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Pilgrim Centres/Asthapans - Potential Source of the Community
Prof. C. L. Sadhu, New Delhi

Pilgrim Centres/Asthapans/Devasthans, Temples and all places of worship are our viable, resurgent centres of religio-cultural heritage and potential source of the Kashmiri Pandit Hindu Community in the valley. Immediately after 1947, large number of Asthapans/Temples, with which were attached both cultivable and non-cultivable land and other immovable property, were largely under the control of J&K Dharmarth Trust. Swami Amarnath Shrine, Shiva Temple at Pahalgam. Ma Ragniya Bhawani Asthapan/Shrine at Tulle Mulla, Shamkarcharya Temple, Rugh Nath Mandir on the bank of river Vitasta (Jhelum) are the notable ones under its control along with host of other Asthapans/Temples with huge offerings (chadawa) all the year round besides already those in the Jammu Division.

Some few Asthapans/Temples were left to be taken care of by Suddhar Samiti Trust, purely a social organisation formed and started long back by late Shri Gopi Kishenji a renowned proponent of Kundlani Yoga Philosophy, with its full-fledged office, a destitute home, with a large ground & land housed in Shivalaya Temple, Chotta Bazzar Srinagar. Large chunk of construction land attached to the temple at Sulena (Rambagh), Cultivable land both at Nishat/Ishabar and also attached to the cremation ground Chinar Bagh (Safakadal) under its control was reported as disposed off before our migration/displacement from the valley. Purchase of a plot of land and construction of 2 rooms and a hall on it at Jammu is reported to have been undertaken by the acting President/Chairman of the Samiti Justice J.N. Bhat soon after our displacement from the valley.

With the take over of the Ramakrishna Ashrama Udhowalla, Bordhi Jammu set up of long by late Nirvan Shakti Chatanya Maharaj, by Ramakrishna Math, Belur Kolkata last year, the Ramakrishna Ashrama at Shivalaya Temple Srinagar within the premises of Suddhar Samiti Building Office Complex, constructed long back with the sole initiative of Prof. B. K. Kaul whole time devotee, is now consented to be the sub-centre of the Udhowalla Ashrama, Jammu. With honest, sincere and rentless persuation and negotiation he has been able to acquire the surplus available land of the Samiti at a cost of Rupees 5 lacs paid to the acting President/Chairman of the Samiti at Jammu.

Whereas the Samiti has added to its revenue, it is appreciable that the entire area of Shivalaya Temple complex stands now the sub-centre of R. K. Ashrama, Udhowalla, Jammu. It is suggested construction of guest-house, 3-4 rooms and a dormitory at a suitable site within the complex shall be a great relief to the bonafide devotees and for monks of Ramkrishna order and Pilgrims visiting Amarnath Shrine. Donation to undertake this work can be a supplement to the appeal already made by the secretary R.K. Ashrama Swami Girijeshananda (Vijay Maharaj) at Udhowalla Jammu.

Durga Nag Mandir at Sonwar at the foot of Shankarcharya hill with large premises, buildings and land attached to it from either side of the road is separately governed by a Trust-Durga Nag Trust which at later stage was taken care of by late Shri S. K. Kaul of Prakash seed farm, MAM Road, Srinagar. The trust owns a large chunk of saleable orchard land around Swami Ram Kaul Mandir at the foot of Hari Parbhat under its control. A suit for injection including the freeze of funds and operation therof was filed by the activists of Devasthan Sukhrasha Samiti a decade and a half back in the valley before our migration, restraining the trust in negotiating the sale of portion of land even on lease basis within the complex which by now it transpires is vacated. Shri P. N. Taku being a member of the Trust, now Mumbai based, was nominated as its new President last year. It is reported two Yagnas have been conducted after a break of nearly a decade together with some developmental work by way of cleaning of the spring and some renovation and face-lifting of the precincts since last year. It is reported the Trust has laid down foundation stone for the construction of Yatri Bhawan in October 2001 which is perfectly in consonance with the aspirations of the displaced community members because of its central location and suitability. Durga Nag Mandir with its number of buildings and a holy spring within its large premises has remained a prestigeous place of K.P's and as such its K. P. entity should by all means be ensured to remain intact.

In July issue of the editorial in Sundervani an organ of Kashmiri Sahayak Sabha Chandigarh `Call of the Valley' by Shri S. K. Kachroo, the most adventurous albeit risky tour undertaken by Sqn. Ldr. B. L. Sadhu (Retd.), Ex-President K. P. Sabha., Ludhiana, AIKS Steering Committee member at present based in Mohali, intensively involved with K. S. S. Chandigarh, who visited almost all the important Asthapans/Temples of District Srinagar in the valley, has described a desperate and dismal picture of their maintenance particularly of Ganpatyar, Zeethyar, Hari Parbhat, Shankaracharya Temple and Ma Ragniya Bhawani Asthapan Tulla Mulla. These have all become the shelter and refuges of the security forces and are safe and secure no doubt but no developmental work of any kind has ever taken at Shankarcharya or at Ma Ragniya Bhawani at Tulla-Mulla since 1990, when large number of devotees have been visiting these shrines for the last half a decade, despite the huge collection of offerings (Chadawa) by the Dharmarth Trust. It is reported that some K. P. Hindu Volunteers from A. G. Office and Civil Secretariat have formed Hindu Devotee Sanastha under Shri R. L. Bhan statistical Officer Education Department Civil Seeretariat who have recovered to the tune of Rupees 20 lakhs from the Trustees through a court case part of which is presently expended for the overall development and renovation of the shrine(s), the priority accorded to the construction of big Dharamshalla and Havan Shall at Tulla Mulla, since the existing old Dharamshallas are reported to be under the occupation of the security forces. This is to cope with the rush of pilgrims on Zesht/Ashard Asthami which has touched nearly 20,000 this year.

Recently the legislative Assembly has passed the legislation allowing of a Shirne Board for Holy Amarnath on the lines of Mata Vaishnav Debi Board which it is reported has been constituted without any K. P. representation. Holy Amarnath Shrine, the holiest shrine of Kashmiri Hindus was looked after by Maharajas during Dorga rule, later remained under the control of Dharmarth Trust governed by their descendents and presently the sole trustee is Dr. Karan Singh. At one time the shrine was under the control of local K.P's of Martand and Pahalgam. Many Kashmiri pandits working in Dharmarth Trust in the valley were actively taking care of the shrine till migration. Kashmiri Pandits have to represent strongly for a proper representation in the Shrine Board. An intensive co-ordination is required between AIKS and its affiliates Kashmiri Samiti Delhi, K. P. Sabha, ASKPC and AIKPC at Jammu along with Math-Mandir protection committee (VHP) and other religious bodies at Jammu pleading strongly the concern of the community for adequate and geniune K.P's representation to the Governor and CM as well as the BJP leadership at the centre.

Construction of Yatri Bhawan at Pahalgam and also additional huts providing the maximum ancilliary services to the yatris at Chandanwari, Sheshnag, Panch-Tarni and near the holy cave including coopter and other innovative services to the yatris may be urgently attended by Shrine Board besides the usual developmental work enroute.

In September last year, however an 11 member Mandir Prabhandak Board has been constituted by the state Government under the convenorship of Prof. Satish Raina Advisor Minority affairs for the Management and Administration of all K. P. Hindu Shrines/Asthapan/temples in all the Districts of the valley in response to our long demand after our migration/displacement. Other members of the committee are Sarva Shri. T. N. Khosa, A. N. Vaishnavi, Lala Dharam Vir Batra, P. N. Taku, A. K. Deewani, Prof. T. N. Ganjoo, Dr. Surrinder Dhar, Prof. Neerja Mattoo besides I. G. P. and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir. It is reported the Board has deliberated in a sitting convened in October/November at Srinagar/Jammu. An amount of Rupees 1 carore has been earmarked for the overall repairs and maintenance of all places of worship.

Large number of Asthapan/Temple Trustees/Committiee members who had sizeable cash balances before our migration/displacement from the valley and regularly accruing recurring revenue incomes, by way of rent proceeds owing to either occupation of rooms/premises by the security forces or Banks or Government/Private offices or small scale industrial units or employees in the urban as well as in muffasil areas, are mostly in hibernation and stand unaccountable during all these years of our exodus. Somyar temple committee/Ganpatyar/Durge Shewri/Kathli Shewer/Bhairav Mangleshewer/ Shiva Temple Rainawari/Chakreshewer/Pukhribal/ Zeethyar/Baba Dharam Dass/Shiv Temple Gaunkhan Vicharnag and host of other Asthapan/Temple Trusts/Committees are the notable instances who need now to account their transparancy and stand committed to make the first hand appraisals to the community concerning their developmental activities including their updated assets both in Cash and kind.

The Mandir Prabhandhak Board is urged to assume central status and to acquire central powers delegated to it by Legislation/Mandir Prabhandhak Board Act for the Management/Administration of all the pilgrim centres/Asthapans/Temples and other charitable trusts by forming a suitable constitution outlining the appropriate rules and regulations for the genuine K. P. Hindu representations time-frame in the Board, assuming a legal status to monitor, scrutinize and verify/check the income expenditure including the Physical verification of the movable-immovable property of the Asthapan Trusts and Mandir committees. Some important cues can be noted with reference to S.G.P Board in respect of `Sikh Gurdwaras' and also `Religious/Charitable Endowment Act.'

There are some more important Trusts/Committees and MATHS located mostly in District Srinagar and some few in District Anantnag and Baramulla as Sanatan Dharam Punjabi Sabha Trust, Lal Chowk. Within its ambit falls the control of old large Marghat Bhoomi (Cremation Ground) Karan Nagar, Srinagar/Dashnami Akhara Math (Badshah Chowk), Shrichand Chinar Math (Residency Road), Narayan Math (Rambagh), Baba Dharam Dass Math (Upper Sathu), Nirvan 108 Ishwaranandji Giri's Math (Inside Abi-Guzar) and Parabhandak Committee Nagbal Anantnag and few others. Though there have been some complaints reported as an adverse tendancy on the part of some Trsutrees and Mahants of Some MATHS in some cases being held unauthorisedly by wrong persons negotiating the sale of land/portion of land within their enclosed premises illegally and surreptitiously which urgently needs to be stopped by an ordinance through the Mandir Prabhandak Board by forming suitable constitution/laws including invoking of the relevant provisions of the Migrants Protection of Property and Maintenance Act and Distress Sales Act 1993; recommending to the state government, nevertheless the cultivable/non cultivable/orchard land within the control of these Trustees/Mahants located in remote areas of the valley which otherwise is not being looked after owing to insecurity, under the present dispensation there need be no reservation in disposing such remote assets at the prevailing market rates and under no circumstances under distress sale.

Mandir Prabandak Board is urgently needed to survey, identify and have access to the records of the Asthapans/Temples/MATHS and other Kashmiri Hindu Charitable trusts in all the Districts of the valley and locate the Managers/Management of the concerned Trusts/Committiess/Maths, some of whom are reported to be in hiberation for long. This exercise has to be attempted by the concerned Deputy Commissioners through their revenue officers at Tehsil/Block levels to be assisted by the concerned social activists living mostly as campers/non-campers at Jammu/Delhi. All records of assets both in cash and kind, cultivable, non-cultivable and orchard lands including moveable/immovable properties, under the control of these Asthapan/Temple, Trusts/Committees/Maths/Charitable Trusts needs to be consolidated and a detailed inventory prepared. The immediate priority shall be to remove and vacate the encroachments wherever made with the help of Police/Revenue Departments. Steps need to be initiated to fix and execute the rent deeds with the concerned authorities and recover the rent retrospectively wherever the security forces or other agencies have occupied the premises. The Board need to disseminate periodically the complete information in respect of the inventory prepared from time to time together with the statements of Income/Expenditure of all Pilgrims Centres/Asthapans/Temples and Maths including the description of repairs/developmental works, framing of constitution, scheme of Management and Administration of all the places of Worship/Pilgrim Centres/Trusts through Bulletins, News letters/brouchures for the general appraisal of the displaced community.


The author has worked for long as Senior research officer/Teacher Educator in the state Institute & College of Education, Srinagar and has been an executive member, long associate of ASKPC Srinagar & K. P. Sabha Jammu. A committed founder member of AIKS Trust.

Mailing Address : C/o. Cdr. Sanjay Sadhu, H-37/2, Officers Enclave Shankar Vihar, Delhi Cantt.-New Delhi-110 010
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