DSC06245-01.jpeg

The elliptical structures which serve as temporary structures where the Bakarwal take shelter during the summers when they come to these pastures. There are also more permanent Dhoks but this is the first time that I have seen these kind of structures which reminded me of the teepees of the Red Indians. I wonder if anyone else has seen similar structures anywhere.

This was in the Marchoi Meadows, around 8 kms hike from Naranag. It is an extremely pristine Valley, called the Salnai Valley. On the horizon lies the Gadsar Peak and the Salnai Pass through which we cross into the Gadsar area. Recommended day hike for anyone as it also gives an excellent view of the Harmukh which was behind my back while clicking this pic. But as luck would have it, it was an extremely hazy day and I couldnt even get a decent shot.

DSC06482-01.jpeg

While on the way is a place called Dumail where the Nallah from the Gangabal meetsthe Salnai Nallah and together they form the Naranag Nallah which itself is a tributary to the Sindh river.

At Dumail there are two beauiful large cottages belonging to the local MLA and the much respected Mia Altaf, who is the unquestioned leader of the Gujjar communtiy in this area who are a majority here. The Gujjar community has kinship across the Pir Panjals with the Gujjars of Rajouri.

DSC06412-01.jpeg

The Bakarwals though are different as they migrate to Jammu in the Autumn and come to these pastures in the Spring. The Dhoks are also segregated on the basis of Gujjars and Bakarwals and though both communities are quite similar but there are differences in the languages they speak. They ofcourse inter-marry amongst themselves as well as with Kashmiris. Occasionally disputes arise over the rights to grazing lands/ pastures but they are usually amicably resolved.

DSC06574-01.jpeg

I was accompanied by a young Gujjar boy who was giving me all this information.Of course he felt comfortable as we spoke in a Gujri Punjabi mixture and he felt a certain kinship with him when I told him that we originally belonged to the mountains around Uri. Maybe we were related if we go a couple of centuries back :)

DSC06588-01.jpeg

More stuff later on Gujjar / Bakarwal lifestyles.

One of its kind straw and wood shelters used by the Bakarwal in Marchoi on the way to the pristine Salnai Valley in the mountains of Kashmir. The more commonly used alternatives are the flat roofed Dhoks, which are more permanent structures. This is the only place I have come across these conical structures. Why they build these like this I don't really know but will surely ask them next time. The time I visited the Bakarwals had already left for the lowlands across the Pir Panjals.