Neglected Jasrota Fort, neglected tourism

Our State of Jammu and Kashmir is having a very special position in the country in terms of a vast potential of tourism on account of the unprecedented beauty bestowed on it lavishly by nature in terms of panoramic landscapes, mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, etc. Jammu is equally gifted by the nature and in addition to all these , there are rich symbols of cultural and historical heritage worth feeling proud of. This has been possible largely due to the result of the love for architecture and fine workmanship by many of its valiant rulers. They not only have built grand symbols like forts, palaces and even grand temples depicting the heritage and culture but they have made significant contribution towards preserving and maintaining them in contemporary times in such a way that they stand majestically even now though many in dilapidated condition due to the merciless hammer of time including the adversities of weather. Who built these magnificent forts and palaces has remained confined to passing references as their zeal , valour and passion for arts and architecture is not eulogised in the required measure and not made known adequately to our children through their text books.
Beautiful fort complex at Jasrota is one of the examples. Unfortunately, for various reasons, the Fort is appearing to be unnoticed of its glory and pride, equally wanting in proper attention in respect of its proper maintenance and if conserved properly, could prove a great contributing factor towards promoting tourism and thus boosting State’s economic in its own right. This fort is virtually appearing to be struggling hard for the last nearly a century and a half. Jasrota is located in the Shivalik Hills of the western Himalayas on the banks of Ujh River in Kathua district nearly 60 kms away from Jammu city and 16 kms from the city of Kathua . It is built on a plateau and presently stands converted to a part of Jasrota wildlife sanctuary. Jasrota was one of the ten states founded by the members of the Jammu ruling family being tributaries to the Raja of Jammu. Raja Jas Dev of Jammu is believed to have founded it during his reign in between 12th and 13th century . However Raja Hira Singh left an impressive and indelible mark on the art and architecture of the fort. He was fond of the city of Jammu owing to which he named various locations and buildings according to those prevalent in Jammu.
Further notable account about Jasrota Fort is that in the plateau , the garden called as Rajbagh or the King’s Garden fortunately still stands over there. The plateau is rich in flora and fauna with a myriad of trees and endless greenery which is home to many species of wildlife. Some of the Bunyan trees are standing for decades there having been privy to the ups and downs of Jasrota. We have Dilli Darwaza and Gumat Darwaza both being central to the approach to main Fort and double storied palaces .
Having given a brief account of the legacy and the historical importance of Jasrota Fort, its restoration work, though having been undertaken by the Government has been found inadequate . Although many Departments of the State like Horticulture, PHE, Museums and Archives are supposed to take care in combined form towards the maintenance of the Fort as also supported by Departments like Forest, Wildlife and Rural Development, the desired results are still far away. Conservational techniques are not on modern lines and in tune with the requirement of this magnificent Fort which calls for restoration of its glory and aura. If the Fort and its complex would have been handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India , it would have most probably received similarities of the contemporary material used whilst building this Fort in its restoration work to enable it stand as if in its original form. The expertise which the ASI is in possession of, would surely go a long way in restoration of its sheen and shine and thus being an attraction for the visiting tourists as also introducing the historical glory and the monumental richness to the younger generations , say school and college going students.
The State Government must develop Jasrota Fort into a model tourist attraction. Many novel ideas and suggestions must be translated into reality to bring about a much desired improvement in levels of conservation of the Fort, the facelift, improvement of infrastructural levels, conducting light and sound shows, holding seminars and periodical Government meetings around or near by the Fort complex, fairs, live concerts etc coupled with larger publicity by the Tourism Department would meet the levels of the required attention this Fort needs.