Sunday, January 31, 2010

Surankote Valley in Jammu kashmir

Surankote valley is located in between the mountainous range of Pir Panchal (15600 feet) and Rattan Panchal (8600 feet). Due to its natural atmosphere, attractive scenic spots, snow clad mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes, streams, water falls, glaciers, lush green dhoks, meadows, margs and charming climatic conditions, the valley of Surankote is known as Mini Kashmir of Jammu province. The renowned Urdu writer Late Krishan Chander who had passed his child hood in Poonch area in early thirties has compared Surankote valley with Pahalgam of Kashmir in one of his books. He further wrote that Suran Valley is more beautiful than Pahalgam because it is free from pollution and evils of modern society; the nature is more attractive, exposed and handsome in this valley.      ( Merigold Flowers in jammu )

Surankote township is exactly 27 kilometers in the eastern side of Poonch city and 221 kilometers away from winter capital Jammu. The valley comprises of 43 villages having the status of a Tehsil of district Poonch which was created in 1980 AD. The total projected population of the valley is 1.27 lacs which includes Paharis, Gujjars, Bakerwals and Kashmiri speaking people. 24 villages are located at the slope of main Pir Panchal ranges while 19 villages are existing on the slopes of Rattan Panchal range. The climatic conditions resemble with that of Kashmir valley.     ( Upanayan Sanaskar )

As per Raj Rajtarangni of Kalhan, Surankote valley was known as Savarnik in ancient times. There is a reference of Mula Arjun the Raja of Loharkote Poonch who was detained in Savarnik by the Thakur Jagika (in between 1128-1149 AD) on the orders of Raja Jai Singh of Kashmir. In 11th century AD Savarnik was known for two important forts i.e. Prithvi Pal Fort and Raj Giri Fort. These forts were constructed by Raja Prithvi Pal of Rajpuri (Rajouri) for the defence of Kashmir. The forces of Pal Raja's were stationed in these forts. In 1015 AD during the unsuccessful invasion of Sultan Mehmood Gaznavi on Kashmir, his forces were compelled to retreat from Savarnik Poonch and Rajouri area by the forces of Kashmir and Pahari Rajas of Poonch and Rajouri. In 1036 AD Albruni had visited Rajouri with Emperor Masood (the son of Mehmood Gaznavi). He wrote in his book Indica that these forts were constructed to defend Kashmir by the Pahari Rajas. Since the forts in local languages are known as Kot therefore the whole valley came to known as Savarnik kot. With the passage of time the name changed from Savarnik kot to Surankote. As per Tuzak-e-Jhangiri and Iqbal Nama Akbri, the construction of Mughal road was taken up in 1612 AD by an Irani Engineer Ali Mardan Khan in Suran valley from Rattan Pir to Pir Panchal pass on the order of Emperor Jahangir. With the opening of this road for Mughal caravans, a number of Pacca Sarais, Baradaries, Mosques, Hamams, Marhs etc were also constructed in this valley for the convenience of Mughal caravans. Emperor Jahangir for the first time entered Suran valley in 1612 AD while going to Kashmir. He visited 13 times this area. In 1619 AD, Emperor Jhangir while returning from Kashmir halted at Behramgala for relaxation and fell seriously ill. The Mughal caravan immediately rushed towards Lahore, but Emperor Jhangir took his last breath between Behramgala and Dera Ki Gali in Poonch area. Therefore Suran valley remained centre of great hustle and bustle during the period of Emperor Jahangir.

Renowned traveler G.T Vigney while going to Kashmir had visited Suran valley in 1841 AD. He wrote in his book 'Travelers of Kashmir' and Sikam that he had passed a night at Surankote where an old castle was existing in the valley. C.E Bats who visited this area in 1872 AD describes in his book 'The Gazetteer of Kashmir' that Surankote contains a Thana in which military force is usually quartered. There was a bunglow for travelers in the north of the Surankote. A path from this place was leading towards Gulmarg.

In 1815 AD Maharaja Ranjeet Singh reached Surankote valley along with a big Punjabi force to conquer Kashmir but the Raja of Poonch Ru-Alla-Khan gave him a tough fight at Bari Mang (proper Surankote). No doubt that in 1819 AD Maharaja captured Kashmir but Suran valley remained dominated by self styled Pahari and Gujjar Sardars from 1823 to 1852 AD. In 1852 AD, Dogra Raja Moti Singh was nominated by his uncle Maharaja Gulab Singh as the Raja of Poonch and Surankote became the part of Poonch principality. Raja Moti Singh used to go to Jammu via Suran valley and halted at Bufliaz to enjoy the natural beauty of valley. After the happening of 1947 Suran valley became a part of Poonch district and attained the status of tehsil in 1980 AD. ( Monsoon in India )

The valley is known for Asthans, Dargas and Shrines. Asthan Peer Habib Shah Pamrote and Taqia Ghulam Shah Badhshah Lassana are the most sacred places for Muslim population. On the other hand, Shiv Temple at Behramgala, Temple Kali Mata at Dhundak and Narayan Khori in the village Gundi are the ancient worship places of Hindus. On the eve of Navratras a big mela is organized at Kali Temple Dundak twice in a year in a traditional manner. The important lakes like Nandan Sar, Chandan Sar, Sukh Sar, Bagh Sar, Neel Sar, Katora Sar on an altitude of 12000 to 14000 feet from the sea level are also considered sacred for Hindus which are located in Girgan area of Peer Panchal Range.

After 1975 AD when financial powers were decentralized and annual plan started at grass root level, a lot of development have been taken place in Suran valley. Almost all the villages have been electrified, covered under drinking water facilities. Basic schooling facilities have also been provided. Apart from Anganwari centres, Health centres and live stock centres also exist in the valley. Efforts are being made to link the villages with pacca roads. A number of link roads have been started under PMGSY from 2009 onward. Recently 40 crore's project of 52 kilometer Mandi-Bufliaz road have been approved under CRF. By this way 27 villages across nallah Suran and nallah Mandi shall be connected with road. The famous Mughal road is nearing completion and it is expected that the road will be opened for general traffic by June 2010. With the opening of this road a number of virgin scenic spots of Suran valley like Bufliaz, Behramgala, Dera Ki Gali, Dogran, Poshiana, Chandimarh, Ratta Chamb, Panjtari, Girgin and Pir Pass shall be converted into tourist resorts. There is a good scope for adventures tourism in the valley which is suitable for trekkers because the number of peaks of Peer Panchal range including Tata Kuti (15600 feet) are existing in this area.

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