Saturday, February 05, 2011

Mendhar Green Valley of Poonch

Mendhar is also known as 'The green valley of Poonch'. Presently, Mendhar is a tehsil of Poonch district located at the southern side of the district. The Tehsil is bounded by Shahstar range of mountains in the northern side; Bhimber Gali top in the east; Khandhar range of mountains in the southern side, while Poonch river divides the tehsil from the western side.

Before independence, Mendhar was the 4th tehsil of erstwhile Poonch principality with its headquarter at Dharmsal. This tehsil had an of 470 square miles besides 90 square miles area of Thakiala Prava. After partition the whole of Thakiala area came under Pakistan. In 1972 Mendhar tehsil was divided into two tehsils on administrative grounds namely tehsil Mendhar and tehsil Surankote. Presently, tehsil Mendhar is located exactly on the border. 14 villages of the tehsil are touching the LOC. The LOC is spread over 43 kilometers from Tarkundi in the east to Mandla in the south.
Tehsil Mendhar comprises of 57 inhabited villages and 64 panchayats. As per census 2001, the total population of Mendhar was 1.13 lacs, while the projected population of 2010 is 1.77 lacs. Out of the total population about 4500 belongs to Hindu and Sikh communities residing in Mendhar town, Bhera, Harni, Mankote, Sagra, Ari, Dharana, Gohlad etc. On the other hand, the villages located on the slopes of mountains and upper reaches are dominated by Gujjar and Bakerwal community. The population of Mendhar tehsil is considered more prosperous than the other areas of district Poonch. Mendhar is also known for the ancient Ramkund Temple of 8th century AD constructed by Raja Lalita Ditya of Kashmir, Ziarat Hazrat Pir Chhotey Shah Sakhi Maidan, Takiya Sharief of Hazrat Ghulam Shah Badshah, Kalaban and Ziarat Sharief Chhajla. Mendhar is also known for an Old Bowali of Harni where around 1680 AD, Lachamdass alias Banda Beragi of Rajouri had killed a female deer. Later on, he became the disciple of Tenth Guru Gobind Singh and fought a number of battles in Punjab. 

The history of Mendhar travels with the Indian civilization. As per a legend, Pandvas had visited Mendhar during their exile period. They had also constructed a very high tower at Mendhar near Sakhi Maidan. It is said that Kunti, the mother of Pandvas desired that she wanted to see her ancestral city Inderprast. Immediately, Bhima constructed so high a tower at Sakhi Maidan Mendhar, that Kunti could see her native town. There are a number of bowalies, ruins of Pandavas time in the tehsil. The legend goes that these monuments were constructed by the Pandavas.

As per the "History of India" by R.K Mukherji and "2500 years of Budhism" by P.V Bhapat one Greek Governor Manindra (161 BC-130 BC) was ruling Punjab. In those days Mendhar area was a part of his kingdom. Manindra had revolted against Greeks and declared himself as an independent ruler. Since the whole population of his kingdom was the believer of Budhism at that time, therefore, Manindra was also interested in Budhist philosophy. He had approached many priests and interacted with them about Budhism. But no monk was in a position to convince him in discussion. It was by chance he met a Budhist monk namely Naga Sinha who replied all the questions raised by Manindra about Budhism. At the end of this discussion Manindara was filled with spiritual joy and became a disciple of Naga Sinha. 

P.V Bapat writes that Manindra had build a monastery in memory of his discussion with Naga Sinha and named it as Manindra Vihara. Mr. A Koul in his book 'Budhism in Kashmir' writes that the discussion between Naga Sinha and Manindra was held in the southern side of Kashmir valley about 20 yojans from the valley. The famous book on Budhism "Malinda Panaha" written by King Manindra refers to his intimate knowledge of Kashmir and its surrounding areas. Jyotisher Pathic, a renowned writer of Jammu writes in one of his articles published in "Sheraza" Urdu that the place where the discussion between Naga Sinha and Manindra was held is present Mendhar valley of Poonch. There is an old structure in Mendhar at Sakhi Maidan. The architecture of this structure is Indo Greek in style. It clearly indicates that in the ancient time this was a monastery. Presently, this whole valley is known as Mendhar. The local legend goes that the name of Mendhar is after the name of a King. These facts reveal that this King was Manindra, who had constructed a Manindra Vihara at present Sakhi Maidan where the discussions between Manindra and Naga Sinha had taken place. It appears that this place was initially named as Maninder Vihara. Later on with the passage of time it became Manindra which changed to Mendhar.

In 850 AD, when Poonch principality was established by Nara, Mendhar was a part of this principality. This principality remained intact upto 1452 AD when Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin captured the outer hills of Pir Panchal region and established a new outer hill state Poonch-Nowshera under the name of Bhaya Desa Vinah. Mendhar also became a part of this new principality. In 1596 AD a newly converted Muslim Saraj-ud-Din Rathore became the Raja of Poonch principality on the order of Emperor Akbar. Mendhar area came under his control. From 1596 to 1819 AD Poonch remained the principality of Rathore Rajas and Sangu Gujjar Rajas and Mendhar was the part of this principality. In 1852 AD Maharaja Gulab Singh of J&K nominated his nephew Mian Moti Singh, the Raja of Poonch. Moti Singh came to Poonch and established a new principality. Mendhar valley became a part of this principality along with Thakiala Prava area of Kotli. C.E Bats writes in his book 'The Gazetteer of Kashmir' that in 1872 AD, Mendhar was a township and known as Dharamsal with hundred houses on the right bank of Mendhri stream having mixed population. In 1905 AD Capitan R.E.A Hamilton completed the first settlement of Poonch. On administrative grounds, he divided the principality into four tehsils and Mendhar became the largest tehsil in area of the principality. This tehsil also remained a large grain producer of Poonch upto 1947.

During the happening of 30th July 1931 AD in Kashmir, the uprising also started in Poonch area especially in Mendhar tehsil. On 2nd January 1932, the people of Thakiala Prava of Mendhar revolted against the state government and marched towards Poonch. The Raja Jagat Dev Singh of Poonch with the help of Muslim Suddans of tehsil Plandri succeeded in subsiding the revolt but the movement of Kashmir had given birth to a strong political leadership in Mendhar headed by Sardar Fateh Mohd Khan Karelvi. In 1932 AD on the recommendations of Glancy Commission 75 members Legislative Assembly had come into existence under the name of Praja Sabha. Three seats were alloted to Poonch principality. Sardar Fateh Mohd Khan Karelvi of Mendhar was elected MLA from Haveli-Mendhar constituency. He was again elected to Praja Sahba in 1937. During the turmoil of 1947 Mendhar tehsil was captured by the rebel forces and Pakistani Army under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Rehmatulla, a deserter of state forces. About two thousand Hindu and Sikh had become hostage to rebel forces. In this crucial time, Sardar Fateh Mohd Khan Karelvi played a vital role and protected hundreds of Hindu families and helped them to mgrate to Indian side. In 1948 AD, operation link up was started by India forces from Rajouri towards Poonch under the command of Brigadier Yadav Nath Singh. The Indian forces after capturing an important hill top Pir Bardeshwar on 14th October and Pir Kaleva on 26th October in Rajouri area moved towards Mendhar via Manjakote. Bhimber Gali was taken over on 8th November 1948. At that time Mendhar town was the centre of rebel forces and Pakistan army. But Indian forces continued their advance via Mendhar towards Poonch. On 20th November Pir Topa an important feature in Mendhar was captured. On 23rd November Indian forces moved via Jhakha Gali, stormed Mendhar town and captured it. In the next few days all the important hill tops of Khandar range from Balakote upto to Daruchian were taken and Mendhar tehsil was liberated. Presently, the green valley, Mendhar of district Poonch is leading the other areas in over all developmental scenario and political setup.


globalt1 said...

My forfathers were from Mehndar Sagra and migrated to Tehsil Plandri in 1947. I want to visit Sagra Mehnder. This article was brief and comprehensive. I learned a lot from it.
Thank you very much.
Ramzan from AJK.

Mohd Zulfqar Shabnum said...

My faveroute place is topa tehra because all kinds of people are present there, topa is very beautiful place in which the beauty of nature and the famous place of topa is parat(reyan wali gayi) and there r 2 middle school in topa and the famous fruite of topa is apricart my name is mohd zulfqar im also the resisdent of topa mohalla riyan wali gayi mohd farooq is my father and faker din is my grand father i m very happy to live in this village because new road is constructed now the facilty of road is also present if any body from india and other then india want to see the beauty of nature then come in this beautiful village thanx zulfqar

Shubam said...

I m shubam gupta frm harni.....i read this article nd found proud pn my birth place this article s really impressive......thnx

Shubam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mohd Zulfqar Shabnum said...

mendhar is the velley of kind hearted peoples im also the resident of mendhar live in the village topa

nadeem khan said...

Mendhar 'The place of morals'.I believe
mendhar is an one of the best beauty
containing pride in the world. But,if we
maintain it.It have so many
personalities leading major role in the
whole state J&k.I lives in Dhargloon, The place of Rajput khan's.Its one of attractive place,as its name self indicates its personality.I have proud to be an part of Mendhar.Although we peoples are not like beurocrates but our thinking and motto surpasses all others.....we follow the criteria of Simple living & high thinking.