Poorniyun festival, Sazar

Paddar is a small subdivision of Kishtwar District and a beautiful place under the sun. Surrounded by lofty mountains and mammoth glaciers it offers many spectacular sights to its visitors. Nestled in the Jammu region of the Union Territory of J&K, this place is famous world over for its renowned blue Sapphires. Paddar is about 300 kms. far from the main city, Jammu. Being an abode of Maa Chandi and many other deities this place attracts lakhs of pilgrims every year. It is also a major potential tourist attraction in the Jammu region of India. Apart from all that this region also abounds in multiple edible forest produces like gucchi, zeera, pine-seeds etc. Mighty river Chenab which flows through the middle of it fills its air with serenity and many small brooks which fall from the tall snow-capped mountains with their resounding roar add charming music to the environs. It is a place where you can find magnificent Gompas and Temples on the one side and sprawling ancient stone relics on the other side. It is a place which will make you feel full of joys of spring and pique your interest for all your scholarly pursuits. Its serpentine roads will enthrall you to the core and its serpent worshiping people will fascinate you profusely with their hospitality.  

If you are planning your visit to this mysterious land on earth then this blog is just for you. It will guide you all through when you should come here, which places you should visit and how you should spend your quality time in Paddar.

Best time to visit Paddar

Before visiting any place it becomes important that you keep yourself informed about the prevalent climatic conditions of the area. If you are really on the ball then it is sufficient for you to learn from this that Paddar is situated in the lap of Greater Himalayas and staying there in winters is not everyone’s cup of tea. Winters are tough in Paddar no doubt but if you are a chionophile (snow lover) than nothing is going to be the best place for you other than this.

Rest of the seasons are good to travel in Paddar but if you want to know about the best, it is summer season. To put it simply this month bracket {April- Oct} is a best suggestion to keep an eye on.

Now, without any much further ado let us dive straight into the top 10 Must Do’s in Paddar.

Tatta Pani, Paddar

After reaching Paddar the first thing I would suggest you to do is that you should visit Tatta Pani. It is a beautiful small village in Paddar. The extraordinary things of this village which make me recommend you this place first are its hot water springs. You can easily catch a glimpse of hot water pools in the middle of the village. You can bath in it, rain or shine. Its Sulphuric waters will make you feel relieved from the fatigue caused by the journey. A big Shesh Nag Temple spread over an area of 800 sq. feet there is also a magnetic attraction.

Suggested Read: Legend of Tatta Pani

This village is situated at a short distance away from the main road. Sign-posts after Karthie Paddar can easily guide you on the road. A short drive to this village and exhaustion will disappear. This village will recharge you for the next step in Paddar.

Art and Sculpture in Paddar

Architecture in Paddar is unparalleled and a must watch thing. You can find many antique structures in the canvas of Paddar. As Paddar is inhabited mainly by Naga worshipping community so it usual to find Naga temples in almost every village. Starting with Tatta Pani where famous temple of Shesh Nag is situated, you can see splendid temple architecture in all the other Naga temples of Paddar as well. This fabulous architecture and specimen of art on the triangular faces of these temples is a workmanship of local artists.

Along with that there are many stone fountains in Paddar. Popularly called naurn in the local language these are believed to be very old. Legends say that these ancient structures were constructed by the Pandavas many moons ago. Chiselled generally on a single piece of rock these fountains can be found at Atholi, Sohal, Hanswar, Ligri, Bharmas (Gandhari) and Leondi villages of Paddar. Their splendour is diverse in every village. Sometimes a single mouthed and sometimes nine mouthed structures are found in the villages.

Stone sculpture at Leondi village is a master-art. An image of Shiva-Nandi Bull statue sculpted out of sandstone is a most recommended item for you. It is about 4 feet in length and 3 feet in height. It is not smooth though in furnishing but a best and unique specimen of indigenous art. You must watch it if you are in Paddar.

Moreover, you can also find images of snakes carved on big rocks in the higher regions of Paddar. Here is an example of one such at Darlang, a place located about 50 kms away from the main station Gulabgarh. You can go there only in the summer months.

One Stone Pit and some erected stone Pillars at Sohal Paddar are great things to see in Paddar.

Cuisine of Paddar

If you have come here and not tasted local food, then your journey is half-finished. You must have a list of all the important local recipes if you are in Paddar. Here are some items which I think you should try…

  • Kodre Ki Roti with Ghee,
  • Mushroom( Gucchi) and rice,
  • Chapatis of Dhlesh with lassi and spicy chutney,
  • Boiled Potatoes with Zeera or Gurar Ki chutney
  • Femhar with Namkeen Chai
  • Dry Fruits and
  • Chang.

It is difficult to get all these items at one single place. For these you must visit different villages to try these different varieties. You can find boiled Potatoes with Gurar ki chutney as a staple diet of people who reside in the higher reaches of Paddar and Kodre ki roti and Ghee as the most used items in the lower regions of Paddar. Apart from all that you can also try seasonal vegetables and herbs like Hingaur, Khuirr, Dharshag, Kannad, Thyushar, Paryarr etc which grow in the jungles of Paddar.

Chang, often called Himalayan Beer or Paddri Vodka is an intoxicating drink. If you are a teetotaller you can avoid this. But if you have not gone cold turkey and are a booze lover then this is the best item to try in the high altitude villages like Gandhari and Machail in Paddar.

Dry fruits are the pride of Paddar. Found in almost every village these are considered as the most valuable things in Paddar. Here are two such items you must try:

  • (Thangulli) Jangli badam and
  • Chilgoze (Pine seeds)

Culture and Handicrafts

Paddari culture is diverse and profound in nature therefore concluding it in one single paragraph is a daunting task. Yet I suggest that if you want to catch some glittering scenes and get in touch with some fascinating stories of the culture of Paddar you must synchronize your trip in tune with the Paddri calendar of festivals. Here are some of these which I think you should watch in Paddar.

Festivals in Paddar:

  • Maghe (Ligri)
  • Mithyaag (Kundal)
  • Awaans (Sept.  Karthie)
  • Zagra (Gulabgarh)
  • Cheyt (Garh, Sohal)
  • Naghooi (Gandhari)
  • Losar (Kabban)
  • Poornima (Sazar)
  • Chazag (Paddar)
  • Bhoondu Ki Zaath (Atholi)
  • Sharzaith (Tyari & Ishtyari)
  • Kanchait (massu)

Apart from that there are many other small but crucial festivals and ceremonials in Paddar which are brimmed with cultural activities. Sights of local dresses, folk dances, ragas and customs in these festivals will enrich your soul deeply and make you fall in love with the place. Bizarre activities such as piercing of chin and nose with sharp tridents (trishuls) and striking body parts with a bunch of metallic rods (locally called tazane ) can also be seen here which can shock you to the core.

I sharply recommend you to attend some of these festivals.

Handicrafts in Paddar are awe-inspiring. You can watch beautiful chaklas, tough carpets, grass shoes (poole), ropes, blankets (chaudar) etc. in Paddar. Chaklas, carpets and poole are some items made of grass while ropes are made from the strands of hair of some goat. Along with that there used to be many other crafts like pottery (ghueal) etc in Paddar which has now become a part of history. These handicrafts can steal your show easily.

Peaks and Trek in Paddar

There are many soaring peaks in Paddar. Combo of both beauty and adventure these tall peaks of Paddar are the best trekking fields for the trekkers across the planet. Many attempts have been made by the mountaineers to climb these towering mountains. If you are also a rock climber then Paddar is the best place for you. Here are some of the tallest peaks located in Paddar:

  1. Agyasol – 6200m
  2. Brahma I 6416m
  3. Brahma II 6425m
  4. Tupendo 5600m
  5. Barnaj I 6290m
  6. Barnaj II 6331m
  7. Barnaj III 5980m
  8. Dikhlyar 3486m
  9. Bindraban 4708m
  10. Shama Chund 4862m

For trek there are quite a few adventurous routes that you can explore to satiate your trekking thirst. Here is a list of some routes:

  1. Paddar to Zanskar via Umasi – La
  2. Paddar to Zanskar via Hagshu-La

Paddar to Zanskar route via Umasi- La was also used by the Great Dogra General Zorawar Singh Kalhuria in the past in his Gilgit-Baltistan expeditions. This route can also help India strategically to deal with its adversaries China and Pakistan if connected with a motor-able road. 

Suggested Read: Paddar- A Geo-strategic Option for India vis-à-vis China and Pak.

Gompas in Paddar

Paddar is a place of peace and tranquillity. Here people of all the three religions viz. Hindu, Muslim & Buddhist coexist in harmony with one another. Buddhist people who live in many villages of Paddar have constructed colossal Gompas on this land which are the epitomes of classic structures. Great Buddhist Guru and Nobel Laureate H.H Dalai Lama has also visited Paddar in 2013 to bless this land. If you are in Paddar you must visit these Gompas to acquire knowledge of plurality and to seek blessings of Lord Buddha.

Gompa at Gulabgarh is a must visit for you. In this sanctum sanctorum you can also watch many exclusive things side by side. Gompas are found in many villages of Paddar like Gulabgarh, Kabban, Aliha (Gandhari), Haloti and Losaini.

Yatras in Paddar

Though this place is primarily known for Machail Yatra but there happens to be lot of other Yatras in Paddar. Every yatra is significant in some sense. In these pilgrimages you can see the dance of Chelas of Mother Godesses in tune with the beats of Paddri dhols (locally called Dhouns). Rush of pilgrims and stories of the miracle of deities can fill you with devotion and enthusiasm.

There are many yatras in Paddar such as:

  • Machail Yatra
  • Chitto Yatra
  • Hagyoth Yatra
  • Garh Yatra
  • Mindhal Yatra
  • Ligri Yatra
  • Panji Dhar Yatra
  • Atakh Yatra
  • Gandhari Yatra
  • Pallali Yatra

Suggested read: Yatras in Paddar

I strongly recommend you to attend such pilgrimages in Paddar. Best thing about all these Yatras is that they all happen in the summer season. Meanwhile you can also explore many new things here with the rush. Pointed trees and virgin meadows of this land are waiting for your visit.

Meadows in Paddar

It is said that Paddar has got its name from the word padar which means meadow in Himachal. There is also a place in Bhaderwah by the name Padri which is similar to the name of our subdivision. Undoubtedly there are many lush green pasture lands in Paddar. Here is a list of some meadows which I think you should visit once:

  • Bhuzonu
  • Bhuzas
  • Dharlang
  • Kandaang
  • Chandipadhar
  • Hudam Dhar
  • Kundh etc.
  • Hadar
  • Dikhlyar
  • Japan Dhar
  • Sehen

You can encounter many lakes in these pastures as well. Monhal Lake at Ligri is a sightseeing spot and connected with the legend that culminates in the famous Maghe Festival.

Cliff Hanger Road, Paddar

If you are an adventurous guy and a road junkie this road of Ishtyari Paddar is a must visiting place for you. Considered as the world third dangerous road, this looks like hell. Dotted with many waterfalls along the way people traverse this road on vehicles every day. It connects Paddar with Himachal Pradesh. Constructed in the late 1990s this road seems like a line scratched with a pointed pin on the canvas of mountain. This track is also used by the pilgrims who visit Mindhal (Shrine in Himachal) every year.

Waterfalls in Paddar

Paddar is enriched with many breath-taking waterfalls. Flowing with great majesty their roar spreads munificence in the valley of Sapphire. Their flight from the great Himalayan Mountains under the force of Gravity adds breeze to the surrounding areas which in turn enthrals visitors with its magnificent gaudy rainbows.

From Lidrari Nala in the west to Sansari Nala in the east and from Zanskar in the north to Bhalesa in the south you can easily catch a glimpse of these beautiful blaring brooks at almost every step. Dancing, kicking, hopping, flexing, waters of these cranky cascades puzzles Chenab when they kiss it at the feet of Himalayas. These are the must recommended things to see in Paddar. Here are some of this waterfalls whose sight can be easily accessed.

  • Dhunzari
  • Chishoti
  • Dhoodheri
  • Hanswar
  • Shandheeri
  • Bhotnallah
  • Ishtyari

Suggested read: Waterfalls in Paddar.

Last Words

I strongly hope that this write-up will make your trip worth it. I have put in all the best information known to me. Clubbed with relevant facts it is just a small effort to make your trip easier and meaningful. Art and Architecture of Paddar is akin to many other places neighbouring Paddar. You can also quench your scholarly thirst by visiting these.

At the end I will just say that there are enough things in the Paddar subdivision of Jammu region, which if given proper attention and support by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture can give a big boost to the sunrise industries of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.


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