Chicken, Rice and Traditional Greens Our picnic baskets were packed. It was a day trip – food would not be available on the way. We left our guesthouse in Reswari and went 10 minutes to the assembly point. Our last pick-up was.
We had registered for the visit on the previous day by submitting our identity cards and photographs. A tourism officer and his wife were also going to Reswari. He had asked us if we would be willing to go to the temple of Pir Baba. We just returned Amarnath Travel And indeed no other religious visit was thought of so soon.
However, it was a day trip. And saying that we never heard is not a chance to go to a place. We agreed to join him on this “outing” for Pir Baba.
A “convoy” to visit the tomb of Pir Baba
Soon, a fleet of seven Tata Sumos arrived. Each jeep had a passenger list on the front. We had to sit in a jeep assigned to us. We were impressed with the management of the tour company in this small village Rewari In northern Kashmir.
The assembly point was the gateway to the Indian Army post. We were greeted by an officer who was fully dressed in the uniform of the Indian Army. It was the first time an officer on duty shook hands. He asked all of us to sit in the jeep. “Truck at hi hange“, (Trucks will be here soon),” he said.
We assumed that there would be a supply of trucks for the villages near the Pir Baba temple. Since this was a remote place where access to basic necessities was difficult, we felt it.
Instead, there were two trucks from the Indian Army that arrived. Seven jeeps also started moving forward, moving ahead of these trucks and following them! This was not a group tour – it was a convoy!
Gradually, the reality of all this began to become clear. This “trip” was actually a Goodwill trip Operated by the Indian Army for the local people of the villages in and around Reshwari. They operate it for fifteen days every year. Otherwise, this temple is off-limits to the citizens.
Talk of being in the right place at the right time!
Traveling beyond civilian boundaries
Ten minutes into the drive, we reached the end of Resheshwari – and civilization. We were now in a restricted area. Beyond this point only army personnel were allowed. Once upon a time, related to a cow or sheep Gujjars (A nomadic tribe in Kashmir) will wander in the mountains here. These all Gujjars Identity cards were given – and their animals wore the registration mark. If anyone was found in these mountains without – well, it was this stuff that turned it into national news.
“Look to your left”, said the local manager who was also in our jeep. We were looking at the fast post of the Indian Army. And at its base was the Bofors Cannon. We still were not able to warm up to the reality of our situation. Naively (read silly!), We asked if it was “put on display”. “No, it’s ready for action”, the answer was we got it!
The surrounding landscape was the best we had seen in Kashmir in a month. Mountain slopes filled with large yellow flowers – types that only nature can manicure. The winding road was decorated with cedar, apple or apricot trees and some medicinal plants.
We were now talking about the height or mountain – climbing a pass. Twisted, curved and narrow – it was correctly called “Jalebi’s mood“.
The man now pointed to the slender papyrus trees high on the slope of the mountain. However, the passage through the mountains was suddenly barren. We remarked that it seemed that the trees in between had caught some infection. Again, we were completely wrong. It was true that the trees there were burnt. Although not from disease. This was done by shells which are often from the top of the mountains on both sides!
In a funny way called TMG – Tutamari Gulali, it felt that our jeep was moving with great resistance. It is certain that the roads here had put some magnets under them. This limited the speed of any vehicle – yours or the enemy’s.
Here, the army spread us a grand breakfast – Indian language, Wada, Sandwiches, tea, coffee et al.
After breakfast, we started down the mountain. Towards this end, they “called it”101 modak“, 101 clear turns in the mountain. The road here was a great road. Our jeeps had a sideways crowd, depending on the turn we had to negotiate. It was a roller coaster ride, to say the least. For. The army officer’s wife busied herself with prayer. Changes ofBismillahH “and”God“Jeep stuffed.” We wanted to count and verify the 101 name, but after 20 we were too dizzy to count directly.
Over-the-top view of LoC
“Look here, that’s the Indian picket”, the front manager points to a mountain top. “He now belongs to Pakistan”, he informs after some time. Once upon a time we saw houses with special shiny tin roofs in the villages of Kashmir. We were surprised because the citizens were not going to live here. When we said our surprise out loud, we were told that they were indeed home. That’s it – these villages were beyond the LOC.
The descent took more than an hour. Now we were at the bottom of the valley. Soon, all our jeeps had to park. We now had to pass through the forest to reach a place called Kayan bowl. The name indicated the physical presence of the place – the mountains around us were like the edge of a bowl, and we were now at the base of it.
We were listening to all these stories of war as we passed through the thick forest. After about 15 minutes, the forest cleared. Now there was a lake in front of us. The same army officers who were telling us stories of war, now started telling us the stories of Pir Baba. Pir Baba had apparently thrown a stone here and a lake had risen. All our fellow passengers were already queued outside a room. Pir Baba’s tomb was in the room.
Inside, everyone was offering their prayers. Some chant, others just sit quietly. When it was time, they all stood in the prescribed direction and offered their prayers in front of Pir Baba’s temple. Everyone was in high spirits – glad they finally had it rare visit.
Even army soldiers paid great respect to Pir Baba. Regardless of where they came from, what beliefs did they follow to return home – this was where they fought life and death on a daily basis. The peace, extreme excitement, joy we saw in Pir Baba’s temple defines the fact that the LoC was only 25 meters away. This was where nothing – at least for a lifetime – could be taken.
Pir Baba’s temple had then become his quiet oasis – a place to lay his head down, draw strength, celebrate or mourn.
By the time we came back from Reshvi it was late. This was not one of those days when you remember peacefully at the end of the day. Going so close to the LoC was a wild dream. To experience the common bond of heartfelt devotion, in an area so indecisive – it was a paradox that we saw.
PS: We do not have many pictures from this trip because When the Indian Army says “no photography allowed”, you don’t try to trick them.
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Sandeepa and Chetan. married. Indians. Understanding travel as a lifestyle. Displayed by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dreams a reality.