Exploring Surya Putri Heritage

H C Katoch
In this narrative of Tawi Darshan, we are acquainting about Surya Putri connection with habitations settled on its banks and their faith in the heritage concerning their life style, rural culture and worship etc. that is prominently exhibited which becomes an indicator of the eternal journey of the human beings connected with this river. To understand and unfold the mysteries of places on both sides of Surya Putri, we are now marching from Jammu to Seoj, the origin of the river.
The general geographic features of different locations that are of importance from the point of view of mystical environing existing on the banks of this river are narrated. These mystical secrets that are unfolded by the elderly people who got it from their forefathers tell us very interesting mythological aspects that enrich our cultural heritage. Jammu is known as “City of Temples”.
It is known fact that Jambulochan after seeing goat and lion drinking water together at same place on the bank of Tawi chose to settle and make it capital. Bahu Lochan, his younger brother established Qila Bahu. Maa Kali was made as a presiding deity overseeing Tawi. It is said that Maa Kali was brought from Lahore. It needs no elaboration as Babe wali Mata is worshipped all the year round. Alongside is the Temple of Maha Maya built in the time of Jagmohan the then Governor of J&K that has also become a site of worship and religious tourism as well as the Gondola attraction. Opposite of it is Peer Kho where there is the Shiva abode in the form of lingam. The legend goes that this is Jamwant cave where he remained in penance for a long time and it is connected through a passage upto Srinagar, but no such proof could be established. This place has also become tourist destination as well as pilgrimage point. A few years back, Har Ki Pouri was set up on the left bank of Tawi where numerous deities searched out of scriptures of Sanatan have been installed. It has become a place for congregations on religious occasions.
Thus the deities are gathering on the banks of this Surya Putri because of its utility both physical and spiritual. Let us move upward and touch only prominent places where the people living on its banks are so closely associated with the heritage of our previous generations who narrate the interesting and legendary tales that has affected their day to day life. Another place on right side is a seat of a saint called Mouni Baba stated to have lived over 154 years. This is also dedicated to worship of Hanuman Ji. Even the central place in the river between opposite to PHE water storage and Har ki Pouri of the river has been used for Vishnu Yagya. Thousands of people participated in this Yagya and it has become a place of spiritual strength and environment. Further we see a very rare temple where idols of Balram and Revati are installed slightly above the PHE installations. There is a Khoo constructed during old times during the rule of Maharaj Gulab Singh’s royal descendants. Even now it serves the houses adjoining to this complex. The Dayodi i.e the gate of the temple is very high with sculptor of earlier times. This heritage site needs to be restored to its original glory. The committee member of this heritage temple enthusiastically and firmly stated that any unmarried female if ties Rakhi to Balram she is bound to get married within a period of one year. Similarly if unmarried boy offers ladoos to Balram he, too, gets married within a year. Many people pay visit after their wish is fulfilled. Kandoli Nagrota is a famous place where Mata Vaishno Devi is stated to have arrived in this first destination for onward journey to Bhawan and this place is known for “Pehla Darshan” of Vaishno Devi. One of the most miraculous aspects of this place refers to curing of wart “MoKa” i.e when someone prays for its root to get vanished, it is immediately done. In return silver warts “Mokas” are offered to the deity Mother as a matter of regards. Proceeding further we reach a place called Ratore Dhok which is now named as Nagrota Ward No 7. Even Nagrota itself has a legend which states that it was ruled by Nagraj and its area spread about 15 miles that covered the existing Rajbhawan also. Thus its boundary touched the present Jammu city. This place reminds of the entry of Pandvas during their exile period where they built good structures for their living made of big chiselled stones. They were using earthen pots of good quality. They built a well called “Narayan Khoo” about 100 feet deep with bricks of very big size equivalent to about four times of the size of present bricks. It exists even now and filled with water. They say that it was constructed in a single night that lasted for six months.
There are five mango trees surrounding one side of the well. These are of big girth size ranging from 6 feet to 8 feet. The aged people say that their ancestors also spoke of this and we pass on this mystery to our generation. Another heritage monument is the temple of Hanuman Ji built by the Pandavs about 100 meters away from the Narayan Khoo. The Murties of Hanuman Ji is in the middle and Ganesh and Vishnu on left and right side inscribed oth three Shilas. Such events were common in the past as the people in those times had the miraculous mystic powers. When Gautam Rishi can prepone Tareta Yug before Dwapar yug, it is as such possible for mystical happenings in the past.
Our civilisation of Sanatan bears testimony to this as our incarnations of Vishnu did. Moving further on the banks of the river we traverse a distance ofabout eight Kms from the previous heritage point of Hanuman temple and Narayan Khoo to a place that was occupied by Vasuki Nag who moved from Vas Kund at Bhaderwah. It is said that he had four sons Viz i) Kai ii) Kalhan iii) Talhan and iv) Pehrd. The youngest son was very dear to him. He ordained that who brings Surya Putri from Kaplas Kund to Jammu, he will become the King. Pehrd was successful, while the eldest son and others could not accomplish this task. Hence Pehrd was crowned as prince. While Vasuki Nag was in Smadhi, his eldest son conspired and drowned Pehrd in the ocean.
After Vasuki awoke from his Samadhi he could not find him and requested Kali Maa who was their Kul Guru residing in a cave near his throne to find out Pherd. She with her “trical drishti” could trace him in the sea and both of them moved to find out that some glaring light is emanating from the sea. They approached the Sea Devta and asked him to hand over Pehrd. The sea married his daughter Munid to Pherd and gave an army that is in the form of Big fish that are now residing in Tawi. Maharaj Gulab Singh is also linked to various episodes and they say that he had the “Pervesh” (Entry) of Pehrd Devta in him. The royal progeny used to do mundan ceremony of their offerings there.
Even now right from Dr Karan Singh and his sons Vikramaditya and Ajat Shatru Singh celebrated mundam ceremonies of their children. One special aspect of this event is a change in the concept of offering goat as sacrifice that is not done by the royal family and this is now being considered to be bad practice that needs to be abolished. This will avoid the pollution and as well as the sanctity of Surya Putri will be maintained. Our journey will continue further to explore other heritage places and mythological stories of interest in next episodes till we reach the origin of Surya Putri. Feedback is welcome with gratitude from persons possessing knowledge about heritage sites or literature and interesting legends etc. on the bank of Maa Surya Putri which can enrich the next phases of Tawi Darshan
(The author is former Director Planning J&K Govt.)