Monday, December 18, 2017

HELLO NEW YORK ..FIRST DAY IMPRESSIONS OF OUR VISIT


                                                                           





























HELLO NEW YORK …….. FIRST  DAY  IMPRESSIONS  OF  THE  NEW  CITY 

( Mobile Photographs ..Autar Mota )

Our Body clock is confused with the journey across two or three time zones. As we boarded AIR INDIA’s direct ( Non Stop ) Flight to New York at Terminal 3 IGI Airport New Delhi , it was midnight . Six hours later as we flew close to Helsinki ( Finland ) , I saw darkness disappearing on the sky . It was dawn time . A few hours more and we were flying once more into darkness in another time Zone and then once again we were greeted by Dawn  and some time later  our Aircraft started its descent to New York . I expected the Airport to be crowded but it was not so. I am told that New York has three Airports( JFK, Newark and La Guardia) to handle huge Air Traffic .

Jet lag was    evident on us . I slept as per Indian time. Got up at 2 AM New York time. Had my 5 Hours of usual sleep. What to do now ? I Come to the window to look around . I look at the well lit roads below the apartment . Like Mumbai , New York does not sleep. Yellow Cabs, Buses ,Red buses , Speeding lorries , Siren fitted( NYPD vehicles, Fire fighting vehicles and Ambulances ) speed on busy roads below. I open the window . It is cold . I feel it like mid November month ‘s climate of Kashmir. I am excited to find climatically connected to my motherland even though being so far off. I am told it is still warm in Kashmir. This year , Autumn is arriving late. Suddenly , I remember Autumn’s Golden hue in kashmir valley and the elegant Chinar Trees. Albert Camus was right when he said" Autumn is another spring when every leaf is a flower." So true for Kashmir 's graceful Autumn. We are told that THE FALL or the Autumn season over here is equally majestic.

I go Back to my bed . Sleepless, I keep waiting for the dawn .Over here, the water jet of our jammu toilet is now replaced by the Tissue paper roll . My wife looks for a bucket and mug in the washroom. Can’t find it. It is impossible to find such things in apartments over here. You need to be careful to keep washrooms /Toilets dry and clean simultaneously .You have no choice but to adjust. Now I feel why eminent Classical singer Siddeshwari Devi rushed Back to India after she was put in a Hotel where she Couldn’t find a bucket and Mug in the wash room. She had come to  London  for her Concerts along with Sheila Dhar ( Wife of P N Dhar advisor to Mrs Gandhi ) . She could never adjust to the paper rolls in the toilet . She cancelled her concerts and rushed back to India .
And siddeshwari Devi told every one ..

“ RAM !RAM! I shall never go to Vilayat( UK or Overseas) anymore. Never shall I ask anyone to send me abroad.”

 We plan to go for a morning walk .It is 7.30 AM and the streets get busier with office going pedestrians . They move fast with almost identical steps and speed. Confidence is evident in their body language . Independent , Smart ,young and well dressed people running and rushing with hopes and aspirations. A crowd of Smiling faces in flow . New York is inertia .. New York is opportunities bundled that attract global talent .New York is momentum.
 
Should you desire to walk casually then move aside or closer to the railings or the shops . Be away from the mid path. You may stop the smooth flow . People sip Coffee held in one hand and keep talking on Mobile phones but maintain the pace. Pedestrians and Groups of people Wait for the hand signal to turn white to cross busy Roads at select crossings . Red buses with tourist sitting on roof tops speed past .Some tourists wave at you. These buses are known as TOP VIEW or HOP ON HOP OFF Tourist Buses . So many boys, girls and young tour agents in red dress walk behind you crying:

" Hey guys. Just $29 for city ride. Rooftop view . You wanna come. Come right now. Come Come. Hip Hop Sit At Top. Sir, You wanna buy ticket. Madam , You wanna buy. Babu ji , Salam Namaste . You wanna two tickets .”

We come to TIMES SQUARE .

 "Come , Come , Hey Guys , see what we gonna do. The Brando entertainment. We guys make you feel good. Clap ,Clap doodle drap "

The music is loud. Onlookers are motivated to clap. We  are tempted to join and clap with the foot tapping  music beats. Some boys in shabby looking dress with heads covered with a cloth talk to each other in something like a question answer session the way an Indian Madaari and Jamoora do on streets. And then a girl or a boy stays in centre while another runs fast and jumps over his/ her head . He makes a roll over acrobatic finish to get up. The crowd cheers him up. He gets up and raises his hand acknowledging appreciation of onlookers. Music , cheers and another boy repeats this act.
 
" Take your pictures. Guys something you wanna pay. Free will. God is great"

Some people put their hand into their pockets to look for the wallet. The crowd Starts thinning and we move.
A little away, with crowds moving past him, a man sleeps on pavement .A notice board kept close by declares" Hungry . Need Only Food .God Bless". As we walk, we feel the tempting smell of hot food coming from so many food joints and eating shops.

Near Madam Tussaud's Museum just opposite Regal Cinema , we are confronted by a Young man:

" You need your Portrait . 30 minutes. Pay $15 . I draw. Madam , I draw .Sit 30 minute only .Artist." 

As we stop to see his work on display , a young girl with some tickets in her hand comes close to us and says:

" you gonna right now. Hilarious  comedy show. Two tickets $30. You going."

Kiosks on pavements are busy selling coffee, Bagels, Croissants, Pretzels and snacks. Some kiosk sell fresh fruits and juices. I find Boards in many  kiosks like" Halaal  Foods  " or "Roasted Dry Fruits " . The Halal kiosks are mostly run by men from Middle east. So many men, women , young and old smoke as they walk . Some stay closer to Shops and smoke  leisurely.  Nobody looks at you. You are lost in this unfamiliar crowd.

So many shops and stores display a prominent Notice Board" OPEN 24×7" . Many Pharmacy ( Medicine) shops are open 24×7.In every row of shops ,50% shops sell  coffee, snacks and  food. I read a notice board that attracts my attention "TICK TOCK..ROUND THE CLOCK" . I am led to believe that most of the morning crowd eats out. They begin their Day with hand held foods and relish complimentary Lunch at their offices.

We come down to 33rd street . We are guided to move towards Byrant Park for our walk  . Pathways and roads are free from stray animals. Nowhere did we see a stray dog,  Cow or any other animal.

I find massive Billboards of Johnnie Walker's latest Ad slogan "Keep Walking New York " displayed prominently in Manhattan.

“ HOMELESS ......DOWN BUT NOT OUT  .KINDLY HELP $10

That is what the hand written small Board ( Display ed By the person ) says . The person sits on the pavement opposite Regal Cinema on Times square. He does not raise his head . A bottle of water , a Blanket and a bag is close by . Possibly all that he owns on this Mother earth. He is a European American ; " ANGREZ" .. I ask my wife to move on. A little away , we come across a tall elderly African American with similar Board “ HOMELESS .PLEASE HELP. “ .He is asking for money . An elderly lady is sitting on foot path with a board  “ HOMELESS “ that attracts  our attention . A little ahead  we find a man playing Guitar with some coins spread on the cloth kept on the pavement. He is seeking attention . Another  man sleeps on the pavement along with his dog ,  Bag,  water bottle and a blanket. I was advised no photographs at such points. I follow the wisdom and move forward.

A well dressed man stands close to wall near 8th avenue on 33rd  street. As we pass by , he comes closer to me and says,

" Can you spare a few Dollars? "

I look at me wife. We smile and move on. As we walk some steps,, we find a young woman sitting on footpath. She is reading some book . She looks up and displays a small hand written notice board  that reads:

"Homeless and Alone. Supporting a child. Anything will help. God Bless you. "

A man delivers her his half smoked cigarette and moves on. We wait to see her smoking the remaining half.

We keep moving. A young boy speeds past us. He is on roller skates. A girl walks close by, she has dressed herself as a character from some Popular comic series. A boy dressed as Spider-man confronts us ;we smile at him ,he waves at us and moves ahead. Another young man dressed as Phantom walks past us.

A shabby looking man is pinned down by two policemen on the pavement . Three more policemen stand and surround him .They direct pedestrians to move from other side. We come to know that the shabby looking man was involved in some crime.
A little away we find two policemen putting an elderly person on a stretcher to be carried to a nearby Hospital. The elderly man had some medical emergency . We see his nose bleeding. Smart , impressive and young men in well stitched dark blue uniforms . A pistol , a Walkie Talkie, and a torch tied to their waist belts.That is New York police. They look like super commandos ; tidy, Smiling, robust and professional. This is NYPD, Looking True to their slogans ; Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect.

We move towards Bryant Park for a Morning Walk session that I must have despite Jetlag discomfort . The park has a fountain that freezes during winters. It provides you free WiFi and sufficient chairs. I find so many people busy with their laptops. You have a grand old library close by.

On footpaths , we come across notices displayed on vertical iron pillars in red " NO STANDING .NO STOPPING HERE" . A suggestive method to deal with heavy pedestrian traffic. No place to park cars except spacious shops converted to parking space. We peep and find cars parked close to one another. Cars parked over cars lifted and kept inside steel jacks .The charges could be as high as $10 per hour. Don't be surprised if you are stopped by some Garage Guard on the pavement for facilitating in or out movement of cars .

Public transport has enormous utility and visibility in New York. You have City buses , Metro Trains and Taxis. I am told it is not so in other places and consequently people travel by their own cars.

We confront affluence, Courtesy, Mannerism, Fashion , Hunger, Want and Homelessness in New York. The crowds that move past us  are a part of the highly individualistic society. Individual liberty and self dependence is visible . Yet the man walking on the street has not withdrawn from society or fellow human beings around. Never an outsider nor living on periphery . The problem may be with our understanding his issues in our own way. Speak to him the way he understands men ,matters and situations. Should you do so, you find him warm, full of human empathy and Compassion.

From Manhattan, We go for the underground train ride to downtown. Trains appear heavy and old. As they move, they make noise . So many people commute using trains .The crowd at every station looks disciplined and orderly. The trains do not have dangling hand grips. You have to catch hold of the vertical slim steel pillars to keep balance should you travel standing. A shabby looking man sits in a corner seat along with his Big bag, a stick, water bottle and a blanket. He keeps talking to himself . As i look towards him he raises the pitch of his voice . Could be a homeless ? We move away. My wife is unable to balance herself while standing in the moving Air conditioned Train.. A middle aged man gets up and offers her his own seat. I thank him profusely. He smiles and moves away. As the doors slide open after trains come to halt at any station, commuters who have to enter keep waiting till the last person comes out .

At IGI T3 Airport New Delhi, we bought Matrix Global pre activated SIM for use in USA. It didn't work even when the salesman assured us of it's global utilities and unlimited merits. To get cheated with this so called Global SIM card, We had to stand in a queue . And then it was not needed at all ; You get free WiFi at JF Kennedy Airport New York. For use in USA, , I am advised to buy T Mobile instant activated SIM for $50 from Manhattan market that gives an unlimited talk time of 30 days and 10 GB data. No ID or Address proof is needed.

We have to adjust to Miles ( Distance measurement in USA ),order of days and months as these are written or spoken ( like 9/11 means 11th September to which we are used to refer as 11/9) , Pounds and ounces ( weight measure ), Fahrenheit ( centigrade scale not in use in US) for temperature , Right Hand drive , looking for a Rest room ( Toilets are called rest rooms over here and there are no public Toilets in New York ), Racing elevators / lifts , Price Phobia due to a habit of Currency conversion at every point of purchase and the reverse press at electric switches to open lights .

We are told that the Jet lag issues shall resolve in  three  or four days .

So long So much .

( Autar Mota )

PS

Prof. Paul S.Boyer in his Book "American History ...A very short Introduction" writes..

" Human settlement on the continent we call north America began at least 15000 years ago, as bands of people in present day Siberia came by water or across a now vanished land bridge into today's Alaska .As migration increased, these first Americans spread southward and Eastward, encountering regions widely divergent climate and topography.Distinctive groups with differing languages, social organization, Religious practices, and source of livelihood gradually evolved."
( Refer...Chapter 1 page 1 )

I learn that after first European explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano landed at a place now known as New York in 1524, Immigrants from world over started pouring in.First settlement began with the Dutch in 1609.                                              

                                                                  


Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

GULLIVER. IN KASHMIR

                               
GULLIVER  IN KASHMIR

Yesterday ,   I was gifted  this Book by Prof Arvind Gigoo.  While driving  back home , I was tempted to  open  some pages and see what new Cameos  Prof. Gigoo had  coined  for  events   , personalities   and situations   . I opened  some pages and read  seven  in one go. The first cameo goes as under;
                                   
                                 FACES

 “I am a theist in private ,I am an atheist among intellectuals , I am an agnostic among wavering and I am a Fox In Public.”

This cameo is  a sarcastic comment on   present day personalities  and popular  faces  that we come across in public life . Surely Every Atheist is not an intellectual  but certainly most of the intellectuals that we come across present themselves as Atheists . And in a crowd of confused people , many educated persons find it convenient to declare that “ Nothing exists beyond material Phenomenon “ to get a respectful Agnostic  label . A Fox knows how to survive. Be    Cunning while dealing with Brute Strength. A Fox uses adaptability  . Adaptability is the new Mantra for survival.

Are we confused  about what we are ? Are we everything ? or we have simply become Chameleons  who change color as per situations .

 Is it necessary to present  ourselves as it suits others?

Do we really need so many masks   for  covering and camouflaging  our  real self?

 Or  is it timidity ?

 I leave the question open to  debate .

Long back , I   read a Novel of urdu writer krishen chander  wherein     a character  replies in a sarcastic way when he is asked his name by    his prospective employer   . I quote from the novel ;


“ Sir , My name depends on what your name is .To live  and get work in Bombay , we keep three four names in our pocket . After coming  to know the  name , religion and caste of our employer , we pull out    a  suitable  name from the pocket  .”

As of now, I have  read only  seven  cameos from the book .Surely, will read, re read and read between the lines all these crisp observations  coming  from an extraordinary  Mind.

The second  cameo goes like this;
           
             NATURE  VERSUS MAN

“Mr. Poet, what did you write all these years?”
“Verses about the weeping chinar and the bleeding river.”
“Anything about man?”
“I am still afraid of that man. That is why I please him.”

Poet Ghalib had commented on himself like this;

"Ghalib vazeefa-khwaar ho do shah ko dua,
Voh din Gaye  ke  kehtay thhay Naukar nahin huun me".

(O Ghalib ,Now you live on royal grants, keep  saying  'Long live the king'
Gone are the days when you used to say'I am nobody,s servant' "

This  second  cameo in the book  is a  brilliant comment on poets and writers who tend to  walk through safe passages and avoid taking moral stand on issues affecting society.A hint towards current intellectual Bankruptcy , timidity .Is  wilful avoidance  a safe path for our intellectual?Is he only discussing Nature to avoid getting involved in agony and sorrows of man or humanity at large? Does he lack courage of conviction? Let us put this issue also to a debate.

And the third cameo is a sarcastic comment on situation created by  failed  leaders and selfish merchants of death and destruction in Kashmir valley. The cunning leaders want to keep the pot boiling to continue their game of fooling  poor and hapless masses  .'"Send your own children towards sunlight and clear skies and pull poor, ignorant and innocent into the dark  mess" This has been  the Mantra for  the merchants of death and destruction in troubled valley.

I quote this third cameo appearing at page 87 of the book;
                                CHILDREN

" The rich sent their children abroad and the middle classes sent their  to other universities.The poor sent their children to die as heroes and go to HEAVEN."

I am reminded of a couplet by well known Urdu scholar and poet Prof.Ale Ahmed suroor.I quote..

" Fasl e gul hai  to gulistaan faroshon ke liye
Aabyaari  ke liye khoon e jigar mera  hai."

'For the flower crop ,  Let the traitors and enemies of the garden stake their claims,
For irrigating the flower  beds , I  offer my heart's blood."

The fourth cameo is again a sarcastic comment on Writers and their books in present day world. Where have book readers of yore gone? Has the Television  come as the biggest enemy of Book Publishing Industry ? The number of Book readers  goes on shrinking day after day. Shall We face a situation where authors may  be reading their own books apart from writing them?

 Attend a Book release function, gossip with friends over a cup of tea and get  your promised copy  free . Don't open it but  pass it on to a rag buyer/ kabaadi  with old newspapers and magazines after a month .

               .        AUTHOR

"Which Book are you reading these days?"
"My own"

The fifth cameo goes as under;
     
                              GUESTS

"Friends, I can't meet you for four days, I am expecting guests"
"Who?"
"My son and Daughter -in- Law"


At page 134 , I found a  witty cameo that reflects sharpening of divided loyalities  among Kashmiris.I quote this 6th cameo ..
                             
                                         E-MAIL ID

" Your E-mail ID?"
"Secession@Quit Kashmir.co.in"

"Your  E-mail ID"
"Accession@migration.co.in"




Prof Gigoo feels that evaluators ,Reviewers and critics of Literature in our state ( J & K ) have become well wishers of Authors under a marriage of convenience .According to him , these mutual well wishers work in Unison on the settled principle of mutual convenience that says" you oil my tail, I shall oil yours."


Does this marriage of convenience result in mediocrity ? I quote 7th Cameo appearing at page 105;

" The Evaluators of the books are the well wishers of the authors.The Authors of the books are the well wishers of the evaluators.This is their common minimum Programme."


Prof. Gigoo taught English at various colleges in J&K state. Post retirement, he has devoted his time and energy to writing Books and translating Kashmiri short stories and verses to English in his unique and exceptional style . Published in October 2017 by NOTION PRESS Chennai( ISBN 978-1-947949-42-3) , the Paperback edition of this  book is available online at Amazon at a very reasonable  price of Rs200/-(Two hundred) .

 Friends , Be careful ; Gulliver has arrived in Kashmir to see , observe and reflect.Like Jonathan Swift ,  Prof.Arvind Gigoo uses  his words as swords  . He   unclothes  one and all and clears your doubts and misconceptions   .

 Contrary to his unassuming appearance ,  Prof. Arvind Gigoo is possibly the sharpest observer of men , matters and situations around him. He spares none .  He pricks ,pokes and may be provokes but surely he disappoints None.  The strong  undercurrent of truth in his cameos grabs your attention and forces you to submit.Logic and truth finally prove  victorious over emotions and sentiments. He needs to be read widely .

 Shall add more.....

( Autar Mota )


Creative Commons License
CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

STEAM IN NEW YORK


                                                                       




STEAM IN NEW YORK .. 

I was surprised to see steam rising from Manholes or vents at various places or streets in Manhattan New-york. Specially erected vents with orange and white stripes throw steam up. Come closer to these Manholes on footpath , you feel warm. I was told that the thick smoke like  steam released from erected vents is so hot that it can cause burns .The heavy iron grill covered  air vents of underground Metro train stations also release steam .During late night  when some roads go to sleep and slip into silence , the steam remains active and a testimony to city's undying inertia and energy .


What steam is this?

I sought reply to this question from so many people . By so many I mean the Halal snack vendors from middle East  seen on Foot paths and crossings  , vegetable and fruit vendors from Asian and Latin American countries , vendors  selling roasted Nuts on foot paths , Taxi drivers from Indian Subcontinent , Shopkeepers, Salesmen in Malls etc. From them, I came to know that the steam is supplied to Malls, High Rise Buildings, Shops, Domestic consumers and Industrial consumers through a network of underground pipes by a company since so many decades. In fact every High rise building in New york uses this steam for heating, Air Conditioning and continuous supply of Hot water . Surely ,  credit goes to Wallace Andrew , who designed and built first steam system for New york in 1881.And this steam supply system ( Perhaps Biggest ever in the world ) has proved to be the cleanest source of energy .

Proper billing for consumption keeps the steam generating company in good financial health. The vents are meant for maintaining proper steam pressure. Con Edison or the steam generating company has been there since 1882. Apart from steam , the company supplies Gas and Electricity to consumers in New York .This steam warms up so many landmark buildings including , Grand Central Train Terminal, Met Life Tower, Chrysler Tower, UNO Tower , Empire state Building , Museums, Hospitals , Restaurants and Many more Landmark Buildings It also warms up the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 86th street. This steam heats up about 100000 homes , offices and other establishments in New York using a network of underground pipes . Dish washing in Restaurants is done with this steam . It is also used for disinfecting Hospitals , Train stations and other places .
(Autar Mota)


Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

Friday, December 15, 2017

MOUNTAIN PASSES LEADING TO KASHMIR VALLEY


                                                                  

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                                           ( BaniHaal Railway Track below the Pass )

                                 ( Towards Mughal Road or Pir Panjal Pass )
                                                        ( Mughal Serai near Chingus   )

                                                    ( Simthen Pass Kishtwar )
                                                                        
                                                  ( View from Simthen Top )
                                                        ( Simthen Top )
( All Photographs by Autar Mota )

MOUNTAIN PASSES LEADING TO KASHMIR VALLEY 

Before the construction of two major Motorable Roads ( Jhelum Valley Cart Road and Banihal Cart Road ) in north and south directions of Srinagar city , The mountain walls which surrounded Kashmir valley were pierced by outsiders through various passes or openings . For kashmiris , these high altitude openings or passes were the only contact routes with outside world .And for outsiders , these were the only entry routes to the valley . I shall  only discuss  some such passes as had some strategic or economic  importance .

BANIHAAL PASS 

It lies on the eastern extremity of Pir Panjal Range and is about 9300 feet in altitude . The pass remained closed for about 5 months due to heavy snow fall . On account of its small altitude, this pass was widely used for going to various settlements along Chenab river and other Hilly kingdoms of present day jammu province . This pass linked many hilly kingdoms like Chenani , Babour( Manwal) etc. across Chenab ( Up to Jammu ) with Kashmir valley . Presently a rail Line and an extremely busy vehicular road passes through this pass.


SIDAU OR BUDIL PASS

This pass is approached from Shopian side of kashmir valley and Sidau is the name of a village or last village on Kashmir side of this pass. This is the shortest foot route to Akhnoor Via shopian. From Akhnoor people used go to Jammu and Sialkot using this route . Using this route , Jammu is just 129 miles from kashmir. As a matter of fact there was a kashmiri settlement in Akhnoor town and at present also the locality is named s Kashmiri Mohalla . Presently no kashmiri speaking person resides in that locality . The highest point on Sidau pass is 14000 feet in altitude . The pass used to remain snow bound for six months . This pass was a route used by kashmiris to enter Punjab .

PIR PANJAL PASS

This pass was used by kashmiris to travel to Rajauri and Poonch . The highest point in this pass is about 11500 feet in altitude . One could enter central and western Punjab ( as it used to be before 1947 ) via this pass. The last village on Kashmir side of this pass is Hirapur and Bhimber was the last village from Punjab side . This path was patronized by Sultans of Kashmir . Later Akbar also Built Imperial road through this pass which came to be known as Mughal Road . It was through this route that Qasim Khan commander of Akbar’s Infantry entered kashmir valley. Presently a Motorable ( Mughal Road ) road passes this pass . This road passes through Peer ki Gali, Chita pani, Aliabad Sarai, Hirapur and shopian. During Pathan rule In Kashmir, Birbal Dhar Used this Route to reach Lahore Darbar and seek Maharaja Ranjit Singh's help .He crossed the pass entering via Devsar.
It is believed that the delegation of 500 Kashmiri Pandits headed by Pandit Kirpa Ram of Mattan went by this route to Punjab to meet Guru Tegh Bahadur seeking his help to end their sufferings. These Pandits first visited Amritsar where from they traveled to Anandpur. 

Due to frequent floods, famines and droughts, Kashmiri Artisans, Labourers, shawl traders and weavers moved to settle in Amritsar, Lahore, Ludhiana and other places in punjab using this route for their journey. Sadat Hassan Manto, Saif Ud Din kichloo, Gama Pahalwan, Nawaz Sheriff (Prime Minister of pakistan), Sufi Tabassum, Poet Meeraji, and more names belong to Punjab's migrant population of Kashmiri ancestory.

Using this route, Kashmiri Pandits too moved out from Valley to settle in plains of India owing to suppression during the rule of Aurangzeb and more specifically during the dark days of Afghan rule in kashmir . During that period, Pandits also arrived and settled in Poonch, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah and Hilly kingdoms of Himachal crossing other passes.
Walter Lawrence informs us that Aurangzeb visited kashmir via this route and 30000 porters were employed to carry the luggage of the camp from Bhimber to kashmir. 

TOSS -MAIDAN PASS 

This pass was used for travelling to Poonch from Kashmir valley .Tosha –Maidan is a beautiful green pasture surrounded by dense forests. It is situated about 10 kms from Khag ( Budgam District close to Beerwah ) .
The highest point on this pass known as Basmai Gali . Basmai Galli is about 13,000 ft in altitude . After Crossing Basmai Gali , a Travelers used to cross another pass –called Poonch Gali to enter Poonch and later to that portion of Punjab which lay between Jhelum and Indus river . HIuen Tsiang and Mahmud of Ghazni used this route to reach valley . Mahmud of Ghazni made an attempt only .After the construction of Jhelum valley Cart road , this pass became less traveled . The pass remained snow bound for 6 months . Loran, sultan Pathri, Nurpur Gali and kundlan villages fall on this route. Acharya Vinoba Bhave (Well Known Gandhian ) entered Kashmir Valley through this pass but he took a turn Near Ferozepur Pass and trekkked Via Kantar Nag to reach Gulmarg. Vinoba Ji left on foot via Banihal Pass. 


SIMTHEN PASS 

One of the major entry passes to Kashmir valley from Kishtwar side is SIMTHAN PASS. The pass is about 3748 metres in altitude. After crossing this pass , one can straightway come to Kokernaag area of Kashmir. Simthan Pass is about 8 km from Chhatroo and 72 km from Anantnag. It used to be a fair weather pass that was closed for six months. To reach Kishtwar from Kashmir , a traveler had to cross Wadvan and Chenab rivers . Presently there is a Motorable road that connects kashmir with kishtwar through this pass.
When Zulqadar Khan (Dulcha), a Tatar invaded and plundered Kashmir,Helpless Simha Deva (The Then King) ran away to Kishtwar through this Pass.

To escape starvation death During frequent floods, droughts and famines in kashmir Valley, many poor inhabitants moved to Kishtwar, Doda, Bhalesa , Bhaderwah, Banni, Basholi and Gandoh areas of Jammu province where they settled permanently. Congress leader Gh. Nabi Azad's ancestors also came from kashmir Valley to Bhalesa through this route. Similarly ancestors of Abdul Gani Goni, Darvesh Ishaq sahib, Poet Cum singer Gh Nabi Doolwal, Poet Rasa Javidani and many more have come from kashmir Valley to the then Doda district of jammu province.
Kashmiri Artisans trekked through this route to introduce Shawl weaving in hilly kingdoms of Basholi, Nurpur, kangra, Haripur, Mandi and chamba.
Kashmiri Pandit artists ( mainly from Raina and Razdan clan) trekked through this route to join various hilly kingdoms as court Painters. They revolutionised Pahari Art in hills. Shiv Raina, Nainsukh, Manaku and many more ( who are known as great masters of Pahari miniature art) were Kashmiri Pandits who arrived in hilly kingdoms via simthen pass.
This art was later spread in Hilly Rajput kingdoms by RANJHA and NIKKA who were talented sons of NAINSUKH RAINA. Infact Nain sukh had four sons Ranjha , Kamu ,Gourhu and Nikka and all of them were Master Artists .


ZOJI LA PASS .


Zoji La pass is 11300 feet in altitude . It connects kashmir with Ladakh , Tibet , china and central Asia. It has been a widely used route for trade with Tibet, Central Asia and China by kashmiris . It was through this route that Buddhist Scholars from kashmir went to spread Buddhism in Tibet, China and other places . It was through this route that Rinchana entered Kashmir and Mirza Haider Dughlat first invaded Kashmir . The pass remains snow bound for six months at present as well even when a motorable road passes through it .
As per Rajtarangini, Illustrious King Lalitaditya of kashmir traveled through this pass on his expeditions to conquer central Asian countries.
As per Sikh history, Guru Nanak Visited Kailash Mansarovar and then visited Tibet. From Tibet, he came down to Ladakh and finally entered Kashmir Valley through Zojila Pass. There is a Gurudwara dedicated to his Visit on Magnetic Hill near Leh.
Another important Traveller to use this route is Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani . He entered Kashmir Valley in fourteenth Century through this pass along with700 Syeds from Hamadan. Shrines built in his honour at Khaplu(Gilgit Baltistan) , Leh and Doderhama Ganderbal confirm his entry and journey route to Kashmir from Central Asia. Held in high esteem and Known as Shah e Hamdan in Kashmir, he Played a major role in Spread of Islam in Kashmir. 


KISHENGANGA VALLEY PASSES 

North west and North Kashmir has also some smaller passes that had lesser utility for Trade and commerce . These passes had lesser strategic importance .. Razdhan Pass ( 11700 feet in altitude ) is one important pass that leads to the Area of Dards in upper kishenganga valley via Bandipora . At Razdhan top one can catch a glimpse of the Harmukh peak, one of the highest mountain peaks located in the Kashmir valley.This pass remains closed for 5 months of the winter due to heavy snowfall in the area. From Gurez one could cross Burzil Pass ( 13500 feet In altitude ) to reach Astor and Gilgit and Skardu .Carrying heavy loads on their shoulders, poor Begar labourers from kashmir trekked these tough passes to reach Bonji, Gilgit, Astor and other places. They carried rations and stocks for harsh winters.
In his book 'Thirty years in kashmir' Dr Arthur Neve makes a fascinating mention of his journey to Astor and Skardu from kashmir via Burzil Pass.
Chak rulers crossed Razdhan pass to arrive in kashmir Valley.
Any addition is Welcome….

(Autar Mota )
CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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