BANGALORE: Staying in Tangdar which is one of the remotest northern areas of Kashmir Valley, we visited a few villages in Karnah tehsil. Even in the months of May-June, the weather was cold and nearly freezing at about one degree in the night. We were staying in a guest house that was located at a great height from the main road. However, the picturesque view of the mountain ranges with its rich cover of alpine forests was an unforgettable experience. Since the basic facilities in this guest house were located at different places and heights, we had to go up and down for everything, even a bucket of hot water. However, when one visits such places, we realize how difficult is the lifestyle of people living in mountain ranges as they have to trek from range to range for the smallest thing.
To get a feel of the place, we visited a few villages and one of them, Parara was on our list. With no connectivity, we climbed a height of more than 2000 feet going round curves and steep mountain ascents on horses.However, part of the way was so bad that we had to get down and walk on foot. At a few places, my horse slipped down loose pathways, but the mountain guides who were with us ensured that the animal was pulled up at the right time. Otherwise, I am sure I would have slipped down the deep gorges without bidding adieu to my family. Reaching this place which has no proper roads, drainage system, sanitation facilities, I realized how difficult it was for the local people to go down to Tangdar almost every day for their needs. However, to my amazement, I saw many children and old women traversing the steep pathways without a pause and without a curse.
The local Sarpanch said these people had been climb the mountain ranges since they took their first baby steps.
The Parara village which was damaged in the 2005 earthquake, has now emerged out of its trauma but its connectivity and medical facilities still leave much to be desired. Living in the shadow of infiltration of terrorists from across the Line of Control and frequent firing operations between the army and Pak sent militants, the local people say there are frequent searches and they are picked up for questioning.
Making our way across homes and traversing across the hilly terrain with gushing streams and flowering shrubs, we reached another village Dhani that is at a lower altitude. Here too, it is the same story: no basic amenities because of its remoteness and being close to the border with Pakistan. But the people so used to hardships gave us a warm welcome and we stayed at a young couple’s place who provided us a good vegetarian meal and refused to take any money. From here, we made our way to a famous Ziarat which houses the tomb of Peer Baba. Venerated by people from Kashmir and across the border, the shrine attracts people in all seasons and we spent a few peaceful hours here soaking in the holy atmosphere in the midst of alpine surroundings.