Wonder Spring?

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A Facebook video showing a spring in a non-descript south Kashmir village following kid’s commands to make its water rise and fall sent hoards of people for a glimpse of the phenomenon. Saqib Mir found the basic geologic logic explaining the wonder that lacks takers locally

A view of wonder spring in Halsidar village of Islamabad district, KL image by Saqib Mir

Newsbreaks and rumours now take off from social media. Within a day after a video clip broadcast the ‘miraculous’ spring, there were busloads of people on way to have the first glimpse. The video showed a few village boys actually summoning the water up and the water was apparently obliging them. Seemingly, the water faded away as the kids ordered. Some of the visitors, keen to visit the ‘wonder’, had brought plastic bottles and the cans to take the ‘sacred’ water home.

Located in the foothills of Pir Panchal in Halsidar hamlet, almost 12 km away from the Verinag, the source of Jhelum river, this ‘miraculous’ spring is locally known Bateh Nagien, a small spring of Pandits.

“It is a natural process and has nothing to do with the words, the boys are uttering,” Riyaz Ahmad, a resident of nearby Haalsan village, said. “Whether you repeat these particular words or not, the water will still start gushing out after every three minutes in the spring and will then itself go down after about two minutes”.

Any person who spends 10 minutes watching the spring will testify to this fact. It is the routine movement of the water and is not command-oriented.

Hydrologist, Farooq Ahmad Dar, who teaches at the University of Kashmir’s Earth Sciences department, said the phenomenon is neither mysterious nor miraculous.

“Geologically, limestone is the main rock around Verinag, Kokernag and other springs of south Kashmir,” Dar said. “Limestone is soluble in nature and when water enters this rock and groundwater flows through it, it dissolves the rock chemically and produces wide fractures called conduits, in it. As more groundwater flows through these conduits with time, their dimensions increase and generate caves in such areas. This process is called karstification and the rock is said to be karstified. One can observe karst in the field through the presence of various features such as springs, caves, sinkholes, and many more. The groundwater emerges naturally and reaches the surface under favourable conditions and is called a spring.”

The karstification is observed in the entire belt as there are a number of karst features including caves present.

On Halsidar, Dar said, the limestone aquifer gets recharged through rainwater, snowmelt, and more possibly from the northwest flowing Sandran stream, almost1-2 km from the spring site.

“The limestone beds in the area are dipping at a high angle towards southwest away from the Sandran stream towards the spring site,” Dar said. “This geological condition favours the water of the Sandran stream to recharge the limestone through bedding planes and feed the storage of the limestone aquifer.”

During the spring season, the wonder spring remains permanently flowing because the aquifer (limestone) remains saturated during this high recharging period when snow melting is more. “During autumn and winters, when the water is seen rising and falling, the aquifer normally remains unsaturated as its storage decreases with time.”

The wonder spring’s change in the water level follows the Sandran pattern. Geologists say the spring is most likely a sinkhole (depression) covered with thin layer of soil and connected to an underground conduit in which water keeps fluctuation with groundwater recharge.

But Halsidar has sent logic on leave. Residents are keen to retain the fame that the internet video has given the village. They consider the wonder spring, surrounded by seven other springs, and a cave nearby is a sacred place. They have their legends to share. Now they say Kashmir’s stand bearer saint, Sheikh Noruddin Noorani would often visit the village.

“Keeping in view the sanctity of the place, its springs and its natural beauty, the J&K Tourism department should declare it as a tourist destination” Ghulam Qadir, a resident, said. They claim they had approached their concerned MLAs several times with this plea but to no avail. “People from other states of India had started visiting the village but once the armed insurgency started in Kashmir the people also stopped visiting this place,” one resident added.

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