Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Archeological Discoveries on the Banks of Lidder

Iqbal shows how Pahalgam is indeed special

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 48, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numastics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

Terracotta’s of Pahalgam

The picturesque Pahalgam valley was the first place of Kashmir which had revealed evidences of earliest human existences, besides the early Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim monuments

Pahalgam means village of shepherds. It is the most significant tourist resort of south Kashmir situated at the upper coarse of Nallah Lidder. For general tourists, Pahalgam is a treasure of natural heritages where gushing Nallahs, pine trees, evergreen forests, glorious meadows and slopes offer superb enjoyment to lakhs of tourists every year. However, for tourists of intellectual taste Pahalgam offers something more in terms of its history and archaeology. It is the first place of Kashmir where from geologists and archaeologists have found the earliest evidences of human civilizations. The first archaeological survey of this valley was undertaken in 1928. It was a European traveler called Grinliton a German national. He came across a hand made boulder on the Lidder bed.

This traveler was followed by another two experts, Peterra and Paterson in the year 1935. Prof. H.D. Samkaliya who explored this valley in 1969 discovered the first Paleolithic evidences at Pahalgam. The Pahalgam valley proved more historic in 1979, when Fida Mohammad Hassnain (noted historian and then Director Archaeology) and Mohammad Hussain Makhdoomi, his assistant found or Buddhist site of Kushan period at Liddro, on the outskirts of Pahalgam town.

The discovery was made on the left bank of Nallah Lidder in a forest plateau called locally Hionar. The excavator of the site writes in his excavation note, “The three dome shaped structures represent the remains of stupas which show that they formed part of the structural accompaniments in baked bricks indicating an extensive Buddhist settlement of an earlier period. The upper layer of one of the remains carried burnt earth which points to the burning of the edifice during ancient times.”

Prof. S.L. Shali in his monumental book, Kashmir history and archaeology through the ages writes about this site, “Though none of the remains have been excavated, probably from the surface or from the exposure of the pavement around these stupas, some moulded terracotta tiles have been recovered. The tiles carry motifs and forms of expression which are of far reaching implicating so far as the motifs on such tiles of Harwan are concerned. The human figures, animal and other motifs are crude, devoid of luster and skill which takes the site earlier than the known and famous site of Harwan.”

The motifs stamped on these tiles, besides charka (wheel of law), the symbol of Buddhist philosophy, the other motifs being unique in their character are the human beings in their usual Kushana dress and in their jovial mood with hands raised up in token of their happiness over the hunt which includes the running deer after it has been struck by the former. The other representation is of winged lions in combat.

During the trial of the site in 1979, the tiles and pavement were recovered at the site. The site was identified as a Buddhist site built here during the period of Kanishka the famous Kushan king. Researches believe that this Buddhist site has been burnt down by Huns who followed Kushans.

The numismatic evidences recovered from this area suggest that, like other parts of Kashmir valley, Huns had not speared the Pahalgam valley. Archaeologists have come a across evidences of ancient coins of Tormana, the Hun king from the Pahalgam valley. The finding of Toermana copper coins from Pahalgam valley suggests the existence of triple power in the area.

Besides, Hionar, the Kushana evidences have also been found from Mamal and Donipathar sites of Pahalgam valley. All these artifacts have been preserved in SPS Museum at Lal Mandi, Srinagar. Most of the finds of Pahalgam valley and its find spots are undocumented and are still to face any systematic excavations. If systematic excavation of Pahalgam valley are undertaken it is expected that many mysteries of its cultural past would be solved.

The artifacts already found from this valley should also be documented and catalogued. Once there was a proposal before the state authorities to set up an archaeological site museum at Pahalgam which could house and exhibit the heritage of the Pahalgam valley and of its archaeological and architectural sites, but due to reasons best known to authorities the Pahalgam site museum could not get materialised.

This is despite the fact that Pahalgam valley is the first place of Kashmir which had revealed evidences of earliest human existences, besides the early Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim monuments.

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