Poonch

By Sanjeev Nayyar esamskriti@suryaconsulting.net | 2014

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Entrance to the Shri Dashnami Akada. I was woken up by scriptures being recited from the Akada. The previous night locals told me this place was a must visit. As I entered the Akada felt very calm, serene and content. Poonch is known for this Akada, Nangali Sahib Gurduwara and Budha Amarnath Mandir.

Swamiji reading out from a scripture. Locals men and women had come in large numbers. ''The festival of Chhari Mubarak or Holy Mace is celebrated with great enthusiasm on Raksha Bandhan.''

A lady lighting a diya and praying to a pratima (image) that you cannot see in the pic. During 1760, a well-known religious guru, Swami Jawahar Giri Ji came here. He attained Samadhi in 1787. ''Later on several other gurus came here, including Swami Shamaya Nand Ji, a great scholar of Sanskrit who also began a Sanskrit school in the compound of the temple.''

Early morning view of Poonch Fort that you see in centre of pic. On right of pic is a branch of HDFC Bank. Rajouri was earlier known as Rampur. To know about history of PoonchClick here

Overview of bus stand. On left green building is the hotel where we stayed. Somewhere on right of pic at one end of the bus stand is Vaishnav Dhaba that serves lovely food. I stood on top of a truck to click this pic, the truck was full of washing machines and mixers for the consumers of Poonch.

Inside town is the Singh Sahib Gurudwara. There are a large number of Punjabi Sardars in Poonch mostly belonging to the Brahmin community. Last ruler of Poonch migrated to Dehradun after Pakistan invasion. ''Before the advent of Islam in 1343 AD, the areas were under powerful Hindu rulers like Karkotas, Loharas and the Buddhist rulers of the Maurya dynasty.''

We went to the Cross LOC Trade Centre. Due to 2014 floods the bridge had collapsed. Trust the Indian Army to take care. In town there is Moti Mahal made by earliers Kings. Mahal is on lease to the Army, we wanted to see but Mahal was under use that day. Raja Sukhdev Singh built Moti Mahal.

Entrance to the Cross LOC Trade Centre. There are some 21 items that are traded between India and Pakistan. It is a barter system of trade, no currency is exchanged.

We were fortunate that trucks from Pakistan drove in within minutes of our reaching the trade centre. Note how the trucks are painted.

Purpose of showing truck pic is for you to observe the design. About 6 trucks came most of them were Bedford trucks made by Vauxhall U.K. decades ago.

Never seen something like this in Bharat so was amused. To read a very good and brief article on Poonch, Rajouri and events post 1947 Click here

Here is a side view of the truck. We used driver Bishen Sharma 9797350725, 9419896745. Vehicle is well maintained and he drives himself. Post the 1800 km drive with us he has now covered the Jammu region exhaustively, Valley he had done earlier. Good guy.

On way back to Poonch town you see the Gurudwara Deri Sahib.

Fields on the way back to Poonch. People in Poonch very friendly, made me feel comfortable and secure.

Overview of Memorial. When we went around 1 ish it was closed. Wonder why. Pictures are from gate. Beautifully maintained garden. At end of pic red wall signifies valor, strength and sacrifice of a soldier.

Air Support to Poonch Garrison in 1948 operation. There were 40,000 refugees who had to be rescued. Hats off to Brig Pritam Singh and his team. To see the pics of another brave son of India .visit the Kumaon Regiment War Memorial in Raniket Click here

This memorial is called NAMAN STHAL. This memorial is dedicated to those soldiers of Poonch Brigade who made the supreme sacrifice since 1947. To see pics of another brave son of Bharat, Jaswant Garh War Memorial Arunachal Pradesh Click here

Board outside Sheesh Mahal that gives its history in detail. To see pics of Sinthan Top Click here

External view of Sheesh Mahal now in ruins. Poonch is surrounded by mountains. U can go for a walk in town and hire a vehicle for town sight seeing. In case you need any local support do mail me. Hotels are decent, food is dhabha type tasty, place is safe not to worry. To see pics of People of Poonch Click here

Somewhere in Poonch saw this bridge that connects the village with the town. Loved Poonch, wanted to spend more than a day that we did but there was lots to do. Poonch is worth a visit. Keep 2.5 to 3 days incl visit to Nangali Sahib Gurudwara/Budha Amarnath Mandir. To see pics of Martand Mandir AnantnagClick here