Zainatilak, The Missing Town

Budshah built massive infrastructure in his half a century rule. Barring a few canals, nothing exists. But almost everything he built, names are still the same. However, there is only one exception, reports Heena Muzzafar

Ruins of Parihaspora in Srinagar outskirts: The governance city that Laltadatiya built at the peak of his rule. A KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Around the fag end of Budshah’s reign, historians suggest, a massive famine was caused in Kashmir somewhere in 1460. It was caused by a mid-summer snowfall that destroyed the crops in length and breadth of Kashmir.

Lives were lost as the prices skyrocketed. Profiteering took over the market and black-marketing became the routine. As the people started responding to a new situation, the kind king opened his granaries and the food was freely distributed.

As the situation stabilised, the Court freed people of all the debts that they had acquired by purchasing rice from the open market. All the merchants were asked to return the assets they had mortgaged in lieu of the grains.

This led Zainulabideen to decide to construct a town in a highland. He chose a spot very close to Anderkote and named it Zainatilak

Barely had people recovered from the damage caused by the famine, another grief-struck them, exactly two years later. In 1462, a drastic flood caused by continuous rainfall inundated the valley. The flood devastated almost everything that came into its way. It was the worst flood that left thousands of people dead. People were left in abject poverty as the cattle died and houses collapsed. However, this time, the rice crop remained safe.

This led Zainulabideen to decide to construct a town in a highland. He chose a spot very close to Anderkote and named it Zainatilak.

“The Sultan apprehending the recurrence of a similar calamity, built on the high banks of Jhelum the town of Zainatilak, near Anderkote, which had been destroyed due to the floods,” Mohibul Hassan wrote in his Kashmir Under Sultans. “It was in this new city that Jai Singh of Rajauri was received by the Sultan, and appointed Raja of the kingdom of Rajauri.”

While Anderkote lives and is kicking, where is Zainatilak? Having been built so close to Anderkote, why its residents do not know? Was the actual Anderkote destroyed and the same locality migrated to the new city but retained its old name.

Anderkote is one of Kashmir’s oldest villages. In fact, at one point of time, it was capital of the state of Kashmir. It has witnessed some of the worst battles in the most crucial phase of Kashmir history.

Anderkote was originally built as Inderkote. It was settled by the Hindu king, Jayapida who, according to Kalhana ruled Kashmir somewhere around 798 AD. He had named it Jayapura.

More than his creation, the Hindu king was an interesting character. A great-grandchild of prominent Hindu ruler Laltadatiya, the builder, Jayapida was trying to compete with his popularity. Soon after he took over, he gave throne into the custody of his confidants and left for conquering world. He spent some years outside Kashmir, during which his army of 80,000 deserted him. He eventually married and became a soldier of his father-in-law and eventually returned home.

Back home, his “confidant”, his own brother-in-law, had replaced him literally. The king had to fight a serious battle to kill his brother-in-law for reclaiming the throne. But that transition converted him into a despot.

During the close of his reign, he had become so unpopular that he emerged as a ruthless ruler. This led Brahmans of Kashmir to go for a sort of Satyagraha to seek divine intervention and that is, what Kalhana tells us, led to his death.

Jayapura is Anderkote and this discovery was made by Prof Buhlrr during his tour in 1875. Then, he found the village having one of its parts located on the banks of a lake. He also located ruins of some temples. Kalhana says that this town had a castle that “equalled the heaven”.

Since its founding, Anderkote remained a vital spot from the governance point of view. Nothing much, however, is available in history. The detailed description of Anderkote is found once the Kashmir’s transition to Islam had actually taken place.

That drama took place in the summer of 1338 when Kota Rani, the last Hindu sovereign of Kashmir, fled apprehensive of Shah Mir, the founder of Kashmir’s medieval sultanate. History remembers him as Sultan Shamsuddin. By then, he had become very popular in Srinagar and Kota Rani was scared of that popularity.

Shahmir ruled Kashmir from Anderkote.  After ruling for three years, he died in the same village and lays buried there.

Rani shifted her capital to Anderkote, where she appointed Bhatta Bhiksana as her Prime Minister. Shamir initially sent her a marriage proposal which the Rani refused. Later, he led an army and attacked Anderkote, besieged the fort and eventually killed her Prime Minister. Vanquished, she agreed to marriage that actually took place. Locals believe Shamir had only 1199 soldiers with him.

But Shahmir as the new ruler of Kashmir never trusted her. He imprisoned her along with her two sons where she died in custody in 1339.

Shahmir ruled Kashmir from Anderkote.  After ruling for three years, he died in the same village and lays buried there. The locals have converted his grave into a shrine. His son Allauddin (Ali Sher) also ruled Kashmir from there, for some time, till he shifted to his new capital, Alauddin Pora in Srinagar.

When the epicentre of the Sultanate was decimated by the floods, Zainulabideen decided to reconstruct it. Without touching the Anderkote, he set up Zainatilak at a highland not far away.

It is said that the king constructed two ponds, one of them remained filled with water. Another one remained filled either with milk or some other drink. But local legend lacks any information on this. Besides, Zainulabideen spread the course of the stream, Lari to the village of Asham through Safapora. He constructed a canal to make passage for the stream.  He also set up a garden in Safapora which is not far away from the Anderkot. In order to prevent recurrent tensions in North Kashmir, he built a causeway connecting Anderkote with Sopore, where he had built a palace and a governance seat.

But, once a vibrant hamlet, Zainatilak now remains confined to the books only. Historians have mentioned its importance, while people have failed to retain its name. Unlike Anderkote, Zainatilak is untraceable. Interestingly, Anderkote is just a walking distance from Parihaspora, the magnificent capital of Kashmir’s Hindu era.

After the Sultanate was over and Mughal conqueror Mirza Haider Dughlat took over from the weak Shahmiris, Anderkote retained its importance. He ruled from this fort and constructed a number of buildings, thus introducing new system of windows. After his death, his family had taken refuge in this fort and their respectful return was negotiated with the Chaks, the new masters of Kashmir.

The major attraction of the village is a shrine of Sultan Shah Badshah’s, the founder of Shahmir dynasty. People throng this shrine for solace and mental peace.

History does mention Anderkote retaining its importance by way of a garrison. But the traces of the fort do not exist anymore.

Aware of their rich past, Anderkote lives a life of misery now. Poor, downtrodden, its economy depends on marginal farming and labour. Inhabited by almost 1000-households, this Shia Muslim village has just a primary school.

The major attraction of the village is a shrine of Sultan Shah Badshah’s, the founder of Shahmir dynasty. People throng this shrine for solace and mental peace.

Just outside the Shrine are two pillars that according to the locals were used by the king to tie his lion and horse!

Within the same cemetery premises there are various graves that according to locals are of the soldiers that along with the king captured Anderkote and defeated the Hindu queen.


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