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Tawi river and its significance for Jammu

By Humaira Farooq

The Jammu is familiarly known as the treasure house of ancient monuments. There are many forts having great historical importance. On the north, the Jammu is engulfed by Pir Punjal range, on the south by Punjab, Chamba towards east and Punjab and Poonch on the west. The Jammu city is situated on the right bank of river Tawi. It is believed that Jammu’s ancient name was ‘Madra Janapada’ (Rigved, Maha Bharat, Raj Trangni) Jamawant (Sri Guru Partap Suraj Granth) but the modern historiographers believe confirms name from Jambu Lochan.

The Tawi river originates from the lapse of Kali Kundi glacier and adjoining area of southwest of Bhadarwah in Doda district. The catchment area of the river up to Indian border (Jammu) is 2168 km² and falls in the districts of Jammu, Udhampur and a small part of Doda. The river is left bank tributary of the river Chenab and is joined by a number of tributaries on the way, after moving through Patangarh, Mauor, Kharta, Chenani, Jindra, Surajpir.

The river Tawi has divided the Jammu city into two parts- old city and new city. This river is also the main source of water for the entire city. There were five bridges over this river, two from Gumat to Vikram chowk, a third connecting Gujjar Nagar with the Bahu Fort area and the fourth connecting the city bypass near Nagrota and the fifth from Bhagwati Nagar to Bali Nallah.

Some streams that join river Tawi are:

The Gou Karan stream, that is above the Subh Mahadev joins the Tawi at Binisung.

The Raji stream joins before the start of the Chenani powerhouse. The stream starts from Dodar which joins at Gndar. The joining of these streams allows the Tawi to flow throughout the year. A hydraulic power project that has the capacity of 33MW is situated at the Chenani and is based on the water of the Tawi.

The Tawi river is also called Surya Putri in Vishnudharmottar Purana in context of a journey of the Great King, Bharat. The ancient story is that a saintly person meditated on the Sun God and was blessed with a female child who was so beautiful that her parents named her Toshi Bhaskara meaning the daughter of the Sun. Therefore, Toshi (Tawi) came to be called daughter of the Sun (Surya Putri). In Nilmat Purana Tawi is also referred as Tohi. This river is also known as Pascham Vahini because of it flow in western direction.

The Tawi river has religious significance as well. Most Hindus of Jammu city at present performs ‘Mundan’ ceremony for their children near the river. People offer food over there to

fish in form of wheat balls and pray for their wellbeing and prosperity. It is believed by the Hindus of Jammu city that Raja Pehar Devta, brought this river to Jammu, in order to cure his ailing father and after that he was given the throne of Jammu city and. People believed that Raja Pehar Devta had blessings of “Bawe Wali Mata” a deity located on river Tawi.There were many Dogri folk songs and tales that tell us that the Baba Pehar Devta has done a difficult task to bring the river Tawi to Jammu city. There are many sacred points in the river Tawi like Dibbar Pehar at Udhampur, Pehar Baba at Kishenpur, Chhara Pehar near Kattal Battal and more. Before the Tawi river was originated Jammu faced an acute shortage of water, we cannot consider river Tawi as big as Ganga or Chenab, but it can be considered as a lifeline of Jammu.

Some folks believed that in the initial stage Tawi flowrf in another direction. It is believed by many that the river Tawi originated from the lap of a ridge called Sirojari (Kali Kund) in Sioj. Under tehsil Ramnagar. Gujjars call it Nakke. In the early periods, Jammu was ruled by Nagas until it came under the rule of Aryans. Nagas was a tribe who used to build their houses underground, they were worshippers of snakes.

According to Naesingh Dass Nargis, Nagas used to live between Baderwah and Reasi. There are a number of forts situated on river Tawi. Bahu Fort Raja Bahulochan ruled Jammu and its adjoining areas from approximately 1350 to 1320 BC. He constructed the Bahu Fort on the right bank of the river Tawi. The fort has one entrance gate or deodi which is two storeys high and is covered from inside. The deodi opens into a large central courtyard with a central passage which leads to the Temple of Mata Kali. The fort is divided into two parts. On the eastern side are confinement cells for prisoners, rooms, and lawns, and on the western side is a pond, which is surrounded by two storey building. The fort and the palace inside were reconstructed by several kings over a period of time. After that, the fort was also repaired by Maharaja Gulab Singh when he became the ruler of Jammu. Bahu Fort and Mubarak Mandi are opposite to one another on the right and the left banks of the river Tawi. One part of the palace is called Old Mahal and another part New Mahal. All rooms of the palace open into an internal courtyard. Arches of a veranda are of Mughal style, perhaps constructed in the later Mughal period. The palace has 12 rooms. Its roof was made of local wooden sleepers as beams, covered with wooden planks. The construction materials used were local stone bricks and chuns surkhi mortar. The walls of these palaces were adorned with beautiful wall paintings on local themes. These paintings were made directly on the plaster of the walls using natural colors. From the outside, the palace is surrounded by fortified walls. This fort was very strong and was used for defensive purpose.

The fort and palace have been notified as the protected monuments by the Jammu and Kashmir government. The conservation and restoration work of the fort were undertaken by the Archives and Jammu Development Authority. Temples and shrines Jammu city has a number of temples and shrines constructed at different points in history. Some of the main temples are Raghunath Temple, Shri Ranbireshwar Temple, Panchbakhar Temple, Diwan Mandir, Mahamaya Temple, Maha Lakshmi Temple, Radha Krishna Temple, Hanuman Mandir, Mandir Mata Chint, Purni and Rani Mandir. Because people from different faiths made Jammu city their home, shrines of Sufi saints have also been constructed. Gurdwara of the Sikh saints have also been constructed, as have Christain churches. There are a number of cave temples too. Almost all 11 dhakis from the river Tawi to the city had temples. The art and architecture of some of these temples have given Jammu its unique name as the City of Temples.

Mahamaya Temple

This ancient temple was built on top of the Mahamaya hills and dedicated to the goddess Mahamaya. It overlooks the city of Jammu and the river Tawi at a short distance from Bahu Fort. Historians believe that this temple was perhaps built in the ancient city of Dhara Nagri in the 15 th century (Goswami & Gupta, 2015). Today, the temple is surrounded by a thick forest. It is believed that the city was devastated due to some unknown natural calamity (Sharma, 2007), but the temple has survived to this day. Some old fossils, terracotta utensils and images have been recovered from the ruins around the temple. Initially, the temple was a very small structure with a Mahamaya deity inside. The temple was repaired a number of times. Cultural centers, archives, library and museums.

There are several cultural centers in Jammu city that preserve and promote the art, architecture, and cultural identity of the city and the region. Four government organizations, including the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Kala Kendra and the Institute of Music and Fine Arts are helping in the education and promotion of preservation of art, culture and architecture of the region. Department of Museology University of Jammu and Dogri Sanstha Jammu are also helping in promoting the cultural heritage of Jammu. The Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums is responsible for the identification, conservation and restoration of old heritage structures, manuscripts, historical books and records. In addition to this, the Archaeological Survey of India is also engaged in explorations, excavations and preservation of sites of archaeological importance.


Tourism is the life line of Jammu and all possible efforts need to be undertaken for retaining, maintaining and sustaining it. Tourism can play an effective role in the economy of Jammu. Tourism opens up a new window for resources, both an investment generation and revenue generation leading to employment generation as well as socio-economic development of the local populace. Even though tourism creates jobs and contributes significantly to economic growth, it is not automatically a solution for poverty reduction. Therefore, it is important for the government of the Union Territory, local investors and other stakeholders to actively participate in tourism and its related activities. The local workforce can also help by engaging and encouraging the use of local companies for the provision of transport, services and food in order to assist in alleviating local poverty. The different terrains of the State coupled with law-and-order problems have contributed to poor connectivity in the region. The rail- road mix of transport in the state is very low. There is dire need to build alternative roads in some places to ensure better connectivity. There is also a need to upgrade many of the existing roads from two lanes to four lanes. The UT, sparsely populated and scattered as it is, needs more airports and better air connectivity as well.

Water is an important natural resource and plays a significant role in each and every sphere of life. During the last few decades there is deterioration in the quality of water in several Indian rivers. River Yamuna and Ganga are both undergoing this crisis. Similarly, the ponds and lakes are dying due to human factors and lack of planning to protect water bodies. Sewage and other effluents are introduced in Tawi along its whole course, mainly at Jammu city. The river Tawi is the main source of drinking water supplies for Jammu city and its outskirts. A variety of solid waste is generated from the city either thrown directly or indirectly in the river Tawi. Plastic polythene rubber leather and other discarded items are commonly seen scattered around the bank of river. Construction and demolition waste is also seen dumped along the left bank of the river. To protect this water ecosystem, there should be proper management and planning of deposition of municipal sewage and domestic wastage for health hygiene and sustainable environment. The sanctity of river Tawi needs to be restored by both public and concerned authorities.

From a long history of the Jammu region, it appears that the layout of old Jammu was based on the Indian Vastu Shastra and ancient science of architecture and town planning. Its palaces and forts indicate influences of local Dogra, Rajasthani, Mughal, Kashmiri, French and British Baroque architecture. Wall paintings are in the Basholi miniature painting style. Due to a number of temples and shrines, Jammu is rightly named as the city of Temples from ancient times. The city, therefore, exhibits a multi-cultural past and present and it is expanding very fast. As the urgency of the water crisis of the river becomes clear, it can be easily established that the river Tawi always was, and remains to be ,the beating heart of the city of Jammu.


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