History of Bhaderwah

Bhaderwah fort in 1868 (Source: British Library Pictures)

Bhaderwah also know 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 Kms. 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.

Ancient History

The advent of Nagas and Garurs

The daughter of King Dakhsh was wedded to Rishi Kashyap were named as Kadru and Vneeta. Both the princesses were extremely beautiful and polite. After marriage both lived in perfect harmony.

Kadru gave birth to one thousand strong and powerful Nagas and out of them eight are very famous in the world, such as Vaski Nag, Taksh Nag, Shaish Nag & Kali Nag etc. The second wife Vineeta gave birth to two sons naming Arun and Garur. Garur in his early age went to Himalaya for meditation of God Vishnu. One day when Kashyap Rishi (Sage) was not at home, both the sisters were watching the scene of early rising sun. In the meantime they started discussing the colours of the horses of the Chariot of the sun. According to Kadru the colour of the horses was black while according to Vineeta it was white. Both were adamant on their statements. At last there was a bet between the two that he who would lose the bet shall serve as servant to the other. In the evening when Kadru told to her sons about the bet they said, “Mother” Vineeta is right, the colour of the horses is white.

On hearing this Kadru became much worried and said that the decision of our bet would be decided by tomorrow’s rising sun and she would lose the bet, she would have to serve Vineeta as servant through out her life. Seeing the worries of their mother they said, “Don’t worry Mother, tomorrow at the time of rising sun we shall wrap the horses of the Chariot of the sun as all of us are black except brother Vaski Nag and in this way the white colour of the horses shall become black and you will win the bet.

Next morning both the sisters waited for the sun to rise and prove their bet. When the Chariot of the Sun God appeared the colour of the horses looked black due to clinging of the black nagas round the horses. On seeing this Vineeta became astonished and since then she began to serve her sister as servant. After completing his meditation when Garur came back home after a long time. His mother asked him about his Tipasiya (Meditation) then Garur happily told her mother that he had completed his meditation successfully and Lord Vishnu after getting pleased with my meditation blessed me to remain with him always as his VAHAN (Carrier).The mother became very happy and embracing him blessed. But Garur seeing the melancholy face of his mother asked the reason of his gloominess. Vineeta friskily tried to avoid the causes of her gloominess but on the insistance of Garur she told him the whole tale of her sadness that how she had to serve her sister as a servant.

Garur told his mother that she had not lost the bet but Nagas have cheated you. They have insulted you and I shall take the revenge. It was not an ordinary event for him but a bolt from the blue. He could not tolerate such an insult of his mother and began burning with anger. Vineeta the mother of Garur could very well understand the feelings of her son and tried to pacify him by saying that they must be the rewarded of her misdeeds in the previous life. But Garur saw the helplessness of his mother, with which instead of cooling his anger increased. Garur due to extreme anger could not decide what to do. At the same time Dev Rishi Narad appeared there, Garur welcomed him. Naradji asked Garur about his perplexity. Then Garur narrated the whole sad tale how his step mother and step brothers cheated his mother and requested him to show the way, what to do. Naradji advised him to go to Lord Vishnu and ask him the solution of the problem. Garur at once went towards Himalayas and started meditation to please Lord Vishnu. After his hard meditation Lord Vishnu was pleased and appeared before him and asked the reason of his hard meditation. Garur seeing God before him became extremely happy and said My Lord if you are really pleased with my meditation then bless me that since today Nag should have no effect on me. God Vishnu was pleased with the hard meditation of Garur so he blessed him with his desired demand. From that very day the amenity between Garurs and Nagas started.

In ‘Tirata Youg’ ( In Hindu Mythology the life of the planet earth is divide into Yougs, Sat Youg, Tirata Youg, Duwapur Youg And Kal youg) when the cruelty of Rakshas (Evil Souls) went beyond limit the God Vishnu incarnated in the form of Rama, the son of Maharaja Dashrat. During the fourteen years of exile Ravan the King of Lanka stole his wife in a deceitful way and there was severe battle between the two. During the battle evil Ravana used a weapon called Nag Pash and Ram along with his army were caught in a serpent net.

In the last days of Duwapur Youg when the time of Kali Youg came then Kali youg requested Maharaja Prikshat to give a seat to reside. King Prikhsat did not want that Kali Youg be given seat on the eatable items, so he offer him seat on Gold or Silver. After getting the permission Kali Youg sat on the golden crown of the King Prikhsat. Due to the effect of the Kali Youg, the king while roaming in the Jungle picked up a dead snake and put it round the neck of a meditating hermit. Due to this unholy act of king, the penance of the sage was disturbed and he cursed that the same snake shall bite the man who had put it on him within seven days and the man shall die.

In the evening when the king Prikhshat put off his crown, the whole happening came to his mind; he instantly went to the hermit repented for his curse which he had given unknowingly.

After the death of the king Parikhsat when his son Prince Janmayjai became king, he in order to take revenge against Nagas managed a “NAG YAG” so that all the Nags are killed. Under the influence of the mantras the Nags themselves came and fell into Havan Kund and got burnt. At that time Vasuki Nag requested his step sister Jarat Karu and brother-in –law hermit Jarat to prevent that killing of Nagas by asking their influential offspring. On this way the Nag Yag was stopped and still alive Nags were saved.


After the ‘Nag Yag’ of King Janmayjae of Hastinapur the saved Nags were highly frightened and in order to save their lives they fled to safe and hilly places. In this way some reached Bhaderwah. They liked this place and decided to make it their abode. In our religious books it is said that the name of this place was Bhaderkashi before the coming of Nagas. The place where they settled in Bhadarkashi was village Gosht which now is called Gatha. There is a grand temple of Vasuki Nag and a cluster of temples of other gods and goddesses and the houses of the priests. In those days there was a cluster of very big Deodar trees there. There lived a well off family around the villages of Gatha. The herd of cows of that family used to come to take rest in that cluster of Deodar trees. Suddenly thereon milking cow started giving less milk in the evening. When this process continued for three four days and nobody could guess the reason. Then one day the oldest lady of the family said that she would go herself to look after the herd. That day the lady concentrated on that very cow. At noon when the herd reached Gosht the very cow stood near an old tree. The tree was hollow inside. There was a hole coming from that hollow space. When the cow stood near the hole then a Nag came out of the hole and started drinking the milk. The old lady was seeing all this very carefully. The Nag after drinking the milk again went back into the hole. In the evening when the lady reached home she narrated the whole story to her family members. Then the son say that lady asked her what could be the solution of this problem. The old lady told them that the colour and shape of that snake was not of an ordinary snakes but a very pious soul and worth worshiping, so we should also treat him as a pious guest with honor and respect. After that day the old lady would bring a bowl of milk in the morning and evening and place it near that hole of the tree with great sincerity. She would invite her pious guest. The God Nag would appear from that hole drink the milk gladly and go back into the hole. This process went on for some time, one day god Nag told her in dream that he liked the place and people of this place and wanted to live there. He requested that the old deodar tree in which he resides be cut and a temple be got built there for his residence. In the morning the old lady narrated her dream to her seven sons. The faithful and obeying sons cut the tree and built a temple there as per order & wish of their mother. After that on one auspicious day a grand Hawan was organized and among the recitation of Ved Mantras the Nag Devta was installed in that temple. The Naga who was installed in the temple was no other than Vasuki Nag Ji. Many other Naga’s along with the Nag Vasuki came there.


Nagas lived very peacefully in Bhaderwah for a long time, but when Garur came to know about the presence of Nags, and then Garur followed them and started killing them for his food.

The daily routine life of Nagas was very badly affected. Vasuki Nag Ji became upset and started thinking to find out some solution. One day Vasuki nag Ji called Garur. Garur respected his step brother immensely because he know that there was no hand of Vasuki Nag Ji in cheating his mother because his colour was white and all other Nagas were black. So he did not consider Vasuki Nag Ji as his enemy. When Garurji came to Vasuki Nag ji he complimented his elder brother asked the reason for calling him. Vasuki Nag ji also welcomed his brother with great love and respect and brought into his notice the anxiety of Nagas and requested him to stop eating Nagas. Then Garur told him that he could not do so till his revenge was completed. He was helpless. Vasuki Nag told him that if a Nag himself presented to him for his food would you stop disturbing them. Then Garur said that he was ready to accept that proposal. Then a treaty was agreed upon that one Nag wearing a red cloth would go to decided flat stone and present himself as Garur’s food.


Jimet Vahan lived in the period when Lord Shiva resided on the Kailash Mountain. In those days Lord Shiva wedded (Married) the daughter of King Himpat son of Brahmaji daughter Parvati. Lord Shiva had himself told this tale to Parvateji. He told her that your father Himpat is not only “Guru” (teacher) of mountains but is also my Guru. While describing about their mountainous region the whole of Seoj Dhar area and east and west of “Devkhatar” was ruled by the king Jimut Katu the king of Vidiyadharas ( a particular community) the father of Jimut Vahan. In Vasuki Puran there is a verse which tells that area was ruled by Vidya Dharas and they made that area as heaven with their Penance (Tipasiya) and had created “Kalap” tree which is found only in heaven. The Kalap tree possesses the power to give whatever you demand from it.

King Jimut Katu prayed to Kalap tree and got his brave, selfless son “Jimut Vahan”. When King Jimut Katu became old he handed over the reign of Kingdom to his son-Jimut Vahan and went for Penance (tipasya) to a lonely place in Seoj Dhar. Jimut Vahan being obedient made a hut for them and served his parents whole heartedly. One day due to some urgent work he came to Bhaderkashi city.

In those days Vasuki Nag ji ruled Bhaderkashi and Jimut Vahan became a royal guest there. One day while roaming he came towards village sartingal. On the way there was a house of an old lady. There came a sweet fragrance of breakfast also a sound of weeping. He became perplexed because such sumptuous food on some fairs or some auspicious occasion and there is no similarity between such food and weeping. As he could not understand the reason, so he thought it better to go inside the house and find out the truth. When he went inside the house he saw that an old lady was preparing very sumptuous food and simultaneously weeping bill sly. The old lady had become an embodiment of happiness and sadness. When Jimut Vahan asked her the reason of all that, she told that there was none to solve her anxiety. Nobody had the power and will to solve my problem in the world. The old lady told him that their king Vasuki nag ji had made an agreement with Garur that every day a Nag would go for his diet. According to the treaty one Nag after taking bath and wearing red clothes had to go to a particular flat rock from where Garur carries him in his beak and eats, somewhere. Today is the turn of my only son Shankhchur. He is my only caretaker in this world and he is being snatched from me. In this helplessness I am preparing last food for him and weeping on my bad luck.

Jimut Vahan was highly impressed by the sad tale narrated by the old lady. He thought in his mind that he could save the life of old lady’s son by sacrificing himself in his place. Deciding so when he got up to go out, then the old lady forced him to eat some food Babrus. After eating some leaves he went out of the house. He took bath and wearing red cloth round him went towards the fixed flat stone about which the old lady had told him. He wanted that he should reach the place before Shankhchur gets ready and reaches there. Immediately wearing the red cloth he laid down on the stone. When Garur saw that a Nag had laid down on the stone, he flew to that place. Seeing Garur near him Jimut Vahan became very happy in his mind but Garur was perturbed, because that day Nag was neither frightened nor wept, instead there was great satisfaction and happiness on his face. It was a new and thoughtful event for Garur in his life. Seeing this condition of Garur Jimut Vahan said, “Why are you dealing? I am ready for your service for a long time. Garur who was a bit unnerved picked up Jimut Vahan in his beak and flew to a distant place to eat his prey peacefully.

As soon as Garur Ji took his flight the Nag Shankhchur gave a loud cry and requested to leave the person whom he was carrying because he was not a Nag and it was his turn. But by that time Garur had flown carrying Jimut Vahan. Shankhchur also ran after him crying loudly that was not a Nag and it was his turn. Garur also heard the cries and reaching at a high place, he placed his prey down on the ground. Jimut Vahan then said, “Why you are not eating me and satisfying your hunger”? Hearing this! He started eating him. Garur had first started eating him when Shankhchur reached there and told him that he was not a Nag so please don’t eat him. He is an alien prince and it was my turn today. When this prince came to know from my mother that I am the only son of her, he took pity on me and resolved to sacrifice himself in my place. On the other hand Jimut vahan was insisting to eat him. On hearing the version of both of them Garur felt guilty and thought how both of them being living creatures are ready to sacrifice themselves for each other and it is me who is doing sin for my personal benefit. Thinking so Garur flew towards sky Shankhchur started treating the wounds of Jimut Vahan. Just then Garur came back from sky with holy water (Amrit) sprinkled it over the wounds of Jimut Vahan and he became completely healthy. Garur then embraced Jimut Vahan and said that he was highly impressed with the spirit of your sacrifice and greatness and want to give you something as a reward. Jimut Vahan very politely requested him that if he really wanted to give him (Jimut Vahan) something then I with a great hope demand that in future you would not kill and eat Nagas. Garur was highly impressed with the supreme selfless sacrifice of Jimut Vahan and his every uttering was a store of knowledge. He (Garur) embracing Jimut Vahan promised him that he would not kill and eat Nagas in future. On hearing the promise of Garur there was no limit of happiness of Jimut Vahan & Shankhchur. After giving this boon Garurji disappeared in sky.

The place where Garur, Jimut Vahn and Shankhchur met each other that place is at about 1km high from Sungli village. When the procession of Kailash Yatra passed through that place, take rest there and pay obeisance to Jimut Vahan in memory of his supreme sacrifice. There is pond of water which is still called Shankhchur Talai (Pond). There is a small temple of Jimut Vahan there now called Jaslu Devta in Bhaderwah.

Culture of Bhaderwah

DHAKKU and GHURAI, which is religious in inspiration and characteristically devotional in nature. The dance DHAKKU is not a dance of individual participation or of a small group, but a large number of men participate in the dance. Despite of the fact that large numbers of people participate in the dance, a complete synchronization in the hands and feet is seen with elaborate, rythmatic movements and planed steps, backward and forward.

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