By Mool Raj
The Chinta Valley in Bhadarwah is located about 200 kms away from Jammu, with an altitude around 3000 meters from mean sea level (MSL). It is kaleidoscopically a picturesque spot perched amidst the surrounding hills to the northeast of Bhadarwah town itself. The serene and scenic beauty of Bhadarwah and its surroundings are equalizing the vale of Kashmir, a paradise on earth. Bhadarwah is also nomenclatured as Chhota Kashmir, considering its beauty, climate, and culture. The valley is bounded by the ends of spurs from the ridges of forests specked by cultivable land at different levels. The bottom of this Valley is flat and, at certain points, sloppy. The terraced lands are thickly studded with small and big villages covered by grand black deodars, kail, chir, fur, and spruce at higher altitudes. At even higher elevations are vast carpet-like meadows covered with green grass and multihued, multicolored flowers, herbs, shrubs of multimedicinal uses.
Literally speaking, Chinta Valley has an ancient name Chintan, a Sanskrit word meaning self-introspection, but with the rolling wheel of time, the word Chintan devolved into Chinta. The enchanting Valley of Chinta falls around 18 to 20 kms away from Bhadarwah town itself. From Bhadarwah, the road passes through various villages shrouded by thickly coniferous forests areas. The valley depicts a multihued social and cultural heritage akin to neighboring Himachal Pradesh, UP, and other Himalayan states of India. The higher elevation abounds in multihued hills having specks of tourist spots like Vizsuvardhar, Rowdal, Fukklandhar, Loirudhar with grassy meadows and towering pine trees which give pleasant whiffs and hum in gentle breeze far to distant apart. About 5 kms to 8 kms on foot, the spot gives a panoramic view of varied venues of solace and merry-making all around the Chinta Valley and down below Bhadarwah town as if one is airily viewing the enchanting scenario far away.
Towards the east of Chinta valley is another charming and enchanting Valley by the name Jai, surrounded by thick and dark Deodars, Kail, and chir forests which are connected by Kacha and pucca inter-linkages facilitating varied avenues for picnics, riding, climbing, and fishing in small rivulets of Jai. Climatically speaking, the valley is temperate, particularly during summer, thus providing a comfortable and pleasant resting place for tourists and other visitors alike.
Economically, the area is congenitally sound despite agriculture being the mainstay of the people. The locals are also involved in government and other jobs owing to high literacy. The locals are most hospitable, peace-loving, and of jovial nature, always espousing religious causes, tolerance, and fraternity. Insofar as religious faith is concerned, the Naga cult is the prominent creed and features of the vicinity.
One of the most prominent pilgrimages is to Kailash (Kaplash) Kund and the abode of Vasukai Nag Raja, which begins every year in the month of Bhadron (August) on the 12th day of Krishna Paksha. The yatra starts from Vasukai Nag temple ghata just at the entrance of Bhadarwah town. The pilgrimage takes the same traditional route which was taken by Shri Vasukai Nag ji to reach Kailash Kund at the time when Garudji wanted to kill Vasuki Nag ji. Instead of having a fight with Garudji, Shree Vasuki Nag ji ran away to avoid a fight to obey the promise he had made to his mother Vanita, as both Garud Ji and Vasuki Nag ji were the sons of the great saint Maharishi Kashyap. Kailash in Bhadarwah is also called Kablas. It is a big lake situated at a height rounding 15k feet from (Mean Sea Level) MSL. The lake is beautiful, pure, having crystal clear water which is icy cold. The lake is surrounded by high mountains and glaciers. It is the most attractive and enthralling spot which had been the abode of Lord Shiva who provided shelter to Vasuki Nag ji when he was being chased by Garudji. Lord Shiva after handing over Kailash Kund to Vasuki Ji proceeded to Manimahesh in HP.
There are two other holy shrines atop Chinta Jai. Sheshnag (Sabarmag) at Sabardhar and the other Tara Bhuja at Roshira at a distance of 3 kms to 5 kms, located midst the forests of Chinta Valley. It is believed that both the sacred shrines are the oldest in Bhadarwah. There are multihued sacred spots viz Gupt Ganga adjoining Neeru rivulet where there is a temple of Lord Shiva with a huge Shiv lingam and a parnali of water keeps soothing Shivlingam since the existence of this temple. The Shivlingam is reported to have been brought from Manchester, Neeru Nala.
To propitiate the local deities, a lot of fairs and festivals are celebrated in the month of August and September when there is slack in Bhadarwah. The most prominent colorful dances/Melas are celebrated. Dhaku dance and Patt Mela are most reverentially celebrated in Bhadarwah Valley.
Now that the government has proclaimed a Tourist Development Authority of Bhadarwah and with the passage of time, this shall boost the tourist potential of the area for multihued development activities to attract and enchant tourists from India and abroad to have a charming glimpse of the beauty, cultural heritage, and above all the serene, scenic beauty of the area and its surrounds apart from invigorating the local economy—the clarion call of the day. (The author is the former Conservator of Forests J&K).
The Author is a columnist and freelance writer