Khir Bhawani Spring
Kashmir in the olden times was known as Reshi Bhumi or the land of saints. Cut
off as it was from the outside world by its mountain ramparts, its means
of communication were difficult. The people had developed their own script
called 'sharda' and their own literature and philosophy. They cultivated
various branches of knowledge, and worked for humanity preferring action
as the country is by the snow-clad high mountains, water absorbed in the
soil gives birth to numerous springs scattered all over the country. Those
springs are known as Nags (serpents). They are dedicated to different gods
or goddesses, hence some of the towns are named after them, such as Anant
Nag, Vetsar Nag, Tsandi Gam (after Tsandi Nag in the Lolab Valley) and
Ver Nag in Anantnag district. Special days are set apart in the calendar
to commemorate the story of those springs and fairs are held and public
worship takes place on such occasions.
One of these
mysterious springs is situated near village of Tulamulla. The whole place
round Tulamulla is swampy and for miles around there are rice fields. By
the side of acqueducts grow a large variety of wild flowers, the most common
being Mentha sylvestris (Vena) which is used in worship and the sale of
which brings money to the peasant population.
that Tulamulla is a sort of floating garden, as the natives say that if
they dig a whole in the ground, they find fish coming from the tributary
of the Sindh which drains the place. The village is girt round by the tributaries
of the Sindh which carry water from the Amar Nath and Gangabal glaciers.
There is also a stream of pyre water which rises from the springs round
the eastern side of the village and passing under a bridge enters into
the Sindh canal (also called Gangkhai).
islets are covered with willows and poplars while the main island on which
the spring stands is shaded with chinars, mulberry and elm trees. Lately,
the place paved with dressed sandstones, but there is much scope for the
improvement and tidiness of the spot. Water and vegetation being very abundant,
mosquitoes are ubiquitous in July and August. In summer, the birds nestling
on trees produce melodious music at dawn. The golden oriole, the thrush,
the ringdove, the paradise flycatcher, the bulbul are conspicuous by their
song and plumage. In winter the wild fowl, the shoveller, the mallard,
the gadwall, the widgeon, the teal, the paddy bird, the coot and such other
birds are found in the Anchar Lake and round about the swamps.
The Anchar Lake
The Anchar (Atsar
- means good conduct) Lake must have once touched the skirts of the Lar
and Ganderbal mountain ranges and the alluvial soil wrested from the lake
is the outcome of the silt which the Sindh and rain have deposited here
for hundreds of years. This process is still going on and extensive tongues
of land in the form of deltas between several distributaries are being
formed continually. About seventy years ago the Sindh changed its course,
flowed over Gadura village and thence entered the lake. A tributary from
here joins the Vetasta (Jhelum) at Shadipor. Two canals drain the water
of the Dal Lake into the Anchar Lake. The Nala Bal flows past the north
of Hari Parbat via Amda Kadal, and the other canal used to flow through
Bohri Kadal during summer months. The later canal has been filled up under
the master plan and does not exist now. The best lotus blossom is found
towards the southern side of the lake called Khushal Sar during the months
of July and August. It is fascinating to watch the pheasant-tailed Jacana
in gorgeous plumage and the paddy bird in sombre colour. The lake yields
large quantities of lotus seeds and lotus roots which are eaten as a vegetable.
Fishing is also carried on in it. It supplies fodder for animals to the
There are two
important springs on the eastern side of the lake. Amrishwar spring in
Amburher which was a great place of pilgrimage in olden times and a spring
in Biyhama which is highly prized for digestive water.
The lake is
about 3.5 miles long and 2.25 miles broad and covers an area of about 7.5
sq. miles. There are better floating gardens here than in Dal Lake.
traffic came into being the pilgrims to the spring went on foot or by boat.
The religious-minded preferred the journey on foot. From Srinagar they
either went to Sowura Ghat or to the Gron Kadal where they engaged boat
and crossing the Anchar Lake landed at Gadur. From here they walked through
rice fields in about 4 or 5 hours arrived at Tulamulla.
a doonga or a house-boat in Srinagar in the Vetasta (Jhelum) reach Shadipor,where
the confluence of the Sind and Vetasta takes place. This place is also
called Prayag and is sacred to the Hindus. From here boat is towed up the
canal along the delightful turfed banks and finally anchored at the island.
The journey covers about 8 or 9 hours.
and cars run to the place and cover a distance of 14 miles in about 40
minutes. The pilgrim, no doubt saves much of his time in this way but he
actually wraps his vacation in a wet blanket and has, to his credit merely
the satisfaction that he has visited the place.
On the way to
Ganderbal there is a spring called Vetsar Nag which is 8 kms. from Srinagar.
It is said , that in the olden days the new calendar used to be discussed
here before it came into circulation. Vetsar means discussion. The pilgrimage
to this place takes place on the Amavasa (last day of dark fortnight) of
Chet. This spring is also, called Ailapator after the high-altitude lake
of Gulmarg. The spring was once cleansed. In the centre of the spring there
is a stone cylinder about 3 ft. high on which rests a stone Shivlingam.
The water gushes out from the north-eastern and north-western corners and
fills the spring.
Ganderbal is the
terminus of the boat journey. Its lovely turfed banks, shady chinars, the
graceful flow of the Sindh, the delightful mountain slopes in the distance
and the refreshing breeze which blows from the pine-clad mountain slopes
of the upper Sindh Valley are very soothing to the wearied body and mind.
It lies at the base of the Sindh Valley and was originally called Doderhom.
It is the official headquarters of the Sindh Valley and has a regular bazaar,
a post office, a veterinary hospital and a hospital for men and a Government
Higher Secondary Schools for Boys and Girls. Some visitors engage houseboats
and spend some time under shady chinars. There are some interesting spots
round about the place which can be easily visited from here. A morning
walk of about 3 miles will take a person to the Khir Bhawani spring. About
6 miles from here lies the famous Manasbal lake. From Vayil bridge about
2.5 miles from here a glorious view of the Sindh Valley flanked by verdant
mountain slopes can be had.
there is an electric power-house which supplies light to Srinagar city
and adds to the present electric supply of the valley.
Mention of this
place is made in the last chapter of the Ragyna Pradurbhava which is a
section of the Bringish Samhita. It is stated there that during the early
period of the Epic Age, King Ravana ruled Lanka, an island to the south
of India. It was then a flourishing country having sixteen hundred towns.
This island is beautifully described in the Ramayana.
in order to gain temporal power and glory worshipped goddess Parvati (Shama)
who manifested herself to him in all her nine aspects. For sometime he
remained sober-minded and worshipped the goddess with all all devotion.
When Shri Rama
King of Ajoydiya invaded Lanka and the generals of his army Sugrev and
Hunuman killed King Rhvana's brother Kumbakaruna and his son Megnad, his
wife Mandudhari entreated him to make peace with Shri Rama. He was kindled
with rage and tried to invoke the blessing of the goddess by offering her
various kinds of sacrifices. Thereupon the goddess, wrathful at Ravana's
misdeeds, cursed in and ordered Hunumhn to take her to Sati Sar (Kashmir)
on her vehicle along with 360 Nags. Hunuman selected a spot in the northern
side of the valley within the space surrounded by the villages of Borus
(Bhawanish), Ahatung (Tungish), Ladwun (Labdawan), Wokur (Bhageh). Here
he installed the goddess with all her satellites. She was called Khirbhawani
or Raji Ragyni, exclusively preferring milk, sugar, rice and all vegetarian
forms of offerings. To quote from Stein's translation of Kalhana's Rajatarangini:
" When he (Jayapida) was appropriating (the land of) Tulamulya, he heard,
while on the bank of the Candrabhaga, that a hundred Brahmans less one
had sought death in the water of that (stream)." .........
undoubtedly the present village, of Tulamul, situated 74 deg 48' long.
34 deg 13' lat. among the marshes through which the Sind River passes before
joining the Vitasta. The large spring of Tulmul is sacred as the habitation
of Maharajni, a form of Durga extensively worshipped among the Brahman
population of Kashmir, and is accordingly to this day the object of frequent
and popular pilgrimages. The name is written as Tulamulaka in Fourth Chron.
527, 531 and in Rajnipradurbhavamah.
In the midst
of the wide water-logged tract of the Sind Delta we find the ancient Tirtha
of Tu-lamu-lya at the village now know as Tulmul, situated 74 deg 48' long-
34 deg 13' lat. The Purohita corporation of Tulamulya is represented as
a well-to-do and influential body already under King Jaydpida. (A.D. 85
and 88) The large spring of Tulamulya is sacred to Maharajni, a form of
Durga, and is still held in great veneration the Brahman population of
Srinagar. It is supposed to exhibit from time to time miraculous changes
in the colour of its water, which are ascribed to the manifestation of
the goddess. Owing to its convenient position the Tirtha attracts large
numbers of pilgrims from the capital. Abu-I-Fazal notices the place and
its marshy surroundings. About two and a half miles to the east of Tulamul
lies the village of Dudrhom on the main branch of the Sind which have become
first navigable. It is repeatedly referred to by Srivara under its old
name of Dugdhasrama.
of the 'Mothers', which is identical with that of the Saktis, plays a great
part in the Tantra ritual flourishing in Kashmir from ancient times.
It is said
that Ravana's father Pulasti Reshi lived in Kashmir.
The land was
all swampy, made as it were of floating gardens, it was light and bumpy,
hence it was called Toola Mulla, from two Sanskrit words. 'Tool' meaning
'cotton' and 'Mulla' eaning 'value ', 'worth'.
A person aged
about 90 (in 1948) told me that he knew the time when reeds were placed
alon be swampy foot-path from Hur Mengin Wor to enable the pilgrims to
walk to the island.
was a Spirit who sometimes possessed the bodies of the persons travelling
during the night and he was a dread to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood.)
time a road was constructed by Mahant Dharm Dass. Shah Radha Krishen, a
merchant, paved the edge of the spring with Baramulla stones and Dewan
Narsingh Dayal built the big dharmshala on the north of the spring during
the reign of Maharaja Ranbir Singh. Later on, during recent times the road
was metalled (macadamised) and made fit for wheeled traffic. The old dharmshala
has been dismantled, new ones erected and the place made more beautiful.
There is a
legend that a long time ago the goddess appeared to Pandit Govind Joo Gadru
who arranged to go in a boat from Sowura Ghat to the swampy side of the
Anchar Lake. He took with him a number of earthen vessels full of milk
and when he found the spring, he poured milk into it.
is another version of the process which is said to have brought the spring
A pious Brahman
Krishna Pandit saw a vision in which he was informed by a Deva (an angel)
that the spring of Khir Bhawani lay among the swamps of Tulamulla.
I be able to find out the spring?' He asked.
'Engage a boat
as far as Shadipor, and from there a serpent will guide you. When you will
reach near the spring, the serpent will jump into it. That is the spring
', was the reply.
He did as he
was told, engaged a boat and came as far as Shadipor.
A snake was seen
swimming over the water of the swamps. The boat followed the snake, which
halted at a particular place where Shri Krishna Pandit fixed a long stick
to indicate the position of the holy spot. After the snake moved in an
oddly rectangular direction, the space thus covered by it was demarcated
with the fixation of sticks over the marshy area. Thus was the divine spring
area around the spring was led up with dry earth carried in boats for this
purpose. Shri Krishna Pandit along with other persons and devotees from
Srinagar the worship of the goddess. At the conclusion of the puja, it
is said that a piece of birch bark was seen floating over the water of
the spring. Shri Krishna Pandit took it up and found the sloka written
on it. The verse described the divine form of the goddess Ragni.
I make obeisance
to that one goddess who, having taken the position of the Supreme God is
the Queen in reality, whose form is made of light and is adorned by (the
lustre of) twelve suns, who cannot be observed through senses, who is seated
on a throne and is wrapped with serpents.
a poem of as many stanzas as there were letters in the sloka and this poem
is still extant. He would pay a visit to the spring on every 8th day of
the bright fortnight as long as he lived.
this place became known all over Kashmir and people began to gather there
to worship, while the people round the place sold milk, flowers and fuel
to the pilgrims which gives them a good business.
Before we enter
on the main island, we see two important places, one is the Ziarat of Mir
Baba Haider, a Muslim saint and the other is the Samad of Lobu Shah who
had miraculous powers and lived some 150 years ago.
been made in the Rajatarangani of Raja Jiyapida (A.D. 850-88) confiscating
the lands of the Brahmans of Tulamulla. The Brahmins troubled by the misdeeds
of the Raja went in a body to see him. They were detained by the courtiers.
Thereupon, they raised a hue and cry and were called by the Raja. They
attacked him vehemently and one of them cursed him with the result that
there and then a golden rod from the royal canopy fell on the Raja, causing
him a wound which proved incurable and brought about his death.
The spring is
situated in the centre of the island round which the Gangkhai a canal from
Sind makes a circuit. It is said that this spring is surrounded by 360
springs. Most of hese have fallen into oblivion and are covered ith rushes
and silted up.
main spring came to be known the goddess was worshipped at Solur where
under a chinar tree a spring still exists. This spot is called Devot Wol
boin. One mile north-east of this island near Lodwan village is Ganesh
Bal or Vodjen where Ganesh is worshipped. The other springs which are still
known are: Ashta Rudhar to the south, Tsandar Nag to the south-east. Machi
Nag, Naga Rad, Gokhin Nag are to the east.
The main spring
dedicated to Goddess Khir Bhawani or Ragyni has an irregular septagonal
shape with apex called PAD (feet) to the east. The northern and southern
sides are longer than western side which is called SHER (head).
In the centre
is an islet on which a temple have existed once. There also grew a mulberry
tree here. Now there is a small marble temple which was built by His late
Highness the Maharaja Partap Singh. The small flags and miniature silver
umbrellas presented to the goddess by the votaries are placed in the temple.
Here is reproduced
an extract from "Talks with Swami Vivekananda" about the Holy Spring.
said, on the way back, he returned to Srinagar by the common route by which
the pilgrims return. A few days after returning to Srinagar he went to
visit Kshir Bhavani Devi and staying there for seven day worshipped the
Devi and made Homa to Her with offerings of Kshir (condensed milk). Every
day he used to worship the Devi with a maund of Khir as offering. One day,
while worshipping the thought arose in Swamiji's mind: " Mother Bhavani
has been manifesting Her Presence here for untold years. The Mohammedans
came and destroyed Her temple, yet the people of the place did nothing
to protect Her. Alas, if were then living, I could never have borne it
silently. " When, thinking in this strain, his mind was much oppressed
with sorrow an anguish, he distinctly heard the voice of the Mother saying:
" It was according to desire that the Mohammedans destroyed the temple.
It is My desire that I should live in dilapidated temple, otherwise, can
I not immediately erect a seven-storied temple of gold here if I like ?
What can you do? Shall I protect you or shall you protect me! " Swamiji
said: "Since hearing that Divine Voice, I cherish no more plans. The idea
of building Maths etc. I have given up; as Mother wills, so it will be."
disciple speechless with wonder began to think " Did he not one day tell
me that whatever saw and heard was but the echo of the Atma within me,
that there was nothing outside? " and fearlessly spoke it out also -" Sir,
you used to say that Divine Voices are the echo of our inward thoughts
and feelings ". Swamiji gravely said: " Whether it be internal or external,
if you actually hear with your ears such a disembodied voice, as I have
done, can you deny it and call it false? Divine Voices are actually heard,
just as you and I are talking."
without controverting accepted Swamiji's words, for his words always carried
Such a mysterious
spring is found nowhere in India. The water of the spring changes its colour
from time to time. I have observed and found it rosy red, faint rosy, light
green, lemon yellow, milky white and grey white on various occasions. There
is no special time or definite period for this change of colour. Any shade
of black colour is supposed to be inauspicious.
I have seen
bubbles rising out of the water of the spring and, forming three lines
round the islet not regularly complete, but a part here and a part there
though in perfect order. These lines are said to be the Dwara of the Chakra.
Chakra or Yantra
of Rajni Devi (Tulamulla)
What is a Chakra?
It is a mystic symbol. Every goddess has her own Chakra. The Chakra of
Kshir Bhavani consists of seven parts enclosed one within the other. The
Chakra popularly known as Yantra embodies Mother Goddess with Her Shakties.
well-versed in various forms Tantric cult take this mystic symbol to represent
the inward psychic centres of the body and concentrating on it under proper
guidance a supposed to acquire various superphysical powers.
is the content of the Vedas a Agams and differs from one place to another
challenging many syntheses. This is found amply in Agams in different system
as invocations female deities identical with Shakties. A speci Power of
goddess representing it is the time-honoured-form of worship. The worship
offers a mystic blend of Brahmanical and Buddhi practices.
has much influenced countries, all ages, all places and all systems philosophic
thoughts and all ritualistic practic Innumerable are the systems of Tantric
worsh called by different names, forms and systems. It has its own mine
of literature with its celebrated authors. A few of them are enumerated
Like all other
metaphysical reorientations Tantrikism is a way of worship. Tantrik symbolism
and rituals elevate a man to a state of bliss leading to salvation. The
Tantrik psycho-physical discipline formulates the diagram known Chakra,
Yantra and Yoga.
(Kshir Bhavani Devi) has Her prescribed diagram for worship in Tantra Shastra
which is reproduced here. It embodies the system as right-handed Tantrikism.
The following is the system of Rajni Devi's diagram (Chakra) with her Shaktis
as borne by the descriptions in the relative manuscripts and available
literature on the subject.
Puja of the
Devi or Worship of Goddess Rajnidevi
(Outer line) (Siddhis)
1. Sarva Sankhobini
2. Sarva Vidrawani
3. Sarva Karshani
Mudrayay Namah Mudra
4. Sarva Vashankari
3. Ashta Dash-Bojayay
4. Ashta Bojayay
1. Maha Kaliyay
2. Maha Saraswatyay
3. Maha Lakshmeyay
upon Shri Maha Rajni
Who is the
embodiment of peace and
Who is the
giver of wealth that is sought
living round the island whether Hindus or Mohammedans have a great veneration
for the goddess. They never eat meat when they have to go over there. They
go there with their bodies and clothes washed.
with its apex downwards.
inverted. The vertices of the one resting on the side of the other.
leaves resting on the circle.
with half triangles in the middle, enclosing all other parts and completing
a Sanskrit stanza by an unknown author, the discovery of the spring was
made on Ashara Sapthami*, seventh day of bright fortnight in June-July,
but pilgrims from all parts of Kashmir come here on every eighth day (Ashtami)
of the bright fortnight of every lunar month, while the chief festival
is held on Zetha Ashtami (about May). They light candles made from ghee
(clarified butter), and bum dhup (incense), to the accompaniment of the
music of ringing of bells played by the priest. The offering is Khir (preparation
of rice in milk and sugar), with sometimes admixture of ghee, raisins,
dates, coconuts, and pieces of sugar candy in odd numbers. The recitation
of Sanskrit hymns from scriptures along with offerings of flowers and rice
in spring completes a form of worship. A portion of these offerings is
distributed among relatives and friends.
At dusk, hundreds
of people assemble round the spring with candles waving. The head priest
also waves a candle, while the other priests blow conch shells and horns,
beat timbrels, ring bells, and wave morechells (peacock's tail feathers).
All pilgrims recite hymns, producing a singular mixture of sounds, and
creating a religious atmosphere diffusing spiritual vibrations everywhere.
The whole congregation standing in a devotional mood concentrates on the
image of the goddess and seeks to merge itself in the Primordial Energy
pervading the universe. I think, this united form of worship more impressive
if some set verses were selected and recited toether than individual for
sometime. After this had been done every person could follow his own way
according to his-own peculiar bent of mind.
Hindu has his own guardian goddess. When a child is born to him or when
his son is married, he has to take him to his guardian goddess for thankoffering.
Khir Bhawani is, the guardian goddess of the majority of the Kashmiri Brahmans.
(* On this
day the Brahmans of the Valley draw figures of the sun in all seven colours
on the floors, kitchens, compounds of their houses. This is probably done
t6 show that the sun occupies its highest position in the heavens on this
of Khirbhawani Spring
The spring has
been cleansed twice within living memory and some of the idols (murties)
taken out of it, have been placed in the temple.
the Khirbhawini Spring was cleansed. The operation which began on the 30th
of January 1970 lasted till July 10, 1970. An electric pump conducted these
operations round the clock. The mire and sediment which lay at the bottom
were removed. A large quantity of water flowed out making the spring fresh
and sparkling. As a result of this operation, the spring bubbled out in
several directions. In the middle of the spring, milky water flowed out.
While the mud and mire were being removed several golden ornaments and
silver pieces offered by the devotees from time to time were collected,
from the bottom of the spring. The spring was thus cleansed for the fourth
The holy Khir
Bhawani Shrine at Tulamulla (Ganderbal) besides invested with sacred associations
since very ancient times is also a place of great tourist interest. Situated
as it is, in the peaceful surroundings of bountiful nature, caters to the
requirements of devotees seeking spiritual peace and calm as also those
fond of sight seeing. In the recent years the Dharmarth Trust of the State
has done a good job in improving the surroundings of the shrine and also
has provided comfortable accommodation for devotees and yatries-cum-tourists
who come every year in millions to worship at the shrine of all India fame.
shrine was confined to about 50 kanals of land and the influx of people
on festival days was so huge that they could not be accommodated within
this limited space. The Dharmarth Trust, under whose care the shrine is,
felt the need for acquiring more land for the shrine in view of the difficulty
faced by the devotees on the festival days. Therefore, more land was acquired
and the area extended. Dharamshalas have been constructed for conveniently
performing Puja during rains and in the scorching heat of the sun. A Puja
Mandap of 34' x 17' size in front of the sacred Kund has been constructed
at a cost of Rs. 52,000. Hawan Sheds have been constructed to cater to
the needs of the public for performing Yagna. A 3 H.P. Motor has been purchased
for bailing out water from the sacred Kund which is generally cleaned after
2-3 years, and a pump shed constructed for the purpose.
of the shrine, marble walling has been raised on all the all sides of the
Kund which has been enclosed by an iron railing. Stone platforms around
the chinar trees have been built up. Electric arrangements have been very
much improved and street lights provided.
With the addition
of 18 kanals of land outside the shrine premises a main gate of good design
has been constructed at a cost of Rs 73,000. On the whole the Trust has
been doing very good constructive work in respect of providing facilities
to devotees-cum-tourists who come to worship the shrine from all over the
country though there is much room for improvement still.