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Three Shrines of Khir Bhawani

Tula-Mul, Mani Gam, Raithan
from Kosher Encyclopaedia-Vol. 1 & 2 Cultural Academy

Original--Moti Lal Saqi

Translation--Dr. R.L. Bhat

Tula-Mul is also known as Ragniya Asthapan and Kshir-Bhawani both in and outside Kashmir. The tirtha, lies 22 km to the South of Srinagar. Kshir-Bhawani asthapan is among the tirthas of Kashmir, well-known outside Kashmir too. Non Kashmir yatris flock there for Darshanas.

The historical antecedents of Kshir-Bhawani, go back to very ancient times, as per the traditions. It is said that Ragniya Devi came to Kashmir from (Sri) Lanka in the era of Ramayana. Though Ragniya is a rupa of Durga, this one is a Vaishnav rupa in Kashmir Ragniya is also known as Tripura, while in (Sri) Lanka, the Mother Goddess was called Shayama. Sita too, is believed to have been an incarnation of Ragniya. Ragniya Mahatmya has it that those who meditate on Panch Dashi Mantra during Nav-reh, Mother Ragniya grants their wish.

It is said that the night during which Mother Goddess came from (Sri) Lanka to Kashmir was Christened Ragniya Ratri In Kashmir a number of shrines are deciated to Mother Goddess at Tiker, Bhuvaneshvar, Manzgam (Noor-abad) Bheda, Lo-qraer-pur, Mani-gam, Rai-than and Baed-pur, but the Shrine at Tul-Mul is the most famous one and hence the focus of yatris. 360 springs (nagas) are said to have gathered there. Ragniya is a Sattavie form of Mother Goddess, i.e. the form of tranquility and bliss.

The first mention of Tula-Mula in Raj-Tarangni comes in Jaya Peda’s reign when the Brahmins of Tula-Mula agitated against him. The protest of Brahmin fraternity indicates that Tula-Mula commanded much importance in Jaya Peda’s time, because of which many Brahmins congregated there. The river on whose bank, Tula-Mul stands, has been called Chandra-Bhaga in Nilamat Purana. This Chandra-Bhaga is the branch of Indus which flows by Tula-Mula and finally merges in Veth (Jehlum).

Another tradition says that in the year 4041 Sapta Rishi over a thousand years ago, when the location of Tula-Mul Tirth had been lost to the people as the whole area of Tula-Mula had been inundated by water. Krishna Pandit, a devotee of the Devi, located it again, in that year. The reason for (Jesht) Ashtami being the day of fasting for Devi, is said to be the fact that its was in the night of (Jesht) Ashtami, that Devi came to Krishna Pandit in a dream and told him that she would lead him through water to the location of her asthapana, the next day. This is said to have happened exactly so and Krishna Pandit drone pegs around the place to demarcate it. Later when the flood ebbed the shrine was established a new.

Abul Fazl writes that Tula-Mula is an area of fifty kharwars which gets flooded in summer. About the marsh, he says, that when the waters recede, people catch ½ to 1 kg fish from under the mud.

Dara Shikoh’s advisor, Maharishi Shyam Sunder Koul who was a Shakta-Margi, had a strange experience at Tula-Mula when his meat-dishes turned into vegetable ones. Devis’ devotees have a firm belief that the waters of spring, in which Devi’s shrine is located, changes colour.

Krishna Kar, attained spiritual height at this spring, during Aurangzeb’s reigin (1659 AD).

Today the shrine is spread over an approximate area of 20 miles, which contains Dharam-salas etc. The area around the spring is floored in marble.

Though there is a festival at Tula-Mula on every Ashtami of full-moon fortnight, the grand festival of the year is held on the Jesht Ashtami, in which people from Kashmir and outs-side take part.

The Devi temple of Tula-Mula is said to have been damaged in 14th or (and?) 15th centuries. The temple that was damaged (destroyed?), was also situated in the middle of the spring like the present temple. This came to light when the foundation for the new (today’s) temple was being laid. The (ancient) temple had been built of beautifully carved flat stones, that were 9 feet in length and 3 feet in breadth. Besides a number of murtis were recovered which had great splendour and beauty. Maharaja Pratap Singh built a small marble temple in 1912 AD, on the foundation of that ancient temple. The small stone icon, adorning this temple is believed by experts to be more than 600 years old.

The original name of Main Gam is MaYA Gram. The village is situated above Lar on the right-bank of Indus, a little to the interior, between 540-12(E) longitude and 340-17’ (N) latitude, at a distance of 20 kilometres from Srinagar.

In the village proper, no ancient remains are found (now) but above the village on the foot of hill there is a heap of tiles, about which (M.Aurel) Stein writes that a temple existed there. On this path, enroute to Mahind Marg, there was a pond enclosed in stone-work with an in let in the north.

This spot is now called vata-shun. Haider Malik Chadoora calls this spring “Votur-Gang”, and relates that its defiling, brought a fear of a snow-fall in Summer Hassan supported Haider Malik and has called it ‘votur-nag’. Now this spring is used by the water-works department (PHE) as a water-source.

A mela is held at this spring, on the 12th of the bright-half of Shravana. It has been called Achha-ra-na Nag in Harmukh Mahatamya.

Raithan is to the North-West of Srinagar 32 km away. Near the village, between the Son-moi river and the road, there a very large stone which the Hindus have been worshipping since time immemorial as a form of Goddess Ragniya.

Till 1975, we were not aware of any historical significance of this place. In that year the people of the area decided to build a Dharamshala and a wall around the shrine and started digging near the Ragniya aakar. During this (digging) stone murti were found in two layers. The murtis in the upper layer related to the Hindu period and those below to the Buddhism. A specimen of wood-carving and a foundation of an ancient temple were also unearthed. Besides, charcoal mixed in earth was also found which indicated the destruction of the shrine by fire in some early time. The foundation of the small edifice is in front of the stone towards north. Its lay-out points to a stupa having existed there. This is not surprising since the remains of a Boddh-Vihara existed, till only a short while ago in Arigam, just a little below Raithan. This indicates that Buddhist activities continued in the area for a long time. A  little below Raithan, to the left of the road, there is a udara, which is even today called Raza-Geer (Raj Gadi-Capital). People say that coins of different period were found during ploughing.

Gh Ahmad Mahjoor, had collected many of these coins from the people. Mahjoor had been the patwari of Raithan, Ari-gam and Gra-veth, for a long time (before independence).

The murtis, that were excavated during digging, have got broken for the lack of caution. Most of the murtis are of soft-stone (lime-stone) which is not found in the vicinity. The murtis of Buddhist period are from the view point of craftsmanship and art much graceful, (but) those of the Hindu era do not possess that finesse and instead give the impression of crudity. It appears that these are related to the 11th and 12th centuries when the sculpture in Kashmir had decayed. However, the three-faced, green stone Vishnu, that has been found there is much graceful. Probably, it has been brought to the place from somewhere else. A similar three-faced Vishnu has been found earlier at vont-i-pur (Avantipura).

Thus the Raithan shrine has have passed through three stages. First there had been a Buddhist shrine, then its became a Vishnu shrine and now it is a place for worship of Devi.

Reproduced from:
Kashmir Sentinel,
Panun Kashmir

 

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