Human societies tend to cluster around water bodies be it a spring, a river, a lake, or a pond. Infact rivers valleys have always been cradles of civilizations such as those on Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Ganga-Yamuna etc. Water as life sustaining element was the reason behind it. They came to be considered are as abodes of deities. Rituals were performed to ensure continuous flow of water in these sources. From Harappan Great Bath to Ganga Aarti, the story is same, the story of water worship. So is the story of Suryaputri Tawi, symbol of our land, Jammu.
The river appears as Tauhi, Suryaputri, Tapi and Tawi in different sources. It is referred to as Suryaputri in Vishnudharmottar Purana in context of journey of Great King, Bharat. The legend says that a saintly person meditated on Sun God and got a female child who grew up as a great beauty and the parents named her Toshi Bhaskara meaning the daughter of the Sun. Therefore Toshi (Tawi) came to be called the Daughter of the Sun. Nilamata Purana refers to as Tohi. Prof. Ved Ghai (translator of Nilamata Purana) believes that it is the ancient name of Tawi and ascribes its present form to phonetic changes. It is referred as Tapi in Duggar Sututi (canto 1 v.10 & canto 11 v.5) written by ShukDev Shastri and Toshi or Surya Putri (daughter of the Sun god) in Toshishatkam. Yet it is also known as Pascham Vahini because of its flow in western direction.
The local tradition ascribes its origin to Bhair or Pehar devta. As per legend, one day Basak Naga announced that any of his sons who would bring water to cure his illness shall be declared as his heir-apparent. Therefore all his sons tried to bring a water source from different directions to Jammu. Bhair devta, it is believed, went to Kailash and brought Tawi to Jammu.
“Pehali Takkar Babe Pehar di,
Pahara da Tauh bagai”
Bakash devta jal di dhara,
leyan main tauh bagai”
(that Tawi was brought through the steep hills to the lower reach by Baba Bhair).
The tradition further tells us that when Bhair was announced as the heir-apparent, it aroused the jealousy of his other step brothers. So they caught hold of him, put him in a cage and drowned it in Chenab. The Cage reached Kutch region whose ruler got him released and gave his daughter to him in marriage. However, when called back by Raja Basak, he came back to Jammu and lived in a palace on banks of river Tawi (probably the place of his present shrine). Another tradition connects him with the battle of Dasrajan or Ten kings, which took place in Early Vedic times, wherein Bhair devta is said to have been defeated by Sudas. This appears to be an attempt by his followers to place him in ancient times.
The shrines of bhair devta are spread all along the course of Tawi with the most prominent being at Dabbar Bhair at Udhampur, at Karoaue village in Udhampur, Khatruhi village in Jindra, Pehar Baba at Kishenpur, on the confluence of Jhajjar with Tawi called as Jhajjar Chhara, Pehar near Kattal-Battal. In all these shrines there is a water source in form of a pond called dabbar in local dialect. The deity is believed to be residing in the pond. No fishing is allowed to be done here rather the fish in the pond is considered as deity itself and is fed with offerings by the devotees. In the shrine deity resides in form of Saungal (Iron chains). Devotees visit these places to offer their prayers to Baba Bhair and the first hair cut ceremony (Mundan) of male child in many Dogra families is done at these shrines especially at Devsthan Baba Bhair at village Katal-Batal near Nagrota.
…History Beyond Classroom
Course of Tawi