The story of Sunderbani

Madan Mohan Sharma

Every place has a history after its name. Some places are named after some great personalities while other have natural origin. ‘Sunderbani’ is named after an ancient spring (Bowli) called “Sunder Baan’’, ‘Baan’ or ‘Bowli’ is the Dogri name of spring of a specific formation. This Baan (Bowli) was built by an old pious lady of this area whose name was ‘Sundran’. She was popularly known as “Mai Sundran’’. So this spring was named as ‘Sunder Baan’. Initially it was called “Mai Sundran Ki Baan’’ which later became ‘Sunder Baan’. The place of its existance became Sunderbani. In this way Sunderbani place came into existance. The date of construction of this spring is not known to anybody. Even the oldest persons of this area are unable to tell it. But it is sure that it belongs to an ancient period. This spring was also known as “Amb Wali Bowli’ ‘ as there was a big mango-tree near it which still exists.
This Sunder Baan is situated  in Sunderbani Town on the eastern side. It falls on the right hand side of National Highway while moving from Jammu to Rajouri and is on the opposite side of existing Forest Range office Sunderbani. The water of this spring is very sweet and digestive. This source of water was used by the habitants of Sunderbani area before and after 1947. At that time Sunderbani was an unimportant part of village Bhajwal of Tehsil Nowshera (Now Sunderbani). After 1947, the population of Sunderbani started increasing day by day. This spring became a source of water for the inhabitants of this area and for the passer bys. The people used to quench their thirst with this clean and sweet water. The present National Highway was a single road at that time which led to Bhimber and Mirpur (Now in PoK). Only a few buses and  trucks were seen plying on the road. These vehicles used to stop at this place for rest. The passengers had the charm of this sweet water while resting under the shade of the Mango tree.
Slowly and slowly with the increase of population, it became the traditional source of water for the entire population of Sunderbani. As this water has the quality of digesting the food taken, it was known as soft water  or ‘Halka Pani’. It becomes cold in summer and hot in winter.
In fifties MES (Military Engineering Services) authorities established their unit at this place and installed a water filling station with the water of this spring using gravity system to supply the water to Military camp at Sunderbani popularly known as TCP camp at that time. But after 1965 they captured this spring (Bowli) by erecting barbed wire fence around its unit including the spring. However, water filling points were not fenced. Today military as well as civil water vans use this water for supply.
The spring (Sunder Baan) has been covered by constructing walls and a roof to keep it neat and clean. A door is fixed to close it. So one cannot see the original spring without the permission of MES authorities. Its water can be seen overflowing when not used at the filling station. The MES authorities have built two small temples near it. One is Durga Temple while in other is Hanuman Temple. The employees of MES worship the Goddess Durga and Veer Hanuman daily and keep the sanctity of the place.
The water of this Bowli (Spring) remains as it is throughout the year. It never dries even in the extreme heat of June-July when most of the sources of water go dry in Sunderbani area. Its water is supplied as portable water to the public. So it meets the need of thousands of souls.
Now Sunderbani has developed as a town and is Tehsil Headquarter of Sunderbani Tehsil. Its population increased in geometric progression and this source of water cannot meet the needs. Moreover, it is under the control of MES authorities. So, PHE Deptt. has built so many Dug-wells to supply water to Sunderbani town and other areas of Tehsil Sunderbani. But is happened only after 1980 as there was no power (electricity) in Sunderbani upto 1974.
Today Sunderbani is a developed city and has been provided  so many facilities. But “Sunder Baan’’ is still in the hearts of original resident of Sunderbani and it is still feeding them. Now generation do not know much about it.
(The  author is former ZEO)