Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is This Heaven Too???

A very dear friend of mine sent me some photographs from his recent trip to Jammu and Kashmir and I thought I will share the same with you. Sorry for interrupting in my Kashmir sojourn but I couldn't wait to share these pictures with my fellow bloggers. These pictures belong to the Billawar area of Jammu region, which is a very beautiful hill station located 66 kms from Jammu city, along the national highway.
As the photographs suggest, the virgin beauty of this place competes with that of Kashmir but somehow, not many of us (even within J&K) are aware of it. Years ago, I had gone on a short trip to Billawar. It was during my days as a journalist and the trip had been organised by the State Cultural Academy. The purpose of the trip was to honour a local poet, Mr Romal Singh Bhadwal, for his lifelong contribution to art and culture in the region. The poet, well into his 80s, was felicitated in the presence of his family and villagers at Dadwara, one of innumerous lesser known villages in the state.
After the feliciation ceremony, there was lunch, cooked in typical village-style, on earthen choolhas (mud stoves) in huge utensils. The meal was basic fare of rajma (kidney-beans), chawal (rice) and the best of all, Amball {a sweet and sour side-dish prepared wiht pulses, Kaashifal (kind of gourd) and tamarind juice}. Just FYI, Amball is a staple side-dish in Dogri cuisine and is cooked on important occasions like marriage, felicitation etc. The lunch tasted awesome and eating it under an open sky increased its flavour.
Anyways, waking back from my reverie, let me tell you something more about the place. Billawar was founded by a king called Raja Bhopat Pal in 1598-1614 and it remained the capital of Basohli Rajas. The descendants of the Royal family are known as “BILLAWARIAS”.
Billawar town boasts of a number of ancient monuments, old temples, famous among them being Sukrala Mata temple, situated atop a hill and the Mahabilvakeshwar temple. According to popular belief, Pandavas visited Billawar during the last year of exile and were impressed with the "Bill" trees, present abundantly throughout the area. According to historians, Billawar-Basohli (another small town located near Billawar), along with Jammu and Poonch are the three original states wherein the Duggar or Dogra community thrived.
The pictures are self-explanatory and so is the scenic beauty. So, the answer to the title question is...........
Yes, of course!!!!!!


Priyanka Khot said...

so many heavens, such a beautiful place and chances of going there so little because of the terror threat looming in the state. Thanks a ton for sharing the info and photos of the place.

Hope one day, in my life-time, peace will prevail and I will embark on the trip to the land of heavens.

yamini said...

Priyanka, Amen!!!!

Patty said...

Very beautiful photos.

yamini said...

Thanks Patty. It is even more beautiful when seen in person.