Monthly Archives: January 2011

My Ancestors' Stories..My Book: 'Our Ancestors and Saints of Kashmir'-Three Volumes published by Iqra Publishers in 2008


The most pious before Allah is the one who is most cautious in his deeds. However nations and tribes are there for getting recognized, besides there are mines in the lineage of people like the mines of diamond,gold,siver,copper etc, found in the earth and one should trace to which mine he belongs to. This also is supported by the genealogy.


Family tree of life

You can share ‘My Story’ on My Blog: ‘http://shahishaharyar,' wherein I have recorded what I know about my family’s ancestors. This shall help other family members to copy their lineages for themselves and for future progeny, lest they forget/loose their roots with the passage of time.

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My Fitness Routine in Summer & Winter


Physical fitness is a must to remain active irrespective of age and it is a prerequisite of the mental fitness.

water colors

A morning walk along a 90 ft wide road bordered with paddy fields and running streams of water on either side and lofty mountain back drop changing colors with rising of the sun coupled with soothing/soul refreshing cool breeze during summer days and indoor games,exercises,cycling during winter days is my routine for fitness. However I joined the gymn at Abu Dhabi this year and besides using the machines,I am learning swimming at this young age of 68 years.

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Optimist Pessimist or Both


It is better to have a brighter perspective of things as Nature has provided eyes on the front side– a hint to be forward looking.

Every thing has a dark as well as bright side. Some see only the dark side and some see the bright one only while as there are others who see both sides of the picture and weigh it accordingly.

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is situated on the north eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula, bordered by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the South and west, and the Sultanate of Oman to the east and north. The UAE shares 457 kilometers of its border with Saudi Arabia and 410 kilometers with Oman. It has a coastline on both the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and is south of the strategically important strait of Hormuz. The geographic coordinates of the UAE are 24 00N, 54 00E.

The country is made up of seven different emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai,

The Grand Mosque

Fujaira, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain), which were originally independent sheikhdoms. The total area of the country is about 83,600 sq. kms. most of which lies in the emirates of Abu Dhabi.

The city of Abu Dhabi located on a low lying island, is a lush, modern metropolis, complete with tree-lined streets, futuristic skyscrapers, huge shopping malls and international luxury hotels, surrounded by sparkling waters of the Arabian Gulf. With its rich desert heritage and origins as a fishing village, Abu Dhabi city has been a truly unique and diverse destination—a symbiosis of modernity and traditional Arabian customs.

A short time ago, the emirates of Abu Dhabi was little more than empty desert inhabited by nomadic Bedouin tribes, with a sprinkling of villages around the more fertile, oasis areas. In 1761 the leader of the Baniyas Bedouin tribe moved his people to the island. The abundant wild life provided the island with its name (Abu Dhabi—means ‘Father of the Gazelle’). There was little development until the discovery of oil in 1950, and despite the opportunities of fishing and grazing, it was not until the discovery of fresh water in 1793 that the ruling Al Nayhan family based in the south of the country of the ‘Liwa Oasis’ moved to the island. By the 1800’s, the town had developed considerably supported by the income from pearls, which brought in important trade and revenue. From 1885 to 1909 under the reign of Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammad (also known as ‘Zayed the Great’), Abu Dhabi rose in prominence to become the most powerful emirate along the western coast of the Arabian peninsula. His influence was profound and it was during his rule in 1897, that Abu Dhabi and the Emirates to the north accepted the protection of Britain. The British regarded the Gulf region as an important communication link with their empire in India and wanted to prevent other world powers in particular France and Russia, from extending their influence in the region. The area became known as Trucial states or Trucial coast, a name that remained until the departure of the British in 1971.

After starting oil exploration and exports in 1962 which launched Abu Dhabi on its way to incredible wealth.  The British withdrew in 1968 and encouraged the separate states to unite under one flag to have stronger voice in the middle East region and globally. In 1971 the federation of United Arab Emirates was created with each state retaining certain degree of autonomy, with Abu Dhabi having the most input into the federation. The leaders of the new federation elected Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan as their first President—a position he held until his death in 2004

The revenue generated by Abu Dhabi’s massive oil reserves allowed Sheikh Zayed to undertake extensive development within his own emirate. From a population of only 15000 in 1962, when there was a large amount of wealth shared amongst a small number of people, the emirate has become home to an estimated 1.6 million residents (at the last census in 2003) of which only 27 % are nationals.

DUBAI EMIRATE:  Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the UAE. It is located south of Persian

Burj Khalifa – World’s tallest Building

Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula and has the largest population with the second largest land territory by area of all the emirates after Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to have a veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country’s legislature.

The earliest recorded mention of Dubai is in 1095 and the earliest settlement known as Dubai town dates from 1799. Dubai was formally established in the early 19th century by AL Abu Falasa clan of Bani Yas and it remained under clan control when the United Kingdom assumed the protection of Dubai in 1892. Its geographical location made it an important Trading hub and by the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port in 1966, the year oil was discovered. Dubai and the emirates of Qatar set up a new monetary unit to replace the Gulf rupee. The oil economy led to a massive influx of foreign workers, quickly expanding the city by 300% and bringing in international oil interests. The modern emirate of Dubai was created after the UK left the area in 1971. At this time Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and four other emirates formed the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The following year Ras Al Khaimah joined the federation while Qatar and Bahrain chose to remain independent nations. In 1973, the monetary union with Qatar was dissolved and the UAE Dirham introduced throughout the UAE. A free trade zone was built around the Jebel Ali port in 1979, allowing foreign companies’ unrestricted import of labor and export capital. The Gulf war of 1990 had a negative financial effect on the city, as depositors withdrew their money and traders withdrew their trade, but subsequently the city recovered in a changing political climate and thrived.

Today Dubai has emerged as a global city and a business hub. Although Dubai’s economy was built on the oil industry, currently the emirates model of business, similar to that of the western countries drives its economy, with the effect that its main revenues are now from tourism, real estate and technical services. Dubai has recently attracted world attention through many innovative large construction projects and sports events. The increased attention has highlighted labor rights and human rights issues concerning its largely South Asian work force. Dubai’s property market experienced a major deterioration in 2008 and 2009 as a result of the world- wide economic downturn following the financial crises of 2007—2010.


Architecture: Dubai has a rich collection of buildings and structures of various

Dubai City Buildings

architectural styles. Many modern interpretations of Islamic architecture can be found in Dubai in particular, that has been supported by the top architectural and engineering design firms of New York and Chicago. As a result of the boom, modern Islamic –and world- architecture has literally been taken to new levels in the last decade in skyscraper building design and technology, culminating in 2010 with the completion of the ‘Burj Khalifa’ (Khalifa Tower), now by far the world’s tallest building at 828 m (2,716 ft.). The Burj Khalifa’s design is derived from the patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture, with the triple –lobed foot print of the building based on an abstracted version of the desert flower ‘hymenocallis’ which is native to the Dubai region. The completion of the Khalifa Tower, following the construction boom that began in the 1980’s, accelerated in the 1990’s and took on a rapid pace of construction unparalleled in modern human history during the decade of 2000’s,left Dubai with the world’s tallest skyline as of January 21, 2011.

Parks: Dubai has numerous small parks and gardens. In addition there are a number of large parks, amusement parks and heritage villages. Dubai Municipality’s Strategic Plan for 2007-11 seeks to increase the per capita green area to23.4 sq. m (27.98 sq. yds.) and the cultivated land in the urban areas to 3.15% by 2011. The Municipality has started a greenery project which will be completed in four phases planting 10.000 trees in each phase.

Sanitation Issues: Currently, human waste is collected daily from thousands of septic tanks across the city and driven by tankers to the city’s only sewage treatment plant at AL-awir. Dubai’s rapid growth means that it is stretching its limited sewage treatment infrastructure to its limits. Because of the long queues and delays, some tanker drivers resort to illegal dumping of the effluent in to storm water drains or behind dunes in the desert. Sewage dumped in to storm drains flows directly in to the Persian Gulf, near the city’s prime swimming beaches. Doctors have warned that tourists using the beaches run the risk of contracting serious illnesses like typhoid and hepatitis. Dubai Municipality maintains that test results show that the samples of the water are ‘within the standard.’

Solid Waste Disposal: Polythene is used as package material in all shops and wastes are put back in the same bags (to be recycled)– which in turn are dumped into waste duct from each floor to be collected at the ground floor and emptied  in to bigger recycled polythene bags and transported in night hours to the processing plant sites. Nowhere is the littered solid waste visible on road sides. The road surfaces are cleaned by vacuum cleaners during the night hours and no one likes to throw any waste on the roadside instead of dust bins. Similarly all malls, parks and foot paths are maintained neat and clean by the agencies hired on contract.

Transportation:  Transport in Dubai is controlled by Roads and Transport Authority. The public transport network faces huge congestion and reliability issues which a large investment program me is attempting to address, including over AED 70 billion of improvements planned for completion by 2020, when the population of the city is projected to exceed 305 million. In 2007, according to Dubai municipality statistics, there were an estimated 1,021,880 cars in Dubai. In January 2010, the number of Dubai residents who use public transport stood at 6%. Although the Govt. has invested heavily in Dubai’s road infrastructure, this has not kept pace with the increasing number of vehicles. This coupled with the induced traffic phenomenon, has led to growing problems of congestion. The public transport buses seem to be more comfortable than the private cars. There are some seats reserved for women and remain vacant if not occupied. There is no over loading of buses that travel at an average speed of 80 Km/h. Multistoried  parking places are made to accommodate thousands of cars in each floor eliminating the congestion.

Roads:  Five main routes : E 101 (Sheikh Zayed Road), E 311 (Emirate Road),

Sheikh Zayed Bridge-Abu Dhabi

E 44 (Dubai –Hatta Highway), E 77 (Dubai – Al Habab Road) and E 66 (Oud Metha Road/ Airport Road), D 85 (Baniyas Road), D 75 (Sheikh Rashid Road ), D 73 ( Al Dhiyafa Road), D 94 (Jumeirah Road) and D 92 ( Al Khaleef/ Al Vas Road) connect the various localities in the city. The eastern and the western sections of the city are connected by Al Makhtoum Bridge, Al Garhoud Bridge, Al Shindaga Tunnel, Business Bay Crossing and Floating Bridge. Dubai has also an extensive taxi system, by far the most frequently used means of public transport within the emirates. There are both government operated and private cab companies. There are more than 3000 taxis operating within the emirate. Taxi cabs in Dubai make an average of 198,000 trips every day, lifting about 385,000 persons. In 2009 taxi trips exceeded 70 million trips serving around 140.45 million passengers. During night hours all roads are lit up on both sides as well as on central verges, besides the roads are designed four to five lanes in one way hence no opposite traffic to be encountered. Palm trees are grown to line up either side with flower beds, green grass, and cycle tracks with fountains at crossings.

Air: Dubai international airport (IATA: DXB) the hub for the Emirates Airline, serves the city of Dubai and other emirates in the country. The airport was the 15th busiest airport in the world, by passenger handling 40.9 million passengers in 2009. The airport was also the 6th busiest airport in the world by international standards passenger traffic. In addition to being an important passenger traffic hub, the airport is the 7th busiest cargo airport in the world, handling 1,927 million tonnes of cargo in 2009; a 5.6% increase compared to 2008, and was also the 4th busiest international freight traffic airport in world. Emirate airline is the national airline of Dubai. As of 2009, it operated internationally serving 101 destinations in 61 countries across six continents.

The development of Al Maktoum International Airport was announced in 2004. The first phase of the airport featuring one A 380 capable runway, 64 remote stands, one cargo terminal with annual capacity for 250,000 tonnes of cargo and a passenger terminal building designed to accommodate 5 million passengers per year has been opened. When completed, Dubai World Central AL Maktoum International will be the largest airport in the world with 5 runways, 4 terminal buildings and capacity for 160 million passengers and 12 million tons of cargo.

Metro Rail: A  $3.89 billion, Dubai Metro project is currently operational and runs through the heart of the city. The Metro system was partially opened on September 2009 and will be operational by 2014. U.K based international service company ‘Serco Group’ is responsible for operating the metro. The metro comprises the ‘green Line’ from Rashidiya to the main city center and the ‘Red Line’ from the airport to ‘Jebel Ali’. A ’Blue’ and a ‘Purple’ line has also been planned. The Dubai Metro (Green and Blue Lines) will have 70 km. (43.5 mi) of track and 43 stations, 37 above ground and ten underground. The Dubai metro is the first urban train network in the Arabian Peninsula. The ‘Palm Jumeirah monorail’ is a monorail line on the ‘Palm Jumeirah’. The monorail connects the Palm Jumeirah to the main land, with a planned further extension to the ‘Red Line’ of the ‘Dubai Metro’. The line opened on 30th April 2009. Two trams system was to be built jn Dubai  by 2011. The Down town Burj khalifa tram System is a 4.6 Km (2.86mi) tram system that is planned to Service the area around the Burj Khalifa and the second tram will run 14.5 km. (9mi) along Al Sufouh Road from Dubai Merina to the Burl Al Arab and the Mall of the Emirates. Dubai has announced it will complete a link of the UAE high speed rail system which will eventually hook up with the whole GCC and then possibly Europe. The ‘High’ Speed Rail will serve passengers and cargo.

Waterways: There are two major commercial ports in Dubai. ‘Port Rashid’ and ‘Port Jebel Ali’. The later one is the world’s largest man- made harbor, the biggest port in the Middle East and the 7th busiest port in the world. One of the more traditional methods getting across Bur Dubai to Deira is through ‘abros’, small boats that ferry passengers across the ‘Dubai Creek’, between abra stations in Bastakiya and ‘Baniyas Road’. The Marine Transport Agency has also implemented the Dubai Water Bus System.

Culture: The UAE culture mainly revolves around the religion of Islam and traditional Arab and Bedouin culture. In contrast the city of Dubai is a highly cosmopolitan society with a diverse and vibrant culture. The influence of Islamic and Arab culture on its architecture, music, attire, cuisine and lifestyle are very prominent as well. Five times every day Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country located in every habitation at convenient distances with both gents and ladies sections. The call to prayer (Azan) is simultaneously broadcast from the radio station, hence no cross voicing or unbearable frequency of the voice. Since 2006. The weekend has been Friday-Saturday, as a compromise between Friday’s holiness to Muslims and the western weekend of Saturday-Sunday. In 2005, 84% population of metropolitan Dubai was foreign born, about half of them from India. The city’s cultural imprint as a small, ethnically homogenous pearling community was changed with the arrival of other ethnic groups and nationals—first by the Iranians in the early 1900’s and later by Indians and Pakistani’s in 1960’s. Dubai has been criticized for perpetuating class based society, as here migrant workers are the lower classes. Major holidays in Dubai would include Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramdan, and National day (2 December), which marks the formation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Annual entertainment events such as the ‘Dubai Shopping Festival’ (DSF) and Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) attract over 4 million visitors from across the region and generate revenues in excess of $ 2.7 billion. Large shopping malls in the city, such as Deira City Centre, Middle City Centre, Burjuman, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall and Ibn Batuta Mall as well as traditional ‘souks’ attract shoppers from the region. The Malls are lit up with dazzling lights round the clock and provided with multi storeyed parking spaces and sparingly with children’s amusement spots.

Food: Arab food is very popular and is available everywhere in the city, from the small ‘shwarma’ dinners in Deira and Al Karama to the restaurants in Dubai hotels. Fast food, South Asian and Cjnese cuisines are also very popular and are widely available. Ahisha and qahwa boutiques are also popular in Dubai. Dubai is known for its night life. Clubs and bars are found mostly in hotels.

Dress and etiquette: The Islamic dress code is not compulsory. Unlike in neighboring ‘Saudi Arabia’. Most Emirate males prefer to wear a ‘kandura,’an ankle length white shirt woven from wool or cotton, and most Emirate women wear an abhaya, a black over garment covering most parts of the body. This attire is particularly well suited for the UAE’s hot and dry climate. Western style clothing is however dominant because of the large expatriate population, and this practice is beginning to grow in popularity among Emirates.

Etiquette is an important aspect of UAE culture and traditions, to which visitors are expected to confirm, recently many expatriates have disregarded the law and been arrested for indecent clothing or lack thereof at beaches. Western style dress is tolerated in appropriate places, such as bars or clubs, but the UAE has maintained a strict policy of protecting highly public spaces from cultural insensitivity.

Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili FIE—(Retired Chief Engineer)— presently from Abu Dhabi

My visit to Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi


It was on Friday 24th December 2010. On the first siam.te from outside you feel that another Taj Mahal with a different combination of small and huge domes of milky white marble has been constructed. The outer area is encircled with wide macadamized roads leading to underground parking of cars with green turf lawns between the road and wide water tanks all around the mosque periphery. The tanks are lined with blue  small sized tiles. From the underground parking  escalators leads you to the courtyard of the mosque, which is surrounded by covered areas on the three sides borne on marble pillars with flower designs engraved on all sides filled with colored marbles giving a thrilling joyous look. The courtyard floor is also paved with small cut pieces of marble got from the wastage with huge flower designs of deep colors. The front mosque has a central dome resting on four supports rising from the mosque floor each support comprising of four huge circular pillars bedecked with flowers with a marble jail work on the undersurface of the dome and a huge chandelier perhaps the world’s costliest one. There are two more identical domes of a smaller size on either side of the central dome with similar supports and floral designs. The mihrab has Allah’s names inscribed on pentagon flower designs with carvings of flowers that are lit up from behind the wall and present a look that cannot be described in words or photographs. The floor carpet is without an apparent joint and has a matching bold flower design. This entire structure has arrangement of focusing of lights from outside with blazer lights carried on standind towers all around. The minarets rise above the dome heights adding to the glory of the mosque. The Friday prayer inside the mosque was a unique experience giving a feeling of the presence of Allah and the angels around. The sermon of the Imam was in eloquent Arabic and most of it could be understood though in Arabic. The discipline was of par excellence. Outside the mosque on the north side lies buried the Sheikh Zayid in open courtyard where a small domed structure accommodates persons reciting Quran to bless the soul of the erstwhile Emir. The maintenance of this huge establishment is ensured to its perfection. I wish that all people find an opportunity to see this recent marvel on earth created by the late Sheikh Zayid who welded the 7 emirates in to one United Arab Emirates (UAE) and has changed the face of the country to the most planned, organized, cleanest, modern and an artificial paradise.There are no taxes imposed on people.



Geological evidence and ancient legend agree that the valley of Kashmir was once perhaps a hundred million years ago, one vast lake hundreds of feet deep. In prehistoric times, the basin of Kashmir contained a lake much larger than that of today. The sand stone rock at the western corner of the basin seems to have been rent by some cataclysm followed by attrition; and the lake was drained by the deepening of the Baramulla gorge, which was the slow process of erosion by water, and which must have taken hundreds of years to accomplish. The country could be inhabited only in summer by nomads due to prolonged extreme cold climate and they migrated southward in winter. In time, however, the climate became temperate, and Kashmir came to be the abode of a permanent and prosperous agricultural community. ( The earlier observation of a great prehistoric lake has been contested and abandoned by Mr. R.D.Oldham in 1903 after studying the Karewas which according to him are of fluviatile and not of lacustrine origin and that there was never at any time materially a larger lake than at the present day.)
The old name Satisaras was replaced by Ka-samira that may be taken to mean (land) from which water (Ka) has been drained off by wind (Samira). According to another interpretation, Kashmir is a Prakrit compound with its components: kas, meaning a channel and mir, meaning a mountain. Kas-mir could thus mean a rock trough. In its configuration, Kashmir is a deep trough (84 X 20 to 25 miles) with rocky walls.
The other theory — that Kashmir, or Kashir as named by its inhabitants, was so called on account of the settlement of a race of men called Kash, who were a Semitic tribe and founded what are now called the cities of Kash, Kashan, and Kashghar— has yet to be properly investigated. The fact is that the name Kashmir is ancient and has been used throughout its known history of an unbroken chain of documents for more than 23 centuries, while the name is undoubtedly far more ancient.The inhabitants pronounce it as Kashir, which is the direct derivative of Kashmir with the loss of ‘m’. In Kashir or Koshur—the inhabitants of Kashir and the language of Kashir, ‘u’ replaces ‘I’
The recent finds at Pandrethan, Takht-i-Sulaiman, Vendrahom, Rangyil, Naran Nag, Arhom and Burzahom in Kashmir establish the existence of Stone Age.
The wide prevalence of Naga-worship before and even after the Buddhist period indicates that the first settlers in the Kashmir Valley must have been the people, known as aborigines, who had spread over the whole of India before the advent of Aryans. Nothing is known as to the stage of civilization these early inhabitants had attained when they entered Kashmir.
Next have come the Aryans, the Jews, and the Sayids from Iran, Bukhara and other parts of Central Asia besides the Arabs. Thus the present population of Kashmir is an admixture of aborigines with slight Jewish, large Aryan and some other foreign elements.
The fertile river valleys of the Nile in Egypt, Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq, Indus in Pakistan, Ganges and Yamuna in India and yellow river in China, besides other rivers including River Jhelum in Kashmir were able to support very large populations and it was here that great urban civilizations of the ancient world emerged and thrived. Although cities developed independently in several regions they shared certain characteristics.
The Japanese are reported to have expressed high regards for Kashmir as it is the first land-mass to emerge after the floods of Prophet Noah ( called as Manu ) receded. In fact Kashmir has one of the earliest civilizations which thrived after Noah’s flood and river Jhelum has survived till date as a relic of the past history with age old monuments situated on its banks clustered with buildings of Srinagar Township.
The parent stream of the river Jhelum has its source in a noble spring (Verinag) of deep blue water at the bottom of a spur in the Pir Panjal, just below the Jawahar Tunnel connecting the main highway, wherefrom the beautiful octagonal spring is seen like an emerald set in green pines. An important source of river Jhelum is the lake Sheshnag at the head of Liddar tributary. The river Jhelum is a tributary river par excellence. It is joined by Veshav, Rambiara, Romshi, Sukhnag, Dudganga, Tel-bal Nalla flowing into the Dal Lake and thence via Tsunti Khul and also through Brari Numbal besides the Sind through Anchar Lake (now turned swamp). The Dal Lake forms the flood lung of the Jhelum, taking in reverse flows from Jhelum when it floods. The flood spill channel was constructed in the year 1904 to relieve the river of the strain while it passes through the city of Srinagar. The spill channel takes one third of the total flow of the river. The Jhelum flows in loops over river plains apparently quite leveled and gentle slopes. Anantnag is 94 meters higher than Srinagar and Sopore is 34 meters lower than Srinagar. The Jhelum drains off the whole valley of Kashmir catering the whole catchment area and is the most westerly of the five rivers of Punjab.
The Wular is the largest fresh water lake in India, 16 Kms. long and 10 Kms wide. The river Jhelum enters it from the Southeast and leaves it to the west near Sopore, which is a typical delta formed by the silt. Small streams like Habuja, Anrah, Erin, Pohru, and Madhumati at Bandipur flow into the lake. The river Jhelum becomes shallow and sand banks appear in the river bed obstructing navigation. It is only in spring (May-July) that rainfall causes the snow to melt at higher elevations on the surrounding mountains and cause floods. The river Jhelum has been described as both a blessing and as a curse in floods.
Beyond Baramgul at Baramulla where the river is hardly 30 meters wide and 3 meters deep flowing between steep mountains, the Jhelum enters a narrow gorge through which it flows a distance of 128 kms. till it reaches Muzaffarabad (Domel) to join the river Kishen Ganga, which drains the northern rim of the Kashmir basin in Telal, Gurez and Sharda. At Uri the river changes its course and flows in through mountain ranges towards Muzaffarabad (1543 meters) with a fall of 1: 160.
The river Jhelum called the ‘Vyeth’ in Kashmiri, ‘Vetasta’ in Sanskrit,’Hydapas’ in Greek and ‘Bidapas’ of Ptolemy, forms the main arterial system to the valley with its affluent canals and lakes. The basis of the name Jhelum is apparently of Muslim origin as Abu Raihan al Biruni calls it JAILAM, perhaps derived from ‘Jihl’ implying slowness on the analogy of Kahil or Al Hadi for the Pacific. Cirivara sanskritizes the name into Jaylami.
The river Jhelum is a trough formed between the Great Himalayan range and the Pir Panjal range. Oval in shape, the diameter of the valley runs parallel to the general direction of the two ranges of about 230 Kms. The alluvium, with which the valley is filled, has a depth of 6000 ft. which according to geologists gave shape to a unique geometric character in the form of lacustrine and fluvatile karewas bordering the margins of the mountains surrounding the valley.
History is witness to the fact that much of the internal commerce depended on the Jhelum. If Egypt be the gift of Nile, it is truer that Kashmir is gift of Jhelum. There is no other instance of a valley of the dimensions of the Kashmir and at an altitude of over 5000 ft. above the sea level, having a broad river intersecting it for such a long distance. Before the construction of motor able road between Srinagar and Khanabal and also between Srinagar and Baramulla (Jhelum Valley Road), it was the Jhelum which was the great highway of passenger and goods traffic up and down the valley.
Srinagar since the dawn of history has remained the capital city of the Kashmir Valley and its growth through different periods of Kashmir history has been very interesting. This Venice of the East owed its importance to its compactness and its large population, its organized public opinion and the superior culture of its inhabitants. ‘Its alliance or opposition almost always proved a decisive factor in determining the fortunes of war’. Besides, Srinagar’s artisans made the city an emporia of trade. Thus it’s central, commercial, political and cultural importance explains why the attempts made from time to time to remove the seat of government to some other place proved abortive.
During the Muslim rule (1320-1819) in Kashmir the ancient name of the capital fell into disuse. The city of Srinagar was termed ‘Kashmir’, the same as country. Accordingly with the exception of Mirza Haidar, Abul Fazl, and Jahangir, almost all Mughal chroniclers call it either ‘Kashmir’ or ‘Shahr-i-Kashmir’. Bernnier and Desideri who visited Kashmir during the Mughal rule also use the name ‘Kashmir’ and not Srinagar for the capital. For several centuries Srinagar was thus known until the advent of the Sikhs in 1819 who restored the old Hindu name, by which it is at present called.
Most of the towns like Anantnag, Bijbehara, Awantipur, Pulwama, Pampur, Srinagar, Safapore, Bandipur, Sopor, Varmul, Bonyar and Uri etc. have thrived on the banks of river Jhelum and lake fronts. The Srinagar City has grown over the past 23 centuries at an average elevation of 1586 meters above M.S.L. on either banks of river Jhelum of Kashmir valley, so vast and so level that the people living here have forgotten that they live in Himalayas. Making a sharp loop the Jhelum (200 ft. wide) swirls through the heart of Srinagar City. The City has cradled along Jhelum over a length of about 20 Kms. and an average depth of 5 Kms. each on either side. The City has distinctly a twin city character.
Old city is huddled brick to brick and roof to roof in most parts. It has practically no parks and play fields. Mini grave yards in some huddled parts serve as lung spaces. It is a city of narrow lanes 4 to 6 ft.wide. About the old city of Srinagar, Col. Torren wrote in his travels about 130 years back that ‘ The houses huddled themselves close together and at last form a street—narrow, dirty and strong warm light, on the dark, foul foot way and through it you see the sluggish stream glittering in the sun light and covered with boats of all sizes, and on the left bank you see reproduced a facsimile of the right bank, the same houses and the same land places, the same people in the crowded dwellings of the capital city of Srinagar’.
‘What Col. Torren had seen more than a century before, we find such characteristics and form of the city still existing in old parts of the city, for their has been no effort by the State Govt. in the direction of the conservative surgery, road widening and slum clearance. The Circular Road Project under Urban Renewal Programme seems to have been left half way in many parts of the core area.
The chronological development of Srinagar City has been as under:
250 B.C.: Srinagri the city of Sri, an appellation of goddess Lakshmi founded by King Asoka at the site of present village of Pandrethan on the right bank of river Jhelum, about two and a half kilometer from the Takht-i-Sulaiman hill. Pandrethan derives its name from the Sanskrit word ‘Puranadhisthana’ literally, the old capital.
6th century A.D.: A new city was founded by Paravarsen II near Kohi Maran hill. This was called Paravarapora and extended only along the right bank of the river Jhelum. It was the old name of Srinagari which triumphed over the new city of Paravarpura.
The later Hindu rulers are reported to have transferred the capital from one place to another. Laltaditya founded Parihaspura, Jaipida laid out the city of Jayapura, Avantivarman founded the city of Avantipura. Samkarapura, Kaniskapura, Juskapura and Hushkapura were some other ancient capitals of Kashmir. But all these later capitals lost their importance and decayed as is seen by their ruins. It was the capital of Parversen alone which has survived various attempts to change it.
1028-63 A.D.: King Ananta transferred the royal palace to the left bank of River Jhelum.
1344-56 A.D.: Sultan Alauddin founded Alauddinpora at Srinagar which at present comprises the locality situated between Jamia Masjid and Alikadal. He made Jayapidpora as his capital and built Cri Rinchanpora, an edifice named Bughagira, which is now a mohalla near Ali Kadal in Srinagar.
1356-74 A.D.: Sultan Shihabuddin selected the Hari Parbat for his capital. He extended the borders of GREATER KASHMIR to Phakli, Kabul, Badhakhshan, Ghazni, Ghor, Kandhar and Heart on the west and Gilgit and Dardistan on the North and Jammu, Kishtwar, Swad, Peshawur, Multan, Lahore, whole of Punjab and defeated the army of Feroz Shah Thghaluq on the banks of Satluj near Delhi, when Hazrat Amir Kabir Mir Sayid Ali Hamdani intervened and a truce was entered into between the two kings, fixing Sirhind as the border of GREATER KASHMIR on the South.
1374-89 A.D.: Sultan Qutbuddin laid the foundation of Qutbuddinpora, on which two mohallas of Srinagar namely Langarhatta and Pir Haji Mohammad now stand.
1389-1413 A.D.: Sultan Sikandar built a mosque known as Khankahi Mualla on the right bank of river Jhelum. He also built Jamia Mosque.
1420-70 A.D.: Sultan Zainul Aabidin (Budshah) built Zainakadal, founded Nav Shahar near Srinagar, the Mar Canal—main artery of communication between the Srinagar city and the villages near the Dal Lake.Budshah built the Khanqah of Sayid Mohammad Madni near Navshehr—the new capital built by him, besides two artificial isles of Rupa-Lank and Sona-Lank to beautify the city. He is reported to have introduced the new industries like that of shawl, carpet, silk, papier machie, wood-carving, namdha and ghabba. These industries made Srinagar famous emporium of trade. In addition he introduced stone- polishing, stone-cutting, glass-blowing, widow-cutting, gold and silver leaf making, book-binding and above all paper manufacture in Kagazgari mohalla at Naushehar. These industries were found only in Samarqand and Bukhara at the time.
1470-72 A.D.: Sultan Haidar Shah transferred his seat of government from Naushehar to Nowhatta.
1472-84 A.D.: Sultan Hasan Shah shifted the capital to Naushehar again.
!540-50 A.D.: Mirza Haidar Dughlat found the city of Srinagar thickly populated. In his time there were lofty buildings constructed of freshly cut pine. According to him most of these buildings were five storied, each story containing apartments, halls, galleries and towers. The streets were paved with stone. There were shops of retail dealers, grocers, drapers etc. There were no large bazaars, for the wholesale business was done by the traders in their own houses or factories. During his regime there was lot of musicians. And he is praised for introducing the hot-baths, latticed windows and the apparatus of drying paddy, locally known as ‘narahlul’.
1555-86 A.D.: Chak rulers marked by internal feuds.
1586-1753A.D.: Mughals ruled Kashmir. During the early period of this rule Srinagar became the headquarters of the army occupation, constantly engaged in war. The political history during the Moghul rule is centered round the Hari Parbhat fort, Takht-i-Sulaiman hill, Nowhatta, Naushahar and the area in the vicinity of Jamia Mosque. The events that occurred in these parts of the city during Akbar’s reign were very decisive for Kashmir. Akbar first entered Kashmir on 5th June 1589. During the second visit to the city on 7th October 1592, the great Moghul enjoyed the saffron blossom at Pampore and celebrated the festival of Diwali. On this occasion the boats on the Jhelum, the banks of the river and the roofs of the houses in Srinagar were illuminated at the Emperor’s command. Akbar’s third visit to Kashmir on 6th June 1597 was accompanied with the famine, which forced the mothers of children to put them on sale in public places in the city. The emperor is said to have ordered a strongly bastioned stone wall to be built around the slope of the Hari Parbhat hillock in the city. The township within this fort wall was named as ‘Nagar Nagar’
1606-1628 A.D.; Jehangir became so enamored of the vale of Kashmir as to make it ‘the place of his favorite abode, and he often declared that he would rather be deprived of every province of his mighty empire than loose Kachemire’. His visits to the valley brought an era of splendor and prosperity to Srinagar. It is said that in his time there were 800 gardens in the vicinity of Dal Lake ‘and the owners, the nobles of the court, were certain to follow the example of their master in making full use of the facilities that Kashmir so readily offers for pleasure- seeking and enjoyment.
1664-65 A.D.: Aurangzeb’s governor Islam Khan rebuilt Ali Masjid at Idgah, a 16th century dilapidated structure, and lined its extensive compound with chinar trees.
1665-68 A.D.: Saif Khan laid out the garden of Saifabad on the banks of the Dal Lake.
1669-72 A.D.: Saif Khan spanned the Safa Kadal Bridge over the Jhelum in Srinagar in 1670.
1698-1701 A.D.: Fazil Khan raised the embankment (bund) at Haft Chinar near Hazuri Bagh in the city to save it from recurrent floods of the Doodhganga River. The bund was lined with chinar trees to strengthen it.
1669A.D. The Holy relic (Moi Mubarak) of the Prophet Mohammad (PBH) brought to the city by a rich Kashmiri merchant Noor-ud-Din Ishbari. The relic was later on kept at Hazratbal mosque (Baghi Sadiq abad), which is known as Second Madina (Madinat-ul-Thani) , because of its supreme religious importance in Kashmir.
Under the Mughals Srinagar was a splendid city by the standards of the time. Father Xavier, Abul Fazl, Fransisco Pelsaert, Jahangir, Bernier and Desideri have all described the city as it existed during the Mughal period. Abul Fazl found the capital of Kashmir a very fascinating city. He remarks, ‘Srinagar is a great city and has long been peopled. The river Behat (Jhelum) flows through it. Most of the houses are of wood and some raise up to five storeys. On the roofs they plant tulips and other flowers, and in the spring these rival flower gardens’. Jahangir described the practice of planting tulip flowers on the roofs of buildings as a peculiarity of the people of Kashmir. Francisco Pelsaert, written in Emperor Jahangir’s time, says,’ the city is very extensive and contains many mosques. The houses are built of pine wood, the interstices being filled with clay, and their style is by no means contemptible; they look elegant, and fit for citizens rather than peasants, and they are ventilated with handsome and artistic open-work, instead of windows or glass. They have flat roofs entirely covered with earth, on which the inhabitants often grow onions, or which are covered with grass, so that during the rains the green roofs and groves make the city most beautiful on a distant view.
Francois Bernier, the famous French physician and traveler, visited Srinagar during Aurangzeb’s reign. He calls the valley of Kashmir the paradise of the Indies. There were only two bridges on river Jhelum. Describing the houses in the city, he remarks that although most part is of wood, the houses were well built and consisted of two or three storeys. Wood was preferred by the people of the city because of its cheapness and the facility with which it was brought from the mountains by means of so many small rivers. Most of the houses in the city had also their gardens, and not a few had a canal. On which the owner kept ‘a pleasure boat, thus communicating with the lake’.
Father Ippolito Desideri and Manoel Freyre arrived in Srinagar on 13th November, 1714. The later in a letter from Agra dated 26th April,1717, dwells on the same points that Desideri had noted—the populous character of Srinagar, its lakes surrounded by pleasant gardens and crowded with boats for pleasure and commerce and the lilies growing on the roofs of the houses. Desideri makes mention of the small and large boats. The later must have been the ‘doonga’, the precursor of the modern houseboat. Indeed, Desideri seeing Srinagar at the end of Mughal rule, found it at its best.
1713-1819A.D: Afghans ruled the valley. Some of the Afghan Governors did much for the beautification of Kashmir’s capital. Amir Khan Jawansher (1770-76) reconstructed the Sona Lank in the Dal Lake and raised a seven storied mansion upon it. He rebuilt the Amira Kadal Bridge, which had been washed away by inundation in 1772. He also laid out Amirabad garden with beautiful pavilions in the Mughal gardens. But the most beautiful building built by Jawansher was the fort of Sherghari which is now in ruins.
Another Afghan governor Ata Mohammad Khan Barkazai (1806-13) constructed the massive fort on the top of the Hari Parbhat hillock.
George Forster who arrived in Srinagar on 7th May, 1783 during the Afghan rule, like Bernier, calls it Kashmir. Srinagar had evidently grown since Bernier’s visit, as Forster says that the city extends about 3 miles on each side of the Jhelum. While Bernier had noted only two bridges spanning the river in the city. Forster observed that there were 4 or 5 bridges. But the traveler describes the streets of Srinagar as filthy which shows the deterioration had set in under the later Mughals and Aghans.
1819-1846 A.D.: Sikh rule—with the assumption of political power by the Sikhs in Kashmir in 1819, the old Hindu name of the capital of Kashmir was restored. Moorcraft, Hugel, Vigne and Schonberg who visited the valley during the Sikh rule have left their impressions in their works. It seems that the general lot of the city population did not improve under the Sikh regime. According to Moorcraft, ‘the general condition of the city of Srinagar is that of the confused mass of ill favored buildings forming a complicated labyrinth of narrow and dirty lanes, scarcely broad enough for a single cart to pass, badly paved, and having a small gutter in the centre full of filth, banked up on each side by a border of mire. The houses are generally two to three storey’s high, built of unburnt bricks and timber, the former serving for little else than to fill up the interstices of the latter, they are not plastered, are badly constructed and are mostly in a neglected and ruinous condition, with broken doors, or no door at all, with shattered lattices, windows stopped up with boards, paper or rags, walls out of the perpendicular and pitched roofs threatening to fall—The houses of the better classes are commonly detached, and surrounded by a wall and garden, the latter of which often communicate with a canal and the whole presents a striking picture of wretchedness and decay.
Moorcraft also describes the several canals in the city which were crossed at various places by stone and wooden bridges. But their general condition during the Sikh rule was that of decay and they were choked with filth.
1846-90 A.D.: In the early part of the Dogra rule, Srinagar presented a very sad picture. There was deterioration in the physical appearance of the city. The streets were full of filth. There were only a few public buildings in Srinagar, the principal of them were the ‘Barahdari’, Palace, fort, gun factory, dispensary, school and the mint; and also some ancient mosques and temples and cemeteries. The narrow streets were dirty and choked with the traffic of pack animals, horses, pariah dogs, donkeys, cows and pedestrians. In the rainy season the streets were extremely muddy owing to the absence of any drainage system. Both the drainage and the water supply had been grossly neglected.
Srinagar even lacked ordinary sanitary arrangements. The majority of the inhabitants used the public streets or the lanes or the courtyards of their own houses as latrines. This had been going on from time immemorial, wrote General de Bourbel who submitted a report on the epidemic of 1888. As a result of the accumulation of the filth, soil had become contaminated. Private houses with a few exceptions had no privy, and even those few were seldom cleared. Dr. Mitra, the able and energetic Chief Medical Officer of Kashmir, in a pamphlet on Medical and Surgical practice in Kashmir, tells the same story regarding want of sanitary arrangements in Srinagar. Human ordure is scattered—all over the town from the roads and houses on the river bank, drains carrying the slush, filth and sewage empty in to the river, on which the washer men wash unclean clothes; the dyers wash their dyes and the butcher entrails of animals.
The city of Srinagar started with certain initial advantages. In the first place, the Jhelum provided a regular highway as well as means of water supply. Besides the city was so well situated that it became since ancient times the natural capital of Kashmir, the emporium of trade and the seat of culture and industry. But unfortunately, as the population grew, the defects of the city became apparent. Firstly Srinagar was subject to floods owing its low lying position. Secondly the river which was the main means of transport became by its pollution from the drains of the houses on its banks a great source of danger to public health. Thirdly as the population grew, the city limits expanded. The expansion took place without any systematic town planning. This resulted in to irregular narrow streets, ill-ventilated and ill-planned houses, congestion and defective drainage.
The result of all this was that the health and sanitation conditions in the city became unsatisfactory. Not only did the river Jhelum carry filth & drainage, but also the canals inside the city were mostly silted up. Other insanitary evils that existed in Srinagar were overcrowded burial grounds, unclean slaughter houses, slimy tanks etc. It may also be noted that thousands of pariah dogs, starving donkeys and cows lived on this filth.
Such was Srinagar about a century ago. The constant presence in the city of cholera and other infectious diseases was therefore scarcely to be wondered at. Lawrence wrote that ‘the centre and nursery of cholera in Kashmir’ was ’the foul and the squalid capital, Srinagar’
Apart from cholera, earthquakes, floods, fires, and famines were the recurrent visitors to the city.
The history of urban improvement in Srinagar dates back to 1886, when the first Municipality Act was passed. As a result of later extensions, Srinagar expanded rapidly. By 1941 the city extended over an area of about 4 miles in length and about 2 miles in width. The increase in the area of the city, its growth as a centre of economic, political, administrative and religious activities and the increase in the number of its inhabitants are all independent. The urbanization on a massive scale continues to take place with migration of rural population without any check. The whole of Kashmir rotated round the city of Srinagar. There had been a continuous and ever- increasing rural response to the urban challenge. The city acted as a catalyst for socio-cultural change. The presence of colleges, schools, hospitals and hotels in Srinagar meant a new kind of existence for the rural immigrants. There was also a reverse migration to the mofussil of professionals, teachers, lawyers and Govt. servants. The outcome of this reciprocal pull between the city and the country, modernization of Kashmir, was well under way at the turn of the 20th century.
Kashmir, having been wrested from the Afghans by the Sikhs in 1819, was attached to the Punjab until the British occupation of Lahore in 1846, when it was handed over to the British Govt. in lieu of indemnity. Instead of retaining Kashmir, the British assigned it by the treaty of Amritsar dated March 16, 1846 to Gulab Singh, the ruler of Jammu, in consideration of the valuable services he had rendered to the British during the Anglo-Sikh war.
Maharaja Gulab Singh and his successor Ranbir Singh regarded Kashmir as their personal property. They banished every thought of reform and reconstruction from their mind. They showed little or no interest in the social uplift of their subjects. But with the accession of Maharaja Partap Singh in 1885 occurred a big change. His reign saw the establishment of British Residency in Srinagar. The new Maharaja like his predecessor, resisted this encroachment on his power, but ultimately yielded to the British.
During 1885-1910, the Residency with its charming garden was occupied by a succession of British residents, whose period was marked by striking industrial developments and some of these proved an asset to the State and the people in general.
The transition from the medieval to the modern age is the keynote of Srinagar’s history in the last decade of the 19th century. It ushered in those forces and movements in the political, religious, literary and economic life which have produced the Srinagar of today. In the history of this transition, again the improved transport in the country, as conceived by the Residents, had an important role.
The Jhelum Valley cart –road was constructed in the mountainous terrain from Domel to Baramulla and was a feat of engineering by the State Engineer, Mr. Alkinson through Spedding and Co. contractors. The road connected Srinagar with the rail-head at Rawalpindi and was completed in Sept. 1890 during the rule of Maharaja Partap Singh. The Jhelum Valley road ran 196 miles. One could travel in one day from Srinagar to Rawalpindi by car and in about 4 days by tonga. It was most commonly used by the travelers and was judged as one of the finest mountain roads in the world. The volume of trade also passed by this road in bullock carts and ekkas.
The construction of Jhelum Valley road had a tremendous impact on various aspects of life in Kashmir. The isolation of the city got diminished; visit of travelers and missionaries became faster and more frequent. The reforms in the administration with change of life- style of the inhabitants, new houses, metalled roads, masonry bridges, solid embankments and electric lights with the establishment of Public Works, Postal Telegraph, Forest and Financial Departments contributed a great deal to the social and material uplift of the people. The tourist Industry received a great boost as a result of the new communication system improving the economy of the concerned masses, besides generating employment opportunities.
Lawrence paints the following picture of Kashmir at the end of 19th Century:
One of the points which at once strikes a visitor to Kashmir is the absence of roads fit for wheeled carriage. In the flat country around the Wular Lake, low trollies resting on wheels roughly fashioned from the round trunks of trees are used for carrying the crops, but at the time when I write, there is no other wheeled carriage in Kashmir. There are roads along which ponies and bullocks can pass in fair weather, but roads as understood in other countries do not exist. The main roads at present connect Srinagar with Islamabad, Verinag, and Jammu via the Banihal Pass (9200 ft.) with Shupiyon, Bhimber, and Gujrat in Punjab via the Pir Panjal pass (11400 ft.) with Ganderbal at the mouth of the Sind valley, and Ladakh via the Zojila pass (11,300 ft.)with Bandipora And Gilgit via the Rajdiangan (11,700 ft.) and Burzil (13,500 ft.) or Kamri (13,101 ft.) passes and with Baramulla, whence a cart road runs down the Jhelum valley to the Punjab. In fair weather these roads, so for as the valley is concerned, are easy for the traveler, but heavy rains and snow render these difficult; and the frail bridges over the side streams are often carried away by the floods. There are no real difficulties in road-making in the valley, and when the cart- road now being constructed from Baramulla to Srinagar is completed, it is hoped that other cart- roads will be made. They will prove of the greatest benefit not only to the villagers, but also to the people of Srinagar, who will be no longer at the mercy of the boatmen, so clever in adulterating grain when it reaches the barges.
Thus Srinagar has survived as the capital for its beauty, strategic importance and intrinsic value. It is gifted with great natural advantages. The river Jhelum which winds its way through the thickly populated city, has served as the main artery of communication from times immemorial. The principal bazaars of the city are built along the river which has provided at all seasons the most convenient route for trade and traffic both up and down the valley. The Jhelum Valley road running parallel to the alignment of the Jhelum added to its charm. Thus economically Srinagar is a distributing centre for incoming merchandise from the different parts of the Valley.
Besides Srinagar is the point which commands trade routes to India and Central Asia. Also the Dal and Anchar lakes which flank Srinagar with their numerous agricultural products fulfill the needs of the city population. The lakes and the rivers make Srinagar invulnerable. In addition Srinagar is centrally situated, being equi-distant from the two chief commercial towns of the valley, Anantnag and Varmul. Srinagar is almost equi-distant from Jammu, Rawalpindi, Leh and Gilgit.
The future of Kashmir valley in general and that of Srinagar City in particular is directly linked and wedded with the condition and beautification of River Jhelum. In fact the project report on Inland Water Transport on River Jhelum from Pampore to Chattabal prepared by the Srinagar Development Authority at a cost of Rs. 25 Lakhs. In the year 1999 is gathering dust on the shelves of LAWWDA. The project is reported to be financially viable, technically feasible and would give a boost to the beatification and also to the improvement of tourism and thereby a flip to the economy of the valley. The programme has a potential for extension of the water transport to Khanabal in the South and to Varmul in the North, besides covering the Dal Lake and Wullar Lake as well.
Due to the water transport being the only means of transportation, the boat industry of Kashmir was of great importance. The industry has been very old in Kashmir and we learn from Ain-e-Akbari that boats were the centre around which all commerce revolved. The Hanjis or the Boatmen were about 24000 in number about a hundred years back. The present numbers are expected to be much higher. Their vocation used to bring them in to contact with all classes of population. There used to be many kinds of boats all flat bottomed excluding boats owned by private persons and used for private purposes, there were about 2417 boats employed in trade and passenger traffic in 1890’s. Of these 1066 were of larger size.
The greater portion of the grains and wood imported in to Srinagar by the river was brought in large barges not unlike canal barges and these were towed or polled upstream and dropped down with the current. The boats were called Bahats, Dunga, Shikara, Demb Nao, Tsatwar, Parinda and Larinda according to their size, composition and usage.
Lawrence had predicted that evil days are in store for the boatmen of Kashmir. Forest conservation will make it difficult to obtain the long planks of cedar of which the boats used to be made and the deodar punt pole, so precious to the bargeman, will be a thing of the past.
The House boat has been a later innovation as there was no ban on the occupation of the water as against that of the land for non state subjects, an Englishman Mr. M.T. Kennard is said to have built the first house boat in Srinagar about 1888 which ultimately gave birth to hundreds of house boats for tourists as we see today.
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili FIE,CEng (I)—Chief Engineer (Retd.)



MosqueThe majestic Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the most imposing religious and national landmark in Abu Dhabi to date. It is also arguably one of the most important architectural treasures of contemporary UAE society-initiated no less by the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is fondly thought of as father of UAE.The Mosque is seen as a construction to ‘unite the world’, using artisans and materials from countries such as Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Iran, China, Greece and the UAE. More than 3000 workers and 38 renowned contracting companies took part in the construction of the Mosque. The initial architecture design was Moroccan, but it evolved to include many global features, including exterior walls that are of traditional Turkish design. Natural materials were chosen for its design and construction due to their long lasting qualities, including marble, stone, gold, semi- precious stones, crystals and ceramics.
The 22,412 sq. km.  Mosque site is equivalent to around the size of five football fields and can accommodate 40,960 worshippers. The mosque features 82 domes of Moroccan design and all decorated with white marble. The main dome’s outer shell measures 32.8 meters in diameter and stands at a height of 70 meters from the inside and 85 meters from the outside—the largest of its kind , according to the Turkish Research Centre for Islamic History and Culture. The Mosque has about 1000 columns in its outer areas which are clad with more than 20,000 marble panels inlaid with semi-precious stones, including Lapis Lazuli, red agate, amethyst, abalone shell and mother of pearl. The 96 columns  in the main prayer hall are round in shape and inlaid with mother of pearl.  Additionally, the Mosque has four beautiful minarets standing at almost 107 meters each at the 4 corners of the Mosque. Reflective pools, totaling 7,874 sq. meters and laden with dark tiles, surround the Mosque, whilst colored floral  marble and mosaics pave the 17,000sq. meter courtyard which is decorated with white marble from Greece. The pool reflects the Mosque’s spectacular image, which becomes even more resplendent at night. The entire exterior and interior presents a dazzling look with reflective lights without any power cuts ever. The underground parking accommodates the vehicles visiting/praying in the mosque.
An equally impressive interior design complements the Mosque’s awesome exterior, Italian white  marble and inlaid floral designs adorn the prayer halls and the Mosque’s interior walls have decorative gold glass mosaic features, particularly delicate on the western wall. The main glass door of the Mosque is 12.2 meters high, 7 meters wide and weighs about 2.2 tones. The main prayer hall features the world’s largest chandelier under the main dome—being 10 meters in diameter, 15 meters in height and weighing over 9 tones. The M0sque’s seven colored chandeliers from Germany, feature  thousands of Swarovski crystals from Austria and some glasswork from Italy and c0st about US $ 8.2 million (AED 30 million)
The main prayer hall can fit in around 7,126 worshippers and also features the world’s largest  hand-knotted carpet. Designed by Iranian artist, Al Khaliqi, the carpet was hand-crafted  by 1,200 artisans in small villages near Mashhadin  in Iran, a region renowned for its carpet making expertise. The artisans were flown to Abu Dhabi to stitch the carpet pieces together for the final fitting. Consisting of 2,268,000,000 knots, the Mosque carpet is estimated to be valued at US $ 8,2 million (AED 30 million). The Qibla wall 9 facing the direction of the Holy City of Mecca) is 23 meters high and 50 meters wide and is subtly decorated so as not to distract worshippers from prayer. Gold-glass mosaic has been used in the Mehrab ( the niche found in the middle of the Qibla wall)
The ninety nine names (qualities) of Allah featured in the Qibla wall exemplify traditional Kufi calligraphy, designed by the prominent UAE calligrapher—Mohammad Mandi. The Qibla wall also features subtle fiber—optic lighting which is integrated as part of the  organic design. In total three separate calligraphy styles—Naskhi, Thuloth and Kufi—are used throughout the Mosque and were drafted by Mohammad Mendi (UAE), Farouk Haddad (Syria) and Mohammad Allam (Jordan)
The Mosque has 80 Iznik panels—highly decorated ceramic tiles popular in the 16th century—with features distinctly in Istanbul’s imperial  and religious buildings. Traditionally hand crafted each tile was designed by Turkish calligrapher Othman Agha. Different types of marble have been used throughout the mosque and include Sivic from Greece and Macedonia, used in the external cladding ( a total area of 1,15 119 sq. meters of cladding has been used on the Mosque including the four minarets); Lasa from Italy used in the internal elevations, Makrana from India used in the annexure of the offices, Aquabiana and Biano from Italy, Fast White and Ming Green from China.
World Records:
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque made some world records. 

  • The Carpet laid out on the vast expanse is the “ WORLD’S LARGEST CARPET” made by Iran’s Carpet Company. It measures 5,627 sq. meters (60,570 sq.ft.) and was made by around 1,200 weavers, 20 technicians and 30 workers. The weight of the carpet is 47 tons—35 tons of wool and 12 tons of cotton. There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet costing US$ 8.2 million.
  • The Mosque also holds the largest chandelier. There seven imported chandeliers from Germany made from gold plated copper and fitted with millions of Swarovski crystals. The largest chandelier has a 10 meter (33 ft.) diameter and 15 meter (49 ft.) height.
  • Both of these records were previously held by the Sultan Qabus Grand Mosque in Oman.
  • Architects: Mohammad Ali Al-Ameri, Spatium, Halcrow, Speirs and Major Associates.
  • Domes: 82 domes of seven different sizes.
  • Dome diameter (outer): 32,2 meter (106 ft,)
  • Minaret Height: 107 meter (351 ft,)
  • Construction Cost: 2 billion dirhams (US $ 545 million)

Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili FIE

Chief Engineer (Retd,)



This is a story of the ancient times related by a saint, when the inhabitants of a city went through a state of misery, torture and punishment for their misdeeds as is happening nowadays in our state too. It is said that once upon a time there was a sudden storm, which caused a heavy flood in the river Shoor passing by the side of a city. The water over flew the banks of the river carrying all the floating objects in to the depressions and also leaving some of these on the elevated ground when the waters receded. A huge whale sized fish got stuck in a depression in a far off land from the city. The news of the landing of the fish spread like wild fire in the city and the people rushed along with the chopping equipment to bring there share of the flesh of the fish  to make a grand feast at their homes. Each one cut a piece of flesh from top to bottom without any consideration of the fact that the fish was alive feeling the pain at each cut received by it. No one took pity on the poor soul and there was hardly any one left in the city who did not take his share except one poor potter who could not afford to reach the far off place at the cost of his time and energy. However his wife insisted on him to get their share and one day he left along with his wife on a horse driven cart to the said spot but found only a Skelton left as the fish was big enough to suffice for the six long months. The couple was disappointed, however when the potter went close to its head, he found some portion of flesh still left, as he attempted to remove it with his axe, to his surprise he found the eyes of the fish still rolling and he was moved and took pity on the poor creature that was tortured. The potter explained this to his wife, who also sided with him and called for return empty handed. As they started their return journey, a voice called them back to their surprise, the voice came from the fish; since every one has taken his share why are you leaving empty handed. On this the potter said, ‘ I found still  signs of life in you and now you are talking also. How can we be so cruel? A living person must not injure another life.’ The fish told them to wait and opened its mouth vomiting two shining pearls like two suns and told the potter that one pearl is the compensation for the labor you put in the journey this far and the other pearl I entrust you to keep it safely in your possession. The poor potter tied the pearls in a handkerchief and then tied around his forearm under the sleeve of his shirt—the only safe place he could find. The couple returned home fast with the disappointment. ————— After many years a new king got enthroned in the country, who ordered all the citizens and the villagers to meet him along with their presents according to their status as per the prevailing custom. Whoever met him with the presents was a loser of the same as the king kept some rude guards around, who would gag and even chain the person raising his voice against the atrocity. This resulted in to the blaming, counter blaming and even animosity against each other. An innocent person would be hurt for no fault of his with a false blame and he would be arrested and would be tried in the court where the king would pass the judgment and any one passing that side by chance would be hanged then and there.  The person called by the king would be asked, ‘Who has made you in this shape and form and given you this figure?   The person                                                                             would reply that our creator is the One who created the Earth and the Sky. Then he would ask, ‘Who is my creator? All would reply– It is He and none else. They would also say,’ It is He who created every thing that our eyes see.’ He is the One who created things after mingling atoms of opposite nature like water, fire, soil, and air. He is the creator of Jinn’s, Angels, and mankind, besides that of diamonds and different kinds of rocks. He is the One who created you and us and whatever is existing between the earth and the sky. With these answers the self made king would get angry and red hot like the sun and would order the executioner to slash the neck of this helpless person with the sword and who could dare to question such a cruelty? With this type of question– answer session the king stopped all means of approach of these people who used to make excuses.’

With his cruelty even the thunder would cry for help and the lightning would shower fire. Even the sky cries for help on the cruelty of cruel people and calls for the refuge of God. This ruler turned the Allah’s creation in to a terrible restlessness and misery. Any one who raised his voice against this cruel behavior; would be removed from the surface of earth as if he never existed . The people were threatened, tortured, grieved and put to innumerable trouble. Some were beheaded by the use of cutting saw; some were axed like a wooden log. Some were burnt alive by immersing them in the hot oil, some were charred with heat. Some were ordered to be drowned; some were roasted alive on fire. In the long run every one whether cruel or wronged one, his blood was sucked and they were destroyed. This chaos continued for a period of six months, which seemed to be as long as six years and th the people got crushed under the cruelty. A year of enjoyment seems to pass in a moment and a day of vexing seems to be as long as a year of the dooms day. Then one day the king of such grandeur ordered to welcome the leader of the people –the potter, who was yet to meet the king. On hearing this the potter and his wife became restless, they wept, draped in to the dust– turned their heart and soul in to a sincere prayer to Allah praying for their safety at the hands of this cruel king. With shivering legs the potter entered the durbar of the king, but the king spoke to him in a soft and friendly manner with great respect and etiquette. A similar question was put to the potter,’ Who is your creator?’ And he replied that my creator is the one who created this earth and the sky. Then came the other question, ‘who is the one who shaped me in this form and made me such a king?’ When the question was heard by the potter, an unknown voice told him to reply like this, ‘O King, We are the people who made you like what you are. Excuse us we are your makers. It is our deeds that come as our rulers. We are ruled by our desires and that which we wish and deserve. Our misdeeds have made the king’s temperament like what we see who is controlling us. The king’s form and behavior is the reflection of our bad deeds. It is a sorry state of affairs that our misdeeds follow and run after us even when we are dead. These misdeeds take the shape of scorpions and snakes in the hell fire and become our companions. It is as you sow so shall you reap. Now he who is saved with the grace of Allah,  turns to the good deeds and  is blessed by the declaration that his face shall be smiling and shining on the Day of Judgment. With this different answer of the potter the durbaris were stunned. The king was happy on this statement of the potter and all his anger vanished from his face and mind. The king got up and took the potter in to a private room. The potter was fearing for his life. Here the king asked for the return of the thing entrusted to the potter, who was tight lipped due to the fear and with the passage of time he had forgotten the event of the fish and the two pearls. At last he gathered the courage to ask the king. ’You are a king and I am the one who remains drenched in the mud day and night, what business I have with the king?’ The king laughed at this and wiped the face of the potter with kindness and said,’ O fool of a person, Can’t you recognize me? You are just like an animal as if clad in a human skin and I am an eclipse of the moon. I am neither the king nor a man. I am the same fish, now can you recognize me? Return me the shining pearl that I entrusted you with for its safety. Then the potter could recall the event and fast raised his sleeve and presented both the pearls to the king. On this the king told the potter that he has escaped the wrath and punishment due to his own good nature and choosing of mid course. These pearls are yours and are gifted to you. I am neither the fish, nor the king nor the river creature, neither I devour people like wild animals like lion or tiger. I have been dropped from the sky on the orders of the Almighty Allah and am an angel. I was sent to this nation in the form of a fish to test them. I was grounded due to the heavy storm. On hearing about me the people came and overpowered me and cut me in to pieces of their choice, when I was observing all this in a state of helplessness and the people least bothered about the pain I was put to suffer. No one took pity on my torture. When no mercy was left in their hearts and they felt pleasure in torturing me for their benefit, they were caught in the revenge at my hands. Here the author/poet addresses to his own self:-

“O my ignorant heart look upon your condition and learn a lesson according to your understanding. This world is a hot stage for action and its reward depends upon whether one’s actions are good or bad. If you perceive with your own eyes, every moment looks as if like a scene of doomsday portrayed on the screen. Whatever you have done yesterday becomes the burden for today (whether good or bad). The nightingale of Shiraz– Sheikh Saadi has nicely composed a couplet in Persian language, which when translated reads:’ whatever you sow so shall you reap. If you sow thorns you will not get daffodils.’

At last the king asked the potter not to breed any ill will against him, as whatever treatment he met on the hands of this cheat nation was not of his doing but was the compensation they had earned for their misdeeds. They were punished and the scores got balanced and you got your reward. Now you can take as much as you wish from the treasury, having gold, diamonds, pearls etc. Besides I am happy with you and you also be happy with me and go and find a place for a better and comfortable living for yourself. After this discourse the king entered the four walled room in the palace. The next day when the concerned people went that side, they found the king’s place vacant. They searched for him all over but found no trace of him. He seemed to have vanished like a bird, finding the chance to escape. Before this the potter took some of the diamonds, pearls and other costly goods whatever he liked and  took leave of the angel and started a new life. From the existing wealth and the one that he got, he donated it to the poor and the needy. During the day time he would distribute and during the night hours he would serve people the eatables. Whole of the night, he would spend in a cave and would remain busy in prayers and thanksgiving till it would be dawn. At last he passed away from this mortal world, but his story of kindness remained to live for ever. Who ever chose a life of the mid course was remembered with good memory after his death. It is the law of nature that if a strong person does not take pity on a weak creature, he too shall meet weakness just like a tiny hair with the passage of time. Similarly if a healthy person does not take pity on a sick one, a time will come that he too shall weep on getting pain and suffering. He whoever became happy over others misery, shall soon suffer meet the same state. O’ the one who has been wronged, don’t get offended by the cruelty, you will surely see that the cruel man’s house gets destroyed. Although the pain and the relief; the justice and the injustice are the twins right from the day one, still who is there to take things lightly? According to Hazrat Moosa (AS) whatever falls on us is nothing but a test for us. The proper thing is to say What Hazrat Adam said while turning his face towards Allah: “ O God I have wronged myself” and say,’ O god forgive our sins. Be compassionate on us and save us from the loss’ The poet then addresses to himself: ‘Run away from the extravagance. A lengthy story does not find acceptability. The excesses of the cruel get increased by our own misdeeds, neither we concentrate in a permanent manner, nor we have a fixed goal i.e. who will be our savior in the waywardness, excepting the one Great Personality, who is the intercessor of the sinners and mercy for all mankind. The like minded should collect from all the corners and collectively pour their heart’s blood like rain, with bear heads and feet, thumping their chests, with their eyes wet and lips dry and pray against this cruelty and invoke his help with heart rendering prayers, so that he becomes our intercessor and we get rid of the calamity. It is firmly hoped that he will intercede us and we get the place of peace and tranquility. He is all intelligent and we are the ignorant lot. We shall continue to pray like that till it is granted.

A similar situation as of today existed in Kashmir when the original book Majmmoa Masmooa  containing this story, was written by Pirzada Ghulam Rasool Shiva  Zoonimari ( d.1288 AH) ,when people were taken forcibly for beggar (potters to hilly areas) and the farmer had to surrender half of his produce-living hungry for the six months in a year, besides other atrocities. A sincere prayer had come to their rescue with an open letter to Maharaja Ranbir Singh  sent By Pirzada Ghulam Hasan Fazili Khoihami—the historian and the son of Pirzada Ghulam Rasool Shiva against the atrocities of Wazir Punnu.

This story has been translated in Urdu and printed in the book “Hamare Aslaf Aur Mashaikh-i-Kashmir” by Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili published in 2007 AD by Iqra Publications, Yemberzal Complex Court Road Srinagar.

Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili (Retd. Chief Engineer.)




Sri stands for the Sun and Nagar for the city hence The Sun City.

272—231 B.C.——King Asoka founded Sri Nagra at Purana Dishtina (now Pandrethan)—old capital. A Sun temple having a pyramidal roof, stone carvings are the only remains of the original old capital.

631 A.D.—— King Parvarsena ii built his town close to Kohi Maran (hillock) which lies in the centre of the present city. He named it as Parverpora. Although safe from floods, the site had a limited area.

725—753 A.D.—King Lalitaditya burnt down Parverpora and built his capital Parihaspora about 20 Kms. away from the Srinagar city centre.

9th century A.D.—Suyya –the Minister engineer of King Awantivarman undertook the drainage of Kashmir valley, which was mostly submerged, thus vast lands for cultivation and also for the settlement were made available.

1128 A.D.—Zulchu Khan invaded Kashmir and burnt the city of Lalitaditya.

14th century.—King Rinchan Shah (Sultan Sadr-ud-Din) built his city at Budhgair on the right bank of river Jhelum. Central Asian architecture was introduced by the Muslim missionaries. The tomb of the first muslim missionary Bulbul Shah Sahib still exists aloft in Budhgair. ( A recently discovered manuscript records burial of Sayid Mohammad Baqir in 655 AH in Theun village near Wusan Kangan, who had come from Iran along with 1002 Sayids—a century earlier than Bulbul Shah.)

1342-54 A.D.—Sultan Ala-ud-Din extended Rinchan’s city along right bank of river Jhelum and built a new town Ala-ud-Din pora—now covering Khankahi Mualla and Malik Angan.

1429-70 A.D.—king Zainul Abidin built his capital 3 Kms. away from the city on north side and named it Nav-Shahr (new town) and opened a navigable channel (Nalla Mar) between Dal and Anchar Lake and also built the first bridge on river Jhelum called Zaina Kadal leading to the expansion of the city on the left bank as well.

15th. Century—Muslim rulers added 5 more bridges on river Jhelum.

1566-1752 A.D.—Mughals constructed mosques, gardens, a rampart/ fortification around central hillock of Kohi Maran, where King Akbar had built a township named Nagar nagari.

1752-1829—In Afghan rule Amir Mohammad Khan (1770-76) built a fort named Shergarhi on left bank of river Jhelum and a bridge on river Jhelum called Amira Kadal.

1810 A.D.—A dominant fort was built by Atta Mohammad Khan on the top of the hillock Kohi Maran.

1819-46 A.D.—In 1835 in Sikh rule Mahan Singh constructed gurdawara Chatti Padshahi. A navigable flood spill channel—Tsunti Khul constructed from Ram Munshi Bagh to Basant Bagh.

1846-1947 A.D.—Dogra rulers selected Shergarhi as their palace but later on shifted to Lake Front and used the Shergarhi as secretariat.

2nd half of 19th century—devastating floods, fires, famines and earthquakes struck the city but restoration was made simultaneously.

1890’s—Residency established, new schools, 1st intermediate college (S.P. College) and Central Library opened and piped water supply to city started.

1921-31—A silk factory and Govt. Woollen mill, Banihal Cart Road connecting Jammu and Rawalpindi constructed. Barbar Shah Bridge constructed, Gupkar road widened, Boulevard on Dal fringe connecting city with Mughal gardens, housing colonies came up at Wazir Bagh, Ram Munshi Bagh, Karan Nagar, Amar Singh Degree College, and S.M.H.S. Hospital got established.

1947—Dogra rule ended.

1947-1999—Srinagar city recorded a faster growth, but in a most haphazard manner. Small housing colonies of Jawahir nagar, Balgarden, Nursingh ghar, Sutra Shahi, Batamaloo, Chanapora, Bemina, Lal Bazar, Buchpora etc., Construction of Kashmir University, Regional Engineering College, Medical College, New Secretariat building, a good no. of educational institutions, hospitals,3 no. stadiums, fruit mandi, industrial estates, HMT, Bemina Woollen Mills, National Highway by-pass (17) Kms. got constructed.

1947-2000 A.D.—There was a sizable increase in other physical and social infrastructure but not commensurate with the population growth in the city.

Srinagar Municipality was established in Dogra rule in 1886. In 1960 it covered an area of 28 Sq. Kms. in2000 SMC consisted of 17 wards with 952 mohallas and/ or villages and covered an area of 177 sq. Kms.

The 1st Master Plan 1971-1991 was extended till 2000 and a new Master Plan for 2000-2021 was prepared by the SDA and approved by the Govt. for implementation. It was recommended that an Apex Agency headed by a Senior Officer be appointed for ensuring periodical review of the Master Plan, its implementation and achievements of targets, monitoring of urban growth and development, failing which this Master Plan will be another plan on the shelf. We have lost 10 golden years and zonal plans are yet to come up and future progeny will curse us for the haphazard growth of the expanded city.

Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili

Chief Engineer (Retd.)