History of Bhaderwah

Bhaderwah also known as “Nagon ki bhoomi” means ‘land of Snakes'. The history is very little known to general masses. The Bhaderwah Town ( Nagar Bhaderwah ) was known as Hettary Nagar and prior to that, there were two other towns namely Donga nagar and Udho Nagar. Both the Nagar was situated around villages Mondha which is about 3 km. In the East of present Bhaderwah town.
History tells us that sometime back both the Nagars were flooded due to torrential floods from Himalayan Ranges, and the presence of the big boulders in abundance available in the present era reveal the story of disaster occurred then. Later on, the people of Bhaderwah selected a place for their rehabilitation in Seeri (from word ‘SEER' meaning a vast piece of land), now known as Seeri Bazar, a vast field belonging to a Zamindar (Farmer) and reconstructed their dwellings around it.
The revolutionaries followed him with great Zeal, and killed him in the cave itself. After two months from this incident, the Govt. of Chamba once again raided Bhaderwah. The forces under the command of Shagtu Kotwal fought with the forces of Chamba Raja at Padri Dhar for at least three days wherein the general Nathu Ram of Chamba was badly defeated.
A few days after repulsing the Chamba Force, he managed to present himself before Maharaja Gulab Singh at Jammu for accession of Bhaderwah with the J&K State. The Maharaja Gulab Singh gladly accepted the proposal and the brave General Shagtu Kotwal was awarded with a Jagir (Poperty) in Kailar named Droundi. It occurred during the year of 1902 Bikrami i.e. in about 1854, when the revenue of Rabi Crop was collected by the Chamba Rulers and that of Kharief Crop Revenue by the Jammu and Kashmir Rulers.

Three names have been mentioned in the past for the Principality of Bhaderwah.Old Bhaderwah

1. Bhogvati in the Neelmat Puran (written in the 6th centurey)
2. Bhadravaksa in Rajtrangi (written in 1148 - 1149 A.D)
3. Bhadrashram in the Vasuki Puran (written somewhere in 12th to 16th century A.D).

Pre Historic and Epic Period History Of Bhaderwah:

For the prehistoric and pre-epic periodthe history of Bhaderwah is closely linked with the history of Kashmir.The Neelmat Puran, which kalhana refers to as a great work of antiquity he acknowledges to have utilized it in writing the ancient History of Kashmir.

Kashmir Valley was a big lake till was drained out in time of Kashyap Rishi followed by human habitation. Numerous Naga Chiefs ruled over their subjects when the valley was a lake. One water borne dragon named Jallodbhava, started killing and eating Nagas living in the lake relentlessly with the result many Nagas and their subjects migrated to different directions for safety. Some went to Kishtwar and Bhaderwah side. Kishtwar at that time was a lake called Gordhansar spreading from Singhpura upto Thathri. The folk legends and the Puranic traditions mention that notable Naga chiefs like Gamani Nag, Kali Nag and pant Nag whose temples and springs still exist at different places in Kishtwar migrated to Kishtwar and settled there. In Kashmir, after the death of Kashyap Rishi, succession dispute started amongst his sons born from his two queens Kadru and Vanita. From Kadru were born Vasuki nag, Shesh Nag and Mahel Nag and their elder sister queen Bhadra (Bhaderkali) while Garud and his brothers were born from Vanita. Garud the eldest son along with his supporters attempted to eliminate Vasuki and his brothers. Bhaderkali had already shifted to Bhaderwah and settled there as ruling queen. She extended invitation to Vasuki and his brothers to come to Bhaderwah for safety. All the three brothers went there and settled there. Garud failed to them at Bhaderwah though he had gone there to eliminate the Naga brothers. Bhadra divided her territory amongst the three brothers. The maon Bhaderwah valley on the left bank of Neeroo was given to Vasuki locally called 'basak nag' , on the right the territory was given to Shesh nag locally known as 'Sabar Nag' and in the periphery areas touching Bhallessa and Marmet were given to Mahel Nag. The temples of these Naga brothers are located at different conspicuous places in these areas, where many local people worship them as 'kul devta' (family dieties) till date. The Vasuki Puran is the source of this legendary pre-historic histoy. Thus queen Bhadra was the first queen of Bhaderwah and Vasuki Nag(Basak Nag) was the first Raja of Bhaderwah. This way the pre-historic rulers and their rule was the Rule of Naga Choefs and the oldest cult of the place was Naga Cult. After developing some differences with her brothers, as per the local legend, Bhadarkali seems to have migrated back to Kashmir valley and settled at a village Wadipura situated at a distance of eight kilometres from handwara (District Kupwara). It is a fact that her temple still exists there in the midst of the pine trees. The local Kashmiri Pandit families recognize her as their family diety. (Kul-devi). On the days of Ram Navami and Maha Navami each year a Mahayagya is performed in her honour in the premiss of this temple in which large number of devotees participate.

When Vasuki Puran was written, queen Bhadra was held in high esteem in Bhaderwah. Refrence is invited to slokas 400,401,402 and 403-404 of Vasuki Puran in the matter. Sloka 400 refers to a Tirath (place of Pilgrimage) called Pushkar on the bank of river Neeroo (of Bhaderwah) where the statue of goddess Bhadra was installed. Sloka 401 reads, " at this site the copper colored red eyed good looking with godly luster and seven worlds master godess Bhadra in worldly form is stationed". Slokas 303-304 further state, "if a person offers worship to the goddess at the site which is inhabited by celestial beings, saints and Naga gods, he gets the same reward which he would get after offering worship at the holy place like Gaya"

It however remains a theological riddle till date when Vasuki Nag was given the status fo the Kul-Devta in the principality attracting worship from his adherents and queen Bhadra was relegated to a zero position by Vasuki Nag himself. her statues do not find any place in the Vasuki Temples. Instead the statue of Jeemat-Vahan, a life long friend and follower of Vasuki who sacrificed his life to save the Nagas from garud finds place to the right of Vasuki in each temple and worship is offered to him along with Vasuki. The name of Bhadra is kooked down upon with diisfavour till date. The queen who once ruled the principality and who installed Vasuki and his brothers as Rajas of different parts of her territory, who saved vasuki from clutches of Garud, how and why she met the sudden ecliplse from the glory which she enjoyed when Vasuki Puran was written. No concrete reasons can be located in the matter except some heresay tale narrated by some priests of Vasuki Temples that Bhadra had shown some disloyality to Vasuki when Garud was draining the waters of the mountain lake Kailash Kund (Kablas) when Vasuki had hidden himself from Garud. When water of the lake was about to be drained fully thereby exposing Vasuki to Garud for attack, Bhadra dilly dallied to discharge water lake located on the higher elevation of Kailash Mountain to replenish the depleting water in the Kablas Kund to provide cover to vasuki from the possible attach of Garud. On the other hand additional water as released by goddess Saraswati from her lake located on the higher elevation which compelled garud to leave the place for search of Vasuki. This is stated to be the main reason why Bhadra got eclipse from the public eyes and ultimatelywent back to Wadipura in Handwara of Kashmir. However this account finds no corroboration in any other theological source of history of the Bhaderwah principality, not even in the Neelmat Puran as well. The negative relations between Bhadra and Vasuki are not mentioned in the Vasuki Puran or inthe sixth century A.D sanskrit play Nagananda. On the other hand Vasuki Puran offers lavish praise to both Bhadra and Vasuki Nag. In Sloka 280 of Vasuki Puran, Lord Shiva acknowledges deep devotion shown to him by Vasuki Nag. Lord Shiva assures Vasuki that, "whatever Vasuki would chose his abode Lord Shiva would be with him there". In Sloka 943 of the Neelmat Puran (Vol.II) the words, "Great vasuki" have been used to shower high praise and high status tupon Vasuki Nag. Some writers have made a gross mistake in identifying Vasuki with a villianous Naga named Sadan Gul whoused to seduce the ladies of other Nagas of his time and for this he was banished by Naga Chief Neel to Mount Urisaka inthe land of Darva-Bhisara. Darva-Bhisara refers to Poonch-Rajouri sub-region in the ancient historical period. Mount Urisaka is stated to be located somewhere in Darva-Bhisara sub-region of Poonch-Rajouri, while Vasuki Nag chose his abode in Kablas Kund of Bhaderwah. He also became the first Raja of Bhaderwah known as Basak Nag.He is till date worshipped by his adherents.

History of Bhaderwah Courtsey : Book by Sh. Swami Raj Sharma M.A. (Gold Medalist), LLB, IAS (Retd.) From Rainda Bhaderwah
"A concise history of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh upto 1947 A.D and Essay on the Philosophy of History". available at - 66-B/D, Gandhi Nagar Jammu and Modern Printing Press Vasuki Vihar Bhaderwah

BHADERWAH... The Tourist's Paradise