Renovating Chandi Mata Mandir And Peer Dastagir Ziarat in picturesque Lolab , a live testimony of the ever prevailing religious harmony, inclusive society and effervescent culture of Kashmir, which makes it the true paradise on earth.
Walking in the maze of Lanes into LOLAB valley known as Land of Love and beauty, some 10 km at a distance from Kupwara main town. Meandering through its exposed brick and old wooden structures – a stunning place with amazingly thick verdent forests , the sprawling pastures and the streams with water singing, adding to its bounties …This beautiful place however often shouting for some attention and care in silence. ..telling of a time …of a beautiful bridge man has made with nature. MESMERIZING.
In this Land of Love and Beauty is a small village Chandigam , Where new era of brotherhood has germinated new hope , Right from Dusk to Dawn , hordes of Kashmiri Muslims can be seen lines up to welcome their Kashmiri Pandiths and Other Hindu brothers …Thanks to Army’s 28RR – its Commanding officer , Second in Command (2iC) and Engineering wing for Keeping the faith alive with high spirits . Renovating revered CHANDI MATA TEMPLE at Chandigam which was in shambles since 90’s . Somewhere, in the month of May 2022, a local delegation of Sarpanches of Chandigam A & Chandigam B along with few visiting Pandith families approached the local army unit i.e. 28 RR bn for renovation of the temple site to bring back its original sheen and aura. As always, the Army was prompt with an affirmative response and as a mark of respect for the perennial and much celebrated communal harmony of Kashmir, started the work for the renovation of not only the temple site but also the Ziarat of Peer Dastagir.
90’s has cost its shadow and majority of Pandiths migrated from the valley, hence this TEMPLE remained a low low key affair and in shambles until June 2022 when 28RR rebuilt it and devotees begin to throng the revered site again . There were a total of 10 to 15 Families in this village . This temple would play a vital role in mutual brotherhood . On the day of inauguration there was a solace and it is heavenly experience seeing local Muslims, pandiths celebrating together. The local muslim populace felt happy meeting their Pandith community everywhere it was a sama of love peace and togetherness . This temple is dotted among majestic walnut trees. The Astaan of Dasgir Saab And CHANDI Mata Temple adjacent to each other exhibits the inimitable symbol of shared faith and serves as a way to brotherhood . Both these places are spiritual spots where people of different religions are seeking their motives reflecting a perfect example of religious unity and communal brotherhood – A small temple shares space with Dasgir sahab Ziyarat , which harmonises the spiritual radiance of the Creator. Both the places are revered and respected by both Kashmiri pandiths and Muslims .
CHANDI DEVI CONNECTIONS …
The locals believe that this village Chandigam was named after the Goddess kali called CHANDI DEVI, And a famous CHANDI Devi temple is still located in Peer Mohallah of Chandigam Village . On the day of inauguration I heard unforgettable memories Kashmiri local pandiths have with Kashmiri Muslims in Chandigam before migration. Every time I meet a Kashmiri Pandith (Hindu) I feel delighted to hear the unforgettable memories . The response is full of saddened sage and a joyous past. A Kashmiri — whether a Muslim, a Hindu or a Sikh – every face denotes a unique charm, the way a Kashmiri is known in the world. This small Village in Lolab is an epitome of Love. Every time I visit my village here carves my inner conscience as I see houses of our Pandith community dashed to ground , it pains me . My parents always share their good old days with Pandith brothers in our locality.
Everybody lived a happy , peaceful and progressive life till 1989, this village was famous and known for Springs and shrines . According to many researchers , The village named after goddess Chandi, there are three holy springs. The original Chandinag spring is spread over an area of 1½ canals in the forest. It is filled up now and has turned into a swamp. Before 1947, when a little excavation was carried out here, earthen lamps, small items, pottery associated with rituals were found, confirming the antiquity of the place. Locals call this place as Kanzpov. Digging also confirmed that springs lie underneath. Presently little water comes from the sides of the swamp. Decades back Pt. Balbadar Bujoo was a tehsildar here. His wife had gone to fetch some water. Her arm got stuck up in the mud.
The other spring in Chandigam is Kumarji’s Nag. It lies in Gujar basti, the people who originally hail from Abottabad. The spring is situated on an elevated area near Dak bungalow. This is under the control of PHE department. It is 7ft x7ft in dimensions. The water is clean and cold and five feet deep. Water remains full throughout the year. The stones forming the upper masonary are intact. The boundaries of the spring are fenced. Ladies are not allowed to visit the spring. A big stone lining the spring cracked soon after the visit of a lady. And the water rushed out. The old stones (sam) lining the spring are 2½ ft long and well-polished. There is no fish in the spring. Viceroy of India visited this spring when Pt. Bujoo was tehsildar. Swami Lalji, a famous sadhu from outside often visited this spring to conduct puja. His disciples included Pt. Arzan boya, Swami NandlalJi, Pt. Shivjee Bagati and Pt. Ramchand ‘Goban’. Pandits of Lolab visited this historic spring on Amavasiya and Puranmashi days.
WHEN KASHMIRIYAT RECEIVED A BLOW
The traditional communal harmony that once existed in Kashmir enabled the peaceful coexistence of Muslims, Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) and other minorities. The Kashmiri society evolved to be more open to various beliefs, under the influence of Islamic Sufis and Saints of the Rishi order. “Shiva (God) abides in all that is everywhere, then do not discriminate between a Hindu and a Muslim. If you are wise seek the Absolute within yourself. That is true knowledge of the Lord” – Lal Ded/ Lala Arifa .
Kashmiriyat received a major blow since 1989. There was mass destruction and massacre of innocent Kashmiri’s (Pandiths and Muslims ) . Pakistan and its lobbies subsequently leading to the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and thereby rupturing the secular soul of Kashmiri society by using religion as a catalyst. The militant organisations worked in line with Pakistan’s objectives of destroying the secular and pluralistic fabric of Kashmiri society, and thereby inducing religious extremism.
Post 370, things are changing and this time for Naya kashmir. Things are changing and we need to map this change.
(About Writer : Dar Javed is a Researcher working on peace initiatives’ in Kashmir. He permenantly hails from picturesque Lolab And is India representative of CreativeLearning Washington DC And Writes on polity , Governance Art and Craft .)