Step into the serene Sub-Himalayan regions and immerse yourself in the beauty of Sanasar, a picturesque spot likened to Kashmir’s renowned Gulmarg.
By Mool Raj
Nestled amidst the lush green forest of deodar and other pines, approximately 125 kilometers from Jammu and just 19 kilometers from Patnitop, lies the enchanting wonder that is Sanasar. This picturesque spot has earned comparisons to the famous Gulmarg of Kashmir, and rightfully so, for it boasts an alluring beauty, grandeur, and glory that draw thousands of tourists during peak summer spells. Seeking respite from soaring temperatures and yearning to revel in the breathtaking natural beauty, visitors flock to this mesmerizing resort year after year. Journey to Sanasar’s Enchantment
Travelers eager to bask in its splendor braved the journey to Sanasar, while not without its challenges. The rugged and rough road from Patnitop winds its way with serpentine twists and turns, demanding improvement for the convenience of the ever-increasing tourist influx. Even during winter, the influx remains unbridled as enthusiasts seek the joy of snowfall, transforming Kud, Patnitop, Batote, and the surrounding areas into a winter wonderland, often leading to the repeated blocking of the National Highway.
Situated approximately 9500 feet above sea level, Sanasar has earned the moniker “mini-Gulmarg of Kashmir” for good reason. The picturesque spot is veiled in an aura of mystique, encompassed by a bountiful lush green canopy of pines, herbs, shrubs, and a diverse array of medicinal plants, ranging from the micro to the macro flora. The rich heritage of diverse flora and fauna further adds to its allure. Amidst this natural beauty, sacred springs flowing with nectar-like water can be found scattered across the area. Sanasar has been revered as a sanctum sanctorum since time immemorial, believed to be the land of ‘Nag Rajas.’ The ‘Nag Raja’ of Kasal holds immense ‘Shakti’ (power), attracting visitors who come to pay their obeisance and seek divine blessings. It is said that wishes made before the ‘Nag Raja’ are fulfilled, though the temple strictly prohibits photography of its sacred interior. These miraculous occurrences of ‘Divine Shakties’ exist even in the modern age of advanced Science and Technology, as attested by the writer’s personal experiences (though not narratable).
As one ascends towards Batote from Patnitop, atop the peak, another sacred ‘Devsthan’ (Shank Paul Shakti Devta) temple stands, radiating a similar aura of divine power. The region surrounding Sanasar is a treasure trove of spiritual significance and natural splendor.
Despite the passage of time and the flow of the Chenab River, it is lamentable that this picturesque spot has received scant attention for its development. The short stretch of 19 kilometers that connects Sanasar to Patnitop is in a state of utter dilapidation, neither qualifying as a proper ‘Pacca’ (paved) road nor a ‘Kaccha’ (unpaved) road. As a result, the locals find themselves deprived of basic amenities, particularly during heavy snowfall when the road becomes impassable for days on end, and the electric supply faces similar challenges. Despite these setbacks, the evergreen cushioned spot of Sanasar remains a true piece of heaven on Earth, deserving boundless praise.
The Sanasar meadow, resembling a green carpet, is adorned with silky soft grasses that exude an aura of grandeur and grace, further enhancing the splendor of the resort. Delicate and vibrant flowers add their refreshing fragrance, contributing to the ethereal beauty of the landscape. Lying down on this lush green meadow is an experience of unmatched comfort and enchantment, surpassing the confinement of the adjoining rooms built by various departments.
‘Sanasar, once a marvelous lake reminiscent of Jammu district’s ‘Surinsar’ and ‘Mansar,’ now stands dried up, a victim of seepage over the past 60 years. This ironic transformation has left the area desolate, but efforts are underway to protect its picturesque beauty from encroachments. The forest department, along with the revenue department and law enforcement agencies, maintains a vigilant watch to thwart any malicious intentions towards this enchanting spot.
Back in 1992, L.P. Rai, the then Additional Deputy Commissioner of Ramban, engaged with the Director of the Geology and Mining Department and GREF agencies to survey the area. Their objective was to formulate a viable strategy to restore the lake to its pristine grandeur, as well as to investigate the reasons for its shrinkage and desilting. They deduced that the underlying cause was the underground water flow from Nashri Nallah, situated a mere 8 kilometers away through the forest, linking to NH-1A. The survey revealed the presence of nine springs beneath the Sanasar lake, and it was feared that extracting silt up to 20-25 feet might have catastrophic consequences for the local inhabitants and their cultivated lands. To mitigate this, the specialists recommended constructing a protective wall around 20 feet in length and 8 feet in width.
A captivating legend surrounding the lake tells the story of farmers tilling their fields near Sanasar. Taking a break for lunch, they left their oxen unattended. Suddenly, a Sadhu appeared and advised the farmers to free the oxen so they could graze and rest. The farmers, displaying anguish, refused to take the advice, questioning the Sadhu’s authority. In a moment, the Sadhu vanished, and a calamitous storm with whirlwinds and torrential rain struck the area, sweeping away everything, including the farmers and their yoked oxen.
The temple in the area draws people from the locality and distant places who come to pay their respects and seek blessings from the miraculous “Chouncer Nag Devta.” Manzoor Ahmed, a forest guard stationed at Sanasar forest, had a divine encounter with the ‘Nag Devta’ during his routine movement in the forest – a nine feet long serpent with hairy skin.
Sanasar, with its mysterious past and serene surroundings, continues to intrigue and attract visitors who yearn to witness its fabled beauty and immerse themselves in the enigma of this once-vibrant lake-turned magical landscape.
Sanasar, a land of mystique and sanctity nestled in the hilly Sub-Himalayan regions, holds a hidden gem, the sacred temple of Nag-Devta. The deity is worshipped twice a year through Yatras, one being vegetarian, celebrated with offerings of sweet rice, and the other being non-vegetarian, where a goat is sacrificially offered to the revered ‘Nag Devta.’ Additionally, the locals hold two Bhandaras annually, exhibiting their devoutness and faith in this divine tradition.
While skeptics may question the existence of truthfulness and sanctity in these remote regions like Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Dudu, Basantgarh, Kud, Patnitop, Billawar, Bani, Basohli, and other adjoining areas of Himachal Pradesh, the belief in these sacred practices remains steadfast among the people.
As we explore the possibilities of further enhancing Sanasar’s charm and allure, several crucial aspects call for attention and development:
Road Improvement: The short 19-kilometer stretch linking Patnitop to Sanasar demands urgent attention. Metaling and blacktopping this rugged road with a well-maintained side drain system are imperative to ensure a smooth and safe journey for tourists, especially during adverse weather conditions.
Beautification of the Road Link: Planting ornamental trees and shrubs alongside the road at regular intervals will augment the beauty of the area, leaving travelers enthralled by the natural splendor.
De-silting of the Lake Area: To restore the lake to its pristine grandeur, a collaborative effort among various departments such as Geological and Survey, Forest, and Soil Conservation is required. Formulating a comprehensive strategy will not only enhance the beauty of the spot but also preserve this National Heritage.
Development of Meadows and Golf Course: The long-overdue idea of establishing a golf course in Sanasar needs proper implementation. Cooperation from multiple agencies is vital to create a golfing haven that can attract enthusiasts from across India and beyond.
Accommodation: The tourism and forest departments have already constructed hutments to accommodate visitors, ensuring the natural beauty remains unspoiled. However, building ‘viewpoints’ at strategic spots will offer visitors and children captivating panoramas of the surroundings.
Mini-Creation Park: A miniature recreation park will be a delightful addition for children and young ones, providing them with an enchanting space to indulge in play and merriment.
Sanasar, with its divine temple and breathtaking landscapes, has the potential to become a thriving tourist destination. As development projects and preservation efforts merge harmoniously, this mystical haven can truly shine, drawing visitors from far and wide, seeking solace in its sanctity and basking in its unblemished beauty. The untapped allure of Sanasar awaits, eager to unfold its hidden splendors to the world.