Introduction to KashmirForum.org 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.
www.kashmirforum.org

Monday, June 29, 2009

Legacy from the Budshah Era

The 15th Century bridge was the first to connect two sides of Srinagar


AALI KADAL BRIDGE

Jamsheed Rasool (Greater Kashmir)

Thrusting aside its submissive meandering up to the Zaina Kadal Bridge, river Jhelum shows off its latent ferocity on reaching near Aali Kadal Bridge, which is also the first bridge to be constructed on river Jhelum in Srinagar.

The bridge was built between 1413-1420 by Sultan Ali Shah, the brother of Zainul Abiddin (Badshah).

Maharaja Pratap Singh, who ruled from 1885-1925, got it reconstructed at its own place and than it was G M Sadiq, the then chief minister, who got it repaired in 1964.

Five years ago a new bridge has come up at the place of the same old bridge.

The channel of the river compresses as one reaches the Aal-i-kadal Bridge, the river flows so strong that sometimes it is just a pleasure squatting on the nearby Ghat and airing the gentle breeze that the river carries with it.

In the earlier times when boat used to sweep under this bridge it was tossed about on the waves caused by swirls and eddies.

This bridge has been a doubtless witness of Kashmir’s transition to Islam.

To the north of Aal-i-Kadal lies the Masjid of Roentgen (some people call him Rinchan Shah) said to be the first Masjid in Kashmir.

Close to it lies the highly revered Jamia Masjid and Aastan-i-aali of Shah Woosi Sahib (RA) where it is a common sight to see women in large numbers busy in prayers.

To the south of Aal-i-Kadal bridge is the Mohalla of Rehbab Sahib wherein lies the relics of Peer Dastageer Syed Abdul Qader Jeelani (RA) and the Sehyaar Masjid where according to elders of the area Rinchen Shah, the first Muslim Ruler of Kashmir, saw Bulbul Shah pronouncing Azaan for the first time in valley.

Historians say the spiritual vacuum of Rinchan Shah finally got filled with prudence and contemplation when he got under the studentship of the great saint Bulbul Shah Lankar and embraced Islam.

Khalid Basheer in his Jhelum-the river through my backyard quotes an interesting story from Shamsuddin Ahemad’s Shah-e-Hamdan-Hayat Aur Karnamay. It is said that after being annoyed over an un-Islamic cultural show of dance and music organized by Zain-ul-Abidin on the completion of Zaina Lank which was an Island built by him on the Lake, Woosi Sahib(RA) jumped into the Wullar lake.

A frantic rescue effort was launched and the divers were put into service but to no avail. Dejected and heart-broken, the King decided to return to Srinagar. During his upstream journey Zain-ul-Abidin to his utter disbelief spotted Woosi Sahab near Asham, a place upstream of Wular, washing his Khirqah (dress of a religious mendicant) on the banks of river Jhelum.

After having expressed regret, the King made him to embark on the boat. The Boat journey concluded at Aal-i-Kadal where the Woosi Sahib spent the rest of his life in devotion to Allah.

Like the shrine of Woosi Sahib many other shrines adorn the banks of the River Jhelum and have remained a focal points of religious activities for the Muslims of the valley.

The various Ghats on the banks of the river Jhelum served as the present day bus stands and railway platforms where people would collect in numbers to go to their destinations in different types of boats and also to send and receive cargo. Every devotee before going to the shrines on existing on its banks would first bathe or perform ablution (wadu) in the river Jhelum.

Thus these Ghats remained crowded with people all times of the day.

A Ghat and a Yarbal is a platform made of a local stone on the river bank and connected with a stone-stair going up to the Bund. Since the river transport has ceased to operate in Kashmir, these Ghats including that near the Ali-Kadal Bridge, are used by washermen to wash clothes and carpets.

The Ghat near Ali Kadal Bridge known as Daeb Ghat or washermen’s Ghat is famous for washermen and even today it is a common sight to see washermen smashing clothes against the stairs or twisting the clothes by putting their feet on one side and twisting the other side of the cloth.

“We have been doing this job from many generations. Government is unconcerned about the plight of the Daeb Ghat as the stairs have roughened and they need to be repaired if our business has to continue” says Ghulam Rasool pointing towards the bumpy stone of the Ghat.

Yarbal was used by people, especially women folk, to wash clothes and fetch water for drinking and cooking purposes.

There are several places in Kashmir with Yar connected with their names like Khanyar, Naidyar, Surasyar, Shahrayar, Badyar, Sehyar, Ganpatyar etc. “This bridge was the first to be constructed on river Jhelum. It has tremendous significance in the history of Kashmir and this bridge has been witness to many events of great political and social importance” says Farooq Fayaz, a teacher of History at the University of Kashmir.

As the river swiftly roars towards Nawa Kadal, this bridge reminds us about the measureless resilience that the Kashmiris are endowed with.

The boys swimming near the river cutting across the unsparing waves tell us about the vigor of both the Kashmiris and the river Jhelum.

1 comment:

sunil said...

thanks a lot fr publishing my story here
regards
jamsheed Rasool
student ,merc kashmir university
8803306757