Lord Shiva’s presence in Brij Dhaam – Brij Yatra Diaries

In Brij bhoomi we have four deities of Lord Shiva, in four directions, known a “Dik-Palas”. They are supposed to be the protectors of Brij Dhama from all directions. Besides that is Nandeshwara Mahadeva, at Nand Maharaj’s palace in Nandgaon.

Nandeshwara Mahadeva:


The palace of Nanda Maharaja is situated atop Nandeshwara hill in Nandagaon. Lord Shiva asked for a boon from Narayana of getting a chance to witness the Brij pastimes of Lord Krishna. Reciprocating with this desire, Lord Krishna granted him this form in Nandagaon. Lord Shiva has stayed at Nandagaon in the form of Nandeshwara Mahadeva and even today, the charnamrita and maha-prasada of Lord Krishna is first offered to him.

Bhuteshwara Mahadeva:


Bhuteshwara Mahadeva protects Brij-Dhama from the western side. The tradition is that when coming to Brij Dhaama, one must first go to Mathura to take permission from him to enter the dhama. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta (Madhya 17.191) by Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami describes how Lord Chaitanya also visited Bhuteshwara Mahadeva on his visit to Brij Dhama:

स्वयंभू, विश्राम, दीर्घ-विष्णु, भूतेश्वर
महाविद्या, गोकर्णादि देखिला विस्तार

Gopishwara Mahadeva:


Gopishwara Mahadeva is one of the most prominent deities in the Gaudiya-sampradaya and is mentioned in many Gaudiya literatures, being a very ancient protector of Sri Vrindavana Dhama. It is said that one cannot enter Vrindavana without his permission. His glories are sung throughout the Goswami literatures:

श्रीमद–गोपीश्वरम वंदे शंकरम करुणामयम
सर्व–क्लेश–हरम देवम वृंदारण्य–रति–प्रदम

I offer my respectful obeisance’s to Sri Gopishwara, who is merciful Lord Shiva himself. He removes troubles and grants spiritual love in Vrindavana. (Sri Bhakti Ratnakar 5.3741)

Chakaleshwara Mahadeva:


On the northern bank of Manasi Ganga is a group of five Shiva-lingas that are famous by the name Chakaleshwara Mahadeva. These five Shiva-lingas are considered to be Lord Shiva’s five faces. They protect the area of Govardhan. This part of Manasi Ganga is known as Chakra-tirtha. When Indra sent Samvartaka clouds to drown Brij Dhama, Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan parvat to save them. He then asked Sudarshan Chakra to appear above the hill and clear the clouds. When danger was over, Sudarshan Chakra requested Lord Krishna to give him a place to rest and he granted this spot, hence the name “Chakra-Tirtha”. The present temple is recent; the original one was destroyed by the Muslim invaders. However, the deities here are very old and are said to have been installed by Krishna’s great-grandson Vajranabha.

Kameshwara Mahadeva:


Kama means “desire”. It is said that Kameshwara Mahadeva is the fulfiller of one’s desires. Kameshwara Mahadeva resides in Kamyavan in the western part of Brij-mandala. It is said that Vrishabhanu Maharaja worshipped Kameshwara to get a daughter. He already had a son, Sridama but now, he wanted a daughter. Kameshwara granted his desire and he obtained Srimati Radharani as his daughter.

जय श्री कृष्णा
ॐ नमः शिवाय





Leela Sthalis of Brij Bhoomi – Brij Yatra Diaries

One can realise the significance of Brij Dhaam by merely entering Brij Bhoomi. The Earth and its dust, the Yamuna flowing, the tulsi trees in Nidhivan, everything here feels sacred. You feel thrilled to be connected to this Earth and dust where our Lord had walked with Radharani and do so even now. It truly feels magical & ecstatic! When you are on a visit to Brij Bhoomi, there are many leela sthalis that usually gets missed by devotees. People will tell you about the usual temple in Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana or Nandgaon. I am putting down few here so that next visit you all can make sure to visit them all.

  1. Sankari khor – It’s a narrow pathway between Brahmagiri & Vilas Parvat in Barsana. This path was used by gopis to go out of Barsana to sell their milk, ghee, dahi & other milk products. Krishna with his friends would stop these gopis at this point and play fun games, even break the matkis to trouble them thus sending the gopis rushing off to Yashoda Maiya to complain.1 Sankari_khor
  2. Prem Sarovar – Once Radharani & Shri Krishna were sitting together when a Bee started hovering around Radharani’s face thinking it to be lotus. A friend chased the bee away and came to tell her “Madhu is now gone”. Radharani thought Madhu, also a name of Krishna, had left. In her bhav of separation & love, she started crying calling Madhusudan’s name. Krishna tried hard to console her but seeing her pain he too forgot that She was sitting on His lap and he too began to cry. It is said from the mix of their “Tears of Love”, the Prem Sarovar pond emerged. The Prem Sarovar emerged from the tears of Separation of Yugal Sarkar, although they are together.2 Prem Sarovar.jpg
  3. Charan Pahadi – After Shri Krishna entered the cave known as Luk Luka Khandar, He appeared on top of the hill in which the cave is buried and played sweetly on His flute. The sound of the flute broke the sakhis meditation on Him. They looked up to see their beloved playing His flute on the hill, and eagerly ran there to meet Him. The sound of the flute was so sweet that it melted the hill, and Shri Krishna’s footprints manifested there. Even today, after 5000yrs, one can see these footprints very clearly.3 Charan Pahadi.jpg
  4. Hau Bilau, this is something very interesting from Shri Krishna’s life. On the bank of Yashoda Kund, Krishna with Balrama performed childhood pastimes with their friends. The brothers used to get so absorbed in their games that they forgot to come home. Yashoda Maiya would employ various tricks to get them home and main among them was to scare them with Haua who would come & take them. Even today, the ancient stone figures of the Hau Bilau near Yashoda Kund are a reminder of this sweet childhood pastime. There’s a mention of the same in a local Braj poem – Dur khelan mat jau lal yahan hau aye hain; hamskar puchhat kanha maiya yeh kinai pathaye hain “Do not go far away, my child, the haua has come. Krishna smiled & asked Maiya who had sent him.”4 Hau Bilau
  5. Ladli-Lal, Sree Radha Rani pragatya mandir. The temple of Radha Rani at Rawal, Mahavan Mathura where she was born. This is the ONLY place where our beloved Radha Rani is worshiped in her “Lalan Swaroop” (toddler Radharani).5 Ladli Lal.jpg
  6. Kalia Ghat – Krishna was playing with a ball with his friends on the banks of Yamuna, when his ball fell into Kaliya-dah, a part of the river lake where Kaliya Nag, the thousand-headed snake lived. Krishna went up the Kadam tree on the banks and jumped into the river. He fought with Kaliya and emerged victorious, dancing on Kaliya’s heads. The Kadam Tree at Kalia Ghat represent the spot where the incident took place.6 Kaliya-Ghat
  7. Paavan Sarovar – Yashoda Maiya used to bathe Lord Krishna here. This is said to be one of Lord Krishna’s favourite lakes. Lord Krishna would come here after the cows would return from grazing and give the cows a bath.7 Paavan Sarovar.jpg
  8. Ter Kadamb – The place where Shri Krishna played Raas Leela with the gopis, The Raas Leela Sthali.8 Ter Kadam.jpg
  9. Brahmand Ghat – The spot where infant Lord Krishna showed the entire Universe or Brahmand to Yashoda Maiya. One day while playing with His friends, infant Krishna swallowed some particles of mud. When Yashoda Maiya came to know about this, she rushed to this very spot and worriedly asked Him to open His mouth so that she could remove all the mud. Krishna opened His mouth wide. She stared in utter disbelief and amazement at what she saw – she could see the entire Brahmand, the Entire Universe was contained within the small confines of Krishna’s mouth. This sight that Yashoda Maiya saw is what has kept this place alive even today.9 Brahmand Ghat.jpg
  10. Raman Reti – Also called Raman Van, this pious place is believed to have been the sporting place of Laddu Gopal (baby Krishna) in Gokul. Reti means sand & Raman, divine play. The sand of this sacred place is blessed by the lotus feet of baby Krishna. Thus this place is revered. It is believed that at this place Lord Krishna during his childhood used to play with Lord Balaram and his other gopa friends. So, due to its association with Krishna this land has been used by many saints for their meditation.10 Raman Reti.jpg

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Rabindranath Tagore’s tryst with Brij Bhoomi – Brij Yatra Diaries

KrishnaWhile sitting on the banks of Yamuna suddenly I remembered the book “The Lover of God”. It’s a collection of poems written by Gurudev Rabindranath at the age of 14 with pseudonym Bhanusimha. The poems feature Radha Krishna and a friend who addresses Krishna but nameless. The poems are masterpieces of bhakti-ras.

I am putting just one of the poem here which the publishers have allowed. The poem tells about love and longing, telling how Radha pines for her beloved Krishna. This is the meaning on surface, Gurudev actually tells a much deeper truth. Radha is the soul of a Spiritual seeker while Krishna the God. Krishna’s flute is the melody that calls all souls, it’s a melody that you hear in the silence and quietness of meditation. He tells of dissolving in Yamuna, the river which is eternally connected to Krishna. Dissolving in Yamuna means to fall in love with Lord Krishna and loose oneself to that love. Continue reading “Rabindranath Tagore’s tryst with Brij Bhoomi – Brij Yatra Diaries”

At Srimati Radharani’s birthplace – Brij Yatra Diaries

Mukharvali, now known as Raval is a small village not very far from Gokul. The place is known for its spiritual sanctity as our beloved Radharani was born in this village. Raval and Barsana villages are the places where Srimati Radharani was born and life spent in her leelas with Lord Krishna.


This village is situated on the banks of Yamuna and there is a temple known as the Ladli-Lal Mandir, where one can see the beautiful deities of Radha and Krishna. The Deities were installed by Vajranabha, the great grandson of Lord Krishna. Ladli = Beloved daughter and Lal = Beloved son, hence Ladli Lal, meaning the temple of the beloved.  With the courses of time the deities were lost and the temple was turned to ruins. Later Narayan Bhatt, one of the disciples of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu excavated the lost deities in the nearby place and installed them here in this temple. Raval is situated in the small forest of Ravalavana which is mentioned in the puranas as being one of the upavanas or sub-forests of Vrindavan Dham.


Brij Dhaam is surrounded by four hills, each supposedly representing the four heads of Lord Brahma, one being Bhanugarh. It’s said this hill top is the spot where Raja Vrishabhanu had his palace. Here you can see an exceptionally magnificent and opulent edifice dedicated to Shriji or Radharani. Shriji is the locally known name of goddess Radha. As per legend, Vajranabha built a temple here that got destroyed with time. The temple was again erected by Raja Bir Singh in 1675 and later Narayan Bhatt with help of Raja Todarmal turned it into a huge temple almost looking like a palace. Continue reading “At Srimati Radharani’s birthplace – Brij Yatra Diaries”

Nand Bhavan, reliving Krishna’s childhood – Brij Yatra diaries

मैया मोरी मैं नहिं माखन खायो,
भोर भयो गैयन के पाछे, मधुवन मोहिं पठायो ।
चार पहर बंसीबट भटक्यो, साँझ परे घर आयो ॥
मैं बालक बहिंयन को छोटो, छींको किहि बिधि पायो ।
ग्वाल बाल सब बैर परे हैं, बरबस मुख लपटायो ॥
तू जननी मन की अति भोरी, इनके कहे पतिआयो ।
जिय तेरे कछु भेद उपजि है, जानि परायो जायो ॥
यह लै अपनी लकुटि कमरिया, बहुतहिं नाच नचायो ।
‘सूरदास’ तब बिहँसि जसोदा, लै उर कंठ लगायो ॥

Yes those lines by Surdasji comes first to your mind when you step into Nand Bhavan. The palace where our beloved Shri Krishna spent his childhood and did so many leelas.

Inside main temple, Yashoda Maiya with Bal Krishna & Rohini Mata with Bal Balaram

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Nagarkot, the Impregnable Ancient Fort & its Rock Inscriptions!

Fact is none can rival the Katoch royal family of Kangra for antiquity, for one of its ancestors, Susharma Chandra, fought in the Great War Mahabharata on the side of the Kauravas. And Susharma was only the 234th king of this line. Most people go to Kangra valley to visit McLeodgunj unaware of this jewel, the Nagarkot, Himachal’s most famous and impregnable ancient fort, about which it used to be said: “He who holds the fort holds the hills.”

The proof of its antiquity lies just outside the fort. Here you find a rock with some unfamiliar inscriptions. Experts believe it dates from the third to the first century BCE and commemorates the construction of a pond in two languages; Sanskrit written in the Brahmi script in the upper line, and Pali written in the Kharoshti script in the lower. And it proves that besides Kangra or Nagarkot, the surrounding country was also inhabited by a Sanskrit speaking people all those years ago.

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Modhera Surya Mandir, a Poetry on Rocks!

Solanki dynasty is famous for their beautiful temple architecture and Modhera Sun Temple is one of their exquisite display. From Skanda and Brahma Puranas we get to know that the surrounding was known as Dharmaranya and Modhera was a village here, called as Modherak. Puranas also tell of a yagna done here by Lord Rama to purge himself from sin of killing a Brahmin, Ravana. According to Saura Purana this temple was originally made by Samba, Lord Krishna’s grandson and later rebuilt by King Bhimdeva of Solanki dynasty in 1026

I already gave the engineering part of the temple. [CLICK] Here’s the architecture and sculpture part. The Temple consists of three parts – First you have the Surya/Rama Kund, next the Sabha mandapa or the assembly hall and finally the Garbagriha with an attached Guda Mandapa.

Image Courtesy – Google

Kund consists of the diagonally intersecting steps placed symmetrically on all four sides. Another unique feature is the presence of 108 shrines surrounding the Kund. 108 has always been sacred number for Hindus. Of them there are four major shrines dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva, Shitala Mata & Ganesha. The Sabha Mandapa is an example of stone craft at is best! It consists of 52 pillars symbolizing the no. of weeks in a solar year. Each pillar is a masterpiece depicting episodes from Ramayana, Mahabharata, war scenes, nritikas, musicians etc. Every surface of the Sabha Mandapa is intricately carved and you can watch it for hours yet feel like getting more! The Guda Mandap has sculptures of 12 Adityas or forms of Surya Dev symbolizing the 12 months in a solar year. Each Aditya has 7 horses as his vahana, representing the 7 colors that form white light. The entire structure of Guda Mandapa and Sabha Mandapa appears to float on an upturned lotus. Just above the lotus are 365 elephant sculptures representing 365 days of a year.

Every corner, every niche of the temple is painstakingly transformed into a canvas of beauty. The ornately carved columns, the intricately carved sculptures, everything unbelievably enthralling.  It was wealth that was reason for attack by Mohamad Ghazni and later by Khilji. With such devastating attacks we find ruins inside the temple yet what remains is extremely beautiful and glorifies love of art of Solankis.

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Modhera, an Engineering Marvel of Ancient India!

Modhera Sun Temple is a gem gifted to us by our ancestors. This is the oldest Sun Temple in India, built around 1026-1027 AD. The temple showcases not just beautiful sculptures but also tells us about advanced engineering knowledge of our ancestors. I would share the beauty & history of this temple in my next article and stick to the engineering part of ancient India here especially the earthquake Resistant Engineering.

This temple is situated at Mehsana district of Gujarat and the area falls under seismic zone IV. It has faced many historic earthquakes. But even though it got destroyed by plunderers, earthquake did no damage to the structure. Around 70s this temple restoration work was done by Government but all those new restoration parts got destroyed during 2001 severe Gujarat earthquake. The Old structure remained intact.

The temple has been built using locking system to make it earthquake resistant. The whole temple has been built without the use of any lime, cement, mud or any such thing as adhesive. Each stone slab has been interlocked with the adjoining ones in appropriate grooves and sealed with seasoned wood. The Temple was plundered by Ghazni & Khilji and those destroyed pieces shows the proof of this locking system. Here’s one from a broken wall.

1 Locking System

The temple made with lime stone slabs, were joined in a unique way. Groves were made in the stone slabs as given below. Each stone slab has been interlocked with the adjoining ones in appropriate grooves and then sealed with seasoned wood.
1 Locking System2

Too many columns (pillars) and their unique construction is another earthquake resistant feature of the temple. The temple has three parts, the kund, the hall and the main temple sanctum and the latter two have many columns. Let’s take the Assembly Hall (Sabha mandap) first. The assembly hall of the temple has in total beautifully carved 58 columns. Each column represent each week of a year. This high number of columns helps to transfer load to the foundation. Top of it these columns are all well connected with the slabs. Connections well spread out so as make maximum load transfer.

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Saptarangi Dwarkadheesh ji

After Dwarkadheesh temple beautiful architecture (Click Here) lets come to Dwarkadhish ji himself, who is equally cute and beautiful. Time stops while you watch the Supreme Lord, such is his power. It is said the original Dwarkadheesh temple was built around 400BC, way before Christ was born by Krishna’s grandson. The idol installed then was a different one. There’s an interesting legend about the idol in the Dwarkadheesh temple. Once a girl named Badana was a regular visitor to the temple. Pleased by her devotion, the Dwarkadheesh one day walked out with her. But the priests suspected that Badana had stolen the idol and pursued her to get it back to the temple. Badana wanted to keep Lord with her so pleaded that she would give gold in proportion the weight of the idol and the priests accepted. The idol was placed in one side of the scale and to the surprise of all the priests, one single nose stud of Badana could equal the weight of the statue. Lord knew she had nothing so played the miracle. Just then an ethereal voice said the priests could dig in a particular place the next day to find a similar statue. When they hurriedly dug the place without waiting for the next day, they found only an incomplete statue which was installed in Dwarkadhish temple and seen to this day.

Dwarkadheesh ji is dressed in different colour clothes on different days. Monday Pink, Tuesday yellow, Wednesday green, Thursday Saffron, Friday White, Saturday Blue and Sunday Red. On special days some special colour is worn by Lord and routine is not followed. Since body of Lord Krishna is meghshyam & glittering like rainbow, maybe reason why the colour of he wears is “Saptarangi” like rainbow. Here’s Dwarkadheesh ji in all seven colour atires.

Monday – Pink
Tuesday – Yellow

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Dwarkadheesh Temple, Dwarka – An Architectural Wonder!

The splendid Dwarkadhish temple, in Dwarka is situated the on bank of river Gomti. The temple is one among the Chaar Dhaam and very auspicious place of worship especially for Vaishnavites. Not just spiritually but even the architecture of the temple leaves you in awe. The five storey temple, 50+mtrs tall is based on 72 exquisitely carved pillars. The roof of the main hall itself is supported on 60 pillars. The temple is spread 90 feet in the east-west direction and 70 feet in the north-south direction. There is no arch in the temple while the pillars are built from one stone. The spire of the temple is 78.3 m high (that would be 260 feet). That is like having a twenty-five storey building. I can imagine in the years gone by, with a flat coastline and no other buildings that are tall, this temple would have been a very prominent and visible beacon to travelers from miles away, both onshore and offshore. The inner temple supposedly was always there and the subsequent enlargement in the form of an assembly hall known, as Ladwa mandap and the awe-inspiring Shikhara are dated back to the 15th century. Whole construction is done by limestone and sand. The original temple is said to have been built by Krishna’s grandson Vajranabha around 400 BC. It was destroyed by Mohmud Begada in 1473 AD and the present temple was constructed by enlarging the older structure (the main hall).

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Pandrethan Temple, another ancient temple of Kashmir

Pandrethan is few miles from Srinagar at Badambagh. It was originally an old capital of Kashmir, founded by King Pravarsena in the 6th century AD as mentioned by Kalhana in his work Rajatarangini. The word Pandrethan is formed of “Purana” meaning “old” and “adhishthan” meaning “capital”. At Pandrethan is a beautiful stone temple, located not far from the road in a very low spring fed tank though its plinth is now submerged.

The Entrance

The Pandrethan temple was built by Meru, minister to King Partha who ruled Kashmir from 921-931. The temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu and was named Meru Vardhana Swami. The design and evidences illustrate that the temple must have been a popular seat of pilgrimage in ancient times. Pandrethan finds proud mention in the Amar Nath Mahatmva, but now has lost its sacred associations. Continue reading “Pandrethan Temple, another ancient temple of Kashmir”

Shivkhori, the Mysterious Divine cave!

006J&K has many religious places for pilgrimage. The state at one time was the main centre of Shaivism sadhana and you get to see innumerable Shiva temple spread all around J&K. We know about Amarnath caves, what many are not aware of is the Shivkhori caves in Raesi district. Reasi is an ancient town of Jammu that was established by Raja Bhim Dev during the 8th Century and was also the erstwhile capital of Bhimgarh Estate. The caves are naturally formed where you see naturally formed deities like Shiva, Parvati, Kamdhenu, Trishul and so many. 004Though Shivkhori is not a very popular pilgrimage place to visit but it has its own importance. And a visit to the place takes our faith to another level.

The walk from the moment you enter the cave and reach the inner sanctum is sheer thrill. It is nothing short of a divine heavenly experience filled with adventure at every step. The pathway is too narrow at places and even low. You need to stoop low, crawl or bend sideways to move ahead. They have lights placed yet it is quite low and at many points it’s almost dark. Oxygen level also gets low as you enter deep into the cave. All factors together makes things bit suffocating inside. 002The cave is supposed to be protected by Naagraj Vasuki. Some say its protected by Sheshnaag. But one interesting thing to see is the walls of the cave. It looks exactly like a snake skin! Continue reading “Shivkhori, the Mysterious Divine cave!”

Connecting with Achintya at the oldest Temple of Kashmir..!

Beautiful scenery at the temple

On the banks of river Liddar in Pahalgam, Kashmir, is situated the ancient Mamalaka Shiva Temple. Liddar river divides into two branches at this point in Pahalgam and the temple lies on the bank of right branch. It is known as Mamaleshwar and was a popular destination for all pilgrims going to Amarnath. Now the temple is a protected one under ASI as its the oldest temple of Kashmir dating back to AD 400 and they have taken some steps to preserve this ancient temple of historical importance. This ancient temple finds itself in Kalhanas Rajatharangini.


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Hamaam – Improvisation of Turkish Bath in Kashmir to beat the Chill

Come 21st December, and the harsh winters of Kashmir get started. With snow at every nook and corner, Kashmir do looks beautiful. But the life of locals gets really tough especially with regards to warming the houses. They have found some unique methods to keep themselves warm. There’s Kangri that they use. It’s a basket with an earthen pot inside carrying burning coal/wood. It keeps an individual warm. But they also have ways to keep the rooms warm especially those which have been constructed of concrete.


With each passing day, we move forward leaving the old behind. Newer ways of life have affected even the architecture of our houses; many old architecture practices suited to weather have given way to newer fancy architectures. But somehow in Kashmir, age old hamaam seem to have made its entry in households, more because of the scarcity of electricity during winters. In a place like Kashmir, where round the clock electricity is a distant dream, this is reason enough to make Hamaam popular. The common man of the old times could only enjoy the benefits of the community Hamaams, and till recently only in the mosques, it was a unique aspect of the Kashmiri mosque-going culture. People, most of them poor, would wait outside mosque bathrooms at dawn since this was the only place that offered affordable hot-water baths. It still is where community members gather to discuss politics and local mohalla issues. Continue reading “Hamaam – Improvisation of Turkish Bath in Kashmir to beat the Chill”

“Harud” – The second spring of Kashmir!

Kashmir is known as the Paradise of Earth for no other reason than the mesmerising beauty it casts in all four seasons of the year. Spring comes in the floral blossoms of charm, while summers flourish in lush green colour charm, breath taking snow fall in winter prime, the autumn comes in an essence of brazen charm that no one in love with life can ignore. The harud (autumn) is when the hustle and bustle in Kashmir villages begin with the season of harvest. The green turns to gold and then to russet and red; leaves fall to melodious cracking sounds under the feet of passers-by beneath the shades of the Chinar (maple) trees. In autumn the crimson red-carpeted gardens in Kashmir are a feast for the eyes.

Harud (Autumn) is also connected to history of Kashmir. Kashmir during the reign of King Yusuf Shah Chak, lost its freedom to Emperor Akbar after defeating him twice earlier. And this happened during the season of harud in the year 1856. (P.S: Kashmiris never accepted the rule of Mughals and indulged in stone pelting on them.)

‘Harud’ in its literal sense stands for ‘melancholy’. In Kashmir, it’s a time when whole nature is at its glory. The poetic nuances over Kashmir’s Harud are indeed beautiful in poetic sense.

‘Harud’ is the harbinger of the long winter of freeze – Yes the “Freeze” that has set over Kashmir over years!


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