Gool A place to explore

Rajinder Singh Rana
Every hilly region has its own history and natural beauty which attracts people from other areas for visit, especially during the summer season. Situated in the lap of middle Himalayas, Gool with magnificent view sticks to eyes of every visitor not for its natural beauty only but also for its calmness and spiritual veneration created through antique stone arts, religious symbols and holy shrines located at various places having their own historical background. This place is believed to be once visited by travelers, Sufis and saints.
Gool has been the centre of attraction since centuries because of stone art rare of its kind at water streams, Bowlis, Devsthan and other religious sites. One can imagine that Gool has been immensely influenced by this art and culture passed through generation to generation. Names of places having Sanskrit connotation, Folk tales and stories gathered from local people also evince the influence of primitive civilization on Gool.
Ghora Gali also known as Dhing Kote is one such place in Gool where hundreds of stone horses are found with a unique and appealing look. Every stone horse has riders which have been carved and chiseled so artistically. The riders sit on saddles with stabbing weapons on one side of their waist. They are also seen in traditional dress with arrow and bows in hands. It is believed that stone sculptures are carved in the time of Pandvas who happened to have passed through this place. Apart from Ghora Gali, stone horses and art on stones can also be seen at Kalyari Mata, Seiya Baggi, Bisha Gali, Bajoni, Kalimasta, Jabad, Dheeda, Ind and other far off places. But due to ignorance of local people, such historical symbols have rarely been brought to limelight as some of them have been damaged while others are covered under soil.
At Balras Salballa we can witness artistic designs carved on huge stones. Similar designs can also be noticed at Naman Stream Moila, Sundar Stream, Billi Partmulla, Nar Stream Duttar, Dev Sar and Gharat Nalla. One is stunned to look at such strange and antique designs which need to be surveyed and brought on a map of historical monuments.
As per the record of rights (ROR) 1965-66 Bikarmi, Gool was first inhabited and owned by ancestors of Thakurs named Cheri Pal who had originally migrated from Ayodya. The ancestors of Cheri Pal cut the dense forest cover and enabled it for cultivation. Cheri Pal constructed a small house for living at Rooskote presently known as Dachan which was laden with dense forest at that time. Cheri Pal had the only son Jai Pal who was further succeeded by Tej Pal and then by Ding Pal in lineage.
At present none of Thakurs family reside at Dachan but some religious spots (devsthan) are still evident for their original locations. The religious spots have been shrunk to debris and stones. The land around these spots has been made fully cultivable.
During the reign of Akbar, Bhatal region which includes present-day Dheeda, Ind, Chachwa, Seripura, Thatharka, Famrote, Sangaldan, Bada Kund, Mahakund, Kalimasta, Bhim Dassa, Dalwah, Gundi and Dharam was also granted to Jai Pal as Jagir and thus all adjoining areas remained in the possession of descendants of Jai Pal. It is said that due to permanent possession over the areas descendants of Jai Pal also constructed three kote- Ding Kote, Karlog and Dharam Shed. Later on, these three kote became three separate villages. The initial name of Gool was Karlog and Gool was given keeping in view its round topography. From every side Gool appears round in shape. Mor Singh is considered as the last Raja of Gool.
Earlier, only Thakur community remained original inhabitants of Gool but later on some Gujjar and Kashmiri communities also settled there and got ownership rights on the land. Maximum migration to this place took place from Kashmir, Doda and Banihal. When General Zorawar Singh was sent to Reasi for its consolidation, he annexed Gool and fixed Rs. 250 as malia (rent) which was further increased by one and half in 1917-18 Bikarmri.
Apart from Thakur community, major chunk of population comprise Waain, Naik, Shan (Shangoor), Bhat, Targwal, Mir, Bohra, Kumhar, Tarkhan, Hajam, Lohar, Chib, Ganai, Gujjar Bajad, Gujjar Bania, Kohli, Gorsi etc which have been recorded in the Jamabandi. Some other people belonging to Malik, Khan, Gut, Mulan, Zohd, Dhaing, Manhas, Syed, Padhar, Kashmiri, Khoja, Dar, Rather, Gujjar Kalis etc have also got ownership rights as a result of Big Land Abolition Act and Agrarian Reform Act.
In 1947, Gool became part of Niabat Arnas of Tehsil Reasi. Earlier, it had also remained under the control of Kulgam, Doda and Kishtwar. When Niabat was established at Arnas, its office was made functional for six months in summers at Gool and for the remaining six months in winters at Arnas. At that time due to unavailability of motorable roads from Arnas to Gool, revenue record was shifted through horses or labourers. In 1966 independent Tehsil office was made functional at Mahore against the name Gool-Gulabgarh and Gool became a separate Niabat. The office of agrarian Tehsildar was also shifted to Gool from Mahore. Tehsil level Judicial Magistrate office was also opened for the first time at Gool.
The total cultivable and non-cultivable area of Gool as per the record of right 1965-66 Bikrmi, is over 6536 kanal which is under revenue control of two Numberdars one belonging to Thakur community while other is from Gujjar community. The total population of Gool as per the census 2011 is 9574. Gool got the status of separate Tehsil and Sub-division in 2014. Apart from revenue offices, there are also block level and sub-divisional level offices. Gool has the credit of opening the first Tehsil level Higher Secondary School and Girls High School when it was Niabat of Tehsil Gool-Gulabgarh. Government has also opened one degree college and sanctioned one KV school. So far as connectivity is concerned there is one major road from district headquarter to Gool which further extends towards Mahore. Under PMGSY, some new link roads are also being constructed in remote areas.
At other places, some religious Khanqas of Hazrat Noor ul Din Noorani, Bul Bul Shah Sahib, and Hazrat Shah Farid Ul Din Sahib Bagdadi fulfill the sacred taste of people. Amidst the village, one huge Jama Masjid has also been seen. The Khanqas keep alive the devotion of people when they pay homage to fulfill their desires and ambitions.
One can also enjoy the beauty of seasonal and other permanent lakes in Gool which are locally called Sar. One huge Sar is located at Mahakund. In Gool proper, some lakes (sar) are also seen but water from them has been drained out by digging channels from one side. The land of Sar is now being utilized for cultivation after draining out water. But in the rainy season, massive water logging takes place. The climate at Gool remains feasible throughout the year except in winters. It is located at an altitude of 5500-6500 feet from sea level and thus heavy snow falls are experienced. In summers, there is a heavy rush of local tourists at Dagan Top, Rama Kunda, Isha Kundi, Nar Singa and Kataji. From Jammu Railway Station, Gool is located at a distance of 210 km and from Ramban district headquarter it is only 55 km away. The other route is via Reasi towards Mahore and then to Gool.
Gool is credited with many other hill spots like Hajam Marg, Mutgala, Munzub Kund, Nar, Doga, Khetain, Shholi, Astan Marg, Sarkentha, Sat Sar, Thanakundi, Kharawa Kund, Pathri and Thathran Morki. One can move to Banihal and Kulgam from Gool via Sarkentha on foot route after crossing several hill spots and similarly we can walk towards areas of district Reasi after passing Lapri top, Mooni Maal and Darsa Gali. Tribal populations usually pass through these routes along with their livestock.
(The writer is serving as Block Development Officer Gool)