Iqbal Ahmad

Preserving Aliabad sarai

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Aliabad  is not any village or town , it simply  a meadow in the internal stretch  of panchal  lying  on the historic Mughal highway  which  connects  Poonch and Rajouri districts with Kashmir valley. There are no permanent   settlers  found anywhere in the Aliabad  stretch , but as records  say  there was once a hamlet of about 15 Muslim Syed  families  who permanently lived at the site . The remains of an old graveyard are still found at the site.

These days one can see few nomadic families living seasonally in their small muddy kothas, these are mostly bakerwals and shepherds who come from the hot plains of Rajouri and Poonch areas.

Aliabad sarai is situated on the left bank of Nallah Panchal  below the feet of Ratinpeer  mountain about 32km from the historic town of Shopian.

The records suggest that earlier the sarai was built here by  Mughal emperor  Jalal ud Din Mohammad Akbar. He had built it for the conveyance of the travelers who used to travel on this route.  However records further suggest that the Sarai was later on restored by another king Shahjahan who named it after his faithful governor Ali Mardan Khan, as such the sarai came to be known as Aliabad sarai.

The sarai follows the Mughal architecture and is square in plan. It faces south. The sarai is built of rubble stone and small baked bricks which are raised in red lime mortar. Sarai has internally several cells and rooms which are believed to have been used by the travelers as their shelter.  The roof is laid of earthen layers on which have grown green vegetations.

The sarai is raised on the bank of nallah panchal. It has a stone gate, the door of which is missing. The sarai is believed to have been provided the required water supply which was carried to it from the nearest nallah.

A team of local archeologists  who had been to the survey  of the mughal route reported to have  noticed the remains of  earthen pipes  on the banks of the nallah  which  according to them were  directed towards the structure.  The travelers who have been to this site in the earlier times   have recorded that the sarai of Aliabad has been most glorious site of this hilly track. It has provided comforts not only to royal mughal carvanas but to everyone  who happened to travel on this road.

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