Chander M. Bhat 

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Tirth Raj - Lok Bhawan

by Chander M. Bhat

Chander BhatBorn on 20th March, 1960 in Murran a village in North Kashmir, Chander M. Bhat is presently working as an Assistant Supdt. Posts, in Department of Posts, Govt. of India. His articles regarding Posts and of non-political nature stand widely published in various papers and magazines of the country. ...More ...

Lok Bhawan village is situated in Doru Tehsil erstwhile Brang Pargana some 10 km from District Headquarter Anantnag. A link road from Larkipora links the village with the rest of the world. This village is situated beneath a small hill.  A beautiful spring has its source at the feet of this hill. Seventy households of Kashmiri Pandits were residing in this village before 1990. There was a complete fraternity between Muslims and Pandits. This village is categorized as a backward area by the State Government. This place is famous for the ancient pilgrimage, the Lok Bhawan pilgrimage. This pilgrimage, has a  the shrine, a small holy spring, at an elevation, and a big spring, the Lok Bhawan Spring, which receives water from the small holy spring above at the foot of the hillock. The Lok Bhawan Spring has plenty of water and abounds in sacred fish. The water from this spring flows in the form of a blanket and exists as a stream from the shrine. Devotees have a bath near this exit.1 Total land under this shrine is 20 kanals and two springs are spread over an area of 8 Kanal and 10 Marlas. The big spring is 60 feet long and 54 feet in width and the small spring 10 feet in length and 8 km in width. King Aurangzeb had the spring developed through his subehdar Saif Khan who also laid out a garden name Aurangabad. The name is commemorated in the well known shrukh of Sheikh Noor-ul-Din Noorani.

Lokabhawana ‘na’ chi kaji
A kaji karan Siva
Saati jahnavaran tsaji
Tin var ditam deva

[Hail to the mute lade of Lok Bhawan, with dedication one and all she served, away she departed with the birds, Grant me, Lord, a boon as that.]

Tirth Raj Lok Bhawan is one of the old pilgrimage centres in Kashmir. This ancient shrine was known by the name of Lok-Punya, reportedly named after Lalita Daitiya, the famous ruler of 17th century A.D. The word Lok-Punya signifies the Divine greatness of the shrine. With the passage of time the word Punya was replaced by ‘Bhawan’.

 

Lok Bhawan

Lok Bhawan

In the low laying area of the hill there is a temple in the name of Mata Saidha Lakshmi. On the right side of this temple there is a spring called Waman Ganga. On the left side of this temple, there is Saraswati Kund and in between these springs there are holy feet (pad) of Lord Vaishnu. On the top of the hill there is a shrine of deity Bhariava. At a distance of about 500 feet from this place there is a beautiful spring called Naran Nag.

It is said the Lok Bhawan was an effluent town in the days gone by. A local ruler named Lok Nath is said to have laid the foundation of this village. Previously it was known as Rudhra Bhawan. Kalhana in his work Rajtarangni has also made a mention of this village. Late Shri Anand Koul ‘Bamzai’ in his book ‘History of Kashmir’ has also mentioned that a king named Lok Punya has laid the foundation of village Lok Bhawan and after him, his son Damras developed it as a centre of education. Tazak-i-Jahangeri has also a mention of this fact. This town was extended four km in length and two km in breadth. Village Sidhwara and Shankerpora are also linked with this village. It has a dense population right from Shankerpora and adjoining area. But time proved fatal for the area and only remains of that period are visible now-a-days. Beehama was site of Archaeological excavations and some idols were un-earthed and even today, temple of Gadhadar is still in its pristine glory. Even today there are ruins of old buildings on the right side of Lok Bhawan temple. There is a waterfall still available in the shape of a pyramid and there is a stream called Ganga going down the ground. There is also a cave available which was forty feet long and four feet high and the opening of this cave is now in debris. The cave has concrete wall and idols of Lord Rama, Sheshnag, and Lord Ganesha were inside the cave. It is said that royals were coming to this cave shrine after having holy bath at the adjacent spring.

It is said that a pious lady named Keij Maej who was dumb and was a poor lady used to come to this shrine and would offer water brought from Harnag and this water has brought a spring into existence by that time. A festival is observed on the day of moksha of this pious lady which falls on Har Bhah, the day of Ashad Shukla Paksha Dwadashi. This day was being celebrated with gaiety, devotion and enthusiasm ever since a century. It is said that this festival has special significance for the women folk, who would take bath in the twelve springs of the shrine starting from Naran Nag to Amrit Kund (spring of nectar), in the vicinity of Lok Bhawan on Har Bhah and would get redemption from their sins. The boon to Keij Maej from Lord Shiva is also a great boon to women folk of Kashmir Valley. It is said that after the death women are questioned by the Lord of Death, if they have performed Har Bhah pilgrimage by having a dip in the twelve springs at Lok Bhawan. This is evident from the following saying which was on the tip of the tongue of everyone in the area.

Lar Lad Batnai Har Bhah Chaiyah Karmech?

(Have you performed the festival of Har Bhah?)

In the 20th century there was a population only comprising of illiterate people. Under these circumstances a man named Shri Sarwanand Raina started offering prayers at this place which infused interest in other people about the shrine. Shri Sarwanand Raina was working in Jammu & Kashmir Police Department and his efforts proved very beneficial for the shrine. Before 1968 this shrine was being looked after only by elderly people of the village and in later years youth also stepped in. A Prabandhak Committee under the name of Tirthraj Lokbhawan was started which looked after the construction of the shrine. The effort of this Prabandhak Committee took a good leap towards its present position.

In the year February 1986, this shrine and the dharamshalas was burnt down by anti-social elements and it was during Governors rule that re-construction of the shrine took place. After mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in December 1992, this shrine again fell to the desecration of anti-social elements and everything left behind was either burnt down or broken down. Now work on re-construction of this shrine is under way and may take few more months to restore its pristine glory.

Ever since exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir valley, Lok Bhawan Shrine also went in exile like other shrines of the valley. The members of Prabandhak Committee who also migrated to Jammu and other parts of India continued their strenuous efforts to re-establish the institution as Shri Pushkara Swami Sewa Ashrama at Chinor, Jammu. Another branch of the institution has recently been opened at Kashmiri Colony, Vitasta Enclave, Nafafgarh, New Delhi.

Notes and References:

  1. Interview with Shri Durga Prasad Raina son of Shri Sarwanand Raina, a resident of Lok Bhawan and presently residing at Durga Nagar, Sector II, Jammu.
  2. Encyclopaedia: Kashmiri Pandit Culture and Heritage by C.L.Kaul, published by Ansh Publications and Distributors, New Delhi, 2009 edition.
  3. 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, 2000 edition.
  4. Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India, Gandhi Nagar, Jammu.
  5. Guldastai Kashmir (Urdu) by Hargopal Kaul, published by Arya Press Lahore, 1883 edition.
  6. Rajtarangni by Pandit Kalhan and translated by Sh. M. S. Stein, publisher Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi. 

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