Darhal Malkan An unexplored paradise - watsupptoday.com
Darhal Malkan An unexplored paradise
Posted 12 Dec 2016 02:55 PM

Darhal Malkan, a beautiful valley is situated about 23 km north of Rajouri and about 180km north-west to Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir. Rajouri is 157 km north-west of Jammu and 89 km south-east of Poonch. It has an average elevation of 915 metres (3001 feet from sea level). The weather ranges from moderate to cool, perhaps better than that of Jammu and Srinagar.

Surrounded by gentle sloping mountains on its three sides, this bowl shaped valley looks like a naturally carved stadium. The zig-zag Darhal River also regarded as Darhal Tawi originating from snow capped hills that flows down through main town towards Rajouri adds to its beauty manifolds.
With a population about 40,000, Darhal has 23 Panchyats spread over its 12 main villages viz. Chowkian, Sagrawat, in the west, Thanamang in the centre and Bari Darhal in the north, Dodaj and Topa in east, and Nadian, Kothra, Leeran, Mulhot and Ujhan in the South. Darhal became the 7th , latest and smallest Tehsil of District Rajouri having an area of 19844 acres (92 sq.kms) in 2004.

A typical Pahari culture that extends from Pakistani parts of Panjab to Himachal Pradesh through Muzaffarabad, Poonch, Rajouri, Uri and up to Indian Punjab, Darhal depicts a blend of Punjabi, Dogri, Gojri and Kashmiri cultures nowadays. Pahari and Gojri are main languages of area. Paharis make 57 per cent of total population of District Rajouri.
Popularly known as Darhal Malkan or Malikan due to the fact that Maliks Valley Darhal has a huge tourism potential, if its natural beauty is brought on tourism map with certain developmental initiatives and is connected with Mughal road through its upper reaches. Shaker Marg Project that has recently been approved will be a gateway to the wonderful and hidden meadows, and open new vistas to the tourism sector, provided it has road connectivity options with the Mughal road from Pir-ki-Gali or elsewhere. It will be perhaps, the shortest route from Rajouri to Srinagar.

The principal crops are maize, rice and wheat with agriculture as main occupation of majority of people here. The vegetables and pulses growing trend is now increasingly seen among the people as new way of generating income. Many people, besides Gujjars depict the tribal character of livelihood. Traditionally, they move to three places along with their cattle in an year in the search of fodder for the cattle. They go to Dhokhs (alpine meadows) in the upper reaches during the monsoons (mid June – mid September), stay at their main home place (where maize crop is sown) for next 3-4 months and then move downward in late winters to mang (Pahari word meaning – lower reaches where rice crop is usually grown) until they return to dhoks or homes. However, due to increasing employment and economic development, many people have entirely changed the traditional way of life.

Food habits primarily resemble with that of Punjab but nowadays, a mix of Punjabi, Jammu and Kashmir preparations is seen in many households. Traditionally, people are fond of rice twice or even thrice a day unless a person is medically advised. However, bread made from wheat and especially maize layered with green chilli and butter, or one may call it a Pahari Pizza, with mustard saag (vegetable) and lassi (Punjabi curd dessert) is preferred by many people. But due to changing trends this Pahari pizza is disappearing gradually and is available mainly in Ramadan or some places of pilgrimage. Besides the commercially available vegetables, people eat several wild edible plants/plant parts including Kandour or Kasrour (Diplazium), Chhou (Nasturtium officinale), Ghanar (Amaranthus) and Bathwa (Chenopodium album) as vegetables, Morchella (guchi) and Mushrooms (Agaricus) that usually grow in rainy seasons under natural conditions supplement vegetables sometimes. Halwa or soup of foxtail millet (Setaria italica) and Ghanar seeds, and kheer (Sweet Rice) dressed by Methi (Trigonella foenum-graecum) are some of traditional sweet food items.
So far literacy is concerned, Darhal ranks among the top in seven Tehsils of District Rajouri. However, there are number of children especially female children who do not attend school. There are about 10 higher secondary schools, governmental and private ones, ironically there is not a single institution of higher education in area. Despite having a maximum feeding area, Darhal remained only Tehsil in District Rajouri without a degree college displaying a political tyranny to the generations of area. However, of is work on opening a new college in Darhal in the near future.

Politically, Darhal Constituency includes two Tehsil (including Budhal) also regarded as Darhal – Budhal constituency that extends up to Kalakote in south east, Rajouri in South and to Thanamandi in west. There are about 90,000 registered voters (87831 in 2008 as per J&K Election Commission’s statistics) with a percentage of 52 percent males (45564) and 48 percent females (42267) in Constituency. However, due to its larger geographical size comprising of two Tehsils with poor (road) connectivity, and with varying social interests, the progress of two areas is at slow pace, perhaps division of this one huge constituency into two will be boost development of two areas as smaller subunits.
In terms of development, whosoever may be responsible, the area is still passing through the ordeals of real and visionary leadership since independence. Last to get a Tehsil, no institution of Higher Education yet, worst road conditions especially from Rajouri to Darhal are self explanatory. Roads from Darhal to Thanamandi and Budhal that were constructed about 50 years ago that are still looking to be completed tell many stories of helplessness. If these roads were completed and properly maintained, these could have connected not only Darhal and Budhal areas with Mughal road but provided Udhampur and Reasi Districts an alternate connection with district Rajouri and Poonch much earlier.

However, the area has a Sub-District Hospital with reasonably good health facilities, and good network of road connectivity, though poor conditions, in almost every village of Darhal.

Numbers of wild animals, birds typical of Pirpanjal range are seen in different seasons in Darhal. But due to depletion of forest covers many species of animals have either disappeared or migrated to other adjoining areas. However, in the recent years a return of biodiversity has been observed. A wild life sanctuary in the upper reaches can be set up to retain the wild life of the region.

Darhal is famous for its pottery and wood carping in India. However, preserving the rich cultural heritage is a matter of concern.
People of Darhal are also known for their hospitality, straightforwardness, bravery and belief in traditions. About 160 men form Darhal took part in World War I, five gave up their lives there.

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