BANGALORE: From Sadhna Pass to Tangdar, one has to traverse the long, difficult mountain ranges of Shamsbari in the extreme north-western regions of Kashmir and reach the small, green valley of Karnah.
After the dusty arduous journey of 75 kilometers, one feels so happy to reach the salubrious surroundings where this tiny tehsil is tucked away amid mountain ranges of different altitudes. As we travel across the valley, one can see groups of local people especially women working in paddy and maize fields that are situated at varying heights. Most people speak here the Pahari language and have a cultural identity similar to the local idioms of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh rather than the Kashmiris.
Three to four months in a year, they are cut off from rest of the state because of avalanches at Sadhna Pass, a farmer tells us and adds, “It is not an easy life here as connectivity amid the mountain ranges is a big issue unless one possess a mountain vehicle.”
Karnah tehsil suffered the most in the 2005 earthquake and many people were killed while a huge number of dwellings were destroyed.
Karnah is a beautiful valley with green meadows, walnut trees and majestic mountains. Visiting one of the villages here—Dildar where 3000 year old human settlements have been discovered—a local sarpanch informed that once this area was completely submerged under water in the ancient times and therefore, people lived on mountains rather than in the valley. Earthen pots, stone statues, icons, swords and pick axes have been excavated demonstrating the existence of an ancient civilization. It is said that Raja Karan ruled these parts and the ruins of his palace, remains of tanks and an idol still exist in the Karnav-Keran Valley.
In this valley itself, there is a Pando Pul (bridge) on the Nullah Kaji Nag that traces the arrival of Pandavas in the Kashmir Valley.
Many places here have Sanskrit names and it is said that Lord Krishna came to meet the Pandavas here and therefore, the main river system is named Kishan Ganga. The picturesque forests, the gushing brooks and the mighty stark mountain ranges of Shamsbari and the unbelievable view from Sadhna Pass is so beautiful that one feels like going back again and again, but is stopped by the fact that one has to undergo innumerable security checks after crossing Kupwara, encounter bad roads and also survive a lack of food and accommodation in this remote wilderness.