by Ilhak Tantray

SRINAGAR: Dudran, located 14 kilometres from the Boniyar, between Baramulla and Uri, is aptly named the ‘Milk Village’. Renowned for its dairy products, including milk, cheese, and butter, the hamlet holds a distinct reputation.

'Milk Village' of Dudran Preserving Centuries-Old Dairy Legacy
‘Milk Village’ of Dudran (Uri) preserves their milk produce in natural cave-type spaces instead of high-cost refrigerators til it reaches the market.

At the heart of Dudran’s dairy legacy is the customary practice of Doud Khots, a tradition that has spanned centuries. This unique method involves the preservation of milk in small, natural cave-like structures known as Doud Khots. With approximately 70–80 families residing in this isolated village, the significance of Doud Khots cannot be overstated. The residents see it as a refrigeration system bestowed upon them by nature.

These structures, strategically constructed on top or close to natural springs, serve to maintain a fresh and cold atmosphere. Comprising wooden roofs and stone walls, the Doud Khots are equipped with wooden planks encircling the caves, acting as a protective barrier against animals and safeguarding the stored milk and dairy products. The meticulous craftsmanship of Dudran’s Doud Khots is a testament to the community’s commitment to preserving its rich dairy heritage using no artificial means.

Following a few days of storage in the Doud Khots, locals curdle the milk—a tradition that endures despite the advancements of the modern era. This practice remains relevant due to its ability to preserve dairy items without reliance on electricity, ensuring the longevity of milk for several days. It serves as a practical demonstration of a traditional or organic refrigeration method, allowing contemporary inhabitants to maximise the utility of their caves.

“Every family here produces about 15 litres of milk every day,” Arif Ahmad, a 29-year-old resident of Dudran, said. “This is average but there are many families whose production is more than this.” The milk is extensively used for the preparation of curd, butter, and cheese. The Doud Khots, diligently maintained by the locals, serve as the constant storage space for these dairy products.

For numerous years, Dudran village women have stored dairy products in Doud Khots. Gulshan, a 32-year-old resident, reflects on this tradition, stating, “Our passion for Doud Khot spans generations, from late customs to rising incomes.”

Manzoor Khan, a shopkeeper in Boniyar, who frequently purchases Dudran goods, said the families selling milk earn between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000 per month. They do not have additional costs for electricity or refrigeration.

Rehman Khan, a 46-year-old milkman, pays Dudran locals Rs 30 per litre for their milk, utilising the surplus to produce butter, cheese, and curd. Subsequently, he sells the processed milk to nearby villages and towns.

During summers, the majority of Dudran village families make buttermilk, locally known as Gurus. This is required for converting curd into butter. Gurus, a coolant has been a top consuming dairy product in Kashmir for centuries and is still an in-thing in summers in the periphery. This entire conversion process takes place in these Doud Khots.

Rubeena, 45, shared, “We used to store three to four pots of milk in the cave for making butter and curd. People take the milk home after four days, and within an hour, it transforms into butter with the use of a wooden churner.”

Dr Irshad from Animal Husbandry reported that while Uri division generates 19,000 tonnes of milk monthly, Dudran hamlet consistently produces 1,800 litres (1.8 tons) of milk per day.

Dudran residents believe in the health advantages of consuming pure milk and its by-products. In the absence of modern medical services, they rely on homemade items to treat various illnesses. Ghulam Hassan, 49, shared, “Diarrhoea is one of the digestive issues that can be treated using the liquid leftover after producing butter. My father instilled this in me, and I do the same for my kids.”

Villagers assert that milk and its by-products are natural, devoid of chemicals or preservatives, making the milk organic with multiple health benefits.


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