By RAYEES AHMAD KUMAR
In 2007 Gh Nabi Azad former chief minister of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state carved eight new districts out of the already fourteen districts of the state through a cabinet decision thereby raising the tally of districts to twenty-two. Kulgam was carved from Anantnag, Bandipora from Baramulla, Shopian from Pulwama and Ganderbal from capital city district of Srinagar. The following year almost all the district offices started functioning from the newly created districts. People of these districts were thrilled and excited as their decades old dream was transformed into reality. The district administrators posted in these newly districts showed vibrance in mitigating the public grievances. People felt a sigh of relief when their issues were redressed without travelling long distances as earlier. Besides other spheres of life, tourist resorts of these newly created districts recieved a big fillip in being explored both by the national and foreign tourists under the new administration. Since I have been residing in Ganderbal one of these newly created districts for last thirteen years and have tripped most of it’s health resorts during this tenure. So let me talk about the health resorts located in this picturesque district of central Kashmir.
Sonamarg… Sonamarg is 94 Kms from capital city Srinagar in Ganderbal district. The route passes through beautiful locations of Ganderbal, Kangan, Gund, Mammar, Rayil, Kulan, Gangangir etc. Sonamarg the meadow of gold is a heavan of trekking for it’s trekking routes with beautiful green and frozen around. The magnificent Thajwas Glacier provides a chance to enjoy sledge ride on snow even in mid summer. Good quality of trout fishes are also available there.
Manasbal Lake…. Manasbal is the deepest lake of Kashmir. It is 32 Kms from heart of Srinagar. The deep clear water of lake makes it one of the most beautiful and attractive lake surrounded by the natural beauty, great mountains which forms an effective contrast to the gentle beauty of the lake. This lake is also covered by lotus flowers, shelters many aquatic birds , making it a bride watchers paradise. The lone Sainik school of the valley is located just close to the lake.
Gangabal Lake… The sacred Gangabal Lake at a hight of 3657 meters is at the base of the snow clad peak of Harmukh. It’s turquoise coloured sheet of water lends a subtle charm to the valley which is known as the Hardwar of Kashmir. This icebound valley also contains many other lakes perhaps nowhere in the Himalyas are so many high altitude lakes in the eastern fringe.
Khirbawani… In village Tulmulla there is a famous Hindu shrine the Khirbawani Temple. It is said that its water changes the colours to various shades like green light, blue and even blue light. The sacred spring symbolises goddess Ragnaya Devi. Annual festival here is held every year in june-July. A visit to this famous temple will be a worth while trip.
Naranag…. Naranag is a famous tourist place of Ganderbal District, lying about 12 Kms from main Kangan town. The dilapidated ruins of the ancient Hindu temple at Narang is an archaeological site thronged by the local and foreign visitors during the summer months. Noted for its scenic meadows, lakes and mountains, it is a base camp for trekking to the Mount Haramukh and Gangabal Lake. The village lies at the left bank of the Wangath river, which is a tributary of the Sind River. From main Kangan town to Narang tourist attraction, the famous villages enroute include Nizampora, Baranbugh, Khanan and Wangath.
Mohand Marg…. The meadow also known as “Mohana Marg” is located on banks of river Sindh at an altitude of 3400 meters.
This meadow is located a top Koaihama range overlooking Sindh valley with a panoramic view of Pir Panjal range, Gadsar range and Mount Kalahoi.There is another meadow called Lal Marg near to the famous Mohand Marg.
Both the meadows have historic importance. Hungarian-born archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein translated famous Rajtarangi book from Sanskrit to English in 1930s in these meadows.Stein spent many summers at Mohan Marg meadows translating the Rajatarangini. After completion of his works, Stein erected a memorial at the place to commemorate his achievement which is still intact in the place.
Besides these main natural health resorts, government has developed a couple of parks also in the district to attract more local and national tourists. Some of the most visited parks are Hung Park near Sonamarg, Environment Parks near Kijpora, another one at Manigam on banks of river Sind and a beautiful and well-developed park the Qamria Park near mini-secretariat Ganderbal.
Ganderbal is also an abode of many popular and prominent saints as a good number of God fearing saints have their last resting place here. Some of the distinguished and most popular shrines include of Hazrat Baba Ji ra at Babanagri, Mir Hyder ra at Tulmulla, Shah Sadiq Qalandar ra at Lar, Baba Daryawudin ra at Khalmulla, Syed Qamurudin Bukhari ra at Saloora Ganderbal and Baba Hanifudin ra Yarmuqam etc. A huge rush of people round the year is witnessed at these shrines.
RAYEES AHMAD KUMAR
Writer is a columnist and hails from Qazigund.