History of Pahalgam Travel Blog
Pahalgam depicts an interesting trend with the change in kingdoms about which I have discussed further in this Pahalgam travel blog. Until 1346 AD, Pahalgam used to be a rich Hindu kingdom; later it was captured by the Muslims led by Shams-ud-Din.
Centuries later during 1586, when Kashmir was conquered by Akbar, Pahalgam was seized under the Mughal Empire. After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, it was further attacked by the Afghans and was temporarily annexed to Afghanistan until Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh captured it from Ahmed Shah Durrani. In 1846, the British took it back from the Sikhs and sold to Jammu’s Hindu Maharaja Gulab Singh against a hefty sum. Till then, Pahalgam has a mixed lineage of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim residents. Presently it falls under the administration of Anantanag District of Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir.
The average elevation of Pahalgam is 9000 feet, located centrally in the Lidder Valley. It marks the confluence of two significant Trans Himalayan rivers – the Seshnag stream and Lidderwat. The hill station is quite popular among tourists, adventure seekers as well as pilgrims for the geographical significance, natural splendour and comfy weather. Just at a pebble throwing distance there was a river and if you look up from there were ranges of snow-peaks.
HAGOON VALLEY -DIAROMA OF PAHALGAM TRAVEL BLOG:-
Archaeological excavations have confirmed human inhabitation in this belt since Neolithic age. The region had been reigned by Turks and Mughals since 15th Century AD. Indo-Turkish Army General Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat loved the ambiance of these vast meadows and named it Hagoon. Later during British Raj, it was further renamed to Hagan Valley.Another notable ruler of this region was Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin – one of the greatest Kashmiri rulers of all times who governed the valley for more than four decades. His efforts towards promoting peace and harmony amongst Kashmir’s multicultural society was noteworthy.
The height of Hagoon is approximately 7900 feet. Hagoon alias Hagan Valley is a lush green grassland full of dense vegetation (now fenced like a hill park) at a kissing distance from the gurgling waters of Lidder, around 15 kilometres uphill from Pahalgam towards northeast. The road conditions were moderately good, and it took us around an hour to reach the entrance of Hagoon. Above the main gate there was a huge hoarding where ‘Betaab Valley’ was written in bold as the name of the park. Now why the name ‘Betaab’?
Well, the film shoots of Sunny Deol-Amrita Singh starrer 1983 blockbuster ‘Betaab’ was done here and hence the name. It was so disappointing to accept the Bollywood style naming of such a historic place as nowhere we could find the original name Hagoon or Hagan Valley written anymore. Innumerable other superhit movies were also shot here earlier like Aarzoo, Kashmir Ki Kali, Kabhie Kabhie, Silsila, Satte Pe Satta etc, still why Betaab was the decider is difficult to deduce.
Whatever it is, the green splash of land is wonderfully maintained with superb scenic beauty all around. The waters of the river here is believed to have divine power and thus many of the natives still drink it without filtering. The adjacent forests comprise mostly of walnut, almond, saffron, willow, deodar, birch and pine trees.
The view of snow-capped mountains, Pir Panjal and Zanskar glaciers, colourful birds, vibrant flower beds, superfluous Lidder, ice cold streams bubbling beneath the frozen glaciers, an antique wooden footbridge, old-fashioned Kashmiri wooden benches – such a paradisiacal ambiance in totality. The panoramic vista makes it a must go place in Pahalgam circuit.
Hagoon valley is indeed a diaroma of stunning beauty in Pahalgam travel blog.
ARU VALLEY-TRANQUILITY OF PAHALGAM TRAVEL BLOG:-
Have you heard of reclining horse? Well, Aru can bet a challenge to the age-old notion that a horse never sits until its last breath. We even met a sleeping horse!! Sounds unbelievable? Well, that’s the divinity of this splash of paradise on earth.
Many of us have been to Kashmir for tourism, nature photography, film shoots, pilgrimage, romantic getaways, mountaineering, bio tours, adventure sports and river rafting. But definitely Aru Valley does not fall in the most commonly visited hotspot list. Some important treks do originate from here, but believe me, it is much more than that. Serenity, tranquility, heavenliness – would sound synonymous to Aru once you land up at this pristine meadow.
This May to beat the summer heats, we had planned an offbeat Kashmir tour, visiting some of the off-the-wall tourist destinations in the Trans Himalayan circuit. Aru was our first stopover. Located at a road distance of around 12 kilometers from Pahalgam, Aru is a picturesque valley in the lap of Mt. Kolahoi (the highest peak in this part), with a visibility of more than a kilometer during summer and spring time.
The elevation ranges approximately from 8000 to 12,000 feet above sea level and houses innumerable endangered biodiversity, flora and fauna. Though during winter months it remains covered in snow, it is relatively soothing round the year with an average temperature of around 11 to 15 degree Celsius. Surrounded by deodar, birch, pine and other alpines, Aru offers a mystic green beauty amidst snow.
It took us almost half a day to reach Aru valley, taking intermediate breaks on way. We made our way through a narrow hillside road, closely resembling a green serpent, through the dense conifers, Kashmiri villages, mountain streams and finally a pitch road which ended at the grasslands of Aru – all the way keeping Lidder River on our left. The gurgling sound of the stream, whistling cedars tuned with horse neighs created a mystic charm altogether.
Aru is one of the smallest hamlets in the Kashmir valley located in Anantnag District of Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Circumscribed by appealing snow peaks and lakes, its scenic grasslands offer a splendid view of the Himalayas. Mt. Kolahoi can be clearly seen on a cloudless morning. The trek of Kolahoi Glacier (the largest glacier in Kashmir Valley) starts right from here. Aru’s Lidderwat also serves as the base camp of Tarsar-Marsar hike and Vishansar-Kishansar trek, twin lakes at an altitude of 13,000 feet above sea level.
CHANDANWADI-COSMOLOGY IN PAHALGAM TRAVEL BLOG:-
We continued to Chandanwari Kashmir from Hagoon along the same road. It’s a spectacular high-altitude countryside in Kashmir which serves as the gateway to Greater Himalayan Range. Situated at an altitude of around 10,000 feet above sea level, Chandanwari presents snow laden peaks against a caerulean canvas. Distance would be barely 14 kilometres but since the road comprises of very steep rise and falls, it took us almost three hours with an unprecedented road blockage enroute.Chandanwari, according to me is the most beautiful place among all the places mentioned in this Pahalgam travel blog.
According to Hindu mythology also, Chandanwari Kashmir is a very significant juncture. It is said that before entering naked inside the Amarnath Cave with His consort Parvati, Lord Shiva had shredded all his possessions one by one on his way to the holy cavern. And as the religious beliefs go, Lord Shiva had removed the Moon from His hair bun (Jata) right here.
Another school of theologists preach that little higher from Chandanwari Kashmir, near Pissu Top, a fierce clash had happened between demi gods and ferocious daemons where divinity was falling short to evil. With the help of Lord Shiva’s super power, the demi gods could slaughter the highly outnumbered daemons and the heap of their corpses gave rise to the high mountains of this area which also closely resemble a seven headed mythical snake (often referred as ‘Seshnag’). Even today the standstill snow peaks, pine forests, chilly breezes and the gaudy Lidder waves stand as testimony to these mythological legends of erotic desire and blood battle, making Chandanwari Kashmir a complete tourist destination.
As we proceeded, the cold breeze was slowly becoming frosty and after a sharp turn – we discovered ourselves in a snow world. Glaciers, immensely tall snow walls like Game of Throne’s ‘The Wall’, snowlines, snow mounds – everything around was only sparkling white snow, snow and snow! The snow carpet kept getting thicker as we ascended further. The window glass became insufficient to defend the ice-cold airstreams in no time.
Undoubtedly Chandanwadi has a cosmological connection in Pahalgam travel blog.
MAMALESHWAR TEMPLE-ANCIENT HISTORY OF PAHALGAM TRAVEL BLOG:-
A big green board welcomed us to Pahalgam, the valley of shepherds. ‘Pahalgam’ literally means ‘The First Village’. It was perhaps named, as per a common mythical belief that during Lord Shiva’s way to Amarnath Cave, this small village served as His first resting point. It was here, a primeval Shiva temple is also found nearby (popularly known as Mamaleshwar Temple), He had performed a rigorous meditation for many days before heading onto His heavenly abode.
Arguably, it is perhaps the smallest and oldest temple of Kashmir Valley. It was hardly a mile away from our hotel.
The interesting name of the holy shrine was my principal interest of visit. Mythological legends say that Ganesha was appointed as the doorkeeper of this ancient temple to prevent admitting anyone inside, so that his father Lord Shiva can perform meditation without any earthly interruptions.
Ganesha performed his duty so much of dedication that he did not even allow his mother Devi Parvati to enter the temple. That is why even today, during prayer time no ladies are allowed to enter the temple beyond a certain limit. Basically, ‘Mamal’ in Kashmiri means ‘do not enter’. An interesting notice board did catch our attention the moment we stepped in.
As per historical evidences, it was built by a Muslim ruler dating back to 4th century AD who had wreathed the entire temple and shrine with pure gold. However, later rulers invaded the gold and left it at its present state since centuries.
This is a must visit temple in Pahalgam and hence, I have mentioned about this temple in this Pahalgam travel blog.
I hope that this Pahalgam travel blog is useful for tourists planning to visit Pahalgam.