Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mata Bhuvaneshwari

Kalhana maintains in his Raj Tarangini that "there is not a piece of land, equal to a mustard seed that is not a tirtha in Kashmir". It is on this account that the Aryans visited Kashmir frequently; they stayed mostly at Buzahama an Harwan. On a hillock, linked with the name of Raja Harish Chandera (known for his honesty), there still exist some ancient ruins considered sacred. At Harwan, in Chandpora, there is a small sacred spring associated with Mata Bhuvaneshwari. Kalhana has mentioned this spring in the Raj Tarangni; at two of its corners, we find the idols of Mata Bhuvaneshwari installed. It is said that it was Maharaj Gulab Singh who changed the original name of the place from 'Chachaa Pora' to Chand Pora. The Maharaja's grandson Maharaj Partap Singh often visited the sacred spot and paid his obeisance to the Holy Mother; as a religious ritual, he would feed young virgins and adhore them as divinities. ( Godess Ragnya in Tulmulla )

The hillock of Mahadev, believed to be the adobe of Lord Shanker, is about 20 kilometers away from the holy spring located in Chandpora. It is believed that Lord Shanker keeps a vigil on it from the Mahadev Peak.

It was during Maharaja Partap Singh's reign that a Sadhu Alakh Ram, took up his abode in a hut near the spring mentioned above. The hut got destroyed in a fire. Thereafter two Dharam Shallas were constructed to provide shelter to pilgrims, these structures did not stand the fury of nature for long and no trace was left of them. With the expansion in the population of the village around, the inhabitants got together and constituted a committee to look after the shrine, which they named as Bhuvaneshwari Sathapana Committee. The members of the committee in question spared no efforts in raising a pucca structure that served as a Dharmshalla accommodating at least 200 pilgrims.The committee in question not only renovated the spring but also got a concrete temple built up in which the image of the Mata was firmly installed. In the adjoining area of the temple, measuring 3 kanals of land, there exist six Chinars and a brook having pure water flows through the complex. It is said that a spring has sprouted from within the hollow of each of these Chinars. The water of the main spring at the shrine can cure diseases. The legend is there that once the only son of a woman, who had gone blind, reposing his trust in the kind heartedness of the Mother Goddess Maa Bhuvaneshwari, washed his eyes with the water of the holy spring for seven consecutive days; he regained his vision through the grace of virgin Goddess Mata Bhuvaneshwari, whose devotees make only vegetarian offerings to her in the shape of the fruits and other edible things. Non vegetarian offerings to the Goddess are strictly forbidden. ( Mata Lalleshuri Lal Ded )

The Holy Mother, Mata Bhuvaneshwari, is one of the seven sister-divinities and the youngest of them, the other six being Ragyna, Sharika, Jawala, Zeshta, Uma and Shardha. According to Kashmir, Shivism, Shiva, who is the male counterpart of the Shakti, is the supreme being. He remains introvert and dormant, while Shakti is active and dynamic. The Shaivite philosophy is, in principle, non dualistic. In her diverse manifestations, Shakti performs manifold functions. As Saraswati, she propagates knowledge and wisdom. As Lakshmi, she distributes wealth and as Kali she destroys the demons. In Kashmir, Shakti worship is very popular and every clan of Kashmiri Pandits adores its chosen female deity as Ragyana, Sharika, Jawala, Zeshta, Uma, Sharda or Bhuvaneshwari. Being the youngest, Bhuvaneshwari, is adored as eternal Shakti.Renovation and Reconstruction of Shrine.

The devotees in great bulk, including all the inhabitants of Chandpora, have deep-rooted faith in Bhuvaneshwari.It is said that when a hawan was performed propitiate the Goddess Bhuvaneshwari on the seventh day of it a beautiful snake, bearing white patches, emerged all at once from the spring at Chandpora, it made seven circumambulation around the temple to the joy of devotees present there. It accepted the milk that was offered to it by the devotees, and then vanished. The devotees took it as a good augury, believing firmly that Bhuvaneshwari, had blessed them.

Thus enthused and encouraged, a beautiful Murti (idol) of the Goddess carved out of the marble from Jaipur was installed in the temple on Mata’s Birthday in the year 1974, falling on Vetha Truvah which is also celebrated as the birthday of the river Vitasta (Jhelum) annually. It was the late Swami Laxman Joo, renowned saint and Shavite Scholar, who took care of the installation ritual.  ( Swami Jeewan Sahib )

After the displacement of the Pandits from the Valley, the devotees of the Mata being away, could no longer ensure the preservation and maintenance of the shrine. With the passage of time, due to climatic ravrages the Dhramshala collapsed, though, the other pacca structures still exist. Now the Mata's hawan is being performed at the Kheer Bhawani Peeth at Janipur, Jammu to mark the birthday of Bhuvaneshwari.

Author Chander M. Bhat

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Peer Kho Cave Temple Jammu

The Shrine of the Peer Kho Temple is one of the old temples of ‘the City of Temples’. A large number of devotees throng it on Puranmashi, Amavasya and Ekadashi. The important festivals held here are Shivratri, Purnima amd Shravan Puranmashi or Raksha Bandhan. The lingam is located inside a small but peaceful cave embellished with white marble rectangular platform. The black stone lingam is decorated with a copper snake or Naga and a Silver sheet covers the Jallari or Yoni, topped by a copper vessel hanging to pour water continuously on the lingam. The lower part of the body of the lingam and other features are similar to the shrine of Purmandal temple complex and probably belong to the same period of early Dogra regime. The Peer Kho Temple and Peer Mitha are two old temples located in the city of temples. During the reign of Raja Ajaib Dev, for the Saint Siddha Ghareeb Nath entitled Peer, the temple was built in 15th century A.D according to the unconfirmed historical records. The two caves are twenty to thirty feet below the ground level. The Peer Kho cave temple has a lot of reverence among the local people of the old city. ( Historical Temples of Kashmir )

The shrine of Lord Shiva also known as Jamvant cave belongs to an old historic spot. It is located amidst igneous rocks topped by the sedimentary deposit of the River and acacia jungle in Northeast of Jammu city on the side of circular road above the terrace of Tawi River.

The pink, high arched gateway with a white marble stair with a railing leads to the temple complex and into a long verandah, with marble and mosaic flooring, which opens to another entrance on the opposite side from the Pacca Danga via Jullaka Mohalla. The courtyard is flanked by three shikhara on the left side with two of them modern and one ancient. The low round ribbed Gumband or dome is merged with the modern structure with stone finial and an inverted lotus. This serves as the entrance to the cave shrines further cut into the boulder conglomerate deposit of the River Tawi, which were formed due to the successive flooding, and receding of water for centuries. The round domed entrance leading to the caves is embellished with beautiful later Mughal or Dogra style paintings on the ceiling and with floral motifs in the centre of the dome. The pillared arched niches on the periphery of wall and ceiling painted with Dogra style painting is similar to the motifs of Ram Nagar Palace complex in Udhampur District of Jammu province. The colour scheme & the style of paintings prove that the paintings belong to the mid 19th century of Jammu school of painting with emphasis on the indigo colour.

The other rectangular shikharas on either side with brass finials are of recent origin. There is a Devi temple built on the right side of it in the corner of courtyard. It has a white marble miniature temple shrine embellished with beautiful image of a goddess in a glass casing. On right side, there is a series of rooms which serve as the residential quarters for the staff of the temple. The present Mahant of the temple is Peer Rattan Nath who holds the Gadhi or the ownership of the temple.   ( Buddha Amarnath in Jammu )

The round domed entrance leads to a small opening to a low-level passage and bifurcates into the Amar Nath Guffa cave on the right side. The low ceiling channel further leads to Siva shrine or the Amar Nath Cave Siva Temple known as Jamvant Cave after one of the heroes of the famous Indian Epic of the Ramayana. There is another small opening on the left side which goes further downwards to the Nav Durga shrine. It a long grilled temple decorated with life size idols of Lord Rama, Sita, Lord Vishnu and other gods and goddesses. The narrow means of access further extends in a winding manner to a large covered courtyard and further down extends into another small opening to the Nau Devi’s Guffa or Nine Devi’s Cave shrine. The long platform with statues of nine Goddesses in attractive red robes is a wonderful view to behold in a cave shrine. These Nav Devis namely are Shri Mata Shella Puri Devi, Shri Mata Bhadrachani Devi, Shri Mata Chandra Ghanta Devi, Shri Mata Sakandanatha Devi, Shri Mata Kushamandra Devi , Shri Mata Katyani Devi ,Shri Mata Kalarathri Devi, Shri Mata Maha Devi, Shri Mata Siddi Devi.

There is separate passage for entry and exit of the Cave which is excavated into an igneous rock which is twenty feets below the level of the temple. The peaceful, calm and serene place is suitable for spiritual attainment.

The temple courtyard has a Tulsi plant pedestal in the premises, which also indicates fine reflection of the Dogra style of architecture found in Ram Nagar palace at Ram Nagar and at Zorawar Singh Residence cum Palace Complex of Vijaypur in Reasi.

The unique feature of the temple is the Ghoraknath eternal Dhunni or continuous smoke-emitting shrine in the centre of the temple. There is small Samadhi of Shri Peer Shiv Nath as his memorial just opposite the main entrance from Peer Kho Mohalla Side. On the right side of the main entrance, there is a small shrine of Shani Devata. The white metal standing image of Lord Shani is placed on a square platform worshipped by the local people in large numbers on every Saturday. The temple located on the riverbank provides fresh air and beautiful scenery to the visitors. There are many handicrafts and handlooms shops with a variety of crafted souvenirs for the visitors who happen to visit the temple daily on the dead end road of the Peer Kho Mohalla. The whole temple has been built on a high-elevated artificial platform to prevent the flooding of the water of the Tawi River in the rainy season. ( Machail Yatra )

The temple requires more area for parking. The white marble staircase requires to made unslippery by roughing the marble steps otherwise it is dangerous to use in the rainy season. The proper signage at the Circular Road needs improvement for easy access to the temple. The temple also requires some benches for the devotees to take some rest after visiting the temple. The viewing points on the Western side of the temple need to refurished with proper sheds and benches so that visitors take rest and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the River and beyond.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The journey of faith Machail Yatra

Bhadarwah and Kishtwar in Jammu province are dotted with a number of famous pilgrimage sites. These sites attract thousands of people every year from all over the country.

One such place which is thronged by devotees in large numbers is the shrine of Chandi Mata or Machail Wali Mata. “Chandi Mata” the goddess of benevolence showers blessing to all irrespective of caste, creed and colour. According to a legend, the Goddess Chandi appeared at Machail long years ago in the shape of Shila (Pindi). The mother came here from her ancient place Mindhal Battas (HP) to bless the simple, ignorant and helpless people of Paddar area. The Machail Yatra is a unique pilgrimage with unique features. Besides spiritual, its social aspect is more effective and impressive where the Goddess asks her devotees to shun social evils for the welfare of society and mankind as a whole. ( Mata Kheer Bhawani )

The Chandi Dham Machail has the distinction of the simultaneous appearance of Shiv and Shakti. On the one hand, the Goddess Chandi (Shakti) is blessing her devotees at Machail village while on the other hand God Mahadev Shiva appears on the opposite high mountain in the shape of lingam to provide darshans to the pilgrims on the pious occasion of the Shakti yatra. The mountain is called Shiv Pahad which often remains covered with black clouds. It is a unique union of Shiva and Shakti found at Machail.

The holy shrine of the Goddess Chandi is situated at a height of over 8,000 feet above the sea level in Machail village surrounded by high mountains, thick devdar forests and attractive meadows and world famous sapphire mines. The most attractive and historical lion astride idols of the Goddess Chandi and Lakshmi Ji made of pure silver are the rare sight and source of inspiration for the pilgrims who come to seek blessing of Mataji. The most important and impressive aspect of the Machail Yatra is the unique holy mace of the Goddess which leads the then pilgrims and provides strength and inspiration enroute. ( Mata Bhuvaneshwari )

The miraculous Machail Yatra to the hilly area of Paddar in district Kishtwar, is really a boon for the people who seek blessing of “Mata Chandi”. The pilgrimage has revolutionized the action and thoughts of the general public having faith upon the divine mother. The popular Machail Yatra has its historical, religious importance. To pay obeisance, everyyear devotees participate in annual Machail Yatra which starts from Jammu.

In Jammu, she has her origin in Mahalaxmi Mandir at Pacca Danga and thence at Bhaderwah where from her “Chhari or Holy Mace” starts in the month of August every year. The yatra starts with religious procession ” which is taken out from Mahalaxmi Mandir and passes through Jain Bazaar, Link Road, Purani Mandi, City Chowk, Raghunath Bazaar and Indira Chowk in the City of Temples and then joins the main yatra at Chinote.

Situated around 306 kms away from Jammu, the Yatra passes through Jammu, Udhampur, Batote, Kishtwar, Atholi and Gulabgarh road and thence on foot to Machail Mata which is about 30 kms. Though the terrain is too tough to trek but with the grace of Mata Chandi, one feels hillbilly joyous in association with enchanting pilgrims echoing “Jai Mata Di, Jai Chandi Maa, Machail Wali Mata Ki Jai, etc.”

The main stop over or reception stations over en-route are Bhala, Puddoda, Premnagar, Thathri, Kistwar, Paddar, Massu, Chishoti, Atholi Gulabgarh, Layondee, S Kunderpul, Chishoti, Hamooree and thence Machail Mata’s sacred temple. Through out the route religious congregation and Bhandaras are organized to high ligh the importance of the yatra.  ( Ragnya Mata in Logripora village )

"Earlier, the yatra used to reach its destination Chandi Dham Machail, on the eve of a local festival called 'Naghui' when doors of the historical Chandi temple were thrown open for Darshan of the Goddess after remaining closed throughout the year as per ancient tradition and faith. On the occasion, the local populace including Buddhist Clad in multi colour traditional dresses greet the holymace and the pilgrims with enthusiasm. The devotional songs and holy couplets sung and chanted in local Padhri language surcharge the holy dances throughout the day. Besides Sankirtan, Karsewa, havna are also performed by the devotees for peace and satisfaction of the ultra modern society which is full of tension today. ( Sharda Mata in Udhampur )

The Machail Yatra has strengthened the spirit of religious tolerance, bonds of secularism and mutual brotherhood among the masses which is apparent from the fact that even our Muslim brothers greet the Yatra with due respect where-ever it passes, through their habitations.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Holy Shrine of Buddha Amarnath in Poonch

Buddha Amarnath is an ancient and unique Shiva Temple having a white naturally formed Shiv Lingam of “Chakmak”. It is located in an area known as Rajpura Mandi. Two kms from Mandi village and 25 kms in the north east of Poonch Town it is situated in between the main belt of Pir Panchal range of mountains.

This sacred place is very picturesque; it is situated on the confluence of two gushing streams namely Nallah Gagri and Pulsta Nadi. The stream which flows near it is the Loran stream but it is believed by the locals that Ravan's grandfather Pulasta Rishi performed his tapasya here and thus is known as Pulasta stream.
This place is surrounded by snow bound lofty peaks, thick belt of fur forests (in the Eastern side), lush green pastures and crystal clear streams. The climate of this attractive and charming spot is very pleasant and cool.

The original temple has been constructed out with one big stone. There are four doors in the temple on the northern, southern, eastern and western sides which indicates that the doors of this shrine are open for all the four classes. In Buddha Amarnath temple Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a "Chakmak" white rock i.e. naturally formed Shiv Lingam, unlike other Shiva temples where Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a lingam. A number of ancient idols collected from near by villages have also been installed in the premises of the Temple. There were four holy springs near the temple in the past. At present the water of three springs has been diverted to fourth one which is on the southern side of the temple. The water of these springs is considered holy from religious point of view. The pilgrims first take bath in this spring and then enter in the temple for prayers. ( Haramukh Harmukat Ganga )

The legends of this temple are closely associated with lord Shiva and goddess parvati. According to one legend, rishi Pulatsya (Ravana's grandfather) had a darshan of lord Shiva at the place where the Buddha Amarnath shrine is located. Another legend is that lord Shiva, accompanied by Parvati, on one of his trips to Amarnath from kailash, had made a brief halt at this place. It is also believed that this shrine is older than that of Amarnath ji of Kashmir and the pilgrimage to Amarnath cave in Kashmir remains incomplete without a visit to this shrine.

On Shrawan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) people visit this shrine in a large number and every year a ten day yatra is organised which concludes on the occasion of the shrawan Purnima. This year the ten day Yatra is commencing from July 25, various pilgrims from all over India are expected to come on this day and the inauguration is on July 26, there after the Yatra will start from July 27 from Ved Mandir Ambphalla and it will culminate on Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 5.  ( Ramkund temple in Poonch )

This shrine is 25 kms from the Poonch town. Buses, tempo, Cars, Jeeps carrying pilgrims ply on the road regularly. From Jammu it is approx. 250 kms away and regular bus services are available for Poonch district. One can also hire private vehicle for this trip very easily.

It is believed that Lord Shiva grants wishes to everyone who makes a pilgrimage to Buddha Amarnath. It is such a place one must visit to take blessings of lord Shiva and also to enjoy the picturesque place and get relax amid the beauty of the nature.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sudhmahadev Mela 2009

The Sudh Mahadev temple is said to be 2800 years old and with a strong mythological connection. The temple houses a natural black marble lingam, the Trident of Lord Shiva and mace believed to be that of Bheema the second Pandava brother. Devak stream flows nearby where people can take a bath before entering the temple. Mysteriously the Devak stream disappears a few kilometers downstream.

Few Kilometers before Sudhmahadev, there is a place Gauri Kund. The spring is sacred to the Hindu devotees, as it is believed that the Goddess Parvati had a bath in the waters of the spring before offering her prayers to the Lord Shiva. It is around 1 km from the road and one has to go by foot. People first visit this place and take bath there and then proceed to Sudhmahadev.

At Sudhmahadev there is a spring known as Pap Nashni Bowli. It is believed that taking bath in it relieves man of all his/her sins. After taking bath one proceeds towards the holy temple of Lord Shiva.

After visiting Sudhmahadev further journey of 8 kms brings you to the enchanting hilly resort of Mantalai. Situated at the top of a hill and having tall trees of Deodar giving fresh and cool air. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married there. There is a Shiva temple and beside it a pond. Mantalai was the dream project of Swami Dharender bhramchari to make it as a famous resort for yoga, health and spiritualism but remained incomplete because of his accidental death.

During this three day mela, various arrangements are made by the Department of Tourism to provide facilities to the visitors. Adequate transport facilities are also provided by the govt. agencies from various places. Govt. also make adequate security arrangements and good health facilities are also provided .The various govt. departments put there stalls to provide information about the different schemes for the people. Various cultural programs are also organized; in these the local performers entertain the visitors by showing various local dances and singing folk songs, kud etc.
One can have accommodation in the sarai maintained by the Dharamarth trust, JKTDC provides temporary tented accommodations and beside this few guest houses are also there.

The temporary shops are also established by the people to provide various things and eatables to the visitors. Langars are also arranged by some people to provide free food to the visitors. The famous food items to eat there are Rajmash Chawal with Desi ghee and chatni of pudina and anardana, and paneer dishes. Klari or Klari kulcha is very tasty and one must eat there. Pakoras are also very tasty. Those who love sweets have Jlabis and pure Khoya to eat.Those who love shopping can buy handicraft items from the shop situated near the Shiva temple at Sudhmahadev. It is a great fair which provides lot of joy, entertainment, natural scenery and spiritual experience. So one must have experience of it.

How to reach
Sudhmahadev is 110 kms from Jammu and its altitude is 1225 meters above sea level. Reaching Sudh Mahadev is not a problem as a regular bus service connects it with Jammu. From Jammu, go to Chenani on the Jammu Kashmir National Highway. Then from Chenani take the road towards east and travel for 30 kilometers to reach the Sudhmahadev. One can also come by train up to Udhampur and then can get bus or by hiring private vehicles.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mata Kheer Bhawani Ragnya in Tullmulla Kashmir

Justify FullThe temple of Kheer Bhawani is situated in the village Maheshaspora, Tullmulla, which is 25 Km north of Srinagar city in Ganderbal district. This temple is highly revered by the Kashmiri Pandit community of the State .The temple is dedicated to Hindu Goddess Ragnya Devi. An annual festival is held here on the Jesht Astami (May-June) when Hindus visit the temple in large numbers to offer prayer to seek the blessing of the deity. Devotees also throng on every Shulka Paksh Ashtami round the year and perform hawan to please the mother Goddess. The historic temple of Kheer Bhawani was built by the then the Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. Maharaja Pratap Singh. Later it was renovated by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1912.

The temple complex is surrounded by streams and Chinar trees in the complex. The temple proper has a hexagonal spring where in idol of Goddess Ragnya is decorated and housed in a small marble-pillared temple canopy. The main spring of goddess Kheer Bhawanijee is an irregular heptagonal shape with apex called pad or feet to the east and the opposite side called shirr or head. The water of the spring changes its colour from time to time. According to a local legend, Lord Ravana of Great Indian epic, the Ramayana worshipped mother Ragnya, who showered her blessings on his kingdom. The Goddess thus resided in Lanka, the capital of the Lord Ravana. Later due to Ravana’s misdeeds, the Goddess cursed him and ordered Lord Hanuman to take her to Satisar (Kashmir) a place cut off from the world by snow-clad mountains.  (Shrine of Mata Ragnya at Lokitpur )

It is being said that Lord Hanuman obeyed and carried the Godess on her shoulders and enterd this great valley and on Goddesses direction selected this place and Goddess entered into this spring which becomes the abode of Godess Ragnya\Sharika. The temple is fondly called Kheer Bhawani because of the countless devotees who over the centuries offered milk, sugar, rice pudding or Kheer to the scared spring. This is an incarnation of Goddess Durga Mata the local name of the Goddess is Ragnya or Raginia.

The small temple made of white marble-pillared canopy is located in the middle of a natural spring or Kund, the walls of which are hexagonal in shape. A tiny footbridge over the spring leads to the temple. There are many clear water streams around the temple and many Chinar trees in and around complex provide shade to the devotees.

The atmosphere at the Kheer Bhawani temple gets spiritually surcharged during mela. Every body remains busy in either taking bath or preparing to do puja in the temple etc. The hexagonal temple kund or tank remains full of coloured flowers. So much so, a thick layer of petals keep floating on the water of the sacred tank. The temple pujaries or temple priests are busy in attending their clients to fulfill the obligations to complete the ritual with full devotion and attention.  ( Chandi Mata or Machail Wali Mata )

The devotees make offerings of flowers, lamps and of course kheer (traditional condensed milk) and pray for the well being of their family. Round the year thousands of devotees offer kheer at the feet of the goddess- it is believed that if your future holds something ominous, the goddess, knowing that would immediately turn the white kheer black making you careful and aware of your impending doom.

Before goint for prayers, devotees take a dip in the holy waters of a nearby stream. This creates a sort of spiritual aura around them.The large numbers of Kashmiri Pandit families stay for a day or two and get busy in preparation of food by spreading the bed spreads on the floor under the huge Chinar trees. Without fear and awe in the temple, every body in the family do his or her share of work.   ( Mata Bhuvaneshwari )

Keeping in view the huge inflow of Yatris, some residential quarters were constructed in the vicinity to accommodate them, particularly during inclement weather.To serve the devotees, some voluntary organisations arrange langers for yatris. Even army and paramilitary forces come forward to serve food and prasad. This mela usually lasts for three days. After which devotees rush to their homes-blessed and blissed. The mela provides an apportunity to local businessmen to do some business. They sell milk, flowers and earthen lamps to the pilgrims.

Monday, May 25, 2009

pollution rising in river vitasta

The much revered and the very enchanting river Jhelum is one of the seven rivers collectively referred to as Sapta-Sandhu. The river finds its mention in the ancient Indian scriptures of the Rig-Veda where it is called Vitasta. The ancient Greeks called the mighty river as Hydaspes after the titan descended God born to Thaumas-the sea God and Elektra-the cloud Goddess. Hydaspes was the brother of the Goddess of Rainbow-Iris and Harpies - the lord of snatching winds. The historical battle between Alexander the Great and King Porus of Jhelum in 326 B.C. is documented as the Battle of Hydaspes. Mogul Emperor Jahangir was very fond of this river with clear blue waters and called it 'Bebat', though its initial course is a bit muddy.
The modern name of Vitasta Jhelum which was adopted from Jhelum city in Pakistan whence the river flows near city's vicinity. The name Jhelum was carried to Kashmir by European travellers and found its way into official usage, otherwise the river is still knowing as Vyath by natives.

The river Jhelum not only cleans one's body and uplifts the soul after dipping in it but also adds to the beauty of Kashmir valley and acts as its drainage. However, these days a dip in the river Jhelum will sap the body and sag (hang down unevenly) the soul. This is attributed to ever looming level of pollutants especially domestic wastes which consists of human excreta, greywater, polythenes etc. Huge piles of garbage can be seen on banks of the river from Khawaja Bhag to Khanpore and Azad Gunj upto Khadneyar. Because of large population living on its banks, the river is being used as dumping site by the inhabitants of the area who throw the filth in the river. Even sweepers of Municipal Corporation/Committees dump all the garbage along the river banks. Owing to accumulation of domestic wastes the water of the river has become eutrophic with high biological oxygen demand (BOD) and almost lost its regulatory capability. As the river proceeds from rural to urban area, there is gradual decrease in water depth due to entry of silt and garbage into the river.

The river is getting silted up due to erosion in its catchments particularly the low hills. About 80 percent of the catchment area of river is affected by soil erosion which has been accelerated by massive deforestation and overgrazing of the pastures. The process has further aggravated through quarrying and mining, development of hill roads and other development projects. With slight rains, the river is in spate and brings misery to the millions of people of Kashmir valley. Concentration of phosphorus and nitrogen (NO3) have crossed the permissible limits due to entrance of 7 lakh lit of urine, 29000 kg of faeces and 45,000 kg of biomedical wastes into the river daily. This has caused Eutrophication affecting thereby the phyto/300 planktom. Heavy metal pollution is also on the increase. ( Birbal )

Apart from urine and human faeces and biomedical wastes, wastage from slaughter houses, tanneries, meat fish, fruit and vegetable markets are also dumped into the Jhelum river. Waste of marriage ceremonies and other rituals including wastes of polythene materials have further added woes of the Jhelum. Use of this polluted water by the people for daily requirement would give rise to borne diseases - cholera, jaundice, amoebiasis etc.  ( cusine of jammu )

Effluents discharged by commercial establishments and nearby hospitals is also a source of river water pollution. JKPCB reported that the entire stretch of the river Jhelum in Srinagar has a high oxygen deficient value beyond the permissible level of 10 mg-1 or water.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Prem Nath Shastri Saint and Scholar

Prem Nath Shastri, popularly known as Shastri Ji needs no introduction. He is known to people for services, he rendered to community. A medium statured versalite personality wearing a smile with collyrium eyes speaking volumes was a scion of Astrological clan who wrought a revolutionary change in the mindset of Kashmiri Pandits and imbibed in them cult of pragmatic approach and the rules of propriety. He had a humble beginning initially but by dint of his incessant hard work he created a niche in the glaxy of other luminaries. He has aptly been described as the doyen of Kashmiri ethos and culture. A blest seer, a profound religious preacher, a great social reformer spurning dogmas, social taboos and superstitions belonged to a dynasty whose services for Kashmiri Pandits can never be forgotten nor sunk into oblivion. Soon after the demise of his father, he exhibited his long cherished propensity to carry forward the left-over work of his clansmen and took it to a logical end for progeny to come.

He had a mind fleeter than wind and had the capability to prognosticate the things to happen. Success swayed his way when he prophecied an upheaval in the administration of Jammu and Kashmir State in 1953 that proved correct to the precision.Shastri Jee was a strong votary of Kashmiri Pandit unity and always exhorted the KP's to remain united and celebrate the respective auspicious festivals on particular specified day. Though he had a tough criticism to face on this account, but obdurate as he was, he never succumbed. Owing to his meritorious services rendered to his community he has had so many coveted awards in his name. He was conferred upon with the prestigious shardasuman award for his contribution in the field of religious genre. Shastri Jee always stressed to give sanaskar and religious knowledge to children synchronising with scholastic activities. He was a strong advocate of educating the future generation into the basic Sanatan Dharma and was outrightly against the cultural onslaught or what can appropriately be called as westernization of culture. Thus this great religious scholar always and throughout his life stressed to follow the foot-prints of Bharti-Sanaskriti, so much so that he denounced the handshake calling it a sign of slavery. He, instead emphasized the age old practice of hand-folded namaskar to all and sundry.  ( Jeewan Sahib )

Shastri Jee was a patriot par excellence which is amply manifested from his teachings and ardent supporter of upholding Kashmiri language and was vociferous upon parents talk to their children in Kashmiri and shun English nomenclature. Besides, he was a social reformer and stood for social reformation among Kashmiri-Hindu unity. He was not ostentations type of man, but always despised pomp and show in marriages. He was a good philanthropist as well and used to donate liberally for the cause of the weak, poor and the needy.

Shastri Jee was an advocate of vegetarianism and admonished people to desist from taking meat. Pandit Jee was terribly moved by the hurly-burly way of life KP's experienced due to onslaught of militancy. In order to soothe their tribulations, he used to arrange and attend the religious congregations giving sermons and religious injunctions packed with punch. Hindus in general and KP's in particular owe a great deal to him for survival of religious zeal and fervour. It is through his benevolence that one can activate his melodious casettes at ease in home and take the essence of his hard lived labour. He also authored shoals of books. His translation of Holy Geeta Jee into Urdu and Lal-Wakh are worth to mention. He has also edited and compiled Renveshvar Panchang which was long drawn demand of Jammuites.

There is no sphere of activity which this legendary giant has not deliberated upon and also reduced to writing the basics of rituals from cradle to death.

Shastri Jee had a meticulous felicity of expression. He would enthral the audience with his subtle and witty retorts. Whenever he felt that he was being eulogised disproportionate to his liking he would draw a chuckle signifying to stop.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Shrine of Sharda Mata in Udhampur

Udhampur popularly known as 'the land of Druva', Headquarter of District, is named after Raja Udham Singh, the eldest son of Maharaja Gulab Singh, the founder of Dogra rule in Jammu and Kashmir. The town is said to have been built in place of dense forest where Udham Singh occasionally went on hunting trips till he developed great love for the spot and choose it as site for township. District Udhampur lies between 32 degree 34 minutes to 39 degree 30 minutes North Latitude and 74 degree 16 minutes to 75 degree 38 minutes East Longitude. The altitude of District Udhampur varies from 600 meter to 3,000 meter above sea level. The District is situated in the South-Eastern part of Jammu and Kashmir State and is bounded in the West by Rajouri District, in North-East by Doda District, in the South-East by Kathua District and in the South-West by Jammu District.

Rough terrain
District Udhampur is rich in forest wealth. The total forest area of the district is 51.49% Sarada is located within the jurisdiction of Udhampur District and forms a part of Village Gangara. The village is about 3 km from Udhampur town enroute Kashmir Valley on National Highway 1A. One has to climb a steep of about 1 km from national highway to reach the village. The name of the village is Sarada as per revenue records and it is believed that this village came into existence some 225 years ago. This village is situated on a hilltop overlooking its fields, the railway track, air strip, Udhampur town and Tawi River. The natural scenery of Sarada is very charming, surrounded by a dense forest from the West and by untrimmed trees and shrubs from other three sides. There is a steep path right from national highway up to the temple of Sarada.

Tawi valley
This path has been constructed by local residents with the help of Rural Development Department under Nehru Rojgar Yogna in the year 1981. The path is partially constructed on steps and partially by laying dressed stones all over the path up to the temple. It takes a pilgrim only half and hour to reach the temple. With the bright sunlight reflected in silvery pine trees above, and gurgling River Tawi meandering through the valley below, the pilgrim already is in a different world. The trekking undoubtedly is slow but not boring as the scenery alongside is most picturesque.

The total land under Sarada village is 243 hectares, of this, wasteland, shrub land, and the dry land count for more than 23 hectares, the habitation area, together with pathways, land owned by school and temple compound occupies nearly 66 hectares and the rest approximately 154 hectares is classified as grazing ground. ( Sudh Mahadev temple )

Sanctum Sanctorum of The temple of Sarada is situated at an altitude of 2000 feet in the North West of the village. Sarada is synonymous to Divine Mother. Sardapeeth or the abode of Sarada is the goddess of learning and fine arts. This temple came into existence when Sh. Gopal Dass of village Jakhani was in boyhood. His parents sought his admission in a nearby school. Being not interested in learning 3 R's he used to go to this place as there was shade of five black berry trees with a nice spring gushing out from the stem of a big tree.

He used to sit under the shade of these trees and return to his home at the time of closing of schools pretending that he was in school. One day while sleeping under the shade of these trees he had a celestial dream. Mother came out from one of the tree trunk and said to Sh. Gopal Dass that I am residing in the hollow stem of the tree. Sh. Gopal Dass wake up and returned to his home with heavy heart. From that day he used to carry one bag of sand everyday with an intention to construct a temple on the spot. No wonder the holy spot became a sacred shrine to which thousands of devotees not only from Udhampur but from distant places were attracted to seek blessings from Sarada Mata, the goddess in her three aspects of Sarada, Nanda and Saraswati.  ( Kheer Bhawani )

Sarada Mata's abode in Black Berry Tree
The hollow trunk of the black berry tree from where the Divine Mother was discovered become the sanctum Sanctorum of the temple which came up here with great efforts of Gopal Dass. Gopal Dass remained celibate throughout his life and is always seen in the temple premises doing some work or the other.

The entrance of the temple is from the North-East side. The Divine Mother is facing towards an ancient temple on the opposite side River Tawi situated in a depilated fort. This temple has been built by Raja Udham Singh and there is an asthapan of Mother Nanda [The joy of self-realization. Self-realization is not attained. It is bestowed by the unconditional grace of the Supreme. The supreme joy when graced upon the devotees gives him surprise beyond expectation. That is the goddess Nanda].

There is a holy spring locally known as Bowli coming out below the trunk of the holy tree, the water of which has been extended and is being stored in a closed reservoir which has two outlets. Pilgrims can take a bath under these outlets. An elderly person of the village told me that in olden days the water of the holy spring was stored in a reservoir and animal would die after taking the water from the reservoir. And in later years the animals of the village were not allowed to take the water of the holy spring.

The Sarada temple occupies the centre of a rectangular court of 150 feet long and 40 feet broad. There are four black berry trees in the compound of the temple and all are in full gloom. Only the holy tree in which Mother is having its abode bears the fruit.

Sarada Varada Devi Mookshdhartri Saraswati is a hymn meaning Sarda grants the boon of emancipation through wisdomIn dark nights under the shade of the black berry trees, the sacred place present an atmosphere where one becomes one with God. And in moonlit nights, devotees experience something mystic all over the temple of Sarada Mata.

Author Chander M. Bhat

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lalleshwari Lal Ded Kashmiri Shaivite scholar

Lalleshuri (Lal Ded) of Kashmir has invited attention of a number of scholars throughout the world. Her poetic compositions or Vaakhs as they are popularly called are the extempore outpourings of a highly awakened Yogini and exhibit high quality poetry with a deep philosophical content. Here and there we find her personal spiritual experiences unfolded in a simple form besides terse principles of Yoga exemplified with easily graspable day to day activities. Lalleshuri communicated her spiritual teachings in the language of the common man using verbal medium only and the impact was so great that her poetry safely has carried through centuries by memory lane as a divine word with negligible distortion of language. ( Poshmot )

The Vaakhs of Lalleshuri is a vast canvas with varied hues spread over by a great literary artist, a highly awakened Shaivite Yogini and a religious philosopher. Her sayings about the futility of worldly existence and the escape route through the practice of Yoga have received wide recognition and continue as such. She had detached herself completely from the material world and become a wandering ascetic displaying a frightful aura devoid even of her clothes to cover her nakedness. Her poetic compositions were instantly committed to public memory and sung as divine songs to make retribution to God for ones sins. A highly awakened soul, a Yugpursha and a living incarnation of Lord Shiva, she gave out rare gems of Vaakhs in the common man's word showing a clear path towards self realization. She has castigated man time and again for collection of material belongings ignoring the real divine treasure that only is capable to give safe passage through temporal existence. She was shocked to see people enjoying life's glamour which they knew was nothing but an illusion and how eager she was to see people shun the lure of the world. Repeatedly she like a past master preacher stressed upon man not to take the false for the true. She says it was only their ignorance that bound them to the falsehood and thus waste the precious moments of their lives that could otherwise be fruitfully used for higher purpose.

Lalleshuri was very much dedicated to her Guru. While expressing her gratitude to her Guru in guiding her in all her progress she says that her Guru is both father and mother to her, who made her blind eyes capable to see, her bare body able to wear the celestial garments and thereby discriminate between falsehood and the truth. Lalleshuri has repeatedly described the importance of a teacher in the way to self realization. She says one who develops full faith in his Guru and follows religiously his directions, is able to control all five senses with the help of Gyan Yoga and succeeds in overcoming the sea of ignorance. He is lifted above the gross material world and all worldly events, joys and sorrows, sound immaterial to him. Lalla says in one popular Vaakh--- she asked her GURU a thousand times who was the one who was nameless and beyond comprehension but she didn't get a reply. When she got tired by asking repeatedly and hence helpless she was suddenly satisfied without an answer and understood the truth of life and its creator who was responsible for all creation and still beyond comprehension. The purpose here is to bring home to the seeker that the Guru guides his disciple in all circumstances and the seeker doesn't fall short of guidance in association with him. Lalla says she has washed her body with the Gangajal (water of the sacred Ganges) of the Gura-Shabda (word of her Guru) and thus attained pure salvation while living the same material body

Lalleshuri is a great interpreter of the divine word Aum. She extensively explains the validity of Aum in achieving higher stages in yoga through Pranayama and advancement of self by mastering efficiently the recitation of Aum. She says one who is able to master the recitation of this divine word with the rhythm of his breath without any digression of thought can form an easy bridge between him and the universal consciousness. Lalla says further that she gradually mastered the recitation of Aum in a way that she began feeling a strange sensation and with it her whole ego vanished, and thus detached from the world she was enlightened. At this stage, says Lalleshuri, she closed all the doors of her body i.e. controlled all her physical senses and took to recitation of Aum with the beats of the heart and thus achieved the higher echelons of consciousness. Here she cautions the seeker to inhale and exhale slowly with a particular rhythm such that there is a transformation of self as from a baser metal into gold and no stopping at any stage till the goal is reached. There is always at each stage the danger of being carried away by worldly digressions as these are much overpowering and most misleading. Lalleshuri points to a stage where the seeker gains full control over five senses and to him the world of matter vanishes completely. His soul is released from the bondages of the body and that is liberation. Nothing can be achieved without full control on the material self and ego. Lalleshuri expresses her personal experience in this context. She says she reached perfection by experiencing the bliss of the realization of truth and became the embodiment of celestial gleam through the discipline of yoga. She felt the presence of Lord everywhere and became herself too part of the infinity. She was wonderstruck that she had lost her identity and merged with the supreme. The fully realized yogi ultimately achieves that stage of perfection as Lalla says when Lord Shiva becomes a horse to ride for him, Lord Vishno the saddle and Brahma to hold the stirrups. That indicates the fulfillment of purpose or the ultimate liberation from material bondages.

In her ecstasy of achievement Lalleshuri describes her encounter with the supreme. With her tears of joy she washes the divine feet but feels the divine presence on her head indicating the ultimate success of a yogi. She says on her observation that the lord is without name, form, shape, caste or creed and still the nucleus of the universe, so there is none else worthy to be worshipped. She feels the presence of the lord shining everywhere, she listens to the divine talk and Lalla nowhere, already merged with the supreme. The influence of the lord (Shiva) is everywhere in the cosmos and it is only the human mind that can work to tune it in its favour in its lifetime. Human life is precious as only capable to achieve the highest stage of perfection by being one with the supreme. When human mind is absorbed in worldly affairs it is quite non-receptive to divine influences, alternatively when one is absorbed in meditation and looking within his self it naturally becomes sensitive to divine vibrations by losing interest in material advancement and shunning all egos.

Author JL Bhat

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ladakh The Land of Lamas

The people of Ladakh belong to three distinct races, namely the Dards, the mons and the Mongolians. The first two belong to Aryan race where as Mongolians have close resemblance to Tibetans. They migrated some time in the 10th century AD from Central Asia. Majority of population of Ladakh is Buddhist. Lamas play an important role in the socio religious life of the people of Ladakh. Many of the big monasteries run schools where the monks are trained by Lamas in the Art of Worship performance of various ceremonies. The Lamas also act as astrologers and physicians. They are also responsible for organising festivals and fairs at the Monasteries. Women of Ladakh are equal partners in all walks of life. There is no Pardah system and they go about unveiled and run shops or work in the fields. They have love for dancing and dance is an essential feature of all festivals and religious ceremonies. Honesty and Straight forwardness is in their nature. They are very polite, gentle and hospitable.  ( Changpas of Ladakh )

Ladakh has poverty, mass ignorance and grave social evils. The total rainfall is 3 inch in a year and almost the entire population lives on agriculture. The land being sandy and unproductive, the average yield is generally about three to four times the quantity of the seed used. The methods of Agriculture are very crude and the Area a family can cultivate profitably is proportionate to its man power. There are no irrigational facilities. Transport, labour, weaving and knitting occupy almost all the time the people can spare from their work in the fields. Almost every house has its own loom on which it weaves the fabrics it needs. People sew their own clothes and make their own footwear. Business is mostly in the hands of foreigners domiciled or otherwise. Flocks of sheep and goat form the only wealth of the nomads living in the Area. Most of the shawl wool of Kashmir is from the region whose upland pastures support immense flocks of sheep and goats. Wheat and grain are the main crops grown in Ladakh. The latter in conjunction with tea, form the essential elements of the food of the people in the higher altitudes. Rice used on festival occasions by those who can afford the expense is brought from is brought from Kashmir. Foreign varieties of vegetables have been introduced in Leh where vegetables are cultivated for the market also. The vegetables grown in other localities being mostly meant for home consumption.

Ladakh is a problem province so far its communications are concerned. Distances are so great and communications are poor that certain localities are completely cut off from the rest of Ladakh during winter months and Ladakh itself is isolated from the outside world, when heavy snowfall blocks all the passes connecting Kashmir, Jammu with it for over five months a year. All this badly affects the material well being of the people.

Inspite of the fact that about 90% of the Buddhist population is literate in Bodhi Tibetan Language, Urdu continues to be the medium of instructions in the primary stage in Ladakh. Though children of Ladakh are going out for education.Still there is educational backwardness. People are out of touch with modern pol. and scientific thoughts. They are ignorant about the day to day happenings in the world. There is no printing press in the area and no daily news paper is published there. Since Bodhi is their mother tongue, it is essential that instruction should be imparted to Ladakhi children in that language as the Bodhi is a highly developed language.

The Shias form a majority among the Muslims of and Kargil. The Shias are well organised socially while the influence of Buddhist ethics and philosophy of life reveal itself impressively in the daily life of Buddhists. The formal religion practised by them is a mixture of Buddhism, Tantra and Bonism. The Lamas or Monks are held in high esteem and the recarnating Kushoks or heads of Monasteries regarded almost as divinities. The Lamas have to live as celebes and according to the prescribed discipline. They are therefore, admitted to the Gompas in very early life to enable them to adjust themselves to monastic life before they are subjected to influences antagonistic to that life. As the order of the monk is "fundamental to Buddhism" and as the social and religious life of the Buddhists revolves round the Gompas, the Buddhists love song and dance. The tolerance and liberality of the Buddhists is great.

The caravan serias maintained by the Gompas are open to people of all faiths and nationalities.
Two social evils, ugly and venomous, are eating into the vitals of Ladakh Buddhists. One is the custom of polyandry under which the brothers of a husband share the favour of his wife. The other is very common use of "Chang" and intoxicating beverage made from gram and barley. Polyandry has prevailed for generations past through out Ladakh amongst the Buddhists. This custom was certainly not introduced by Buddhism but Buddhism has not checked it so far. The "Chang" habit is gradually impoverishing the people mentally morally, physically and economically.

As the Ladakhi people have now educational awareness and are fully awakened, they are suffering for want of education. The children of Ladakh either come to Jammu or Srinagar for higher education, for this purpose, major portion of the income of their parents is spent on the education only and other areas remain neglected. There is need of providing the Ladakhies all educational facilities in their home land up to University education level. This will help in tension free education and their economic upliftment.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Taste the most sumptuous cuisine of Jammu

The Indian cuisines are representing a distinctive cultural trend in different regions of the country, due to climatic and geographical conditions. In fact, each cultural group has its own specialized and distinctive basic dishes, desserts and sweets which reflect the diversity on one hand and drinks, achar, and snacks have unity in Indian food on the other. Likewise Jammu region has its own lip smacking, mouth watering dishes. Almost every zone in Jammu is famous for a particular dish.

Yellow Rice
The ethnic food of yellow rice and rajmah at Lakhanpur Bus Stand are available at Samba. The ambal / umbal is sweetened pumpkin or Kaddu, an important dish form the part of the full course meal with a variety of lentils or Dal such as Rajmash, Roungi, Mash, Moungi, Channa dal etc. The ambal is prepared from Imali, Gur, Methi seeds, green and red chili, haldi, salts and other species.Oriya is a raita of potato prepared in mustard oil with rai, adds to the digestion of the highly oiled cuisines.

Madraa comprised of kali mash dal, garlic, ginger and tomato paste headed in butter with khoya and other species added to the taste with required salt.

The non-vegetarian dishes are ambla meat or khatta meat prepared with gur, anardana, palak, lamb or goat meat as per taste and cooked in iron pan which supplement as source of iron in the dish. The traditional cooking in iron or nickel utensils probably prevented many forms of diseases other wise unheard in good olden times. The champs are the chest pieces of ribs with spines boiled and prepared with species.

Kabargah are the fried champ rather than boiled during preparation method.
Kababs the minced mutton roasted in an iron road, over gas is electric oven.
The chicken dipped in the paste of curd and species is roasted in electric or gas oven earlier in the charcoal which had a different taste. A shop in Pucca Danga is famous for Khatta or sour meat. Adisha is the mutton boiled in curd and milk overnight then fried in the ghee.

The Khameera or whole wheat or midda roti is prepared after fermentation in the oven or tandoor in large size. The Bajra roti eaten in the dry belt is highly fibrous flour with lot of energy and require hard digesting. The makki roti eaten only in the winter, the fibrous content in it helps to prevent the stone formation tendency in the body like western people taking lots of corn flakes.

Sweet rice or meatha patt is prepared in sugar. The namkeen rice or loona patt is prepared with salt rice. The plain or boiled rice with drained out water and the yellow or Shirin pulao with saffron is to provide colour and dry fruits add flavor.

Achar and chattnis are natural diet supplements and help in digestion of the food. The art of making pickles or Achar is one of the unusual features of Indian cuisines. The spices and oil added in vegetables or fruits enhances the taste and preservation of the fruits and vegetables for a long time.

The chattnis of pudina, anardana add taste to the food in the main course diet.
The laungi or the peeled green mango achar with species and salt pickle prepared with rai, metha as mustard oil, as preservative with puri, suchi with sweet suji halwa or shirin pulaao on festive occasions.

There is variety of tasty snacks taken in it between the two meals. Kachalu chat is the freshly prepared snack mixed with spice, and referred as tangy sour sweet evening snacks available in all shopping centres. The high carbohydrate content diet supplements the various vitamins in the form of Imali or tamarind as natural source of vitamin C. Kachalu Chaat, a potato based tangy sour sweet snack specialty of Jammu is available in all shopping centres. The traditional outlet in a lane called Sardar ki gali opposite Raghunath Temple.(Ramkund in Poonch)

Indian has variety of sweets and desserts. The desserts are basically rice or milk products and their food value is a combination of proteins, carbohydrates etc.

Milk Cake
The milk cake of Samba is a thick, white lump of sweetened condensed milk, heated to brown core in the centre producing milk granules as its specialty. The chocolate barfi is made from over heated khoya. The so called chocolate, without a milligram of cocoa, the milk converted into brown and condensed till it can be sliced as glossy dark brown colour of Chocolate. The chocolate is famous at a shop at Gandhi Nagar, Purani Mandi in the Jammu City.

The Kud chocolate cooked in the pure ghee or clarified butter during the making process of the sweet dish is unique feature.

The Jammu sweets available at Pacca Danga opposite Laxmi Narayan Temple is one of best prepared in vegetable oil. Pawan shop at Akhnoor or Canal Road at Bakshi Nagar crossing sold its special favorites Kulfi in traditional way lost ground and now shifting to Western style ice-cream.

Nandini, road side famous stalls before the Nandini Tunnel on NHIA are renowned for Kalarhi or cottage cheese raw as well as cooked. The Kalarhi is a form of rancid cheese in which butter is not drained out. The cheese pakoras and Mirch pakoras or chili dumplings in lentil flour or Besan are most favoured snacks. On the Jammu- Srinagar NHIA the shops at Samrauli, near Chennani is a famous stop over for raw Kalarhi available till afternoon. The Kalarhi of Ramnagar is a also famous hub in Udhampur Distt. The Kalarhi is the most sought after local cuisine fried and eaten in various ways. It is available in various versions to enhance the food value. In Udhampur, the Kalarhi mixed with fried / boiled Soyabean and species come as a complete food with high protein supplement snacks.

Kud on NHIA is famous for pateesa, a yellow sweet also known as Sohanpari, the besan turned into a fibrous cake pieces in pure desi ghee. Peerah, a few km ahead of Batote, there are many dhabas who serve rajma, boiled rice / chawal and mixed with pure desi ghee round the clock on the Jammu – Srinagar Highway a renowned stop for the Rajma –Chawal. The bund / kulcha filled with mutter / yellow pea mixed with imali water, species and lemon juice. The fried potato tikki with black or white gram boiled, fried and eaten with the bund/kulcha other ethnic cuisines readily found in the Cities of the region.

The traditional cuisines in the present scenario of liberalizationhave been taken over by the Western style “multi-national food joints” and won the heart of younger generation. ‘The old is gold’ is the best saying among the older people, in the same way the traditional local cuisines are time tested in terms of their food value, suitable to climate and geographical conditions. For example, the rice and rice fermented products in South India cuisines easily digested in comparison to the wheat roti, as rice product suited best to the climatic conditions of southern part of the India.

The Federal Administration of USA proved that the use of turmeric or Haldi and other species act as antiseptics, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that we still do not know.
Therefore, our ethnic food has more food value in terms of providing proteins, vitamins and other enzymes provided naturally rather than harmful chemical added in fast food like Pizza, potato chips, burgers etc to enhance the taste of food.

There is a need of permanent outlets in the city like Jammu to promote tourism development and the preservation of tangible or living heritage like cuisines. The bank of the river Tawi in a form of Juhu beach having eating joints or Jammu Haat canbe planned as the best place for the purpose. The ethnic cuisines makers court to save the vanishing cuisine of the region.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ramkund Mandir in Poonch

Ramkund is the symbol of our ancient culture, art and tradition. This is the oldest temple in Poonch region. As per the archaeological report, this beautiful temple was built by Raja Lalitaditya (i.e. between 724 AD and 761 AD) because the style, architecture and the age of the temple is the same as of those temples built by Raja Lalitaditya in Kashmir. This temple, having a very attractive look and history, is embedded in the past. It, however, remained out of sight due to locational disadvantages. Now this old shrine is regaining its erstwhile status.

Ramkund temple is located in a sleepy village Narol of Mendhar tehsil, 62 kilometers from Poonch township. This important religious place is located in a deep gorge at the foothill of Shah Star Range of mountains. At present there are three sacred ponds apart from the ancient temple. They are known as Ram Kund, Lachman Kund and Sitakund. Ram Kund is bigger in size (25' x 25') than Lachman and Sita Kund. A spring water emerges exactly on the northern side of Ramkund. The water of this spring pours into Ramkund which overflows to Lachman Kund and at last Sita Kund. The latter is the smallest in size. These kunds have been designed in such a way that the water of spring after filling all the kunds flows in nallah. On the eastern side of Ramkund, there is an historical temple of 8th century. Stone structure stair case begins from the eastern side of Ramkund upto the entrance of the temple. At present, there is an idol of Hanuman which was installed in the temple in the recent past. On the northern side, a small structure houses the residence of Pujari and a cowshed. A 'Kutiya' has also been constructed near the temple for ‘Sadhus’ and pilgrims. The western side of this holy place is surrounded by banana trees and a small garden of plums which gives this place, look of an 'Ashram.'A big religious congregation is held on 14th of 'Chaitra (March) every year and is known as 'Mela Chetar Chodas'. Devotees from all parts of Poonch and Rajouri district participate in it. People after taking a dip in the holy water or kunds offer prayers in the temple and take part in 'Bhajan Kirtan' organized by the 'Mandlies' (Groups). The religious programme continues for one full day.  ( Buddha Amarnath in Poonch )

As per Raj Taringni of Kalhana, there is a very interesting story behind the construction of this temple. Kalhana narrates that Raja Lalitaditya who was a great warrior and had converted Poonch town into Chawani (cantonment) of his forces, named this places as Purn-Utsva (with the passage of time, this name became Poonch from Purn-Utsva) Kalhana writes that once Raja Lalitaditya left for hunting in the jungle, he reached this place in the evening. At this very solitary place, he saw in the nearby a girl singing a devotional song while a beautiful girl was dancing in this uninhabited place. When the song was over, both the girls bowed their heads at this place and left. The next day also, the same ritual was repeated by the same girls. Then Raja Lalitaditya accested these girls and enquired from them why they were dancing and singing their devotional song at a lonely place in the jungle. The girls replied that they were Devdasis and doing so on the direction of their mothers and grand mothers. "This is our traditional job but we do not know the reason of our dancing at this place." Raja thought that this may be some 'sacred place.' Next day, he ordered for excavation of that particular place where the Devdasis were offering prayer in the evening. After some excavation, two old temples came to surface whose doors were shut. When Raja opened the door, he saw that two idols of Keshav were installed there. One the back of these idols, it was engraved that these idols were installed by Ramchander Ji during his visit to Kashmir. Raja Lalitaditya transported these idols to Kashmir along with him and he installed the idol of Ram Chander Ji in the temple of Vishnu Parihas in Parbaarspur, while the second idol was taken by the queen and she installed it in Chakrshveri temple.

It appears that while removing the original idols from Ramkund temple, Raja Lalitaditya got renovated or reconstructed the original excavated monument with some additions and converted this place into an important religious shrine. No doubt that Raja Lalitaditya had built Poonch city but at present, there is no such building existing on the ground belonging to Lalitaditya's time except Ramkund temple Mendhar. This is the only temple in this region which refers to the construction made by Lalitaditya.

Mr Stein who translated Raj Taringani of Kalhana visited the place where Lalita Ditya excavated and discovered the old temple of Ram Chander Ji's time. Stein visited Poonch in 1892 AD and identified a number of places like Loharkote (Loran), Attalika (Atoli), Saramber (Chamber Kanari), Sawvernik (Surankote) mentioned in the Raj Taringani. But he could not identify Ram Kund Temple of Raja Lalitaditya's time because this temple was located in a very unknown place which was far away from the main route leading towards Kashmir in those days. All the habitants of this area were non-Hindus. Even most of the Hindus were knowing very little about this shrine in the past. Therefore, they could not talk about this temple to Stein. ( Sanskrit as language )

The other proof is that Devdasis reported to Raja Lalitaditya that they belonged to a nearby village known as Sover Dehmana at that time. This village is still existing near Narol (where temple exists) and known as Dharana instead of Dehmana. Therefore, on the facts given above, it is clear that Ramkund is the same temple which was excavated and reconstructed by Raja Lalitaditya in 8th century. ( Chandi Dham Machail )

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sanskrit the core of all languages

Sanskrit is the life line of the spiritual consciousness of India. It is not merely a language. It is the style of India. Enriched with Indian scriptures, Sanskrit gives the divine massage of world peace and prosperity of mankind Sanskrit. Sanskrit usually called "God's own language'' is slowly gaining world wide recognition.

Indian tradition knows Sanskrit as the language of introducing the gods, which has been the dominant language of Indians for a period covering over four thousand years. Viewed from its rich heritage of literature, its fascinating charm of words, its flexibility of expression in relation to thought, Sanskrit occupies a singular place in the literature of the world. Over two people are speaking simple Sanskrit all over the world regardless of their status, economic gender or religion. Learning Sanskrit creates an influence on mind and body. The sounds of Sanskrit help blending thought and action. No wonder several corporates are using the language to deal with HR issues.Despite being complicated the language inculcates self discipline.

Sanskrit has played a vital role in the development of all Indian languages and in the preservations of the culture heritage of India. Despite being complicated the langauge inculcates self discipline. No Indian language can flourish without the help of Sanskrit. Sanskrit also provides the theoretical foundations of ancient sciences.

Sanskrit is the core of all Indian languages and has been entitled as a Mother of all languages storing vast knowledge and philosophies of universal order vis-a-vis vadas, puranas, history of dharmas, philosophy, medicine, astrology, culture, art, architecture and holistic healing approaches like yoga (which has raised the position of India world vide). "Indian may justly claim to be the original home of scientific philology. In one of the most ancient Sanskrit books, the Samhita of the Krishan Yajurveda, there are distinct indications of the dawn of linguistic study''. It has been said by eminent writers that at one time Sanskrit was the only language spoken all over the world. "Sanskrit is the mother of Greek, Latin and German languages and it has no other relation to them. From all that has been said above, it is clear that Sanskrit was a living speech in ancient India. The sacred literature of India, inferior to none in verity or extent, is superior to may in nobility of thought, in sanctity of spirit and in generality of comprehension. In beauty or prolixity, it can vie with any other literature ancient and modern. Despite the various impediments to the steady development of the language, despite the successive disturbances, internal and external, which India has to encounter ever since the dawn of history, she has successfully held upto the world her archaic literary map. The beginnings of her civilization are yet in obscurity.  ( Mata Kheer Bhawani )

Relatively to any other language of the ancient world, the antiquity of Sanskrit has an unquestioned priority. "Yet such is the marvelous continuity'' says Max Muller ''between the past and the present of India, that in spite of repeated social convulsions, religious reforms and foreign invasions, Sanskrit may be said to be still the only language that is spoken over the whole extent of vast country.''

It is important to mention here that the language of Sanskrit has deep roots and has a great impact in all the various subjects like history, mathematics, astronomy, and astrology besides other umpteen subjects. Not even in India but in abroad also the institutions of Sanskrit are putting great impact in all the spheres of their life for instance therapy like Yoga, Mediation etc. These institutions are playing a very important role in uplifting the rich language of Sanskrit which is the mother of all languages. But it is very pity that in our country India no efforts have been made honestly to up lift Sanskrit language. It is worth while to mention here that the said language is known to the handful of people. ( Birbal  Maheshdas Bhat )

Though institution are teaching the enrich language of Sanskrit but there after the fate of the pupils is so miserable that they are not in position to carry out there livelihood because till date the Govt. of India has not opened all the options of giving employment and absorbing such student in the Govt sector. Whereas priority has been given to the other languages. And day is not for away when language of Sanskrit will be confined to black and white and there after become a part of exhibitions.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Led Zeppelin first choice was Kashmir Song

Kashmir is a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin Physical graffiti from their sixth album, released in 1975. It was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (with contributions from John Bonham) for three years, with texts dating back to 1973.  ( Changpas the nomadic pastoralists of ladakh )

Kashmir is considered one of zeppelins led most successful songs, each of the four members of the group agreed that it is so far one of their best musical achievements. John Paul Jones suggested that it contains all the elements that composed the sound of Led Zeppelin. The plant said that the song was one of my ways [conducted] favorite zeppelin because it has all the latent energy and power which was not heavy metal. It was something else. It was the pride of Led Zeppelin. During a television interview in January 2008, he also called Kashmir as its first choice of all the songs of Led Zeppelin perform it, comment Im most proud of that. Page said he thought the song was one of the best compositions of tapes.

The song focuses on a riff of guitar chord progression signature, which was first introduced on bands working from home-studio pages. It was initially an agreement, an extension of a guitar-cycle that Page had worked on for years. It was the same cycle that produced the dark side of the mountains, the summer white and non-distributed way, swan-song. Because the player down, and keyboard John Paul Jones had been late for the recording sessions, the time spent working at riff with drummer John Bonham. Both demoed the latest in 1973. The plant was later added the middle section and the beginning of 1974 Jones added all the pieces of rope. ( Sanskrit core of all languages )

The guitar was played in an alternative guitar: the strings are made to open or Dsus4 DADGAD. Bonhams drums courtesy of the device that phasing effect of an early dusk phaser supplied by engineer Ron NEVISON. The plant said that the setting drum Bonhams is the key to the song: Was it what he has not made it work.

The song also includes many distinctive musical patterns of Moroccan music, Indian and Middle Eastern classic. Page explained that I had a sitar for some time and I was interested in modal tunings and substance Arabic. It began with a riff and then used the Eastern lines below.

Brass and orchestral strings with strings of electric guitar and mellotron are also used in the song. This is one of the few Led Zeppelin songs to use outside musicians. Session players were brought in for string sections and horn. According to Jones, the secret of successful pieces of rope keyboard is to play only the roles that a real string section would play. Ie, a line for the first violins, a line for the second violins, one for Violas, one for cello, one for bass. Some divided parts [two or more notes in a line] are allowed, but keep to a minimum. Think melodiously.        ( Land of Lamas )

It was originally called the drive in Kashmir, the texts of the song were written by Plant in 1973 just after the tour of the USA led zeppelins 1973, in an area he called the lands of southern Morocco, while driving by in Tantan Goulimine in the Sahara desert. This was despite the fact that the song is named for Kashmir, a region located in the north of the Indian subcontinent. As explained in factory journalist Cameron Crowe rock:

The whole inspiration came from the fact that the road continued indefinitely. It was a single track road which an orderly shut down across the desert. Two miles to the east and west edges were Sandrock. He basically looked like you were leading to a reduction in a channel, this dilapidated road, and there was apparently no end to it. Ah, let the sun beat down on my face, stars to fill my dreams Its my favorite of this, all my love and light and two or three were really the most enjoyable. But Kashmir in particular. He was so positive, lyrically.

In an interview he gave to William S. Burroughs in 1975, the page said that when the song was composed, no member of the group had been in Kashmir.

The song runs for 8:28, a length that the radio stations usually considered too long to play. However, its release to radio stations have had no problem playing against Kashmir, especially after seeing the staircase to heaven, which was nearly as long, are so good. (The original LP decommitments graffiti physical incorrectly lists the length of songs like 9:41.)      ( Leh Ladakh )

Kashmir phase was played almost every Led Zeppelin concert from its beginning in 1975. When they performed the song, Robert Plant will switch to the last second with around after singing the first verse normally. The third would be to also normally sung in its original spot. When Led Zeppelin came together for the anniversary of Discs fortieth Atlantic in 1988, Robert accidentally sang to the second twice. He admitted to doing this oh by the father of the singer requisite four winds my sails (even) through the sea of years during the fourth verse. He never ended up singing the third verse (oh the pilot of the storm) before the error. However, he sang with the maintenance and the song of tongue during the third to while trying to fix it by singing me back again halfway through. Also the plant, known for his improvisation, while running at much discretion over Kashmir. It would add to the sweet mom slowly Dyin now just a minute, sweet darlin and stutter the words baby and mother. It would also take this section with theres no denyin while im talkin to ya. A phase of execution carried out in zeppelins at Knebworth in 1979, is described on the 2 disc Led Zeppelin DVD. This performance came from the bands first show at the venue, August 4 The surviving members of Led Zeppelin have performed together in Kashmir Atlantic discs fortieth anniversary in 1988. It was again run in the exhibition conducted meeting of the zeppelins to O2, London on 10 December 2007.

Led Zeppelin expert Dave Lewis described Kashmir as:
Undoubtedly the way the most frightening and impressive graffiti on the physical, and arguably the most progressive and most original Led Zeppelin ever recorded. Kashmir has gone a long way to establish credibility with the critics otherwise skeptical of rock. Many consider this path as the finest example of the majesty of fine chemicals of special zeppelins.

The song was ranked 140th in the list of Rolling Stones 500 greatest songs of all time in 2004.In 2009 when it was known as the 21st greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.