Monday, June 28, 2010

Octroi Post-Indo-Pak Border

Pakistan- I hope all thats between us would be solved ot atleast take a back seat and we could live as neighbours should live. Will the day dawn when we could walk down one such border post into Pakistan, go to the Indus valley sites of Mohenjodaro?

I hope it happens.

Never the less we are at the Octroi border, near the Suchet Garh village. A very short distance from Jammu. This post is devoid of all the glamour associated with the Wagha Border and is a silent place, with farmers grazing the land on both sides and the birds chirping (yes from both sides -they know no border)
The  milestone says Sialkot 11 km (someone remarked- this is where Sania Mirza lives now)

Entry through the above gate brings to this last point

Friday, June 18, 2010

AMBARAN-An ancient buddist site

It was  ecstatic  to learn of Ambaran- an ancient Buddhist ruins of Kushans and Gupta dynasties. Located a few kilometers away from Akhnoor on the banks of the Chenab. Excavations suggests  four different periods of existance-the pre kushans period (second century BC), The Kushans period, the Gupta and the post kushans period.

The site at Ambaran-excavated at different levels
Many a terracotta heads and a gold casket containing the relics of the Buddha were unearthed here and are exhibited in various museums of the world.

Some coins, terracotta beads and other articles of Kaniska- the great Kushan Emperor unearthed her are exhibited in a small room along with some photographs of the excavation.

For some one with deep routed interest in archeology, a visit to this virgin site (I call it so because the excavation are on and fear, one fine day they may construct or recreate-this I feel is sacrilegious) is enthralling.

The base of the Stupa covered by tarpaulin sheets to save it from the vagaries of the weather. Hope the rain does not disintegrate the structure

Monday, June 14, 2010

Akhnoor- Glow of the Eye

When I did my  research for ancient sites around Jammu, I stumble upon Akhnoor and to my surprise I learn Sites concerning Indus valley civilisation are at Akhnoor, and then  the romantic epic of Sohni-Mahiwal was said to have taken place here ( with both drowning in the Chenab).
A Strategic located place, just about 40 kms from Jammu, along the might Chenab, used to be the Mogul route  Srinagar.  It takes little more than a hour from Jammu, mainly because of the many barricades and check point put up by the Army. Because of the close proximity to the Pak-border, security in this area is quite intense.
Emperor Jahangir-passionately in love with Kashmir died on the way to Srinagar near here. We were told stories of Pandav's serving their Agayat Vas here, the presence of King  Virat's palace. Previously called Virat nagar, the change to Akhnoor (glow of the eye) is attributed to the Mogul Queen being cured of a eye ailment by a priest here .
The Imposing fort built on  the hilltop is said to be on a previous terrace of the Harrapan civilisation. Excavation in the fort are purported to support this, Unfortunately there were no guides to explain this. A walk down the fort leads to the Pandav Guha-the cave where the pandavs hid.

Panoramic View of the fort across the river Chenab

The interiors of the fort

A priest cooks his lunch of cabbage in one of the temples- he is the one who narrates most of history to us

The Steps of the Gurudwara leads to the Chenab

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jammu_The Temple Town

Jammu is called the temple towns for the umpteen number of temple seen every where. This town serves as the base camp for devotees to Vaishno Devi, Tourists and locals to Srinagar and Leh, Ladakh and off course our Troops-who are dispatched all over the valley from here.
In this process not many view Jammu from the tourist angle. We too couldn't see the Bahu Fort (I have seen the photographs they are amazing), An ancient Shiva temple nearby, 'coz we had kept it for the last and then finally missed it.
With Jammu as base we visited lots of interesting places: The Octroi Border, Aaknoor, Vaishno Devi, Patni Top etc.

The Raghunath Mandir in the heart of the town-is a  sprawling temple complex surrounded by the markets full of shops selling dry fruits, carpets, Rajma, Pasmina shawls ets.

Raghunath Mandir                                                                               Pasmina stole on dispaly

The revolving restaurant (KC residency) nearby gives a very good view of the whole city , and serves good non-vegetarian food too.

The one place not to miss, is the war recently constructed war memorial. Constructed atop a hill top- A dagger like structure, surrounded by sprawling gardens and sand stone columns with the names of the Martyrs in the various wars fought by India engraved on them . Come to the Kargill war section and one can see the many familiar names of soldiers. The atmosphere here is very sacred, with patriotic songs in the background-leaves one with goose pimples and a lump in the throat.

An evening view of the War Memorial