G L Khajuria
Amidst lush green forest of deodar and other pines around 125 kms from Jammu and 19 kms from Patnitop is located Sanasar a wonder of wonders.
This picturesque spot is akin to Gulmarg of Kashmir for its enchanting beauty, grandeur and glory where tourists in thousands throng in during peak summer spells for having a sigh of relief away from soaring temperature as well as to enjoy the dazzling natural beauty of this resort. Though the road lifeline from Patnitop to Sanasar is rugged and rough and is having serpentine twists and turns, yet the tourist inflow is ever-increasing year after year. The road link calls for improvement for the convenience of tourists influx. Even during winter, the tourists influx is undoubtedly unbridled and the visitors throng in heavy numbers to enjoy and cherish snowfall, when Kud, Patnitop, Batote and the areas in and around the vicinity is heavily snow-capped so much so that the National Highway oft-repeatedly gets blocked.
‘Sanasar’ is situated around 9500 feet from sea level and is termed as mini-Gulmarg of Kashmir. The picturesque spot is lapped all round with mystique of mystiques, bountiful engrossing lush greenery of pines, herbs, shrubs and abundant medicinal plants ranging from micro to macro flora coupled with the rich heritage of other flora and fauna. Apart from scenic beauty, the place is a sanctum sanctorum from time immemorial as the land of ‘Nag Rajas’ in and around the vicinity of Sanasar itself . ‘Nag Raja’ of Kasal is of immense ‘Shakti’ where the visitors as well go for paying obeisance and obtain divine blessing. It is believed with oozing confidence that wishes made before ‘Nag Raja’ are fulfilled, though the photography of the temple and that of inside is strictly prohibited. These are miracles of ‘Divine Shakties’ in the modern age of most advanced Science and Technology (the writer has had his own experience, though not narrateable). At the peak of Patnitop enroute Batote, there is another ‘Devsthan’ (Shank Paul Shakti Devta) temple and is having equilising ‘Shakti’.
Much water has flowed down the Chenab; but ironically this picturesque spot has been least bothered for its developments. A short stretch of 19 kms that links Sanasar with Patnitop is in a very dilapidated condition. You cannot call it a pacca or a kaccha road. The locals are deprived of the basic amenities, particularly when it is a heavy snowfall and the road remains cut off for days together and the electric supply creates the same sort of situation. This ever green cushioned spot is really a piece of heaven, the more you praise the less it is!! Sanasar meadow is a green carpet like ground and cushioned by silky soft grasses that glorify the resort. Add to it the small brilliant, refreshing fragrant flowers which add to the beauty of the spot. To lay to rest on this green meadow carpet is too comfortable and enchanting than that of confining oneself in the adjoining rooms constructed by various departments.
‘Sanasar, over the years was a marvellous lake like that of ‘ Sruinsar’ and ‘Mansar’ of Jammu district but ironically now stands dried almost due more to the seepage for the last around 60 years or so. However, as per estimates the lake had encompassed around 2500 kanals with its outer peripheric circumference rounding some 6 kms or so. The area was and is subjected to encroachment but the forest Department associated with Revenue Department and law enforcing agencies are on the high and active surveillance to thwart any attempt to have an evil eye over the picturesque spot. In the version of L.P Rai (the then Addl. Dy commissioner, Ramban) that as far as in the year 1992, he chanced upon to interact with the then, Director, Geology and Mining Department along with GREF agencies to survey the area and evolve strategy workable to restore it to its pristine grandeur and glory and to analyze the root cause of its shrinkage and de-silting and in their ultimate analysis opined that the subtle cause being underground water flow down below Nashri Nallah, barely 8 kms onfoot through the forest linking NH-1A. Further it was established that there are as many as nine springs underneath this Sanasar lake and at the same time, it was apprehended that lifting of silt to the extent of 20-25 feet may cause holocaustic consequences to the local inhabitants together with their cultivated lands as well. The specialist further emphasized that the government should approach to the expert deptt. with enough expertise for the construction of a wall arounding 20 feet in the length and 8 feet in width and only then the silt of the lake can be lifted to bring back this heritage to its pristine beauty and grandeur. The survey together with workable strategy remained as a hanging fire till date.
There is an astonishing legend associated with it that the farmers of the locality were once ploughing the field in the vicinity of Sanasar lake and they took a break for the lunch leaving the oxen aside. In the meanwhile, a Sadhu appeared on the scene and he advised the farmers to unyolk the oxen so that they may also graze and take rest. Instead, they anguishly said, “Who are you to advise us for unyoking oxen? Within moments, the Sadhu eluded and it is said that a calamitous storm with whirlwind engulfed the sky coupled with whimper cloudburst struck the area and everything was swept away along with the farmers and oxen so yoked.
People of the locality and those of far away places come to this temple for paying obeisance and obtain blessings from “Chouncer Nag Devta”- a miracle of miracles. Manzoor Ahmed Forest Guard posted at Sanasar forest has had a holy Darshan- of ‘Nag Devta’ while being on its routine movement in the forest- A nine feet long “Nag” with hairy skin.
The sacred temple of Nag-Devta of Sanasar is visited twice in a year in the form of Yatra and of which one is vegetarian and is celebrated with the offerings of sweet rice, whereas the other is non- vegetarian which is celebrated by the sacrifice of goat and is offered to the ‘Nag Devta’ . Two Bhandaras are also held every year. Though many may not believe, but truthfulness and sanctity exists on the hilly areas of Sub-Himalayan regions like Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Dudu, Basantgarh, Kud, Patnitop, Billawar, Bani, Basohli and many of its pious areas adjoining the state of Himachal Pradesh. During Governor rule in 1990 , a nine point Golf course plan was earmarked for Sanasar which too remained in the offing and till date there is no let up.
Improvement of road: A short stretch of 19 kms linking the road with Patnitop warrants improvement. This is pertinent in view of the present scenario as the soil texture is good and metalling coupled with black topping of this rough road is the need inviting government attention and allied agencies coupled with maintenance of side drains for disciplined outflow of water during bad weather conditions and even otherwise also this is the major bottleneck and once a healthy lifeline is established, this shall boost and ameliorate tourist influx.
*Beautifiction of The Road Link (Patnitop-Sanasar) Plantation of ornamental trees, shrubs alongside road link on the either side at equidistance shall enhance the beauty of spot.
*De-silting of the lake area: This is necessary and demanding too, to restore back the lake area to its pristine grandeur and glory. This is no longer a single agency show but many departments at Geological Survey, Forest, Soil Conservation and other allied agencies connected with the restoration and reclamation need to be associated with to chalk out workable strategy for the formation of lake which will not only enhance the beauty spot which is of a National Heritage.
*Development of meadows and golf course: The half way left over idea warrants proper shaping now onwards for years to come and here too many agencies shall to be associated with to chalk out workable strategies so as to attract the golf enthusiasts not only from the UT but from India and abroad.
*Accommodation: The tourism, the forest and allied departments have magnificently raised hutments to accommodate visitors. However, ‘ view points’ on isolated spots shall further add beauty and grandeur to the area which are warranted to be constructed for the children to have an overview picture of the spot and its surroundings so they may feel fascinating.
Recreation Park: A mini re-creation park shall provide enchanting spell to the children and little kids who live in their own world. It shall as well feast and boost their excitements and merry making.
(The author is Former Deputy Conservator, J&K Forest.)
G L Khajuria