Unexplored beauty of Basohli

Shiv Kumar Padha
Topographically, Jammu and Kashmir is crown of mother India studded with beautiful gems like Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The entire state, being hilly, has been gifted with many scenic sites in all the three regions like high snow clad mountains, green pastures, roaring water falls, meadows, vast stretches of snow and water and rattling brooks.
Owing to natural beauty the whole of Kashmir region is called the Switzerland of India. The well developed and maintained mughal gardens, beautiful lakes, stretches of snow and other tourist places attract a vast number of tourists across the globe every year, but at the same time there is no dearth of picturesque landscapes, enchanting valleys, forest grooves, springs of clear and sweet water, cascades, and flora and fauna in Ladakh and Jammu regions of the state. Till now the world has been shown only the brighter side of the beautiful moon, while other side of it remained invisible to the world.
Rajouri, Poonch, Bhaderwah, Kathua and other districts of Jammu region have numerous places which have immense tourist potential. A slight attention of the government towards their development can help rejuvenate the tourist industry of the state and bring its economy again on the rails. Basohli and Bani tehsils of district Kathua are famous for the beauty bestowed by the bountiful nature. With the completion of cable stayed bridge over river Ravi by the beginning of 2014, Basohli, which is the confluence of three states, will not only become the gate way of Jammu and Kashmir but will be known as the first tourist place on the threshold of Jammu and Kashmir with a number of other beautiful and exciting tourists spots en route Basohli, Bani, Bhaderwah road which have remained un noticed. On crossing the Ravi Bridge, one will find himself in a quite different world like the one experiences after crossing Jawahar tunnel. The vast stretch of 88 sq. kms. Ranjeet sagar lake below, the picturesque Basohli town surrounded by the Shivaliks, the old world known palaces, the fort shrine of Mata Chanchlo Devi, Sunan Ghat, the cool spot at the lower altitude, Dhar Mahanpur, Jaurian Mata shrine and the endless chain of many more places have remained hidden to the tourists and have never been brought in the lime light till date.
Ranjeet Sagar Lake
The 88 sq. kms. fresh water lake came into existence as a result of ponding of the RS dam (Thein Dam). The back water of the lake surrounds Basohli from three sides which adds to the beauty of the town. There is a wide scope of developing back water tourism in the lake by making arrangements for aquatic games, floating restaurants, shikaras, and house boats. A safe and protected bird sanctuary for the migratory birds along the sides of the lake can help save the rare and the endangered species of the birds. There is wide scope for opening training institute for rescue operations during water disasters and NCC naval wing for providing actual training instead of simulated to the cadets.
The remains of Basohli palaces which had square turrets, open parapets, projecting windows, Chinese roofed balconies have been mentioned as the finest buildings in the east by the French traveler Vigne. If these ruinous palaces are properly preserved and maintained by the Archeological Department, they can still unveil many historical facts regarding the Dugaar State. Starting light and sound program in the ruins based on the local themes can attract a good number of visitors from within an outside the state.
Fort shrine of Mata Chanchlo Devi
The fort which houses Mata Chanchlo Devi temple also was built by the Rajas of Pal dynasty of Basohli state on the peak of the hill which is highest among the surrounding hills in its vicinity. The fort shrine is encircled by lake water from three sides and is situated in the middle of the thick forest which echoes with the crowing of fowls and cawing of peacocks. While standing on the view point of the fort one can have panoramic view of the town Basohli and that of RSD Lake below. The view of the lake and that of the town from the fort at night hours resembles the one seen from the Shankeracharya temple of Srinagar. Providing Gandola service from the town to the fort, developing beautiful public park like the one at Bahu fort temple and arranging Para gliding sport from the heights of the fort can go a along way in promoting tourism in this part of the State.
Dhar Mahan Pur
Dhar Mahan Pur though a small village is known for its beautiful ridges, grooves of cheel trees, lush green steep pastures, springs of sweet water throughout the state. It is situated at a height of 4000 ft. from the sea level at the top of one of the hills of Sivalik ranges. One can have the view of some of the froms of the Punjab at night time from this spot. Apart from the forest produces like resin, it is also known for milk and milk products like khoya and paneer. Pails of milk are supplied to the nearby towns from Dhar Mahanpur every day. If the scenic spots of the place are developed and tourists huts are constructed, then there will be addition of one more tourist spot in the vicinity of Basohli. Sunan Ghat presents a different soothing environment even during the scorching heat of summer. Though situated at a very low height Sunan Ghat is a small valley with a different pattern of seasons.
Jourian Mata shrine
Jourian Mata shrine is about 55 Kms. away from Basohli and is situated at a height of 6500 ft. from the sea level. The shrine gives an enchanting view with grooves of deodar and oak trees. The white sheep grazing on the steeps look like gems studded in the mountains. The sun and mist present a charming view when they play hide and seek during the day time. Lacs of devotees throng the shrine every year during the navratras every year. Constructing huts and developing a golf ground like the one at Naldheri in H.P. on the 10 Kms. long ridge will add one more feather in the cap of tourist department of Jammu And Kashmir State.
Places like Bani, Panyalag, Dhagar, Dullangal, Lowang and Sarthal enroute Basohli, Bani, Bhaderwah road offer multi dimensional tourism which needs to be improved, developed, preserved and promoted. The state government will have to come out from the cocoon of Kashmir centric politics and work out new modalities to ensure balanced development of all the three regions of the state. Providing connectivity and developing new spots of tourism in Jammu and Ladakh regions, for which they have the capacity but remain un noticed, will rejuvenate the tourist industry of the state and forge better integrative atmosphere among the people.
“Ghoongat ki aad mein dilber ka deedar adhoora rehta hai, jab tak na padey aashiq ki nazar shingar adhoora rehta hai’