Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Chapter--(9 & 10) of My Mughal Road Motor Biking escapade.

Chapter--(9 & 10 of (15)

In this chapter, I am combining two chapters into one, otherwise this chapter would be a small narration, because of the reason that I have explained below.

Since today we had planned to go to “AMAN SETU (The PEACE BRIDGE)” at Uri. And the duration of this trip was planned for three days.But because of the indefinite Bandh call forced by the separatists, we couldn't move around as planned. We feel terribly sorry that we couldn't make it to “Aman Setu” the conclusion is that the “WAR BEGETS TOURISM”.

“Aman Setu”, the Friendship Bridge at Salamabad in “URI” that links Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir, has become a hot tourist attraction. Tourists come here to see the “PEACE BRIDGE” that provides a “Peace-link with the enemy”. The PEACE BRIDGE that is suppose to links the HEARTS and brought together families and trades separated by WARS.

After a gap of 57 years, Aman Setu bridge that connected Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road was thrown open on April 7, 2005, to facilitate meeting of divided families, was built with the hope as the “MOTHER OF ALL CONFIDENCE BUILDING MEASURES” aimed at restoring peace and tranquillity in the state. The first bus was flagged off by Priminster Manmohan Singh, despite strong and furious opposition from militant organizations. Where as In 2008, the bilateral trade services was started from this bridge. But in the bargain, Aman Setu turned out to be just another wet-squid. Didn't fulfil the expectations of the Kashmiri aspirants. Because of any hostilities anywhere along LOC, the first casualty is bus services that frequently get suspended for indefinitely. Traders and the commuters are unhappy and wary, because Indian Kashmiri truck drivers are taken as hostage for any custom violation done by Pakistani traders and truck drivers. In the Nut-Shell Aman-Setu remains a limping and disappointing confidence building measure?

What I am writing now, is a statement of an Indian Army officer that AMAN SETU, is not a leisure tourist spot,but  is just like any other ordinary bridge at LOC. We can not afford a casual attitude. This is not “WAGAH”, which is the International border dividing two nations and both the Armies hold together the regular Flag-Hosting ceremonies. We do not want to give the LOC the stamp of Legitimacy. India does not end here, it extends beyond the LOC and LOC is not permanent.

Srinagar-Muzzafarabad route was a part of old silk route and the Mughal route as well, and all along the route there are still many ancient sites, temples, Gurudwaras and shrines of religious and historical interests.

After nearly four days of Paralysing and holding the Kashmir valley hostage by the Separatists Bandh call. Today as the valley is back to normal, we decided to go to Gulmarg Via Naebal--Manigam--Kunzar--Tangmarg--Gulmarg to Bootapathri.

From Zeestha devi temple complex, we rode our bikes via, Dal Gate, Residency road, Lal Chowk, Hari Singh street, Kashmir Sectratre, Batmalu, Nokersar,  Naebal, Manigam, Kunzar and halted for a short time at Tangmarg.

This picture bellow is of a village called as "HOKERSAR" which is just about 8 to 10 Km from Batmalu village of the Srinagar city, In 1947, a small contingent of  Pakistan army had reached up to "HOKERSAR". Even just by one day, had Indian army  delayed Indian Air Force bombardment on Pakistani army at Baramula,  Pakistan army would have captured whole of Srinagar city.

 As per prior communication, Bushan Parimoo had intimated one of his good friend Mr. Mahmood Shokhut, chief executive officer, Gulmarg Tourism, who was in-charge of Tangmarg/ Gulmarg tourism department. Since Mr. Mahmood Shokut is a very good trekker and is very well versed with the whole area, he gave us few valuable tips of important places around Gulmarg to visit. He even helped us to arrange a hut for over night stay.

At Tangmarg we visited a village called as “Darakesi” where once upon a time the brave Gullar “Gullar Din Mohamad” Lived. This brave Gujjar was awarded “Padama Shree” by the government of India for his gallantry deed of informing Indian Army in 1965, about the infiltration of Pakistan Army personal sneaking into Indian territory disguising as Mujahideens. In the later spat of terrorism in 1990, he was shot dead by the militants to take the revenge of 1965 as an Indian Army informer.

Another Gujjar lady who was conferred with bravery gallantry award of “Padam Shree” in 1972, is Mrs. Mali from Pooch/ Jorian. She is the only woman from J&K who has been conferred with this highest honourable and prestigious gallantry award. In 1971 war she was fearlessly daring woman who helped Indian Army with very vital informations about the Pankistani army strategic movements.

Then from Tangmarg we rode towards Gulmarg which is about 10 Km distance. Road from Tangmarg to Gulmarg is full of lush green scenic  panorama of thick healthy pine trees, colourful wild flowers and zig-zag good road. It’s a blissful pleasure to drive the motor bikes on this cool breeze scenic road. It feels great when while ridding motor bikes, the cold wind hits us directly on our faces and bodies. It’s an amazing experience by itself.

Gulmarg has been a resort for the kings like Yousuf Shah Chak and who used to visit frequently. The old name of Gulmarg was "Gaurimarg", the name of Lord Shiva's wife. Yousuf Shah Chak changed its name to Gulmarg, meaning the place of roses. During the early part of the 20th century the famous Central Asian explorer Sir Mac Aurel Stein (1862–1943), made his home here in a tent between his expeditions. It was a favourite summer holiday destination for the British stationed in India.

 The surrounding areas were politically restive during a period of relative peace and quiet. The town is nestled within the imposing Himalayian peaks, and lies within miles of the Line of Control. It receives heavy snowfall during the winter season and is a popular skiers sort.

With the abatement of militancy in the area, Gulmarg has quickly become one of the state's most visited destinations. The slopes of Afarwat Hills of the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalaya Chain boast one of the longest and highest ski slopes in Asia. The total distance covered by ski lifts is five kilometres and the resort peaks at an altitude of 3,950 m (12,959 ft), accessed by an aerial gondola (telecabine). The entire hill is guarded by the army at all times. The army, which is seen everywhere in the cities of Kashmir, is not in the town or the actual hilltop. Frisking is only done midway on the access road at 3 places: Tangmarg, near an army camp on the road from Tangmarg, and 5 km before entering Gulmarg. Gulmarg does not have any permanent residents. All living in Gulmarg are hotel employees and guests.

Gulmarg is only one of the tourist spot, which is thronged by the tourist throughout the year, specially tourist in big number come here to ski during the peak winter also.

Gulmarg has one of the words highest natural Golf Grounds. Now a days the touriusium department has installed electric Cable cars, named as “Gondolas” which are 4 Km long and goes upto the hight of 12,000 feet high. From our group only Abhimanyu and Krishna availed the Gondola facility.

There at Gulmarg town itself, there is a small Shiva temple one of the small mountain peak, where lot of Hindi movies scenes are shot. Tourists have to climb about 100 steps to reach the temple.

The latest marketing strategy of whole Kashmiri valley hoteliers and the road side restaurants is that they name these restaurants as Hindu Names, such as Mahajn Dhabha, Laxmi tea stall, Gayteri fast food joint, Shakati caterers etc, etc. But in fact these are owned and run by Kashmiri Muslims. But when Indian tourists read these Hindu names and then they enter to have food. Now it is left to you guys to draw the conclusion?

We spent the night at a tourist hut where the dinner too was served to us. Next day morning after the breakfast we drove to visit “Botpatrhri”,  which is a small hamlet bordering LOC. After  few Km distance from “Botpatrhri” is POK. To visit “Botpatrhri” we had to take army’s permission at Gulmarg itself. On three side of “Botpatrhri” is surrounded by POK adjoining on Pooch, Uri and Titwal sector.

 We spent the whole day enjoying all the beautiful and serine surrounding areas around Gulmarg and “Botpatrhri”. We interacted with lot of areas Gujjar-Bakarwal villagers and their families. Next day morning after the breakfast we rode our bikes towards Anathnag.

Next chapter to be continued------------