No one knew that a peaceful place such as the shrine of Baba Qadir would also be engulfed by the winds of hatred that had suddenly erupted and the game of ugly sequences was about to begin!
-‘36 years back when Jammu and Kashmir was about to be taken over by the flames of terror some sagacious men thought of constructing the shrine of Baba Qadir. It was completed but since then bore a deserted look since no one ventured there. No one could have because the fear spread as a blanket of smoke thick with horror riding fast and with fury. A beautiful place was about to be devastated and it was but now things are changing as they always do and they are for the better’.
‘Kupwara is the backward frontier District of Kashmir Valley, full of scenic beauty. Dense forests and rich wildlife make it significant from a tourism and wildlife point of view. Nature has been very kind to Kupwara. District Kupwara was carved out from erstwhile District Baramulla in the year 1979. The North West part of the District is bound by Line of i Control (LOC) while the southern portion is bound by the District Baramulla. There are three bad pocket areas, namely, Machil, Keran and Karnah located near LOC which remain land locked for more than six months in a year. There are some other areas located at barbed wire distances and remain cut off from District Headquarters for a considerable time, like Kumkadi, Lashdat, Jumgund, Kethanwali and Budnambal. But that is all due to the extreme vagaries of weather but two very different and distinct set of species stay here, I will love to call the tough ones one are the locals referred to as Awaam and the other is Jawaan the men in olive greens always standing upright for the people. Needless to mention the bond is unique but still a relationship which binds together every Indian with an invisible strand called as love’!
-‘This shrine is the place where our divine cores come to steady resonance with the good universe. I do not know how far it is but the truth, what I have come to know about the shrine is something amazing and bewildering. The people here invariably say that their conscience tells them here that you have to wake up. You have to wake up, and soon. It isn’t just you either, everyone needs to awaken. Forget Who am I? Don’t worry about that now, we’re going to get to know each other really well. Time to begin, there’s a lot of wool to pull from your eyes. They add on that the voice is eternal and it keeps rupturing the ear drums. It is soothing, mellifluous and full of joy. We want to be at this shrine always and every time’.
-‘ It was long back in the early 2000’s when we journalist friends decided to go to do stories since there were plenty available in this beautiful locale which I had visited in my childhood when my father commanded a unit here. Anyway everything looked changed, had to by all means. There was plenty of modernization but all wrapped in indecent cloaks of fear. The curving and turning roads with men in camouflages moving with eyes balls roving as the hips swayed on the move perhaps conveying to the onlookers, If you don’t know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn. They are still telling the same to the youth. The second thing and the most pertinent one is to learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness. I think Baba Qadir would have also been saying the same’!
-‘That is perhaps why the people and the Indian Army got together to renovate the shrine because it has a magical aura about it. The magnetic effect that can engulf even the wildest of the paralyzed brains. Trust me it can do that’!
By the way Kupwara is a place of some very big shrines and I’m not exaggerating the same!
Every place has a legend and Kupwara is no different. The ancient story ascribes the origin of Kupwara , Kupwara and Kashmir to a mythological King Putraka who created Kupwara, Kupwara and Kashmir by magic for his queen Patali, literally Trumpet flower, which gives it its ancient name Pataligrama. It is said that in honor of the first born to the queen, the city was named Pataliputra. Gram is the Sanskrit for village and Putra means son. Kupwara , Kupwara and Kashmir From a scientific history perspective, it would be appropriate to surmise that the history of Kupwara , Kupwara and Kashmir started around the year 490 BC when Ajatashatru, the king of Magadh, wanted to shift his capital from the hilly Rajagriha to a more strategically located place to combat the Licchavis of Vaishali. He chose the site on the bank of Ganges and fortified the area. From that time, the city has had a continuous history, a record claimed by few cities in the world. Gautam Buddha passed through this place in the last year of his life, and he had prophesized a great future for this place, but at the same time, he predicted its ruin from flood, fire, and feud. All the three sometimes or the other did happen and people of Kupwara are testimony to the fact.
I’m not a historian and nether am I an extravagant tourist but I can say that chronicler of modern history would be the right word with references from the past. Though many in humanity have lived through the ages in Kupwara and vanished but still stories survive, some written and some unwritten but time travels on and the speed is immaculate. Human beings needless to mention have failed to keep up their speed with time and hence Chronos the Greek God of time was not wrong. Obviously God cannot be. Chronos, the God of time is usually portrayed with white hair and white beard. Chronos is a character in Hesiod’s myth and the Orphic cosmogony. He débuts, with his mention in around 700 B.C. and usually ends at around the 9th Century. But this is mythology but in modern times, (say just a century back) though various locksmiths and different people from different communities invented different methods for calculating time, it was Peter Henlein, a locksmith from Nuremberg, Germany, who is credited with the invention of modern-day clock and the originator of entire clock making industry that we have today. Clocks do tell us what the time is exactly. Many came and many vanished but legends survived all through the ages. So did this shrine which needed desperate repairs since people were attached to it? Who would have done it? It had to be not to be a forgotten species of mankind. The Awaam and a Jawan. For the former it was a need and for the latter a duty to keep the forgotten element of brotherhood alive! The Indian Army showed it once again and that is, ‘things that have to be done will be’! No hassles here!
I will always quote a girl here from Handwara, with a constant nose flowing, Rhinorrhea should be the exact word. Name was Kounsar but she had a habit of always speaking the truth. Not good at studies, hopeless in English and always lost the way in heavy Urdu vocabulary. No one liked her in that time a developing place Baramulla but still lost in dichotomies and the college there. Even worse, her subject was mass com! But she had the determination. The people from District Kupwara are a determined lot and I knew it from childhood when my nose was flowing and my mother offered me towels and handkerchiefs. That day I saw myself being a kid but no one to offer a handkerchief. In the class of illustrious she was the only one with a page of her copy book but determined to keep the nasal flood at bay. I never knew she would teach me so much about the district but she did! Now mother of three but still a kid for me she moves on but so does that lovely nose. I do find time to tease her, ‘kam se kam handkerchief toh le lo!’ That time a brother did it and now husband and her elder daughters’! She was the one who told me about such sensational places like Badrakali, Bangus, Drangyari, Jabdi, Keran Valley, Lolab Valley, Machil, Muqam Shah Wali, Redi and Reshwari. But now the Indian Army was adding on to the list. How they did it I will tell you:
The ‘Awaam & Jawan’ initiative saw locals from Kupwara working alongside Indian Army personnel to restore Qadir Baba Ziarat. The shrine was renovated for the first time in 36 years since construction in 1985
The Indian Army reopened the door of the newly renovated and restored Ziarat Qadir Baba in Hirri, Kupwara to the public.
The shrine was in a dilapidated condition due to lack of restoration work. Kupwara Terriers (great name and great deeds, come of it we in uniform also love names such as Hulk, Godzilla or terrier) carried out the work for the first time in 36 years to restore the shrine to its original pristine state.
The ‘Awaam aur Jawan’ initiative saw the locals work hand-in-hand with Indian Army personnel to work on the ‘mehfil’ (main courtyard) as well as painting, decoration and illumination of the shrine.
This renovation work was an effort by Kupwara Terriers to pay tribute to the authentic and ethnic Sufi culture being practiced by local people, to preserve Kashmiriyat and thereby facilitating manifestation of Islamic Sufism in the Kashmir Valley.
To mark the occasion, officers and Jawans of Kupwara Terriers presented a chaddar (auspicious green cloth of reverence) and a dry fruit basket.
Following traditional Kashmiri culture, as hosts, Kupwara Terriers served tea and local Kashmiri bread ‘Bakar khani’ to the visitors. Local artists known as ‘Bhaand’ (Gulgham singers) performed sufi songs which elevated the atmosphere.
I perhaps told the readers that I’m a history fanatic, Bakar Khani too has a history. Although most popularly eaten in Old Dhaka, where it is an authentic tradition, the makers of bakorkhani tend to have roots in Sylhet. Many rebellious Afghans migrated to the Sylhet region during the Baro-Bhuiyan period as it was seen as a safe-zone for them due to the strong insurgency of rebellious chieftains. The final Afghan ruler, Khwaja Usman, was defeated by the Mughals in 1612 and the remaining Afghans surrendered though continuing to live in Sylhet. The rebels which were captured by the Mughals were made to serve a type of bread associated with their Afghan culture (which would later be known as bakorkhani). As Dhaka was the capital of Mughal Bengal, people from all over Bengal, including Sylhet, would migrate there seeking employment opportunities. The elites of Dhaka had good relations with the upper-class families of Sylhet, and transport between these two regions were common. Many Sylhetis who came to Dhaka started making this bread which they supposedly learnt from the Afghans which lived in Sylhet. Many of Dhaka’s bakorkhani sellers even today originate from the Sylhet Division. The same became popular in Kashmir with Khus-khus dominating the affairs in the blast furnaces! They still are!
By the way there is also a love story with it!
Also present at the opening were Arif Bilal, Mohd Ramzaan (son of Qadir Baba) as well as villagers from Hirri. The elders were appreciative and praised the Indian Army for their noble effort and asserted that such initiatives go a long way in restoration of peace and tranquility in Kashmir Valley.
This event proved one thing, the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Everyone felt it when the shrine was built up yet again. In 1985 it could have been ruined but the emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it and now it stands as an attraction to the eyes who thought that it could never be remade again! The Indian Army proved that it could be!