Gurez not to be missed || LIVE IMAGE


Mystery still remains unsolved, despite inquest to crack it in july 2019. The reasons for which the   foreign travellers generally preferred a long circuitous route to explore Ladhak, Tibet and Central Asia, through Gurez via Bandipor, more daring than other available options the    shortest and straight through  Zozila from Srinagar. Baffling still even the Trans Asiatic Harrdt-Cintrogen halftrack motorised expedition from Beirut to Beijing 1931-1932’, selected, Gurais to cross the Himalaya Range from Srinagar. However it did not prove a futile exercise, during search some interesting narration of the travellers cropped up, interesting and unbelievable in the present context which has become a history unheard earlier.

 Gurez is a part of Balawaristan falls in Krishanganga/Neelan valley the land of Dards . Stretching  from Sharda Peeth in the  west to  Manimarg,  in the east Mushkuk valley , Drass , Baghtor in the south . At present stands divided into two unequal parts post 1947, Gurez on  this side, while Toabat to Sharda Peeth ,  the ruins  ancient Sharda University   located called Neelun District.Between Kamri and Minimarg  as Astore District  both of them   under Pakistan. Gurez consists of two small narrow but distinct valleys Gurez   and Tilel . Trigonometry survey of the area was conducted around 1856    by a British surveyor William H. Johnson. Later he was Wazir Wazarat of the Ladhakh for about 11 years. It is encircled from     the east by Kaoal Gali, West by  Kanzalwan , from South  by Northern Kashmir Range and north  right bank of Krishangana . Elevation rises from 2300 mts near  Bagotre

to 5209 mts  to Kinari glaciers. Koabil Gali  serves the watershed  between Drass and Guerz, a small lake Kaobal  sar from which the peak derives  its name emerges and flows down, Kabulnar tributary flows   down meets Kinarigha  to form the Krishanganga river. On its right banks, it receives two prominent streams called Chhire Gha and Gautum Shey Nar and flows down towards Chawali. Whereas Manimarg drains in Drass. The Razdan Pass bifurcates it from the Kashmir valley. Makes it socially culturally linguistically altogether different from Kashmiri and has retained it till date. Shina language is spoken exclusively here. There are about 5,026 families, 37992 souls Cent per cent rural,  live in wooden houses in 29 revenue villages  divided in to three blocks. 

 The valley because of the heavy snow it receives remains cut off for about six months at a stretch of the year. While winter is extremely harsh at the same time summer become loveable pleasant affair. During summer  can be approached through a vehicular road from Bandipor crossing Razdan Pass at an altitude of 11,000 ft. Adventures traverse of foot  from Drass through Kabul Gali, at 14,000 ft, some   via Nichani Pass from Sonamargh.

 It presents a most captivating unparalleled envious beauty. In such cases the often quoted Creator has brought every art at the command to    give it a shape of the choice. A pilgrimage at least once in life for the Naturalists a must. Every third step while exploring is quite different than the first. Once known for Kuth fields, now attention focused on Black Zeera, many of the medicinal plants in the wild, presumed to be extinct, many are critically endangered.. Gurez's most formidable peak is Habba Khatoon, abound this pyramid shaped peak was named after the poet Habba Khatoon known as Nightingale of Kashmir.  Foreign travellers on the basis   of the language or from physiognomy have concluded that Dards are Aryan. Their economic activities included mining and trading gold led to the establishment of a trade route with Central Asia and China. One of the known silk routes. Active and enduring living in the most trying circumstances of climate, they are not oppressed or weighed down by them, but keep such cheerfulness as the inhabitants of the most favoured climes and countries may envy .

The disposition and bearing of the Dards is independent and bold ; they will not endure to be put upon, but stand out for their rights, and stand up against oppression as long as possible. They are by no means soft-hearted; but they are not disobliging when taken in the right way., are not bloodthirsty; meet one on even terms, without sycophancy or fear on the one hand or impertinent self-assertion on the other ;.

The dress of the Dards is woollen consists of pyjamas, choga (or gown-coat), a waistband to confine this, and lastly, a cap and chaussure, both of peculiar construction. The cap is a bag of woollen cloth half a yard long, which is rolled up outwards at the edges until it gets to the size to fit comfortably to the head, round which the roll makes a protection from cold or from sun nearly as good as a turban. For their feet they have strips and scraps of leather put under and over and round the foot, and a long thin strip wound round and round to keep all these in place. The head- dress is thoroughly characteristic of the Dards ; wherever they are scattered, and with whomsoever they are mixed up with the one exception of the Buddhist.

There are certain subdivisions of the Dard race which may be called castes, (1) Bonu.(2) Shin. (3) Yashkun. (4) Eremin. (5) Dum. There is a peculiarity of manners most strange and curious attaching to some of the Dards. The thing is this; they hold the cow in abhorrence ; they look on it in much the same way the ordinary Muhammadan regards a pig. They will not drink cow's milk, nor do they eat or make butter from it. Nor even will they burn cow dung, the fuel that is so commonly used in the East. Some cattle they are obliged to keep for ploughing, but they have as little as possible to do with them; when the cow calves they will put the calf to the udder by pushing it with a forked stick, and will not touch it with their hands. A greater, more astonishing, contrast between their way of looking at a cow and the consideration which the Hindus give to the animal would be impossible to conceive. In some places I have found other customs accompanying this. For instance, at Dashkin, 13 miles below Astor, where the people are Shin, they will not eat fowls nor touch them; in this they approach the Hindus. Here, too, was told that they have an objection to cultivating tobacco and red these restricting customs are already dying out, and that they exist mostly where there is a geographically isolated community of Shin without the other castes. Formerly they had some kind of idolatry of which know not much, nor do know at what period they were converted to Islam. It is a fact that before Nathu Shah came (say in 1842) the Astor people used to burn their dead, and not bury them as Muhammadans should. A curious remnant of the custom still remains there ,when they bury they light a fire by the grave ; it is true they will now tell you that they light the fire to keep off jackals ; this may be in some sense true, that is to say they could hardly reconcile themselves to leaving the body in its grave undestroyed, so they lit the fire as they had been used to, and this satisfied them in giving some security as against the beasts of prey and at the same time making a link with the past.." In matters of prayer and fasting they follow the Suni ways, but in creed they are Shias. The Molais drink wine, the Sunis will not. Buddhist Dards. who follow the Buddhist faith ; obey the Lamas as spiritual leaders. They wear the pigtail as the Ladakhls do, and their dress is the same as theirs, including the drooping cap figured are a dreadfully dirty people, far more so than any other tribe I have ever met with; their faces are blotched with black dirt, which they never think of removing. As a means of purifying, instead of washing, they burn twigs of pencil-cedar, and let the smoke and the scent from it come over them and inside their clothes; they do this before eating, not perhaps generally but on feast-days, and at other times when they think purification to be necessary. Earliest presence here has been traced of the Achaemenian Empire (4th century B.C). National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research of Pakistan view from the first known documented in  Chinese from the 8th century AD that "the name is most probably derived from the title Patola, the Buddhist royal dynasty which was powerful in the region from to 8th centuries AD. Hundreds of carved inscriptions in Kharoshti, Brahmi and Tibetan  carvings provide insights into the early history of Buddhism.  A council of Buddhism is believed to have been held at Kanzilwan.


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 By- Bushan Parimoo


( the writer is a jammu based environmentalist  )


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