Now, Mughal Road To Connect J&K
14 July 2005
The Times of India
Poonch: Traversed by the carvans of Mughal emperors and their royal armies more than four centuries ago, Mughal road would come up as an alternative highway to connect Kashmir with rest of India by March 2007. Work begun in June this year on a 'war footing' on the Rs 150 crore project which is shortest (76-km) but most difficult road link criss-crossing through picturesque Pir Panjar woodland via Poonch border district. '27 years after its conceiving by J-K government, work started for the first time on this prestigious project, an alternative highway in J-K. It would be made trafficable by 2007 March,' said J-K Minister for Roads and Buildings Gulam Ahmed Mir. Mir, who paid a whirlwind visit to Mughal road project sites in Rajouri and Poonch district, said work is going on simultaneously from Shopian side of Kashmir and Bafliaz side of Jammu region's Poonch district to fulfill the task by March 2007. About 419 years ago, the Mughal road was abuzz with traffic of carvans of Mughal emperors and their armies to keep control of Kashmir. It was this road that emperor Akbar had used to conquer Kashmir in 1586. The J-K government headed by the then Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah had conceived this project in 1979 and named it as 'Mughal road' linking Rajouri-Poonch border belt of Jammu division directly with the Kashmir valley at Shopian in Pulwama district through shortest possible route. Post 1989, the area became a hotbed of militancy and construction work on the road here was almost unthinkable till 1996 when the project was revived by the then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. But efforts of present R and B Minister G A Mir paid off and Defence Ministry and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not only cleared the project easily this year but also promised full funding for it. The central government has provided Rs 79.50 crore so far for the project. The road originated in Jhelum town of Punjab province (now in Pakistan) and then touched Kotli (in Pakistan- occupied-Kashmir), Thanamandi (Rajouri district) and finally Chandimarh located in Pir Panjar mountains and one branch crossed over to Shopian via Heepora. As per the blueprint, the road from Bafliaz to Shopian is 89 km and it will criss-cross 11,500 to 13,000 feet mountain ranges, which is higher than Banihal pass on Jammu- Srinagar national highway and the present entry point to Kashmir valley. Besides, 49 km of road is steep and 20 km rolling besides mountain stretches. The road will be constructed from Bafliaz (Poonch) through Chandimarh, Dugram, Pir Panjar pass, Ghurd, Aliahad Saria, Sukh Saria and Heerpura to Shopian. The road still has several monuments constructed by the Mughals. In Chingus in Rajouri district emperor Jehingeer died during his return from Kashmir and his body was kept in a fort at the place. On this road, a rest house was built by the Mughals, which still exists at Muradapora. There was another rest house at Nayn Sukh (Fatehpur), a grand Sarai at Thanamandi and a terrace at Noori Chump water falls named after the queen of Jahangir in Rajouri district. A grand Mughal rest house still stands at verdurous mountain peak at Chandimarh on the Mughal road followed by small rest houses at Alyabad, Ziarat of Peer Baba at Pir-ki-Gali, Dubjian, near the Sulphur springs, and a big rest house now in damaged condition at Heerapura (Shopian).