Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Set-7 “Ancient photographs of Kashmir and It’s people”


One of the rarest picture of Begaum Akbar Jehan; wife of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in SAREE.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Chapter-8,, My Motor Biking expedition through Old Mughal Road

Chapter-8 of (15)

Today, 28th of July 2012, our plan was to Visit Shankaracharya Temple, Dal Lake, Nagin Lake, Wullar Lake and Manasbal Lake.

In Kashmir valley, 365 days, the only News that comes at any time of the day or night, that too with a lightning speed, is the”Bandh Call forced by Separatists”. Previous night by the time we slept every thing was fine and normal. But in the next morning as we got ready to go for our today’s planned trip, we were told that whole Kashmir valley has been shut down because of one of the groups of the separatists have given indefinite bandh call. That’s it, By the bandh calls, Laks and Laks of tourists get stranded and have no choice rather than frustratedly sitting cooped up in doors.

Imagine by these Bandh Calls of the separatists, the plight of the inconvenience caused to laks and Laks of tourists. Each tourist spend thousands of rupees to visit Kashmir and in the bargain, we are not able to venture out satisfy  touring Kashmir as per each ones plan. We met a group of 6 young IT professionals from Delhi, those had books a package tour of Kashmir for 5 days by paying Rs. 45,000/- each. The first day itself when they landed at the air port, they came to know that the whole Kashmir valley has been shut down by bandh call. From airport they were taken to the hotel where they were booked. And on the 5th day they flew back to Delhi even without stepping out of their hotel. Imagine their miserable plight that they spent Rs. 2,70,00/- total, and  just got cooped up in a hotel room. That is Kashmir.

Because of Bandh call given by separatist, we didn't want risking our lives by moving around on motor bikes around Srinagar city. So we preferred to move around safer areas such as Shankaracharya temple and Dal Lake vicinity only.

Shankaracharya Temple

The Shankaracharya temple is situated in the Srinagar city on the hill known as Takht-e-Suleiman. It is housed at a height of 1100 ft. above the sea level. It is believed that Raja Gopadatya son of Raja Ashoka, got the temple constructed in 371 BC, giving it the name of Gopadri. The great philosopher Shankaracharya is supposed to have stayed here when he visited Kashmir to revive Sanatan Dharma. 

This incident, which took place ten centuries ago, led to the renaming of the temple as the Shankracharya temple.  The Shankracharya remple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is thought to be one of the oldest shrine in the Kashmir valley. The temple, as it stands today, has undergone many repairs throughout its life. The first repair is supposed to have been done under the rule of Lalitaditya. The second repairs were undertaken by Zain-ul-Abideen after the temple got damaged in an earthquake. These repairs were carried out during the Governorship of Sheikh Mohi-ud-Din. Maharaja Gulab Singh, a Dogra ruler, is credited for the stone steps that form a part of the passage to the shrine. The electrification of the Shankracharya temple was done in 1925. 

The temple is of great importance, not only from the point of view of religion, but also from architectural viewpoint. A high octagonal platform supports the temple, approached by a flight of approximately hundred steps. The side walls of the steps once bore some valuable inscriptions. There is also a Persian inscription inside the temple, dating back to Emperor Shahjahan's rule. The main surviving shrine, consisting of a circular cell, provides a magnificent view of the valley below. The inner chamber of the Shankaracharya temple, after being repaired, is now covered with a modern ceiling.

How to Reach ?

Shankarcharya lies in Srinagar District across the Nehru Park: a beautiful island within the Dal Lake One can either trek to Shankaracharya Temple from the Durganag Temple lying in civillines area or alternatively can take a automobile upto the footsteps from the Boulevard road. The climb is approx. 7 Kms and then there is a flight of 100 odd steps up. the road passes through jungle and offers beautiful views all around.

Dal Lake

The Dal Lake lies on the suburbs of Srinagar in the east and is divided into four parts by causeways, namely Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin.. The lake is 4 miles long and 11 miles broad. Against the Zabarwan mountains background which is reflected in its calm expanse and enclosed by trees the lake looks superb. In summer, it is a paradise for visitors who glide over its waters in shikaras and houseboats.The Dal Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes, not only in Kashmir, rather in the whole of India. It is the second largest lake in Kashmir. The main attractions of the lake are the encircling mountains, blossoming gardens and orchards, Islands of Char-Chinar and Nehru Park, Kootar-Khana, Shikaras and Houseboats.

The embankments of Dal Lake also house a number of Mughal monuments, Maharaja’s Hari singh’s Palace, number of five-star hotels, Governars residence, Hazaratbal Mosque and the campus of the University of Kashmir. Further beautifying the scenery of the lake are two hillocks that house the famous shrine of Shankaracharya and Hari Parbat temples. Numerous houseboats line the lake, providing their guests with serene atmosphere and picturesque surroundings. The Shikaras provide ferry rides to and from the banks of the lake to the houseboats.  Scenery of this lake also consists of clusters of sloping roofed houses on its islands. Apart from being one of the greatest attractions of the valley, Dal Lake also supports the second largest industry of the region, fishing. The plethora of fishes in the lake provides occupation to a large number of people in the valley.

Sailing Shikara Shops in Dal Lake, selling Kashmiri Artifacts, Handicrafts, Silk sarees, Woollen and Pashmina Shawls,

Dal lake is located within a catchment area   in the foothills of the Zabarwan Range, which surrounds it on three sides. The lake, which lies to the east and north of Srinagar city covers an area of 18 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi), although including the floating gardens of Lotus blooms, The main basin draining the lake is a complex of five interconnected basins with causeways; the Nehru Park basin, the Nishat basin, the Hazratbal  basin, the Nagin basin and the Barari Nambad basin. Navigational channels provide the transportation links to all the five basins.

The average elevation of the lake is 1,583 metres (5,194 ft). The depth of water varies from 6 metres (20 ft) at its deepest in Nagin lake to 2.5 metres (8.2 ft), the shallowest at Gagribal. 

The shallow, open-drainage lake is fed by Dachigam-Telbal Nallah (with perennial flow), Dara Nallah ('Nallah' means "stream") and many other small streams.

Floating gardens, labelled the 'RAD' in the Kashmiri language are a special feature of the lake. They basically constitute of matted vegetation and earth, but are floating. These are detached from the bottom of the lake and drawn to a suitable place (generally to the north west of the houseboats' location) and anchored. Given its rich nutrient properties, tomatoes, cucumbers, nulkhol and melons are grown with noteworthy results.

Fishing resources
The fishing industry on Dal Lake is the second largest industry in the region and is central to many of the people's livelihoods who reside on the lake's periphery. Dal lake's commercial fisheries are particularly reliant on carp fish species, which were introduced into the lake in 1957. As a result, carp constitutes 70% of all the fish caught in the lake while the schizothonax constitutes 20% and other species account for 10%. Fishermen use a locally manufactured cast net which comprises six parts with a diameter of 6 metres. It is operated from a wooden fishing boat made out of deodar, typically 20ftx4ft in size. The gradual decline in quality of the lake water through pollution has resulted in lower fish stocks and the extinction of endemic varieties of fish. The causes for such deterioration have been identified and remedial actions have been initiated.

Since, because of the indefinite “Kashmir Bhand” we could not visit to other remaining Lakes. So I decided while just sitting and wasting my time, I better introduce all of my blog readers to the remaing important and famous Lakes of Kashmir Valley. The city of Srinagar itself is quite famous for its lakes. Peace, serenity, calm, tranquility all defines the beautiful lakes of Kashmir. Apart from that, the delightful backdrop of the lakes almost leaves you speechless.   


Gangabal Lake

The Gangabal Lake  is situated at the foothills of Mount Haramukh (the highest mountain peak in the vicinity of Kashmir valley) in Ganderbal district. Its an home to many species of fish, including the brown Trout.

The lake has a maximum length of two and a half kilometres and maximum width of one kilometre. It is fed by precipitation, glaciers and springs. The lake water outflows to a nearby Nundkol Lake and then via Wangath nallah to Sindh River.

The Gangabal lake is approached from Srinagar 45 kilometres by road via Ganderbal up to Naranag and then a trek of 15 kilometres upslopes leads to the lake, which can be covered by a horse ride or by foot. The   Shepherds and Gujjars can be seen during the trek with their flocks of Sheep and Goats. Another trek (25 kilometres long) leads to the lake site from Sonamarg via the Vishansar Lake crossing three mountain passes Nichnai pass, Gadsar pass and Zajibal pass of an average elevation of 4100 meteres.It can also be accessed through a trek from bandipore via Arin.

Religious beliefs
In Hindu tradition Gangbal is also called Harmukut Ganga, and it is believed that this place is as pious as Haridwar where Hindu pilgrims perform prayers and immerse ashes of the dead. A traditional annual three-day-long yatra has been revived by APMCC and Kashmiri Pabdits to preserve their cultural and religious history. This Harmukh Gangbal Yatra is performed annually in the month of September

Gadsar Lake

The Gadsar Lake  or the Yemsar Lake is also called as the lake of flowers is a picturesque sight, in Ganderbal district of Kashmir valley. It’s at an elevation of 3600 metres. It has a max. length of 0.85 kilometres and max. width of 0.76 kilometres. Gadsar in Kashmiri language means the lake of fishes, a natural habitat of trout and other types of fishes. The lake freezes in the month of November to April and is mostly covered by snow during these months, the floating ice bergs are seen even in summer. It is surrounded by alpine meadows full of various kinds of wild alpine flowers, therefore the lake is also called as the valley of flowers. The lake is mainly fed by melting of galaciers. The Gadsar Lake out flows through a stream flows north westwards and joins Neelum River at Tulail.

The Gadsar Lake is situated 108 kilometres northeast from Srinagar city. From Naranag a 28 km alpine track leads to the lake. Another track of 41 km northwest from Shitkadi Sonamarg Via Vishansar Lake and Krishansar Lake leads to the Gadsar Lake crossing two mountain passes of Nichnai and Gadsar of more than 4100 meters above sea level. The best time to visit is from the month of June to September.

Gadsar, the lake of death
The Gadsar Lake is also named as Yemsar which means the lake of demon and is referred as the lake of death. A myth still unresolved. The Shepherds grazing their folks in the outskirts of Gadsar lake during summers believe that, there lives a  Lake Monster, a freshwater Octopus which drags the creatures from shores by its tentackles into the water. There is an uncertainty in the minds of visitors, a kind of threat which prevents them going near the shores. The Shepherds also chose otherwise grazing their folks at the shores of the lake. There has never been any attempt made by anyone to find the reality. The fishes are being caught outside the lake in a stream from which it flows out.

Krishansar Lake
The Krishansar Lake  is an alpine high altitude  situated in the vicinity of Sonamarg less than one kilometre from Vishansar Lake north westwards at an elevation of 3710 meters. It has a maximum length of 0.95 kilometres and maximum width of 0.6 kilometres.

Krishansar in Hindi means the lake of Lord Krishma. It is home to many types of fishes among of which is the brown trout. It freezes during winter, and is inaccessible during this season due to heavy snowfall. It is surrounded by green lush meadows and attracts local shepherds who graze their flocks of sheep and goat during summer.The Krishansar Lake is adjacent to Vishansar Lake , at its back are the mountains standing covered with snow in which lies the Gadsar Pass, a mountain pass which leads to the Gadsar Lake. The lake is a famous trekking site in the Kashmir valley  . It is mostly fed by melting of snow and glaciers. It drains out through a small stream which falls into the Vishansar Lake and gives rise to Neelum River;

The Krishansar Lake is situated 115 km. northeast from Srinagar and 35 km from Shitkadi Sonamarg. From village Shitkadi ponies can be hired to cover an alpine trek of 35 km to reach the Krishansar Lake, which takes a complete day of trekking passing Nichnai Pass of 4100 meters above sea level. The Gadsar Lake is some 9 kilometers in the north westwards. The best time to visit the lake is from the month of June to September.

Nundkol Lake

The Nundkol Lake  also known as Kalodaka Lake is situated in the in Garderbal district The Nundkol Lake lies at the foothills of Mount Haramuhk (5,142 metres (16,870 ft)). TheGangabal Lake  which is bigger and at higher elevation lies 1.5 km to the north of the lake. Surrounded by the lush green meadows, the banks of the Nundkol Lake serve as the camping site during the summers. Nranag is the nearest settlement and serves as the base camp for trekking to the lake.

The Nundkol Lake is fed by Gangabal Lake and the melting glaciers of the Mount Haramukh. It gives rise to Wangath Nallah, the major right tributory of the Sindh River
During the winter, the Nundkol Lake freezes and is covered by heavy snow. In the summers, the basin of the lake is surrounded by a sheet of alpine flowers those are found in late spring throughout the area around the lake.
The Nundkol Lake is stocked with trout among of which is the  brown trout. The fishing is permitted to the licensed anglers.

The Nundkol Lake is accessible only during the summer; during the winter, the treks are closed because of the heavy snowfall. It can be reached from Srinagar, via a 65 km motorable road which leads through Ganderbal and wayil to the Naranag trekking camp. The alpine meadows of Trunakhul and Badpathri lies at the halfway point of this two-day trek to the lake. An alternate trek starts from Chattergul village, 10 km to the west of Naranag which leads through the meadows of Mahlish. The lake can also be accessed through Bandipora and the five-day trekking starting point is Arin. Tourists prefer Naranag trek and return via Gadsar Lake, Vishansae Lake and Sonamarg to cover most alpine lakes of the area.

Satsar Lake

The Satsar Lake or Sat Sar (literal English translation: “the seven lakes”) consists of seven small alpine lakes situated in the Kashmir Valley in Ganderbal district.

The Satsar Lake consists of seven small lakes connected with each other, set in a cascade formation. The lakes are situated in a narrow alpine valley stretching from north to south and spread over 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) distance with a width of 1 kilometre (0.62 mi). The lakes of gangabal and Nundkol lie on the opposite side of Zajibal pass (4,041 metres (13,258 ft)). The Satsar Lakes are surrounded by lush green meadows which are home to shepherds during summer and serve as a camping site for tourists. Naranag is the nearest settlement and serves as the base camp for trekking to the lake in the summer.

The Satsar Lake is mainly fed by melting snow. During the late summer and autumn, two or three lakes usually dry up, depending upon the precipitation. These lakes give rise to a stream which disappears and flows underground, from the sideby glacier a stream originates and flows down southwards and falls into Wangath Nallah through Churnar which is the major right tributory of the Sindh River.

During the winter, the Satsar Lakes are covered by heavy snow. The basin of the lake is surrounded by a sheet of alpine flowers are found in late spring throughout the area around the lake.

All seven lakes are stocked with trout, mainly brown trout. Licensed anglers are permitted to fish in the lakes, although permission has to be obtained from  Srinagar in advance.
The Satsar Lakes are accessible only during the summer; during the winter, the treks are closed because of the heavy snowfall. Satsar can be reached from Srinagar, via a 65 km motorable road which leads through Ganderbal and Wayil to the Naranag trekking camp. The alpine meadows of Trunakhul and Badpathri and the lakes of Nundkol and Gangabal lie along the route. An alternate trek starts from Chattergul village, 10 km to the west of Naranag, which leads through the meadows of Mahlish. The lake can also be accessed through  Bandipora and the six-day trekking starting point is Arin. It can also be accessed through Gurais via Tulail. Tourists prefer to take the Naranag trek and return via GadsarLake, Vishansar Lake, and Sonamarg or vice versa to cover most alpine lakes of the area.


Konsar Nag is nearly two day trekking from Shopian town. The Acchabal waterfall is created by the water of “River Vishav” and the waterfall has a height of nearly 100 feet.  The source of River Vishau is from the “KONSAR NAG” (Nag in Kashmiri language means Lake), which lies in-between the three peaks of “PIR PANCHAL” Ranges. This Lake is situated at a altitude of 12,800 feet above the sea level and is fed by the surrounding glaciers of “PIR PANCHAL” ranges. The alpine meadow of Kungwatan lies at the halfway point of the two-day trek to the high-altitude Konsurnag Lake, which is the source of the Veshu River.

Vishansar Lake

The Vishansar Lake is an alpine high altitude lake situated in the vicinity of  Soanmarg at an elevation of 3710 meters. It has a maximum length of 1 kilometer and maximum width of 0.6 kilometers.

Vishansar in Pahari means the lake of Vishnu is home to many types of fishes among of which is the brown trout. It freezes during winter. During the summer season, the lake is surrounded by green lush meadows where local shepherds graze their flocks of sheep and goat. The Lake with its scenic beauty, snow covered mountains and their gorges filled with small glaciers and the meadows around, with alpine flowers is an attraction for the trekkers in the Kashmir valley. It is fed by the Krishanasar Lake and glaciers. The Vishansar Lake is the source of Neelum River which flows northwards up to Badoab and then westwards through Gurais along the Line of control. TheGadsar lies some 9 km in west crossing Gadsar Pass.

The Vishansar Lake is situated 115 km. northeast from Srinagar and 35 km from Shitkadi Sonamarg. It can be accessed from Srinagar 80 km by road  up to village Shitkadi from which ponies can be hired to cover an alpine trek of 35 km which takes a complete day of trekking and one has to cross the Nichnai Pass of 4100 meters above sea level. The best time to visit the lake is in the month of June to September

Wular Lake

The Wular is the largest fresh-water lake in India and according to some, perhaps in Asia too. It is 121 miles long and 5 miles broad. It lies to the north-cast of the valley with mountains overlooking it.Wular Lake (also spelt Wullar), Wular Lake.

Wular Lake - is the largest fresh Water Lake in Asia, towering mountains surround it. The Jade Green Waters swirl gently around a curious, bubbling spring in the middle of the lake.One of the largest fresh water lake in Asia, is in Bandipora district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The lake basin was formed as a result of tectonic   activity and is fed by the Jhelum River. The lake's size varies seasonally from 12 to 100 square miles (30 to 260 square kilometers). Boating, water sports and water ski have recently been launched by the Government of India Tourism in collaboration with Kerala Tourism and J&K Tourism. The contract for the operation of the site was awarded in September 2011.

Killing Demons-picture taken during 19`5

In ancient times, Wular Lake was also called Mahapadamsar (Sanskrit: महापद्मसरः). Nilamata Purana also mentions it as 'Mahapadmasaras'. Mahapadamsar is referred as Bolor by Al-Biruni {960-1031 AD}. The lake, with its big dimensions and the extent of water, gives rise to high leaping waves in the afternoons, called Ullola in Sanskrit; meaning stormy leaping, high rising waves. Therefore, it was also being called 'Ullola'. Its corrupted form saw its transition as ‘Bolor’ by Al-Biruni and over the centuries corrupted further to ‘Wulor’ or ‘Wular’. The origin may also be attributed to a Kashmiri word 'Wul', which means a gap or a fissure, appellation that must have come also during this period. The word Wul {Gap or fissure}, is also indicator of its origin to a fissure or gap created.

The lake is one of the 23 Indian wetlands designated as a Ramsar site. However it faces environmental threats including the conversion of large parts of the lake's catchment areas into agriculture land, pollution from fertilizers and animal wastes, hunting of waterfowl and migratory birds and weed infestation in the lake itself.

Wular Lake is an important fish habitat, the main species being the Common carp (Cyprinus carpio), rosy barb (Barbus conchonius), (Gambusia affinis), Nemacheilus species, crossocheilus latius, and various snowtrout species.

Fish from Wular Lake make up a significant part of the diet for many thousands of people living on its shores and elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley . More than eight thousand fishermen earn their livelihood from the lake, primarily fishing for the endemic Schizothoraxspecies and the non-native carp. Their catch comprises about 60 percent of the total yield of fish in Kashmir. Hundreds of other local villagers are employed by cooperative societies that trade the fish catch. More than 8,000 fishermen earn their livelihood from Wular Lake. Many other families harvest plants such as the grass Phragmites and the waterlily-like Nymphoides from the lake for animal fodder.

The Kashmiri sultan Zain-ul-Abidin is reputed to have ordered the construction of the artificial island of Zaina Lank in the middle of the lake in 1444.

Sheshnag Lake

Sheshnag Lake  is an alpine high altitude situated at the track leading to Amarnath cave 23 kilometers from Pahalgam. It is at an elevation of 3590 meters. It has a maximum length of 1.1 kilometers and maximum width of 0.7 kilometers.
According to the Hindu mythology Sheshnag means the king of snakes and the lake was dug by Sheshnag himself.  It is believed by the Hindus that Sheshnag stays in this Lake even today.  It is one of the most ancient places of pilgrimage for the Hindus, as it lies on the track of Amarnath Cave.

Sheshnag Lake is home to many types of fishes among of which is the brown trout. It freezes during winter, and is inaccessible during this season due to heavy snowfall. It is surrounded by green lush meadows and mountains covered by snow. Sheshnag Lake is one of the famous tourist destination in  Kashmir valley. It is mostly fed by melting of snow and streams coming down from mountain tops. It drains out through a stream which joins Lidder River at Pahalgam.

Sheshnag Lake is situated 120 kilometers east from  Srinagar and 23 km from Pahalgam. It can be accessed 113 km by road up to Chandanwari from which ponies can be hired to cover a trek of 7 km upslope to reach the Sheshnag Lake. Amarnath Cave is situated 20 kilometers north of this lake. The best time to visit the lake is from the month of June to September

 Nagin Lake

Nagin Lake, though sometimes referred to as a separate lake, is actually part of Dal Lake, being linked through a causeway The lake is bounded by the Shankaracharya hill (Takht-e-Suleiman) on the south and Hari Parbat on the west and is located at the foot of the Zabarwan hills.
Nagin Lake, a subsidiary of the Dal Lake, is regarded as a separate lake. Swimming, diving and boating are some of its major attraction. Its picturesque locales consist of Shankaracharya hill, Hari Parbat and a number of willow and poplar trees along its banks.
Nagin Lake of Kashmir is an offshoot leading from the Dal Lake. The Nagin Lake is located to the east of the city, at the foothill of the mountain Zabarwan. On the edges of the Nageen Lake are a number of willow and poplar trees. The reflection of these tees in the water of the lake lends it a beautiful view. Surrounded by Shankaracharya hill (Takht-e-Suleiman) on the south and Hari Parbat on the west, the Nagin Lake of Kashmir presents a charming sight. Shikaras, ferrying people to and from the lake, are a fascinating feature of the lake. Bathing boats as well as water-skis and motor launches are also available for hire at the lake.

Manasbal Lake
Located approximately 28 km from Srinagar is the charming Manasbal Lake. It is one of the largest natural haunts of aquatic birds In Kashmir. Manasbal lake is the deepest lake in the country. Its greenish-blue waters are wondrous and beautiful.

Manasbal Lake is located in the Jhelum valley, north of Srinagar city in the State of Jammu and Kashmir in India. The name Manasbal is said to be a derivative of the Lake Manasarovar. Lake is encircled by three villages viz., Jarokbal, Kondabal (also called Kiln place, is situated on the north-eastern side of the lake) and Ganderbal and is stated to be the deepest lake (at 13 m/43 ft depth) in the Kashmir valley. The large growth of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) at the periphery of the lake (blooms during July and August) adds to the beauty of the clear waters of the lake. The Mughal garden, called the Garoka, (meaning bay window) built by Nur Jahan overlooks the lake.

The lake is a good place for birdwatching as it is one of the largest natural stamping grounds of Aquatic birds in Kashmir and has the sobriquet of "supreme gem of all Kashmir Lakes". The rootstocks of lotus plant which grows extensively in the lake are harvested and marketed, and also eaten by the local people.

Anchar Lake

Situated amongst scenic surroundings, the Anchar Lake is best enjoyed with the help of a Shikara. The lake serves as a bird watcher's paradise. A large number of exotic bird species can be seen here.