Zainapora, Budshah’s southern shelter


Almost following a central Asian saint, Zainulabideen reached a dusky south Kashmir village to create his palace and a garrison. The village remembers everything but has not been able to protect anything, reports Aakash Hassan

Remains of fort

A small vale unveils itself after scaling up couple of miles through the crisscrossing road to the top of hillock. Not far away from the Bijbehara railway station, the road leads through dense plantations of willow and poplars with vast swathes of paddy fields and snakes around hills to reach a huge habitation shielded by a karewa.

Most of the houses are located at karewas foot which surrounds this village. In between a rivulet, the Toungri, a tributary of Jhelum, runs through the basin dividing this major village in east and west Zainpora. A part of modern Zainpora actually lives on the karewa.

Zainapora, now a tehsil, is referred as Jeen Pora or Jeen Nagar, especially by the Sanskrit chroniclers of Kashmir. It has been founded by Zainulabidin as one of his prime Pargana South of Srinagar. A major road connects it with Shopian (19 kms) and Bijbehara (11 kms).

Budshah constructed a fort and a palace on the sprawling Karewa on the east side and in opposite, on the west karewa lived Shams-ud-Din Bagdadi.

The story of this history rich valley begins with a saint, Shamsuddin Bagdhadi who came to Kashmir during the reign of Budshah. Then, local legend is, the plateau was desolate.

“When he (Shams-ud-Din) reached the place he found the atmosphere of this area was very pleasant, though it had no population or any settlement at that time,” documents Mohammad-Ud-Din Fouq in Tarikh-e-Budshah. As the saint decided to stay at one plateau with his disciples, his fame spread to every part of Kashmir, including to the King.

“Instead of calling him to his palace, the king thought it proper to go to him in person and see him,” the book states.  After the king went with some gifts, he was immensely impressed by the persona of the saint. “Later the king settled and established a city here with Zainpore as its name.”

Budshah constructed a fort and a palace on the sprawling Karewa on the east side and in opposite, on the west karewa lived Shams-ud-Din Bagdadi.

Since then this small valley, surrounded by its vast flat top hummocks begun developing. This place turned up as one of the important centers in the Maraz province. Sultan also established a canal for the purpose of irrigation and is being called as Zain Sathu even today. This man-made stream was so successful that till date its alignment remains unchanged.

“This canal irrigated not only Zain Pore but also many other towns and villages,” Fouq wrote. This spring-fed canal with source at Nilnaag, not far away, is in a dilapidated condition now but still exists.

In Zaina Tarangni, the official history of Budshah era, that Jonaraja co-authored with Srivara, refers it as Jain Poori.

“King settled a town named Jain Poori in Pargana Kudal,” he writes. “He gave special concessions to Brahmins in this town.”

The king was follower of saint Shams-ud-Din Bagdhadi and would take important advices from him.  Budshah had also made Zaiapora as Capital of his state and would interact with his subjects during his visit. However, the saint was unhappy with the king for frequenting Zainpora.

“It is said that because of the frequent visits of the king the sheikh felt some hindrance in the way of his worship and meditation and as such he once said to the king that saints and Faqirs are like kings , how can two kings occupy same space?” quotes Tarikh-e-Budshah.

After this incident Budshah shifted his capital to Srinagar.“The king listened to him and he himself was a combination of wonders, he refrained from going there, thereafter,” the book states.

The local legend, however, offers a different reasoning to Kings migration to Srinagar.

“Once, king went to meet the saint for getting advice from him that, whether he should shift his capital or not. The king was advised by the saint that he should do opposite to what his wife would suggest him,” village elders said. “His wife was in deep love with the serenity or Zainapora and she advised him not to shift, that eventually lead to reallocation of capital.”

But Zainapora still remained an important center during that period.

In his Tarikh-e-Aazmi, Fouq also mentions Zainapore while discussing Chak ruler Hussain Shah.

“It appears that Zaina Pora had special significance even up to one hundred years after the death of Zainulabidin,” Fauq mentions. “When Hussain Shah the king of Kashmir from Chak dynasty, in the last days of his reign handed over government and kingdom of Kashmir to his younger brother, Ali Khan and made him sit on the throne of Kashmir, he himself went to Zaina Pora.”

The next ruler, Ali Shah had imprisoned his brother Hassan Khan in the fort of Zaina Pora till his death, as he led a rebellion against him.

Quoting Tarikh-e-Hassan, Fauq mentions that, pleasing gardens and great buildings of Zaina Pora were wonders of that time. All of them were located on the plateau of Faraz. Some of the remains of the ruins of these buildings could be seen in Mughal periods as well.

Batte Nag

Time has taken its tool. Neither the royal fort nor any other structure remains in Zainapora now.  There are no signs that can depict where the palace was located.

Residents, however, say that it was at a place where Kashmiri Pandits were living, on the west karewa that overlooks the whole belt. There are ruins at the bumpy place, but that is the soiled debris of the Pandits who migrated during tumultuous 1990s.

Locals say the area where fort was located is where Dobi Mohalla currently exists.

“People have recovered pieces of ancient stuff during digging or while excavation,” says Tariq Ahmad, a local teacher, “I don’t think there will be any place around in Zaina Pora where pieces of clay made stuff will not appear.”

The local argument of fort being placed is supported by another logical reason.

Just behind it is vast plain that is being counted as one of the prominent horticulture farms in this part of the world. It is an experimentation hub where the horticulture planners introduce and test newer varieties of fruits, mostly apple.

It is believed that this land was used by Budshah to camp his troops and when he migrated out of Zaina Pora they stayed put, there.

Called as Advanced Centre for Horticulture Development, this mega orchard formerly known as Indo -Bulgarian Project, was established during the year 1989-90. This center is spread over an area of 130 hectors (2600 Kanals), according to the officials records.

Currently the land has been divided into three main blocks.

The High-Density Apple orchard block is spread on 60 hectors, the nursery block on 40 hectors and the Walnut Block is spread over 30 hectors.

These 130 hectares of land were initially put on lease to the Central Government  for 20 years and was being utilized for rising of medicinal plants.

“In 1989-90 the land was transferred to Horticulture department for propagation of clonal root-stock and establishment of high density orchard in collaboration with Bulgarian Govt. till early 90’s,” official documents reveal.

But officials say that due to the unfavorable condition in valley the project was left mid-way by Bulgarian Government.

Situated at the altitude of 1600 meters above sea level the orchard is considered as back bone of the horticulture department.

It is believed that this land was used by Budshah to camp his troops and when he migrated out of Zaina Pora they stayed put, there.

The labourers who work in the farm say, during digging they occasionally find interesting things belonging to medieval Kashmir.

Few years back, while digging at one place they found a pipe like structure across few meters.

“It looked like this was being used for the irrigation purposes,” says Tariq Ahmad. “The structure of these objects was same as we use pipelines now for water supply.”

Locals believe that there was proper irrigation connection, between the kanal and the spring.

“Number of things have been found on route to Neil Naag (blue spring),” says Tariq who has been keen observer of these things around the village.

Neil Naag is the one of the major source of irrigation to one side of the village even today. Situated in the north side of the mega orchard, Neil Naag has been a small spring that has been named after its blue clean water. Locals say that it has shrunken; its discharge has gone down

and is in dilapidated condition.

Ziyarat Sharief Hazrat Sheikh Shams uddin Baghdadi (RA)

Even Neil Naag has a legend.

A saint has weaved a rope for 12-years and the tied a stone to it to measure its depth, but the stone didn’t touch the base, says elderly Ghulam Mohammad Mir. But now Neil Naag doesn’t look more than one foot deep, but the water is still blue.

Initially the villagers say that people would take water from stream for drinking but now, the water is being lifted to the water tank build few decades ago

This is not the only spring in the village but, locals say that historically there were some 1300 small and big springs. In this time, locals count that, around 300 minor and major springs are still visible. That is why Zainapora is also known as village of springs.

Currently, the drinking water supply to the Zaina Pora, constituting of around 400 households and other villages comes from Kaninag. It is a spring located in the basement of the karewa on northern side of village.

Initially the villagers say that people would take water from stream for drinking but now, the water is being lifted to the water tank build few decades ago.

There is another, major spring situated just few meters ahead of Kani Nag and it is called Batte Nag. The spring has got its name as local Hindus used to worship there.

Currently the spring is fenced and in front of it is a vast play field. Locals cite this field as place where one of the great structures during Budshah’s times was constructed. Some say that the king had built a grand mosque here where he used to lead prayers. But as of today there is no evidence of any structure.

Zaina Pora had a good population of Pandits till they migrated in 90’s. But there are still a few Pandit families residing in the village. Their number is however very small.

In the village is a shrine, located on east side on Karewa. There the saint Shams-ud-Din Bagdhadi is believed to be buried.

Most of the economy of the village is driven from horticulture.

Zain Pora is home to a newly constructed sub-district hospital. It is deemed a major facility for the entire belt.

Pertinent to mention, the areas around Zaina Pora have witnessed surge in number of local militants. Number of youth has picked up gun from the surrounding villages. But Zaina Pora is still calm and till date no local youth is active in militancy.

This village has a potential of becoming a major town. Its market is crowded and is growing. Locals aspire to become a tourist spot.










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