Kashmir’s River Jhelum

Imagine a beautiful river flowing gracefully through the heart of the stunning Kashmir Valley. That’s the River Jhelum, and it has a wonderful story to tell! Let’s take a trip along this winding river as we explore its history, legends, and the way it shapes the lives of the people living in Kashmir.

A River of History

Jhelum is a 150 km river that runs from Khanabal into Baramulla. The River Jhelum has been around for a very long time, and it has seen a lot of important things happen. Think of it as a storyteller, sharing tales of the past. One story is about a big battle that took place near the river a very long time ago. People still remember this battle today because it involved a famous leader named Alexander the Great and a king named Porus. This river even has a city named after it called Jhelum!

Where the Name Comes From

The very name “Jhelum” carries within it a sense of mystique and wonder. The etymology of the name is woven with legends, each more captivating than the last. One story whispers of “Ja-e-Alam,” the “Place of the Flag,” a name attributed to a victorious leader who planted his standard on the riverbank. Another tale takes us on a journey with Saeed Bin Abi Waqas, who, during his travels to China, glimpsed the city’s reflection in the river and exclaimed, “هذا جهيلم”“This is Jhelum,” a city bathed in the moonlight of the river’s glow.

Some also say that The name “Jhelum” is said to come from the words “Jal” (meaning clear water) and “Ham” (meaning snow). This name points to the river’s waters, which come from the snowy Himalayas and flow beside the city.

The River’s Job

The River Jhelum isn’t just a pretty sight; it helps the people who live nearby in many ways. It gives water to the farms so that plants can grow, and it helps people travel by boat. The river is like a lifeline that keeps everything connected. It’s also part of the special climate in Kashmir, where summers are warm and winters are cool.

Lifeblood of the Land

Apart from its historical significance and cultural heritage, the River Jhelum serves as the very lifeblood of Kashmir. Not only does it sustain the lands it graces, but it also offers vital water for irrigation, transportation, and daily necessities. Its meandering course has not only shaped the region’s physical landscape but has also profoundly influenced the lives of those who have flourished along its banks for generations. As it gracefully flows, the river carries within its currents the collective hopes and aspirations of the people, all the while nurturing the very lands it blesses and fostering an essential sense of interconnectedness that lies at the heart of Kashmiri life.

The Jhelum River Front Development Project

Here’s an overview of the key aspects of this endeavour:

Srinagar Municipal Corporation, as part of the Smart City Projects, a significant effort is being directed towards the Jhelum River Front Development Project. This comprehensive project aims to enhance both sides of the riverfront, focusing on ecological sustainability and transforming the river into a vibrant recreational hub.

Redevelopment of Downtown Ghats:

A crucial facet of the initiative involves the revitalization of the Ghats located in the downtown area of Srinagar. These iconic riverfront spaces will undergo a transformation to create inviting and functional environments for both locals and visitors alike.

Enhancing Monuments and Public Spaces:

Not only the Ghats, but also the significant monuments and public spaces around the river will undergo development. This step is essential to create a cohesive and visually appealing riverfront.

Beautification of Bridges:

The bridges that span the river are being considered for aesthetic enhancement. This effort will not only add to the visual charm of the area but also contribute to the overall riverfront experience.

Reviving Parks and Gardens:

The initiative encompasses the reconstruction and upkeep of parks and gardens along the riverbanks. Additionally, the introduction of Wi-Fi zones and improved illumination is part of the plan to enhance the recreational experience.

Promoting Local Arts and Crafts:

Display centers dedicated to showcasing local arts and crafts will be established, providing a platform for local talent and contributing to the cultural vibrancy of the riverfront.

Spaces for Recreation and Learning:

Special areas designed for children’s recreational activities will be included, catering to families and young ones. Moreover, efforts are underway to introduce water transport, breathing life back into the river’s historic navigational role.

Tackling Pollution:

The initiative places a strong emphasis on environmental conservation. The Srinagar Municipal Corporation has implemented door-to-door waste collection to curb the pollution caused by improper waste disposal. Regular cleanliness drives are conducted, and plans are in motion to prevent sewage lines from entering the river.

Tendering and Future Plans:

The stretch from Zero Bridge to Amira Kadal has already undergone the tendering process. Plans are also in motion for the preparation of Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for 18 additional ghats. As these preparations continue, work on the initiative is expected to commence in the coming months.

Banks of River Jhelum
Photo Credits : Mir Owais

Keeping the Stories Alive

The River Jhelum is like a memory keeper for Kashmir. It helps us remember the past while we look to the future. The river’s story is all about how people have learned to adapt and grow, just like the plants that rely on it. It’s a reminder of how nature and people are connected.

So, as we walk along the river’s edge, let’s remember that the River Jhelum isn’t just water; it’s a magical part of Kashmir’s history and future. Its flow carries the dreams of the people, the beauty of the land, and the promise of what’s to come. In the heart of Kashmir, the River Jhelum is like a friend that whispers stories of long ago and whispers of tomorrow.

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