G. L Khajuria
Jammu & Kashmir is blessed with wonderful landscapes ranging from low lying areas to high peaks and pinnacles. Padder amongst those is most enchanting and enthralling on all aspects. Padder is a land richest in vibrant and lushgreen cover co-existing with rich and invaluable minor forest produce. A land of world famed sapphire mines existing nowhere across the globe.It is only Padder famed for Chilgoza (Pinusgirardina), Guuchhi, Kala Zeera, thangi and multihued herbs, shrubs of multi-medicinal values in the world of medicinals plants.The small but the most prettiest mesmerising valley midst the sky touching mountains, peaks is what we all nomenclaturise the beautiful Pader valley.The small valley has the privilege of encouraging valliant Jawans with Dogra hero-General ZorawarSingh to conquer the frontier of Zanskar through Padder way back in 1841 AD, after paying obeisance at Machail Mata.Padder is also known as land of Gods and Goddesses. On the one hand Chandi Mata offers blessings at Machail, Lord Shiva from the high Peak (Parvat) showers blessing over the devotees. At Machail, there is a union of Shiv-Shakti – the supreme.It was ofcourse, the blessing of ‘Shiv- Shakti’ which made General Zorawar Singh victorious on the Zanskar frontier in Ladakh. People of that region still remember the General and sing songs in the memory of the General and his wife who expired when she was accompanying her husband.Padder valley is having a population around 20,000 souls. Padder once was ruled by local rulers called ‘Ranas’ having 6-7 villages which mostly remained cut-off from the rest of world due to lack of communication.With the passage of time, the Govt. of India entrusted Border Road construction Organisation(B.R.O) for the construction of about 120 kms length from Kishtwar- Sanasari. Now a convenient road through over- headed rocks has been thrown open and is the commendable road throughout the state.Right from the beginning, common salt had been the biggest problem of this area and was used to be carried by the locals and mules, sheep fromThathri after covering treachous 100 km stretch.Now, Padder is conveniently approachable from Jammu and Srinagar through regular buses as well as hired vehicles. As far as availability of goods is concerned, the people of Padder enjoy the facilities as good as elsewhere through the state.Earlier, the people of Sapphire mine areas used to sell shining blue Sapphire to the Buddhists of Zanskar for an equal quantity of salt.Later on, during Maharajas rule, the Government came to know about the presence of world class Sapphire (neelam) in these hills. As such, the Government of India took up the entire mining process under its control. These mines were sealed and police post was established at the village Machail for active surveillance. As far as cultural aspect is concerned, it is on record that Padder was discovered for the settlement of the migrated people from Pangi area of Himachal Pradesh, Zanskar and Bhadarwah and that is why Padder is having Buddhist and Muslin heterogeneous culture, customs and rituals.The people of Padder are by and Large steeped in ignorance. Superstition has a pre-dominant influence over their psyche.Due to the lack of impact of modern society, the people still believe in witch craft and treat people with age-old traditional witch craft.The age old collective farming still exist amongst the people and they are very much cooperative with each other while engaged in farming in their respective areas. Amongst womenfolk, they keep themselves busy by singing songs and while working in their routine life. The people are of jovial nature.They enthusiastically celebrate their rituals with much fan and fair and that is how they keep themselves busy while being at their workplace.They feel amusing and merrimaking in their life- style, they are accustomed to their Padri language apart from Bhadarwahi, Pahari, Kashmiri, Dogri. They under no circumstances are ready to part with their age-old, culture customs, rituals which form a part and parcel of their life-style. The people of Padder are most hospitable and helpful amongst their own community and even with the outsiders.Padder falls under Kishtwar district. The main route branches off from Kishtwar towards Padder encompassing through Atholi. The Padder valley is enthralling and enchanting which allure the visitors and tourists alike so much so that even foreigners have heavy influx.(The author is former Senior forests officer (J&K)
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