Sadna Pass: Gateway to Enchanted Valley

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Imtiyaz Wani

In the lap of the exquisite Shamsabari mountain range is one of world’s highest passes that connects 52 villages of Tanghdar Valley with rest of the world. For many there are signs of fairies hidden in the pass.

Originally, known as Nastachun (broken or cut nose) the pass stands at a height of 10273 feet. Three decades back, this pass was renamed after the famous film actress Sadna by a batch of young army personnel who were deputed there.

Within days, the new name Sadna top was adopted by one and all. On top of this magnificent pass, the army has constructed a beautiful view point that overlooks mountains of Shamsabari, slicing Kashmir and villages of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Besides, prominent passes, Eagle Pass and Tootmar gali, beautiful meadows of Bangus could be easily viewed from the top of this pass. Inside the cubicle view point, photographs of film actress Sadna are neatly placed.

“For us this pass is a place of pride,” says Javid Khan, a resident of Teetwal. “We want the government to pay special attention to bring this place on a tourist map.”  For the thousands of villagers living in Tanghdar Valley, Sadna is not just an ordinary pass. It is now a gateway to the Kashmir Valley. Every day, hundreds of vehicles pass through this top and many vehicles stop for a while to have a look on both sides of the valley, even the villages of PoK could be viewed from this top.

 “We get everything from this road,” says Abdul Rashid Khan, a resident of Nachian, a small village in Tanghdar. For the travelers and tourists, this place is a small paradise on earth. However, this pass remains mostly closed from December to April due to heavy snowfall. Journey to Tanghdar through the zig zag roads of this pass is fantastic and soothing. Some people believe that there are hidden signs of old legendary blind and deaf fairies in this pass. “There are many folktales that in olden times fairies could be seen near the pass,” says Khan.

Before 1947 this was an easy and shortest approach for the residents of the Valley going to Muzaffarabad and other parts of Pakistan occupied Kashmir.  Maharaja Pratap Singh had to install a check post in the pass to save his domain from invasion and loot by Bomba Rajas of Karnah.

In place of an old road, a beautiful macadamized road is coming up right from Kralpura to Tanghdar, however, from many years the people living in the border district of Kupwara and Tanghdar have been demanding a tunnel between Kupwara and Tanghdar that could reduce the distance and time.

Due to defense issues, officials said that the tunnel is not being given a go ahead. Officials said that the government wants to develop this road as a beautiful mountain road that will act as an all-weather road, open even during harsh winters.

The construction work on this road has been going on for some years now. “We have even written representations to Prime Minister and other senior officials asking them about the tunnel that will connect isolated villages of Tangdhar with the rest of Kashmir, however, nobody takes this issue seriously,’’ said Mohammad Sayeed, a retired government employee.During winters, due to the closure of road, it is difficult to move from Tanghdar to reach Kashmir.

“Even we can’t move our  dead from Srinagar to Tanghdar in winters, so we have been demanding construction of tunnel on this road,’’ said Shabir Ahmad, who is a student at Degree College Kupwara. 

15 kilometers ahead of Sadna post, the J&K government has now carved out a new road that will go to picturesque Bangus, the work on the 35 kilometer macadamized road is in progress, this road passes through beautiful meadows, fresh water streams and dense forests and once complete, this road will also provide connectivity between Chowkibal and Nowgam areas that are close to line of control. In summers, hundreds of locals and tourists use the road near Tee Pee, which is first stop before Sadna to reach Bangus.

“This is one of the shortest routes to Bangus, once it is completed, the people can reach upto Bangus Valley,’’ said Abdul Rashid, who was keeping a watch on the equipments of the Border Roads Organization that is  constructing this beautiful road.

‘’Presently also, many people use this road and trek four to five kilometers through forests to reach in the meadows of the Bangus. Soon, this will become one of the most beautiful tourist spots frequented by people.’’ However, as the winter sets in, everybody leaves this place as it witnesses three to four meters of snow. “Most of our flock and men have left. We will also leave this place towards Tanghdar after crossing Sadna pass,’’ said Bashir Ahmad, while loading his horse. “We will go to our village via Sadna pass. It will take us one day to reach Tanghdar.’’

Though villagers are apprehensive about the closure of road in winters, however, many people say that now the road remains closed only for few days due to heavy snowfall. “Earlier, this road used to be closed for months. Now, the machines are pressed into service only few days after the snowfall. Compared to the other parts of the valley, this is one of the coldest places as the temperature drops down below sub-zero,’’ said Irfan, who runs a small tea stall near Army’s Tee Pee post.

Imtiyaz Wani reports from North Kashmir for The Legitimate

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