By: Sajid Raina
Srinagar: A local health worker in a remote Gurez valley of Jammu Kashmir’s Bandipora district has turned his house into a museum to preserve the local Dard-Shin culture and traditions from the onslaught of modernity, besides attracting tourists.
For decades, Gurez remained an untouched destination albeit having the tremendous tourist potential; with the insurgency of the 1990s, the travel to Gurez was largely restricted. However, with the gradual easing of the situation, for some years now visits to this place by tourists have increased.
Around 0.4 million tourists have visited the Gurez valley since the summer of 2021. Securing the borders and opening the road to Gurez for tourists has been the Indian Army’s priority. And the locals of the place are thankful to the soldiers for helping them with mostly every need of theirs.
Bashir Ahmad Teroo, a health worker by profession, expressed his attachment to the Dard tribe culture in a different and unique way by converting his house into a small museum to educate the new generation about the past traditions of this remote valley.
Ahmad, who has played a tremendous role in his area during the Covid-19 pandemic and later vaccination, says that he had brought these ancient things during the coronavirus vaccination drive in several remote areas of the Gurez Valley. “Every time I was leaving for duty in the morning, on my way back, I used to drive away some old thing that have been a part of the Dard-Shin civilization of Gurez and collect it in my house at Dawar area which is a central township of Gurez,” he said.
“I have a lot of attachment to the old culture, I always want the old culture to live here. I have worked very hard to convert my house into a museum. Sometimes I have walked about 30 kilometers by foot to bring some important things, including women’s ornaments, slippers made of wood and grass, traditional clothing and farming tools from remote areas, including Tulail valley,” he added.
Bashir said that he is keeping this old culture alive through his efforts, but the new generation seems least interested in the same. “Tourists, who visit this valley are most interested in visiting this museum,” he said, adding that the younger generation has drifted away from these things which is disappointing me all the time.
With each passing day, he feels that his dream is coming true as the people across J&K hail his work. Bashir whose goal is to preserve the Dard-Shin culture and heritage for the future generations has also organised several music festivals in the valley.
“At least the coming generations will know how we used to live our old life and what hardships we were facing,” he said, adding that he will make his home-turned-museum more beautiful in the future as he’s currently working on it and hopefully so that tourists can enjoy it here.
At present, he said that at least a hundred things have been kept in this museum which is a part of the Dard civilization here while he has identified more items which will be part of the museum soon.
Mushtaq Ahmad, a local, said that the people of Gurez are very grateful to Bashir Ahmed, who has taken this good step to revive the valley’s old culture. “We want the government to support Bashir in this good step and help him to make his museum more beautiful,” he said.
The locals of this border town said that the people here have dreams and aspirations and they are going to make them successful in every way since peace was established on the borders.
Meanwhile, recently Bashir’s hard work was reviewed by several government officials, including the director tourism Kashmir during the Gurez festival in the valley. (IANS)