Kashmir’s Kalaroos Caves: ‘Way to Russia’

Mohammad Iqbal Mir

The village Kalaroos has itself attained its name from the myths related to the caves. The name actually is Qil-e-Roos which means Russian Fort.
Believe it or not, this is a wonderland story. The caves located in Kalaroos village of Kupwara district, some 90 kms from summer capital Srinagar, have many myths associated with them. But the one that intrigues everyone is that these caves are secret tunnels to Russia. Situated ten kilometers away from district headquarters the caves, locals say, are covert ways to Russia.
The village Kalaroos has itself attained its name from the myths related to the caves. The name actually is Qil-e-Roos which means Russian Fort. These caves are located between Lashtyal and Madhmadu villages. At the end of the Lashtyal village there is a mammoth carved stone called Satbaran. The stone is engraved with seven doors and people call it Sath Barr (in local parlance) which means seven doors. “These seven doors indicate the seven different routes to Russia and other countries. I heard from my ancestors that Russians used to come through this tunnel,” said, Ghulam Rasool, an octogenarian.
There are other caves situated few meters away from this giant stone. Locals usually visit the Tramkhan (copper mine) cave which is of crimson colour. The cave has depositions of poor quality copper. After visiting the cave locals were surprised to see the peculiar aura of the cave. “I went about 2-3 kilometres inside the cave with my friends. We only had torches with us. Deep in the cave is the old discoloured board which has some Chinese language written on it,” said Sagar Khan, a resident.
Some villagers believe that these caves have huge water bodies inside. A group of youth who recently visited the cave heard the sound of running water. “There may be water body inside the cave as we were approaching towards noise of water our torches got dim and we went back,” a group of youth say. Locals believe that Satbaran might be a temple centuries ago which acted as worship place for Pandavs. Mudasir Ahmad, a local teacher claims that Pandavs had built this structure. These structures are of unique archaeological importance. The Satbaran place is meticulously crafted half buried stone in the ground. These caves attract people of adjoining areas. They have become popular picnic spots. Concerned about importance of these sites, locals are demanding to declare these caves as heritage sites. Also, Lolab Bungus Drangyari Development Authority (LBDDA) has taken up the matter with Department of Archaeology and Museums to preserve and declare these sites as “Protected Sites”, Chief Executive Officer, LBDDA, Muhammad Yasin Lone said.
“We have written to Directorate of Archaeology and Museums to identify and declare these sites as protected monuments and heritage sites.” Tourists who come here are interested in knowing about the history of these caves. So the research and restoration will increase cultural tourism in the district,” he added.
He said that they have written to other departments to provide basic civic amenities like road connectivity, footpaths and toilet facilities at these sites for the convenience of the visitors.