Ancient Art at Ghora Gali

Karndeep Singh
Ghora Gali is one of the ancient historical sites of Ramban situated in village Gool on Gool-Sangaldan road, 2 km ahead of main market. From Jammu it falls at a distance of over 200 km and only 50 km from district headquarter Ramban. Upto Sangaldan road is black-topped but from Sangaldan to Gool, the connectivity still needs a lot of improvement and this may be another reason for poor access to this historical place.
A treasure-trove of large stone sculptures, mostly reliefs, but some are roundel exist in this mountain forest. Like everything else that was created in the state in ancient times, these stones were believed to be personally sculpted by the Pandavas during the age of the Mahabharata, when they happened to be pass by way.
Over the stone horses, sitting riders with unique appearance represent one of the important cultural ethoses of ancient life. The sculptures are engraved in skilful artistic ways and designs. The site also houses broken parts of sculptures. Besides , water openings are found in the graven stones. This place was once major source of drinking water flowing through these stone outlets. But at present water does not flow through all openings.  Alongside wells some of which have dried now, large stones hewing traditional arts and images are also seen.  In all respects, the place evinces our keen interest and gives an antiquated view.  Many folk tales are associated with this place.
The art on stones at Ghora Gaki reveals devta culture which is commonly found in rural areas of Ramban. The Kul Devtas of some of the hindu families show similar revelations  worshipped since existence of human life.
As per one folk tale, the place is also associated with two persons named Shol Kamal and Raja Raj Singh. Both turned enemies against each other due to some rivalry. The former lived in upper parts of the Gool and latter in Lower Gool. Both were common visitors of this place called Ghora Gali which remained force of attraction for them. One day Shol Kamal visited another place ‘Budi Ka Pani’ (Stream of old women) and by his might killed whole of the force of Raj Singh.  Fearing being killed at the hands of Shol Kamal, Raj Singh offered him his daughter in marriage  had been told to know the secret of his being mighty.  Shol Kamal when came to know about this after tying marriage knot with her, he instantly killed her. It was said that Shol Kamal neither at near fire nor tasted any salt during his entire life and that was the only reason for his might.
It is believed that wherever the Pandavas stayed in district Ramban or Reasi, they continued the work of stone engraving and that is why similar types of sculptures are found at Gadi Nalla and Nar area of Tehsil Gool  and Sildhar area of district Reasi near Mahore. But to reach all these places one has to  trek through sloppy hills. The Sculptures of Sildar narrate indifferent folk tales. All the folk tales one or the other way enshrine our historical knowledge. The evidences and oral stories connected with these places, are no less important for enriching our practical experience which make the way clear for promoting tourism in such inaccessible areas.
The sculptures at Ghora Gali appear quite appealing to the onlookers and passersby. If further excavation of the site is undertaken, more such ancient stones and antique objects are expected to be found. A concrete footpath constructed long back by Army gives access to the site from main road.
The site was also once fenced by closure wire. But sudden sliding over its one side and lack of proper protection resulted in damaging the fence. Now we can see animals and livestock pasturing and moving inside.  Even today some nearby inhabitants still lift water from this place. The locals are much enthused for promotion of this site which gives very charming view to strangers.
The place has  remained unexplored and far away from tourists’ sight. Whosoever visited there, was stunned to see the enchanting beauty and historical importance of place located on sleeping hill. This site does not involve much expenditure or exercise for its development.  With little efforts it can be brought on tourist map and can become best ever destination in  Jammu and Kashmir.
To develop Ghora Gali, synchronized efforts by various departments are needed. The site is located down the main road which is under the control of Greff entrusted with the task of its widening. The protection walls raised there should have been concrete to avert sliding or other losses. Secondly during rains, water flow facing the site should be  or diverted to Nallah after restricting its movement by raising concrete walls on both sides. Thirdly, raising boundary walls on all sides becomes another obligation for its development. Lastly proper propagation through social media and better connectivity with major road networks are necessitated.
Recently some funds have also been sanctioned for constructing boundary walls at Ghora Gali which may be a little start towards its development for tourists attraction. The upcoming railway lines passing through Sangaldan and ambitious four lane further broadens the scope of the site from tourism point of view.