari in the centre of a courtyard surrounded by a colonnaded peristyle is dedicated to Lord Shiva on the banks of the River Jhelum  (Vitasta). Less than a kilometre away is Avantiswamin temple dedicated to Vishnu. The Vaikunta Vishnu illustrated as frontispiece is said to be found in this temple. The two temples are quite similar structurally. The walls of the entrance are ornamented with sculptured reliefs both internally and externally.

The ruins of temples constructed by Lalitaditya, the Brahmin emperor of Kashmir, are also located in Awantipora. At Awantipora the two temple ruins located are about one km from each other. The first ruin is the Awantiswamin Temple. A Vaishnava temple built by king Awantivarman (855 AD – 883 AD), Vaikuntha Vishnu was the presiding deity.

This imposing monument has been built on a two-tiered base in the centre of a paved courtyard. Buddhist influence is quite evident in the architecture. The outer boundary wall or the courtyard has four shrines in its four corners. The entrance to the temple is located in the middle of the west wall and can be approached by a flight of steps. The walls have beautiful designs and images of gods. Even though the temple is dedicated to Vishnu, images of Shiva can also be seen on the pillars and stones. Even after 1200 years, the sculpted images are distinctly visible and impressive.

There is an underground Indian Air Force Station situated at Koil which is about 5 Km away from Awantipora.

The next important town that comes on our way to Anantnag is called as Bijbehara

The town of Bijbehara is situated in the south of Kashmir on the banks of Jhelum River popularly known here as "Veth". It is one of the notable towns of the district. It is four miles to the north of Anantnag town. The town is surrounded and intersected by plateaus, including "The Totak Shah", from which the whole town can be seen. There are many other plateaus which are getting urbanised.

History of Bijbehara

The Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh constructed a bridge here which was 100 yards long and 6 yards wide spanning the Jhelum River at Bijbehara near the Mughal garden. The bridge was washed away by heavy floods. The oldest Chinar tree of the sub-continent is located in the garden popularly called as Padshahi Bagh which is now under the control of Tourist Department. The garden comprises 25 Chinars. The oldest Chinar is 70 feet in circumference at ground level. The Dara Shiku Garden is also on the bank of the Jhelum... The Padshahi Garden and the Dara Shikwa Garden are separated by the river Jehlum which is spanned over by a bridge known as "Padshahi Bagh Bridge", thus connecting the two gardens.

Sikh saint Guru Nanak sahibji had also come to this town and presently a Gurudwara under name "Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Pehli Padshahi Gurudwara Bijbehara" is at this place.

Bijbehara finds mention in Rajtarangini  by Kalhan. Then famous for temples of Chakradhar and Vijayeshwar. Vijayeshwar temple was built by King Shachinar. This temple was reconstructed again during the reign of Anantdev. This fortified temple was a famous site in then Kashmir (previous to 500 AD).

The area in between Awantipora and Bijbehara is very famous for having many industries manufacturing only cricket bats. Since the whole of Bijbehara has plenty of Willow trees cultivation and Willow is the best suitable wood for manufacturing high quality of cricket bats. To attract the attentions of the Kashmir tourists, on either side of the national highway at Bijbehara has huge stacks of precut and unfinished cricket bats. Almost all the Indian tourists who visit Kashmir, buy cricket bats from Bijbehara. Because these cricket bats are sold at a very reasonable price.

Then the next important city that comes on our way is called Anantnag.

Anantnag city

Anantnag is about 65 Km from Srinagar city. Near Anantnag i.e. at Khanbal there is a forked road junction, where one road turns right that goes to Jammu city and the other forked road junction leads to Anantnag city and Amarnath cave via Pahalgam. While coming from Jammu city, the Pilgrimages’ those who wish to visit Amarnath cave via Pahalgam take the deviation here at Kahanbal.

 The name Anantnag was derived from the Sanskrit term for "Land of countless springs" Nag also means water spring in the Kashmiri language. Thus Anantnag is believed to mean numerous springs, because there are many springs, including Nag Bal, Salak Nag and Malik Nag in the town.

History of Anantnag

Anantnag is an ancient city that came into existence as a market town around 5000 BCE making it one of the oldest urban human settlements in the world. Before the advent of Muslim rule in 1320 CE, Kashmir was divided into three divisions, viz., Maraz in the south, Yamraj in the centre and Kamraj in the north of the Valley. Old chronicles reveal that the division was the culmination of the rift in between Marhan and Kaman, the two brothers, over the crown of their father. The part of the valley which lies between Pir Panjal and Srinagar , and called the Anantnag, was given to Marhan and named after him as Maraj. While Srinagar is no longer known as Yamraj, the area to its north and south are still called Kamraz and Maraz respectively.

Springs of Nag-Bal and Devi-Bal Temples in Anantnag City

Anantnag is also well mentioned in ancient Naga and Pichash chronicles of ancient aboriginals of the valley. It was also known as Kashyapteshwara in ancient times linking it to the mythology of Kashyap Reshi. In ancient times, it was called the Inder Nag.

Anant also means numerous in the Sanskrit language and Naga means springs in the Kashmiri language. Thus Anantnag is believed to mean numerous springs because here are many springs including Nagbal, Salak Nag and Malik Nag in the town. Thus every part of Anantnag town resides on a crest of water. Few feet depth brings water to the surface. Anantnag is a perfect Vastu Shastra location by nature. On one side is a hillock releasing endless water from its feet. Localities are thus blessed with this perfect Vastu creation of nature.

Near Anantnag three streams namely Arapath, the glacier waters from Mrigin Mountain and streamlets from springs of Chahaer and Brahmasar form Aripat Bringi, Bringi freshet is formed by the glacier waters from the Hokhsar Mountain and various other streams from Springs of Navbhug and Kokernag and Sandran the glacier waters from Brari Mountain and streams from Verinag and other springs of Shahabad from Sandran confluence together and mingles with Veyth. Another stream Liddar (Lamboodri) also joins the flow with them at a little distance downstream further ahead.

 The entire temple complex is known popularly as Nagabal and is famous Hindu religious center in Anantnag District.

According to ancient mythological stories, the name Anant-Nag is given to the place because Lord Shiva during his journey to Amarnath cave left all his valuables on the way and Anant-Nag was the place where he is supposed to have left countless number of serpents residing on him.

The Nagbal temple is in the eastern corner of the Anantnag town, placed adjacent to a spring. There are long shady Chinar trees that stand sentinel round the tank. The presiding deity of the Nagbal temple is Lord Ananta Bhawan set up at the outlet of the spring. The temple was built by Maharaja Ranbir Singh, the 2nd Dogra ruler of Kashmir. There are also other smaller temples in the temple complex. Shiva temple, the oldest temple, was built during the reign of Maharaja Partap Singh. A sulphur spring, which is believed to possess spiritual and medicinal power, is also located in the temple complex. Nagbal is bounded by incredible beauty.

Devibal, a small stone temple is located near Nagbal Temple complex and is dedicated to the Mata Ragnya. Inside the temple is the sanctum sanctorum, which is about 12 square feet in size, in the middle of which is 6 square feet holy spring. The Ragnya is said to have blessed the spring. According to a legend, Wazir Pannu, who was a minister during Dogra rule, had a dream in which the goddess revealed to him the secret of her presence in the holy spring and left it to the care of Pandit Balkak, a priest. Maharaja Pratap Singh used to visit the shrine during his travel from Jammu to Srinagar or back, pray and make offerings. He is also believed to have donated land to the shrine.

Now one more temple complex of Lord Rama is come up within the compound complex of Nag Bal. This Lord Rama temple is just adjutant to Sulphur spring. This temple complex is constructed in phases, during militancy, first by senior Swamiji, shri shri Mahant Swami Madhav Dass ji Maharaj and then continued by junior swamiji Shri Ganesh Dass ji. During militancy Senior swamiji was kidnapped by militants and tortured asking him to run away from Anathnag city. Since he refused to listen to militants, they tortured him, starved him and even tied him up side down, but in vain. Then somehow local Muslims approached the militants and requested them to release him. Once he was released, he was to week to walk, to talk or to eat. After some time he died. Then his junior Swamiji,  Shri Ganesh Dass ji took over the temple. Even he was threatened by the militants, but somehow militants let him continue. junior swamiji Shri Ganesh Dass ji is still there in the temple, and he is now expanding the construction of the Ram Temple. He has constructed a big three storied building. On all the two floors he has established Nav-Durgas and on the top floor he has constructed about 20 feet cemented beautiful “shiv-Linga”

About the torture of the senior swamiji by the militants were narrated to us by the present swamiji.

As Anantnag is located centrally, it has a strategic importance as a major centre of trade and commerce. It is a city of various handicrafts and main trading centre and manufacturing place for shawl weaving, “GABBA” which is hand knotted carpet using ruff, coarse black colour wool. And “NAMDAH” is also hand knitted white carpet using ruff coarse white clouour cheap wool.

For the night we stayed at Anatnag forest guest house.

At the guest house Bushan Parimoo met Mr Haji Nizamudin Khotana, Ex MLC and prominent Gujjar leader  and they had a long constructive political discussion.

Next day morning we rode our motor bikes to visit ruins of Martahnd, “THE SUN TEMPLE”’

The valley of Kashmir is famed around the world for its mystical glorious past of grandeur, power and riches beyond imagination. The antiquity of the monuments and various architectural structures tell tales of a rich legacy and a refined sense of culture and art. The Kashmir Valley has witnessed many vicissitudes and experienced many upheavals from time to time.  No significant ancient building or archaeological site is found in the valley today, except for the Martand temple, To name a few more like the Martand Sun Temple, the Awantipora temples, the Sankara-Gauresvara temple, temple of Sugandhesa at Patan, the Pandrethan temples, the Shiva Bhutesa and Siva Jeyshthesa temples at Vangath, the Parihasakesva, Muktakesva, Mahavarha and Goverdhanadhara temples in Parihasapura, and the famous Mameswara Siva temple at Mamalaka are some specimens of great archaeological value.

As most of the ancient architectural monuments in the area were destroyed during the rule of Pathans, Mughals and Sultan Sikander. What must have once been magnificent architectural show pieces like the Martand complex of temples, or the temples of Lalitaditya , the Emperor of Kashmir, and King Awantivarman at Awantipoa  (which lie midway between Srinagar and Anantnag), are now in grand ruins, but nonetheless exude evidence of their glorious past.

Kashmiri architecture is different from the rest of India as most temples are square or oblong in design. They are subdivided into closed (vimana) or open (mandapa) type. Kashmiri temples are typically ‘Suddha’ edifices, constructed with one kind of material from base to the summit. The ancient temples of Kashmir mostly range from mid 8th century AD to 12th century AD.


The Martand temple is one of the important archaeological sites of the country. The temple was attacked by Sikander Butshikan. It took one year for Sikander Butshikan to fully damage and destroy this Martand temple. Even today one gets surprised over art and skill of the builders of this world famous Martand temple by looking at its ruins.
Its impressive architecture reveals the glorious past of the area. After Independence, the government developed many beauty spots of the district, but of their noble and magnificent edifices only faint traces survive. This temple has the typical Aryan structure as was present in Aryan Kashmir.

The Martand temple is situated at Rambirpora Kehribal, nine kilometres east-north-east of Anantnag city.

The temple in Indo-Greek architectural style was built by the King Lalitaditya. The Martand temple is one of the most important archaeological sites of the country. Ancient temples of Kashmir mostly range from mid 8th century AD to 12th century AD
The temples tell tales of rich legacy and refined sense of culture and art

Jawahar Tunnel

Since Krishna Hebbar and Abhimanu had not seen Jawahar tunnel, so we decided to drive through the Jawahar tunnel and come back to proceed to our further journey. Though it was our out of the way to drive towards the tunnel, but we thought that it was worth taking the trouble to drive out of the way, so that these two guys could see the Jawahar tunnel. So we came back from Marthand to Qazigund via Khanbal. After heavy lunch at Qazigund we rode our bikes to Jawahar tunnel which is about 20 Km from Qazgund.

Jawahar Tunnel is named after the first Prime Minister of India was constructed for round-the-year surface transport by Mr. Alfred Kunz and Mr. C. Barsel (both were German) between 1954 and 1960. The Jawahar tunnel has been operational since 22 December 1956. The length of tunnel is 2.85 km (1.77 mi), its elevation is 2,194 m (7,198 ft) and it has one lane road in either direction. It is situated between Banihal and Qazigund on NH-A1.The tunnel facilitates round-the-year road connectivity from Srinagar to Jammu. 

Later the tunnel was renovated by the Border Road Organization under the project BEACON in 1960. It was designed for 150 vehicles per day in each direction but the number of vehicles is now 7,000 in both directions. After renovations, the tunnel now has a two-way ventilation system, pollution &temperature sensors, lighting system and with emergency phones for any assistance from Border Roads Organization.
It is guarded by military round the clock. Once the vehicle enters the tunnel, it has to maintain the same speed throughout the tunnel. CCTVs are installed in the tunnel for continuous monitoring.

The tunnel used to be closed for civilian traffic between midnight and 8 a.m. until 2009. Now it is open all 24 hours of the day.

Details of Jawahar tunnel

Jawahar tunnel is at 7,200 feet above sea level and is 2.85 Km long, at present movement of vehicles per day is around 7,000. Design engineers were Alfred Kunz and C. Barsel (both German). Tunnel work started in 1954 and was opened on 22nd December 1956. When the tunnel was designed, it was designed for the movement of 150 vehicles only. And in those olden days all most all the vehicles were small. A Bus could carry only 16 people. Lorries could carry only 5 tones of load etc.

After closure of the Murree-Muzaffarabad-Srinagr road on partition of India in 1947, Banihal pass was the only passage that connected Jammu to Srinagar. Prior to Jawahar tunnel, all the vehicle traffic had to pass through Banihal Pass which was at an elevation of 9,500 feet above sea level on Pir Panjal Mountain that connected Banihal with Qazigund on the other side of the mountain. The Pir Panjal mountain range separates the Kashmir valley from the outer Himalaya and plains to Jammu region.  The Banihal pass was accessible only in summer and remains closed rest of the year due to heavy snow and continuous landslides.

New double road tunnels which is under costruction

Construction of a new 8.45 km (5.25 mi) long Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel started in 2011 to widen NH 1A to four lanes. It is a double tube tunnel consisting of two parallel tunnels - one for each direction of travel. Each tunnel is 7 meter wide tunnel and has two lanes of road. The two tunnels are interconnected by a passage every 500 meters for maintenance and emergency evacuation. The tunnel will have forced ventilation for extracting smoke and stale air and infusing fresh air. It will have state of the art monitoring and control systems for security.

The new tunnel's average elevation at 1,790 m (5,870 ft) is 400 meter lower than the existing Jawahar tunnel’s elevation and would reduce the road distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 16 km (9.9 mi). The new tunnel would also be less prone to snow avalanche as it will be at a lower elevation. The vehicles will have to pay toll tax to use the tunnel.

Most of the boring has been completed and the tunnel is in the final stage of completion.

Verinag Town

Coming back from Jawahar tunnel towards Kashmir valley (Qazigund) we drove our bikes down towards Verinag town.

History of Verinag

Verinag spring is of great importance and beauty, with deep blue water which issues from the bottom of a high scrap of a mountain spur and here also Emperor Jehangir built a garden and pleasure house. The Verinag spring is about 26 kilometers away from Anantnag and is considered as the original source of river Jehlum. The spring is situated at the bottom of hill covered by pine trees and evergreen plants. The wonderful and charming construction of the spring as well as its adjacent garden compels the visitors to see it again and again. The construction of the banks of spring as well as its surroundings is of rare shape.

The next town on our way was Achabal

Achabal Town

History of Achabal 

Achabal is an important tourist place about 8 kilometers away from Anathnag . The place is famous and attractive due to an ancient spring surrounded by a garden terraced and developed by the Mughals. The place has got some historical background also. The upper portion of the garden is called 'Bag-e-Begum Abad' developed by Malika Noor Jehan Begum in 1620 AD and renowned as Sahib Abad in which there was a Hamam (treasure of water) getting heat from a logical lamp (Tosng).

The next town on our way was Kokernag 

History of  Kokernag 

It is famous for its trout streams and the largest fresh water spring in Kashmir, Trout hatchery department which has constructed pools in series where in trout is reared. Different pools have got trout with different weights and ages. Departments sell it to the tourists who find it a delicious dish and enjoy it. Kokernag is eight miles from Achabal and famous for the curative properties of its beautiful springs. The total area of Kokernag is 300 Kanals of which 129 kanals is for the purpose of gardens and the rest is forest area. Kokernag has some historical importance also. Kokernag has been mentioned in Ain Akbari, where in it has been mentioned that the water of Kokernag satisfies both hunger and thirst and its is also a remedy for indigestion. The author of Ain Akbari notices that touch-stone is found in Kokernag.


  1. Bai, some thing in you is typical, which keeps you apart ,by by of your presentation,eye far sharp than eagle to bring out which others miss to see thus deprived the real beauty of nature, history, envious dear,to be frank

    1. Thank you Veerji for appreciating my hard efforts of narrating our molar bilking escapade of which you are the most important participant

  2. Respected Bushan Ji and AShok JI,

    The wonderful photographs along with detailed description of the places you have visited --------- is a journey down the memory lane for a person like me who has seen almost all these places. For people like me in the evening of their lives all these memories will go with us in the last journey and had God given us --- the mortals the gift of relating these memories to the people in the next world ( Well for me it can only be "JHANAM ( HELL) ----- taking into consideration the heinous sins I have committed in this life ), it would have been great fun. For the youngsters if they happen to visit the valley in their lifetime they should go through your travelogues and then plan their visit.
    Before I conclude , it seems both you brothers have donated precious stones in your previous life and that "DAAN" has enabled you both to go to places where now only EAGLES DARE. For me you are the people from HEAVEN.
    With prayers for both of you for your excellent health from this SINNER

    V K WATTAL ( vkwattal1234@gmail.com)

    1. Thank you Wattalji, I hope you enjoy reading my blogs. Next time you too can join us

  3. Superb description.can u plz give some valuable tips as I wish to go upto pir ki gali from srinagar as a day tour between 9-16 Apr 2016.