Kishtwar City

By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2014

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We left Verinag at app 8.30 am to reach Kishtwar by 4 pm. Drove thru Sinthan Top which is a wow drive. U see temple of Sharika Devi at Sarthal in left centre of pic. It is the temple of Sharika Devi, the presiding deity of Kashmir. To see pics of Sinthan Top drive Click here

Right of pic corner is river Chenab i.e. where we came from. From that low point we drove uphill (u can see road) to reach Kishtwar. The town is at a height of 5,400 feet and has an area of 7,737 sq kms (Valley has area of 15,940 sq kms), so in area terms Kishtwar is quite large.

Checked into hotel (good double room for Rs 500/), had chai pakodas. It was quite cold here. Kishtwar is a plateau at a height. I was surprised to see this huge maidan-used for morning walk, playing games. It is surrounded by hills on all sides. There is something about Kishtwar that struck a deep chord within, just loved it.

We stayed at Hotel Snow-white. Early morning view from room. People stay on the hills that you see (left of pic are homes). Kishtwar has a 1000 year old recorded history.

When I saw this board question came to mind was, what is a Bengali Sen doing here? Its first ruler, Kahan Pal, was from Bengal who settled between 900-1000 A.D. Because of him large number of Bengalis settled here and are there to this day. From 1820 onwards Kishtwar came under Dogra rule.

At 6 am left hotel for a walk, first went to the Maidan that you saw, then walked towards market. Met these young boys going for tuition classes. Large number of Godiya Bengali Brahmins settled in town.

Side view of maidan. Structure right in centre of pic is a school. Behind that homes that you see is a village. Here villages are close to the main town. Kishtwar has a culture and history of its own and was never part of Kashmir Valley. Locals speak Kishtwari while others speak Kashmiri.

Walking towards Kesar or Saffron farm. Note background, lovely trees and snow clad peak. House roofs made of tin (because of snow) but looked modern in design. Valley was invaded many times so when people had problems (kasth) in Valley they came here to remove their kasth (problem) hence the name Kishtwar (per Neelmata Purana).

Flower within which is Kesar. When we went flowers were yet to blossom, one of the farmers removed a flower to show us. Spoken language is Kishtwari, has lots of Pali words proof of Buddhist influence. Also presence of Bengali words in Kishtwari.

Farmers explaining finer details about growing kesar. I was always under the impression that kesar is only grown in Kashmir Valley, this visit changed that. Post Muslim attack in 1664 locals were converted to Islam.

Road on right of pic is where we came from. Right you see river Chenab flowing and from below is Paddar river. Where they join is Sangam name being Bhandarkut Sangam. The name for river Chenab in the Rig Veda is ASIKNI. Locals believe that some Rig Vedic verses were composed here.

Through the hills flows Paddar river. Water flow reduced due to construction of Dul Hasti power project (390 MW). People of Kishtwar complained that inspite of river Chenab at foothills and Dul Hasti power project the town suffers from water and electricity shortage.

Overview of village in Kishtwar.

About one hour drive (20 kms from Kishtwar) is the Holy Shrine of Mata Ashtadash Bhuja, Shirithal. U see road just before temple. Temple dome is in centre gold colored structure.

Close up of temple. Sarthal Devi is an 18 armed goddess and about about 1000 years old.

U see me at temple steps. The world famous Brahma Peaks in the region are home to many religious sites of of which is Shri Hud Mata.

Pandit and support staff at temple. Kishtwar has hills on all sides, very scenic. A cop stopped us and asked who were we, we said tourists. He said what is there to see. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Number of villages close to temple at Shirithal, u see one such temple. Most village homes have modern consumer durable items.

Thakur Subhash Chander Sen Memorial. I happen to meet his brother at a tea shop who told me that his brother was shot dead by terrorists hence the memorial.

Apple tree in the garden of a private home.

Extreme left and centre of pic land used to grow kesar. Shamiana (yellow color) made for wedding in farmers family.

Gouri Shankar Mandir Sarkoot in Kishtwar.

Post early morning walk had tea at this shop - lovely just what I needed to get me going.

Deodhar trees. Close to town is an area called Brindavan which is full of deodhar trees. Was told some Bollywood movies were shot here.

I was surprised to see a NAMO Tea Stall here. Owner was good enough to give me lovely chai and biscuits.

One of the key roads in Kishtwar. Instead of going to the Valley via Banihal one can drive from Jammu to Kishtwar (240 kms) and another 7 hours to Anantnag in the Valley. If developed well it can become an alternate route to the Valley.

Another view of the ground. Roof with green color are Police Offices or Homes not sure. Note that pic numbers 29-32 are provided by P Parihar of Kishtwar. In case you have any questions on Kishtwar do mail him at

Out of Kishtwar this is the Ratle Dam being made by GVK Group. Also Pakal Dul and Keerukwar hydro power projects being developed. Hope got names right. A two day trek app 90 kms takes you from Kishtwar to Zanskar. See pics of river rafting in Zanskar River Click here

Overview of village of Machail Mata Mandir. From Kishtwar drive 60 kms and trek 32 kms to reach here. 18 kms from here are Sapphire Mines. To see more pics of Machail Mata on FBClick here

Outside view of the Maa Chandi temple at Machail, Kishtwar, wooden structured. Annual Yatra around 15th August, lakhs come.

Pindi of Maa Chandi from Mindal thats why also called as Mindla wali Maa. Government can improve infrastructure so more tourists and devotees to Kishtwar. To see pics of Martan Temple in Anantnag Click here

All the three swaropps of Maa Chandi. To see pics of Budha Amarnath Mandir Poonch Click here

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