Jhelum River is rightfully termed as the lifeline of the province of Jammu and Kashmir and Verinag is mainly known for the source of river Jhelum. It is a perfect weekend getaway from Srinagar with available accommodation options. Verinag lies in the Kothar district, 78 Km south east of Srinagar (via Anantnag) and is home to one of the largest springs, Verinag.
Photo from Flickr
According to the legend, the spring was named after Nila nag, who is the son of the famous Hindu sage Kashyap rishi. Kashyap rishi is known for establishing the J & K territory.
Another legend states that Goddess Vitasta (Jhelum) wanted to appear from this place. In this endeavor, when she reached this place, she realized that Lord Shiva is already staying here and hence she had to go back from here and emerge from a place about a mile to the north west of this place, Veravurthur and as Goddess had to stay away from this place, the place came to be known as Virahnag (or Verinag).
Historically in about 1620, the Mughal emperor Jahangir, known for his aesthetic sense changed the shape of the spring from its original ‘kund’ (circular form) to that of the traditional Mughal octagonal shape. Along with the octagonal stone basin, Jahangir also built the arcade surrounding it. It is stated in historical texts that the carvers involved in the sculpted stones were brought from Iran. Stone slabs on the southern wall of the spring have Persian inscriptions on which the date 1620 AD or 1029 Hirji is duly inscribed. The stones carvings in Persian also give information about how this great source of underwater spring is contained, though no information about the architecture is written.
The spring has a circumference of about 80 m in enclosed brick walls; presently under vaults. The water of the spring is crystal clear and has a sparkling blue color. About 50 feet deep at the center (as per the locals) is where the spring is and from where the water continuously comes up and flows into the gardens facing the spring. You can notice fishes swimming in the cool depths and the entire setting is so picture perfect that it is easy to understand what must have charmed and captivated the Mughal rulers.
Jahangir’s son ShahJahan further constructed the Mughal garden in front of this spring which neither dries up nor ever overflows. Shahjahan also built cascades and aqueducts in straight lines through and around the fine garden which further enhanced the beauty of the garden.
The Mughal garden is set in picturesque settings resplendent with Chinar trees (Maple) , a background of snow covered mountains, water channels from the spring flowing through the garden and a myriad of flowers blooming in their full glory. The water in the spring and its channels are so clear that the verdant surroundings of Pine trees are mirrored in perfection. The flower beds in the manicured lawns add splashes of color to the symphony of green and brown.
Just outside the spring complex, a Shiva shrine is present which is said to be a major attraction for the pilgrims every year. I was told by the locals that the ritual followed here is that every year on the first day of spring of the year as per the lunar Hindu calendar, the pilgrims take a dip in the spring before playing to Lord Shiva in the ancient shrine. The historical Mughal garden also has a temple with some ancient idols of Hindu goddesses.
Verathuver, the origin of Jhelum is located about 2 Km away from here. A number of other springs are also present, such as Sapta Rishi, though they are not as well maintained for the tourists.
Whichever season you chose to go, it’s a completely fascinating postcard picture that awaits you!
How to reach
Verinag is about 26 Kms from Anantnag, from where taxis can be hired.
Sleeping and eating
There are a number of places in Verinag to stay including Tourist palace, Himalaya hotel and Pahalgam hotel. A number of good eating joints are also available where Kashmiri cuisine can be enjoyed.