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The Foot Prints of Our Ancestors in Tehsil Tral
Dr. Rajiv-Gairoo Niwasi, Jammu

While travelling between Anantnag and Srinagar, it is not possible to miss the grandeur of the Avantisvamin temple lying in ruins at village Avantipur, situated on the right bank of the river, Vitasta. King Avantivarman ruled Kashmir between 855 A. D. to 883 A.D. That wise king before obtaining sovereign power, built the shrine of Vishnu-Avantisvamin. And after his accession to the throne, constructed the temple of Shiva-Avantisvara. The two ruined temples have been described in detail by European travellers like Forster and Moorcroft. Cunnigham in 1848 has made efforts to identify these temples otherwise left entirely in shape of overturned and confused pile of stones. While Avantisvamin temple has been identified as the one standing in the midst of the Avantipur village and the larger one which is about half a mile to the North-West and close to the hamlet of Jaubror, has been identified as Avantisvara temple.

Further ahead, lies the village of Barus about 3 miles below Avantipur on the right bank of Vitasta. This village has been identified to be the site of Visvaikasara, mentioned in the Raj Tarangni - Chapter V. This village was visited by M. A. Stein in September, 1891 and found a fine Linga over five feet in height standing near a small Naga called Rudraganga, which was visited by the pilgrims to Amarnatha. This Linga though stood on the river bank till early fiftees of the twentieth century, it is not traceable any more. No pooja was being performed nor any rituals carried out at these three sites anymore.

A link road takes off from the National Highway at Avantipur towards south-east and proceeds to Tral. After travelling a distance of 2 kms., you come to a village Gyur-now known as Noorpora. Habitated by about 800 Muslim families and 52 Hindu families, the name itself was derived from Gauripur. In this village a fine Naga was dedicated to Mata Gauri Shori. With a large amount of pure clean water gushing out all the time, the spring was home to a large number of fish. A temple, housing the Shiva Linga seated on its ornamental stone pedestral - the Bhadra-pita, had been constructed by the side of the spring under foliage of three gigantic chinars providing shade to the temple as well as the spring. Hawan was performed annually on the auspicious day of Veth Truvah and it was not unusual to find a gold coloured fish making a round in the spring. The devotees would be blessed by having the Darshan. All the Sadhus who would be travelling on foot from Srinagar to Amarnath would make a night halt at this picturesque place and the local Hindus were always pleased to serve the Yatries.

Thank God - the temple is there, Nag is there and so are about 20 families of Hindus who ensure the upkeep. This particular village was home to one of the outstanding leaders of the Kashmiri Pandit community - Late Pt. Kashyap Bandhu, who breathed his last after drinking the Amrit from the Gauri-kund.

A kilometer ahead towards Tral is the little known Tirtha - Pap Haran - close to village Doonigund, where 3 Hindu families used to reside. Water used to flow out of a beautiful Nag and devotees from neighbouring villages would reach here on Baderpeth Mavas - also known as Derb Mavas - take bath and collect Derb for use back home. Alas! this Tirtha has reportedly been completely encroached upon.

To the east of this village taking a detour of about 4 Kms. is village Hari-Parigam. A large Ganesha is carved on the mountain rock with Sindhoor pasted on it. About 12 Hindu families lived in the village surrounding the rock temple. Yatris would visit the shrine on Ganesh Chuterdeshi.

Another 4 Kms. from this village towards Tral, a village named as Kamla is situated. A fine spring, stated to be fathomless, exists there. Shradalus (devotees) from the neighbouring villages would visit with "Tahri" on Navreh Mavas, take bath and offer Pooja. No Hindu family lived in the village and the Spring has now been completely encompassed in the premises of a neighbouring mosque.

Nearing Tral, we come across village Navdal. All Kashmiri Pandits are in know of the Mahima of this Tirtha. It is said that the Amarnath Yatra is completed only after having a dip in the holy waters of Nav-Dal. As the name goes - the Tirtha consists of Nine springs, which are drained in a single stream wherein Yatries would take bath. A large six feet tall Shiv ling was also there at the head of the large spring. The Yatra used to be accomplished on Baderpeth Chorum (Navdal-chorum). The springs are there as on date also, so is the Shiv linga but alas! nobody has been offering pooja there since 1990.

The Mahakali Asthapan at Tral was a Tirtha of great importance for the Hindus of the Valley. This very Tirtha was converted into a Khanqah and Ziarat by Shah-i-Hamdan. The Bhagwati's idol had then been placed on the bank of a small spring nearby. While the Muslims offer prayers within the Khanqah, the Hindus used to offer prayers in front of the idol placed nearby. The spring is within the Khanqah as well. But Hindus would not be permitted within.

Narasthan is a village about eight Kms. from Tral, situated in the lap of the mountains on three sides. The western side being the approach towards the valley. The Narayan-Sthan has been referred to many a time in Raj Tarangani. Out of a number of ruins, the main temple stands still. The Shiv-linga has been displaced but the stone pedesdtal - the Bhadrapeth can still be marked by the presence of a water out-flow ornamental stone resembling Gao-mukh. Pooja was not being performed but people used to sing Leelas in the name of the Narayan at Narasthan.

Narasthan Chuy Navnaran
Zeevo kon Chukh Tut Laraan
Sorrie Vat gat Rozzee Ne Laar
Kamlavati Jai Jai Kaar.

The author is a veterinarian scientist and a dedicated scholar who has grown under the guidance of the great Kashmiri Leader, Kashyap Bandhu.

Mailing Address : Dr. Rajiv Bhat, 6-B, Gandhi Nagar Extn., Jammu-180004

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