Jhelum the river of Kashmir
By Ibrah Bashir
Ches behith adris beithis Jhelumus (I sit here on the banks of the river); Kadlay taar dei Na Kahn Jhelumus (Will someone help me cross?); Naaive hundh paile chu aaivul Jhelumus (My boat is fragile); Khotsan ches naaive manz Jhelumus (And I fear to cross alone) “Songwriter; Mhd. Muneem Nazir”
From the spring of deep blue water at Verinag, in western part of Indian Occupied Kashmir rises an enthralling river-The Jhelum. The River has an approximate length of 725 Kms and constitutes the westernmost part of five rivers flowing through the Punjab region that merges with the Indus River in the eastern region of Pakistan. The River meanders from the northern slope of Pir Panjal Range and flows through the valley of Kashmir, finally into the Wular Lake residing in the bustling city of Srinagar.
The name ‘Jhelum’ has caught a great attention of writers. Anjum Sultan Shahbaz in his book “Tareekh-e-Jhelum” has stated that the word ‘Jhelum’ has been derived from two words ‘Jal’ meaning water and ‘Hum’ meaning snow; indicating that the origin of river is basically snow-capped mountains-The Himalayas. Many authors are of the belief that it was Dara-e-Azam who named it as ‘Ja-e-Alam’ which was later modified into ‘Jhelum’. The River is known by the name of Vitasta in Sanskrit and Vyeth in Kashmiri. The River is also famous for the Battle of Hydaspes fought in BC 326 in which Alexander the Great along with his army crossed Jhelum and defeated Porus, an Indian King. Ancient Greeks regarded the River as the son of Thaumas, the sea god and Elektra, the cloud goddess. The river Jhelum adds to the aesthetic beauty of Kashmir. Its beauty can be explored most during the onset of winter season in Kashmir. It attracts the visitors on a huge scale throughout the year. The Mangla Dam and the nine bridges built over the river serve as important destinations for sightseeing. The River harbours number of fishes like Sattar, Chhurru, Khant, Chush, and Punjabe Gad. The river is known to provide livelihood to many fishing communities of Kashmir. Sand extraction from the river bed generates a huge economy in the business sector. Though being idolized as lifeline of Kashmir, the river has many times revealed its atrocious face. In 2014, overflow in Jhelum River due to extreme rainfall caused the drastic floods that damaged many properties and led to huge mass killings in Kashmir. Nevertheless, the Jhelum with all its beauty, grandeur and elegance has proved to be the best gift from nature. It has been an asset to Kashmiris and has served them in several ways.