By Sanjay Godbole
Kashmir is the most picturesque (full of scenic beauty) valley in the whole of the world. This province is situated on the West side of the Himalaya mountain range.Though the Southern part of Kashmir is relatively plain and even, in the Northern part of Kashmir, there are high mountain ranges, scaling heights, upto 2460 meters above mean sea level. On the North West side of Kashmir is Gligit and Hindu kush mountain ranges are extensively spread in the nearby region. The highest peak in Kashmir is in the Karakorum mountain range.The Meru Parbat, as referred to in Hindu Scriptures is situated in Karakorum pass. Since ancient and Historical times, this province had trade links with other provinces by the “Silken route”.
Afghanistan, the neighbouring country of Kashmir, has been exporting gems and other precious stones for last several centuries. There is a “Lepis” figure, crafted in the year 1500 B.C. in Egypt. The idol presently is in Vienna Art Museum of Austria. This “Lepis” stone had been exported from Afghanistan. During several excavations, beads of various colours have been reported in Pakistan. This fact throws light,as to how the gems and the precious and semi precious stones were functionally put to use,since times immemorial,as a tradition in vogue. Pakistan occupied Kashmir is a hot topic of discussion in the International Political forum . This part of Kashmir however, is now being critically studied for the gems and the precious stones found here and all the aspects of these treasures are being studied and analysed from geological survey & research angle. These discoveries of the precious stones in Kashmir are of relatively recent origin. It is also conclusively observed that the rock formations in the region of Kashmir have not been geologically studied to that degree of details, as those in Afghan region.
A few years back, in the Northern part of Pakistan, some shephards accidently came across some stones with greenish tinge; being unaware of the identification as to the value and importance of those stones, these were utilised for some other odd ends. Afterwards, these stones proved to be real emeralds. In 1999, the geological survey of France carried out in this region an extensive explorative exercise, to prospect the possibility of mining for emeralds.Some legendary stories of emeralds from Peshawar in Pakistan are also popularly famous.
That part and parcel of land, which is under control of Pakistan, has since been divided into two sectors 1) “Azad Kashmir”, and 2) Northern areas, by Pakistan authorities. The maximum quantity of minerals mined in Pakistan have been discovered from this area only. The famous gemological journal of the United states – Lepis international in its illustrated catalogue, has furnished detailed information about the potential stocks of the precious stones and gems, lying hidden in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
In Kashmir, the Krishnaganga river valley and Sharada Temple are indicative of the ancient culture existing there once upon a time. This day a gem called Neelam (Blue sapphire) is found in the mountains near Krishnaganga valley. About a century ago, a Delhi Bound traveller from Kabul had accidently found some specimen of Neelam (Saffire) due to falling of crags (Land slide). The (sapphire) of Kashmir is adjudged as the best and of Supreme quality in the whole of the world. There is a verse, which describes the qualities of the Neelam of Kashmir. Nihal Bhi Kar De Aur Sataye Bhi Buri Tarah Purnima ki Khili Chandani Mein Nilam Ki Tarif. The mountains near “Shonthar” and “Colejandar the two villages in (P.O.K.) have the reserves of Neelam. It is on account of the occurance of Neelam, the “Krishnganga” river valley is newly christened as “Neelam Valley”.
“Hunza” is an important city in (P.O.K.). Though the presence of “Ruby” was discovered here during the British regime, the mining operation did not commence then. From 1997 the mining operations, under the expert guidance of a British Scientist, “Richard Hughes” were begun. The ruby from “Hunza” occurs in the faults in the white calcite rock, and some times the ruby crystals get cracks in them. These rubies are used for making ornaments and for carvings of small size in Pakistan.
Second reserve of Ruby Stones is struck at “Nangimali” in (POK). “Nangimali” village is in the north side of Muzaffarabad and can be reached after travelling for three consecutive days. This a small village, mostly populated by peasants. Here there are mountain ranges scaling heights of 4400 meters. In these mountains there is a “Ruby Belt” which measure 1.8 K.M.long. Nangmali Ruby shows similar characteristics as those found in Burma,Myanmar. The Nangmali Ruby is having a dark red colouration and specimens upto 5 Carrats by weight have been met with here.
Apart from Rubies, an orange coloured crystal is also found here. This crystal has unique and distinctive characteristics and is found in Kashmir alone and no where else in the world. So it was christend as “Kashmirin” by experts from the West.
The gemological laboratories of the United States have made analytical tests of all the precious stones and semi precious stones of Kashmir. An illustrated catalogue of all the precious stones of Pakistan was duly published at “Tuscon” in the United States of America, These precious stones, Gems and Jewels of Kashmir were duly exhibited in American International exhibition and also in Europe and these are grabbing attention of all admirers of gems and jewels.
*(The author is a noted Archeologist based in Pune.)