History & Culture

A quick look at prehistoric monuments of Poonch and Rajouri

Representational
There were three stone plates with images of  in the Village Gundi of tehsil Surankote near an ancient Bawalie. The three Hindu families of this village  would visit this Bawalie every day for bathing purpose and prayer before the idols. During militancy, these families shifted from the villages and there was no body to look after these ancient treasures. As per reports, two stones plates were broken by the militants while the third one is still intact there.

It is believed that Pandvas had spent most of their exile period in Pir Panchal region. They married Panchali the daughter of Panchal Naresh who had provided shelter to Pandvas during this period. Therefore, in every village the pre historic Bawalies with idols, inscription and engravings of  Pandva’s time were available before the start of militancy in Pir Panchal region.

During militancy, a  number of Bawalies with idols and inscriptions were damaged  by the foreign militants. Still the locals protected some important monuments. At present some of the important Bawalies are located in Tettrinote, Plandri(Now in PAK), Thana Mandi, ShahdraShrif (In Rajouri area), Mangnar, Delhra, Nangali Sahib and other areas. This heritage treasure is also vanishing day by day.  A number of images and engravings with inscriptions are intact in the village Sangla Surankote, Mangnar and Dhalera Poonch and Thana Mandi. These need to be protected by the Archaelogical Department.

Recently, in the village Salonia, the Muslim habitants recovered an arrow shaped stone plate with an attractive image from Chakrara Nallah. The stone plate with image is intact and has great religious value. The Muslim natives informed a Hindu organization at Mandi regarding this recovery. The management committee of Swami Buddha Amarnath shifted this plate from Chakrara and installed in the back-yard of the temple where a number of such valuble pre historic images  recovered from the villages are also installed. There is need of identification of age  Pandav’s time and time of these stone plates.

There were three stone plates with images of  in the Village Gundi of tehsil Surankote near an ancient Bawalie. The three Hindu families of this village  would visit this Bawalie every day for bathing purpose and prayer before the idols. During militancy, these families shifted from the villages and there was no body to look after these ancient treasures. As per reports, two stones plates were broken by the militants while the third one is still intact there.

A number of idols and inscriptions have also been recovered from Loran which was the capital of Lohar Kot (Now Poonch).  Mr. Shah Mohd  Tantray present MLA Haveli had helped in recovery of some images and old coins of Hindu period from Loran. These images were shifted  to Swami Budha Amar Nath Temple. The natives told that some attractive idols recovered from Loran were used in construction of houses by the natives without knowing the importance of these images of historic value. There are important ruins of an ancient complex in Sakhi MadanMehndar. As per the legends these ruins are of Pandav Mehal Mehndar which was constructed by the Pandvas during exile period. While the historians believe that these ruins are of a big monastery which was constructed by Manindra, the Greek Governor of Punjab and Pir Panchal in memory of his discourse with a Buddhist Monk at this place. Manindra had embraced Buddhism after this discourse and constructed a monastery there. There is a need of detailed research on this place.

The stone plates with the images of deities at Pandav Bawalie Mangnar, Dharera and Bawalie Nangali Sahib are still intact in original condition. There is also a marvellous pre historic idol of Lord Krishna  which was recovered by the locals in the village Bainch. This attractive idol of black stone is now kept in a newly constructed temple in Bainch. There are a number of broken idols recovered from the villages. These are kept in various temples at proper Poonch, Gita Bhavan and Surankote temple. An arrow type big stone with the image of Lord Buddha was recovered from top of Ghani village in Krishna Ghatti ridge. There are also ruins of an ancient city. The architecture, construction and images reveal that this civilization was having deep Greek- Buddhist impact. Presently, the arrow type image of  Buddha is kept in the premises of Lohar Devta temple where a mela is organized on Budha Purnima.

During operation Serpnash launched by Indian Army in 2003 against militants in Kaka Hill track of main  Pir Panchal region, apart from freeing this whole mountainous track from the militants they had also recovered three big idols of pre historic time. These idols are still lying there un attended.

It is very surprising that Pir Panchal region is having great potential of historic treasure, because this region was the center of cultural heritage and historic events in the ancient time. However, Archaeological Department had never taken any interest to come to this region even for enlisting these pre historic and ancient monuments.During militancy days more than 50 percent idols, inscriptions, images near the Bawalies, have been destroyed by the foreign militants. The remaining monuments of heritage value are also exposed for destruction. No attention is being paid towards these historic treasures.

On the basis of the above facts, there is  need  to establish a branch of the Archives Department at Poonch and Rajouri so that these monuments of historic values could be saved. This can be done only by construction of museum building at Poonch. A local NGO, the Heritage Center Poonch has approached a number of times to the concerned department for construction  of Museum at Poonch but no attention was paid on this request. It is also purposed that the District Administration may take initiative  and may include the construction of Museum in annual action plan or spare some space in fort building Poonch for this purpose so that the idols, inscriptions, images and engravings scattered all over the Pir Panchal region could be collected and kept there because Pir Panchal region of the state is considered one of the ancient civilization zones.

 

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About the author

K. D. Maini

A former civil servant, Maini is a well known chronicler of history and culture of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control. He is author of several books, most notable among them is “Poonch: The Battlefield of Kashmir” is a must read for understanding the making of Kashmir conflict.

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