Autumn is the most beautiful season among all the seasons in Kashmir. The changing colors of leaves simply look mystical.
In this season, the maple leaves of majestic Chinar trees turn from green to gold.
Being a student of Kashmir University, where there are many Chinar trees, I have seen the nature’s beauty very closely in autumn. It was my favorite place in the whole campus.
The beauty and love for the autumn of Naseem Bagh has attracted many dignitaries to visit the valley again and again during this season.
India’s former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited the Kashmir valley during autumn.
The yellow, crimson, and gold hues of autumn offer a mesmerizing beauty to tourists who visit Kashmir.
Tourists from different parts of world come to valley to see the glorious beauty of autumn.
Some say that Chinars were brought to Kashmir from Iran, others say they have come from Greece.
While talking to Toyaps, Zarief Ahmad Zarief , a writer who has extensively researched on Chinar trees in Kashmir said that these trees are originally from Kashmir and it is myth that they have brought to Kashmir from Iran or Greece.
The famous Urdu poet Allama Iqbal described Chinar in the autumn as ‘Aatish—e Chinar’ ( the chinar on fire).
For trekkers, water sports lovers and also for those who come to just spent their time in Kashmir, autumn is the best season to visit the valley.
The mornings, evenings and the gentle warmth of the autumn sun is so refreshing.
Autumn is called “Harud” in the local language which denotes the foggy season with different hues in air.
During autumn, people of Kashmir collect the fallen leaves and burn them in a pile to make coal for their (kangri) traditional fire pot. This fire pot helps them in braving the harsh winters.
Autumn season starts in the valley from mid-September till mid- December.
For me , when I was studying journalism in Kashmir University, a place called Naseem Bagh was the most relaxing and beautiful. During autumn it was just eye-catching and gave me relief from the stress of classrooms.
But at the same time it is worrying that the number of Chinar trees are on a decline in the Valley.
An official report states that Kashmir had around 42,000 Chinar trees in 1970. Though the felling and lopping of Chinars is banned in the Valley, officials were given green-signal for cutting of the majestic trees for the expansion of roads and other developmental projects
Environmentalist and former chief conservator of forests Mohammad Sultan Wadoo contests official figures.
In his book titled, “The Trees Of Our Heritage” published in 2007, he puts total number of Chinars in Kashmir as 17,124.
Maintaining that the figure given by him is correct, he said about 746 Chinars are being cut in the Valley every year.
It takes around 150 years for a Chinar to grow to its full size. The world’s oldest Chinar is found in Chattergam, Chadoora in Budgam.
The Chinar, which is said to be planted by a Sufi saint Syed Abul Qasim Shah Hamdani in 1374 AD, has the stem of 31.85 m in circumference and stands at 14.78 m tall.