See Zack’s note about this series. It also has an index of this series.
Jammu Tawi was a beautiful and clean town on slant of mountain. Rains were usual and after rain roads and streets used to glitter. Town of Jammu had a specialty. It had flowing waters on its three and a half sides. On two and a half sides was river Tawi and on one side was a canal fed by river Chenab. This canal had icy cold water. After passing through electric power station, the canal passed under the river Tawi where Tawi crossed over the canal through a man-made channel bridge.
Inhabitants of Jammu were fond of picnics on the waterside or over the hills. They were also good swimmers. We used to have picnics on the banks of canal in summer. We did not go to the canal on holidays because large number of people used come from Punjab on holidays. In winter, we used to go to Tawi or on mountains across the river Tawi which had some flat areas on the top. There used to be monkeys on these mountains. Once during picnic on the mountain, while we were playing, monkeys took some of our rotis (bread). In summer 1946, we went to the mountain passing through Tawi at the up side. On return, we noticed that water level in Tawi had risen and speed of flow had increased many fold. We started passing through river Tawi. While crossing, we lost our belongings and my elder sister and a female cousin were carried away by water (they didn’t drown). They were rescued about 10 meters down stream. During picnics at canal, we used to place basket of mangos, melons, water melons or milk bottles in the canal and tie them to a tree with a rope. They used to be refrigerated.
We used to spend our summer vacation in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, which was a valley of river Jehlum. There we used to live in a house-boat which had two bedrooms with attached bathrooms and a large drawing-cum-dinning room. A cook-boat was attached to it which housed the kitchen and residence of servants. Vendors used to sell fish and vegetables on boats. Fish they used to catch with net after getting the order. So it used to be jumping fresh. Sometimes, I used to put fish in water tub and enjoy seeing them swim.
We could sail in river Jehlum in our house-boat but generally we used to go on a nicely decorated small boat called Shikara, particularly, during moonlit nights. While in Srinagar, we used to visit natural springs on mountains, beautiful gardens of the Mughal times and high mountain towns like Kulgam, Gulmerg, Tanmerg, Pehalgam, etc. The large mosque, known as Hazrat Bal, was a very sacred place for all the Muslims. In one room, Moo-i-mubarak (a hair of Prophet Muhammad, SAS) had been kept.
The state comprised 6 distinct areas:
All of these have distinct culture and language but they formed a well-knit state. Nobody ever spoke like G. M. Syed [Sindhi nationalist leader] or Abdul Wali Khan [Pashtun nationalist leader]. Gilgitis resembled Baltis, and people of Poonchh could speak Kashmiri like people of Abbotabad can speak Pashto but their culture was different to Kashmiris. People of Poonchh, in my opinion, were more aggressive and clever than even Dogras. All other Muslims were soft-spoken and simple people. Baltis were most simple and honest people in whole of the state, perhaps, due to remaining cut off from the outer world for most part of the year. Some people in Ladakh were Buddhist. In whole of the state, Brahmins, though very soft spoken, were very clever. People in Jammu were generally prosperous, next Kashmir, next Poonch, next Gilgit, next Baltistan, next Ladakh. Literacy in Jammu was more than even Punjab and many other parts of India. Qudratullah Shahab [famous bureaucrat and writer — ZA] and Khushi Muhammad Naazar [poet and governor (?) of Jammu — ZA] of Jammu gained world fame.
Next in this series here.