The origin of civilized society originates in the villages, where people of different identities interact for mutual benefit, self sufficiency and autonomy. All villages outwardly appear to be similar but each has its core a soul which is as distinct as one finger print from the other. There are what are called artist villages, epic villages, shrine villages fringe villages and forsaken villages distinguished by their inhabitants and their traditions. Of these, in Kashmir the most distinctive are the Shrine villages. In every such village there is a presiding deity recognised by people of all religions on the basis of faith alone.
By Virendra Bangroo
Pulwama, is situated 32 kms from Srinagar and is surrounded in the North by Srinagar, in the West by Poonch and Budgam and in the east by Anantnag. The district Pulwama came into being in 1979 and is divided into four tehsils – Tral, Pulwama, Shopian and Pampore. There are 554 villages in the four tehsils of Pulwama. The district has a rich, cultural and historical background. The ancient temples at Awantipur, Jawbrar, Payar, Malangpora, Koil, Kakapora, Narasthan and at other places signify the rich cultural past. The famous love legend, Hemal-Nagrai is believed to have taken birth near Shopian and the legendary mystic poetess, Lal Ded was born at Padmanpora, now Pampore. The district has some beautiful tourist spots and some of the famous places are Aharbal, Kungwattan, Nagberan, Shikargah, Hurpore, Tarsar Marsar etc.
There are number of shrines associated with different villages. These shrines which are there since times immemorial, have shaped cultural and ethical identity of the villagers. Some of the well known shrines in the District are Batuknath temple Tahab; Mangleshwar Bhairav, Serun; Jagarnath Bhairav, Achhan, Serun, Jagarnath Bhairav Inder Raj Shrine, Inder.
Batuknath temple and Spring-Tahab, Pulwama
Swami Batuknath temple is situated in the village Tahab, district Pulwama. There is a spring in the village known as Vatuk Nag and is in the custody of the Muslims. The spring is 40 feet square and Muslims of that area call it Vatuksar Nag.
The temple of Batuknath is situated away from the spring within an enclosure of 60’x80′. The temple consists of a cella (Garb Griha) and a Pradikshana (circumbulatory path) covered with a conical slopping roof. In the cella is a 1.25 meters high Shivlinga. A small Dharmashala is also attached to the temple.
According to Sh. Amarnath Tikoo resident of Tahab, age 56, some 115 years back in the village of Kaed Chak was found a Shivlinga in a spring. Kaed Chak village is 1 km from Tahab and is a Muslim inhabited village. Those days there was a lone Hindu family. Head of the family was Pandit Gokul Nath son of Pandit Maheshwar Nath. He too shifted to Srinagar city. When the news spread about the finding of Shivlinga the villagers of Trisal came forward to acquire it but the Pandits of Tahab came in their way and there was confrontation between the villagers. Pandit Ramju of Tahab some how brought it from the Kaedchak village and installed the Shivlinga in the Swami Batuknath temple.
The temple was renovated in 1982 and the temple is under the Batuknath Mandir Committee. The Brother of Batuknath is said to be the Jagarnath Bhairav and his abode is at Achan village, Pulwama.
The temple of Batuknath is under active worship and still some Pandit families are living in the village.
Jagarnath Bhairav temple, Achhan, Pulwama
Village Achhan is about 7 kms from the district headquarter Pulwama on the Pulwama – Litr road. In the village is the sacred shrine of Jagarnathjee Bhairav. The shrine complex is spread on four kanals of land and consists of a temple, a spring and two Dharmashalas.
The temple proper consists of a curvilinear structure and enshrines a Shiv Linga. Besides it in the stone lined spring is an idol of Jagarnath Bhairav.
The temple was renovated in 1980’s. Pandit Nathjee Pandita son of Pandit Dharshan Lal Pandita, resident of Achhan was the priest of temple till 1990’s. Besides the daily puja, bhajans were sung on Tuesday and Saturdays.
People from far off places used to come here to perform Razkath (sacrifice given to the presiding deity). One who used to take daughter of this village was supposed to perform Razkath in the temple after marriage.
The temple is still under active worship because of the some Pandit families who are having faith on the shrine and decided to stay back whatever the consequences be.
Mangleshwar Bhairav Ashtapan, Serun, Pulwama
The village Serun is one kilometer from the district headquarter Pulwama. The village is surrounded by Monghama, Pulwama, Aashmandir and Wachapora.
In the village is the Ashtapan of Mangleshwar Bhairav. The Shrine has about 1½ kanal of land. In the shrine is a stone lined circular spring, having the diameter of thirty feet. There are four mighty Chinar trees and a Bran tree which is the sacred spot and the abode of Mangleshwar Bhairav. Name of the spring is Mong-Nag. Adjacent to the spring is a Dharamshala where many idols are kept including Shivalinga, Ganesh and photographs of Gods and Goddesses. In the centre of the spring is also a Shivlinga.
The Dharmashala was renovated in 1947 and couple of rooms added to it. Pandit Nand Lal Sharma, resident of Rohmu village used to run Pathshala in one of the rooms of the Dharmshala. He expired in 1980’s.
Bhat’s, Raina’s, Koul and Razdan’s resided in the village of Serun and Mangleshwar Bhairav was the presiding deity of the whole area. In 1980’s a mosque was built adjacent to the shrine and its land grabbed. A dispute arose and there was confrontation between the two groups. Even though there was large scale protest by the Pandits but nobody could stop them to encroach upon the land of the shrine.
In 1994 the Shivlinga was taken by the local Muslims and used for thrashing paddy. It was later on recovered and installed at its place.
Mangleshwar Bhairav Asthapan Committee, Serun was taking care of the shrine till 1990. President of the committee was Pandit Dwarkanath Koul, presently residing at Muthi, Jammu, age 70 and the secretary was Pandit Jagarnath Bhat presently residing at Muthi.
Hindus and Muslims equally had faith on this shrine till 1980’s. The first milk of the cow was offered to the spring by both Hindus and Muslims. The situation changed after 1980’s and the Muslims started parting away from their Hindu counterparts.
The Shrine was the Centre stage of the Hindu religious activities and people used to assemble here to worship and also to greet each other on festive occasions.
There are still four Hindu families left in the village Serun and in one of the Dharmashalas of the temple, J&K police is stationed.
*Virendra Bangroo, Documentation Officer, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Janpath, New Delhi.