Ujahai Bawali

Ujahi Bawali (Natural Spring) of pre-historic time is located in a very attractive spot in the village Sangla of tehsil Surankote, District Poonch. It is about 37 kilometers in the north of Poonch town. This is one of the most springs with fine quality of inscriptions of pre historic period. These sculptures were carved on stone plates and panels which were fitted in the side walls of the Bawali. The natural spring or Ujahai Bawali is jutting out from the base of Ranjatti hill. The water in huge quantity  gushes from spout type long stones projected in the middle of the back wall which is known as (Narra). After passing from a hallow stone pipe, the water falls in the Bawali.The Narra is fitted on 6’ x 2 ‘ x ¾’ long stone plate. The Mantras in sharda language are engraved on this stone plate which is still intact. This is the only such stone with Sharda inscription available in Poonch region. Below this engraved stone, the series of stone plate 2′ x 1 ½ ‘ x ¾ ‘ carved with figures and sculptures of gods, goddess and votaries were fixed  alongside the walls above the Bawali. These stone plates with and figures decorate the Bawali from all sides except the frontal portion. These stone plates with the images of gods and goddess were considered very sacred by Hindu devotees who were the original natives of this area. The fluted columes and pendimental niches indicate the influence of Kashmiri Hindu art on these sculptures. Below the series of engraved stones, the Bawali is constructed with 6′ x 2’ x ½ ‘ long rectangular stone.
These sculptures display very fine type of art and workmanship and were the finest pieces of art of pre historic period in Poonch. The Muslim natives preserved this Bawali in its original shape upto 1850 AD. After 1850, Poonch became the principality of Dogra Hindu Raja Moti Singh.He and his descendants ruled Poonch upto 1947 AD. During this period Hindu traders of western Punjab migrated to the villages of Poonch principality and established their venture. Such Hindu traders had also settled in the village Gonthal, Lathong, Gundi and DandiDahara which are surrounding Ujahai Bawali. These Hindu families had again started visiting Ujahai Bawali to have dip in the sacred water of the Bawali and offer prayers before the deities engraved on the stone plates fitted around the side walls of the Bawali.
In 1947, almost all the Hindu traders of this belt left their native villages due to security threats,but the Bawali along with the idols of gods and goddess were not touched by the native Muslim and they maintained the Bawali intact in its original shape till 1989. However, during militancy days from 1990 to 2003 when this area remained completely under the  grip of foreign mercenaries, the fanatic terrorist disturbed the original structure of the spring. They broke number of stone plates engraved with the images of gods and  goddess. They were planning to destroy all the stone plates on the plea that  they had to encounter these images whenever they passed by this site. Therefore they decided to destroy all these precious art monuments, but the saner elements of local Muslim prevented them from doing so.  However the engraved stone plates which were not broken were removed from their original places and dumped near the Bawali like an ordinary stones, which are still lying in a very miserable condition. If these precious engraved stones of pre-historic period period are not preserved by lifting them from Ujahai Bawali to some safe area, these will be ultimately used in the construction of buildings as ordinary stones as has happened in a number of places in such cases.  It is surprising that the long stone plate below the Narra with sharda inscription is still intact in its original shape and not disturbed even by the militants.
Presently, only Muslim population is living in this area. There is no Hindu family to look after this heap of precious  stone plates which have been dumped near the Ujahai Bawali. Therefore there is a need to remove these precious stone plates and the rectangular stone with sharda inscription from this spring to a safer place. It is proposed that the matter  be taken up with the Archeological Deptt. of Govt. of India for the preservation of this heritage treasure of Poonch. This can be done only with the help of Archeological Department.  There is also a need to  excavate  the area around the Bawali for further findings.