Kotitirtha - Holiest of
by Chander M. Bhat
Kashmir valley is traditionally divided into
two parts Maraz and Kamraz. Maraz was southern part of Kashmir while as Kamraz
comprised northern part of Kashmir. Srinagar was central point of both the
divisions. Anantnag was the Headquarter of Maraz division while as Baramulla was
the seat of attraction for Kamraz division.
Baramulla has its origin to the era of Kashyapa Rishi. The water of Satisar was
drainaged from a place through a deep valley between two hills at Sheeri Narvaw
resembling the mouth of Varah, The Boar. This Varah Moh changed its
identity as Varmul and started to be called as Varamulla.
Varamulla is the entrance point to the valley through Muzzafarabad Uri Road and
is 55 km away from Srinagar. There is another story as to how Baramulla came to
be known as Varahmul. There was a shrine of Lord Vishnu and was called Adi
Varaha. The shrine was located on Eastern bank of Vitasta near Kotitirth. The
name Varamulla is also probably related to the shrine place of Adi Varah, the
Boar. It is held in great esteem since ancient times and has repeatedly
mentioned by Kalhan Pandit in Rajtarangni. The temple was vandalized by Afghan
ruler Sikander Buthshikan. The ancient Shiv Linga and some stone images in
Kotitirth is said to be belonging to the shrine of Adi Varah at the same bank of
The town of Baramulla faced the ire of tribal invaders in 1947 and a large scale
damage was done to Hindu and Sikh fraternity falling into their hands. Sh.
Jawahar Lal Nehru wanted to rename Baramulla as Maqboolabad to commemorate the
martyrdom of the nationalist Sherwani. However Baramulla retained its identity.
the left bank, close to Baramulla, is the ancient site of Hushkapur
(present Ushkur). Hushka had built a vihara, a stupa and a Vishnu Temple. As per
local tradition, Heun Tsang, on arrival in the Valley, stayed here for the first
night. Later, he said that some copper plates, on which the proceedings of
Kanishka’s council were engraved, lay buried here.
The importance of this shrine is described in Kotitirthamahatmya [part of
Bhringisha Samhita]. Presently, the shrine is known for the Shiva temple,
inside the sanctum sanctorum of which stands a unique five feet Shivlinga with a
face. The shrine has a dharamshala and a holy spring. The water of the
holy spring is cold in summer and hot in winter. At present dharamshala
is occupied by CRPF and its maintenance is being done by them.
Right above this temple there is another temple which is called Ganganor.
Ganganor is a holy spring at Mohalla Rajghat. A small temple has been built
on this sacred spring. It is said that the spring receives water from seven
springs existing above at an elevation on the small hillock called Gousain
Teng. There are seven springs on Gousain Teng with a temple. Each spring has
its name viz. Ram Kund, Sita Kund, Laxhman Kund etc. Simultaneously, water from
all the springs with independent out lets combine to form a brook and passing
into a phase of journey. It is believed that it belongs to the Lord Rama’s
There was a number of Kashmiri Pandits living in Baramulla. After invasion of
tribal invaders, many Kashmiri Pandits of Baramulla choose to migrate to other
parts of the country and many more were killed by tribal invaders. Before
migration some 536 Kashmiri Pandit families were living in Baramulla and had
their households scattered in Rajghat, Dewan Bagh, Khowja Bagh, Kanlibagh, Jetty
Road and Ramghat. After mass exodus only one Kashmiri Pandit namely Sh. Mohan
Lal stayed back braving all odds. Some Kashmiri Pandits families from Jammu have
returned back and are staying in a temple. They are doing small trades in
Baramulla now. Two families staying at Khowja Bagh did not migrate and are still
Shiv Lingam inside small Shiv Mandir near Kotitirth
The shrine topography described above remains incomplete without getting mention
of Ram Mandir of Ramghat. A Janki was always taken from this temple on
occasions of Ram Navmi and Dussehra. Another temple near Kotitirth is the temple
of Bhairav known as Bhairav sund [Bharaiv Bagh]. Shushnoor was offered on
dates of festivals specializing the occasions in the honour of the deity.
Near Kotitirth there was a ghat on river Vitasta called Kotighat. This place was
used for the purpose of 10th day Kriya of the departed souls. The
ashes of the dead were immersed in Vitasta at Kotighat. Adjacent to Kotighat is
cremation ground comprising of five kanals of land.
All these things are there but the people whose presence once thrived on the
face of Varamul are now few and far between.
Place Names in Kashmir by
B.K. Raina and S.L. Sadhu
published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai and Indira
Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi