Day 6, Pahalgam
This morning we were supposed to start early but we wake up with rains outside. Arvind Bhaiya has to leave for some work. He tells us an incident which again depresses me thinking about this entire façade we create for religion, easily giving up our life-long values, love, logic or education. Before Arvind Bhaiya left Kashmir, he used to stay in a place named Dhanaw. Off late some work related problems had cropped up for his wife, Rajni Bhabhi, in Arvind Bhaiya’s absence. Now when the people of Dhanaw got to know about it, they all stood in support of Rajni Bhabhi as she is the ‘Bahu’ of the village! Imagine the entire village consisting of Muslim population standing up for one Hindu lady! Again the question comes to my mind, ‘Are these the same people who forced the Pundits out of Kashmir?’
Perhaps time is the greatest evil; human beings get caught in its web, acting like puppets to the call of time.
As the rain stopped, we bid goodbye to the care taker and the cook of the bunglow and start off. Our first stop is at the river Lidder. The flow of the river is so violent that a look at it makes me nervous. Bajee and Arun are happily making plans of getting down posing in one of those big rocks! I am scared because I am sure that I am going to slip and fall down.
Finally I reach out to the rock with Bajee on one side and Arun on the other. Amused with my expressions, Bajee starts recording the moment focusing exclusively on me. As soon as I realize that Bajee is recording, I immediately start acting smart, pretending̱ to be brave and adventurous. More importantly, I stop screaming!
We spend some time there as Bajee gets busy clicking. Arun and I start collecting colourful pebbles for our small aquarium.
From there we visit the Betaab Valley. This valley is the only place where Lidder is calm and not at all ferocious. You can actually bathe here. Patches of willow trees, green all around, a vast expanse with wild flowers, cattle loitering around is all about the peaceful Betaab Valley. I have been snapped with a goat here, about which my family still pokes fun.
We have loads to catch up with but time is too less. Bajee starts planning again as the news of heavy showers keep pouring in. Finally we drop the plan to return to Jammu, and start for Mamleshwar temple. By the time we reach the temple, the sky starts clearing! We all conclude that Kashmir wants us for another day, as we walk up to the temple. A small stream is flowing there. I try to wash my hands and realise that the water is freezing! The temple ground is full of flowers, adding more colours to the surroundings.
Now we are headed to Martand. On the way, we stop to visit Bumbzoo temple inside a cave. Little off track and very less visited, the temple has now been declared as protected monument by the ASI. Most of the monuments have been taken to Srinagar but this temple has three Shiv-lingas and on top of one of the lingas, water constantly drips from the rock.
Since Kashmiri Pundits are no longer there, every Sunday a priest comes in to pray in that temple. From there we start for the Martand temple. As we approach the place we find so many abandoned houses of Kashmiri Pundits. There is one big building which used to be a school once upon a time; now it stands like a forsaken battle-ground.
In the morning I hear about an entire village full of Muslims standing up for one Hindu lady and now again I have a different picture right in front of me. Looking at the building̱ I wish again that it could tell me the untold stories buried inside those walls. The corridors once lightened up with the giggling of thousands of children now looks shattered and broken as if it never had any trace of life. These thoughts load my mind as we reach the Martand temple.
Even after insurgency, the temple has been maintained to its glory. As we enter the temple, we see springs with loads of fish swimming all around. Fishing is prohibited here but you can actually feed the fish. We bought some food for the fish, and as we start feeding them, flock of pigeons come in trying to snatch the food. It was some sight. Once the flock starts flying all around with me in the centre, Arun clicks some photographs making me look like Marilyn Monroe!
By now the sun is up and shining bright. We reach the ruins of Sun Temple. It is the same place where ‘Bismil’ song from the film Haider was shot. We enter the ruins. I am amazed to see a gigantic structure in front of me. In fact I hop on to a wall for a snap; when I check the snap I am looking̱ like a Lilliput! Here the colour of the sky and the lush green all around is ecstatic, as if someone has used his brush on the sky and the trees. Unless you see it, you won’t understand why I am raving over something so mundane.