Amidst the Pir Panjal, close to the LOC, Poonch is arguably Kashmir’s hidden gem. In the summer months, the hamlet is home to families from the Bakarwal and Gujjar communities; their stone homes a permanent feature of the dhok or pastural lands year round.
Its history dates back to the Mahabharata and the 6th-century accounts of Chinese traveller Xuan Zang who wrote of the fine tea and beautiful horses of Poonch. Legends of Sufi saints and shrines are stories locals will tell you when talking of their land, their jeeto jannat or living paradise, where shepherding is a way of life. Poonch’s stunning landscapes are said to have the power to make a mystic of a traveller.
Adnan Kohli is an economics graduate, theatre director, writer, and documentary photographer. A fan of Urdu literature, he looks for stories in prose when travelling—usually to places off the beaten track, especially in Kashmir. He also has an annual exhibition “Hami Asto-Reflection of Life in Kahsmir” at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
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