As history goes, Sopore was founded by Utpala engineer and irrigation minister Suyya during the reign of King Avantivarman in 880 CE (Common Era). Alexander Cunningham who was British Director General of Archaeological Survey of India writes that Surapura, the modern Supur or Sopore, is situated on both banks of the Behat River, immediately to the west of the Great Wular Lake. It was originally called Kumbuva, and under this name, it is mentioned in the chronicles of Kashmir as early as the beginning of the fifth century. It was rebuilt by Sura or Suyya, the minister of Avantivarman, between A.D. 854 and 883, after whom it was called Surapura. As such the name of the town was Suyya-pur, which has been shortened to Sopore.
Sopore town is known as “Apple town” due to its massive apple cultivation. It is a business hub of north Kashmir. The Sopore fruit mandi is Asia’s second-largest. Asia’s largest freshwater lake known as Wular Lake is also located at Sopore. The town has also attracted the sobriquet “Chhota London”. This label was given in view of the prosperity of its people. People of the town are called Zinda Dil (people with a lively heart).
Three “Rs” have been associated with Sopore: Rub (mud/slush), Reda (horse cart) & Ropai (money). The first “R” is a gift generated from the incessant apathy and neglect on the part of successive governments. “Reda” is directly linked with one of the inimitable cultures of Kashmir, the means of transportation in an ancient form. The third” R” is the result of business and the economic energy that the town is bestowed with.
Sopore has also been a hub of Sufi culture. Some famous Sufi shrines in Sopore are Khanqa-i-Maula, Shah Darga Sahib, Tulbul Shrine, Rahim Sahib, Lala Bab Sahib. Sufi saints like Haba Sahib Hath Langoo, Ahad Sahib, Raja Moj, and Lassi Sahib are related to Sopore. Though many people may not know, Hamza Makhdoom Kashmiri, popularly known as Makhdoom Sahib, a Sufi mystic, scholar, and spiritual teacher in Kashmir, was born in the village of Tujjar near Sopore. Tulbul Shah, who had arrived in Kashmir during the era of Hazrat Bulbulshah via the Silk Route, brought mulberry trees from Kashgar in China. He planted lakhs of mulberry trees in the area. It was from here that Kashmiri silk acquired fame and preference over Chinese silk.
Like the entire valley of Kashmir, Sopore also has been the victim of brutal violence. There are thousands of bruises inflicted on this serene town. It has witnessed the worst sides of the conflict. The massacre of 1993 remains one of the darkest episodes in the history of its existence. However, Sopore has been a very resilient town. It suffered damage but it has a history of being a warrior. That is what makes it more beautiful. It is the story of both affluence and affliction. The affluence will win and the affliction will be lost. The spring will arrive and winter will be gone.
Hazaar baar mera dard
Hazaar baar agar mausam-e-bahaar aayaa
(A thousand times my pain will smile,
If the spring will arrive a thousand times)
They call it Chhota London, we call it the Crown of Kashmir. They call it Sopore, we call it Solace. It will shine and it will rise from the ashes to the stars.
The writer has a PG degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. [email protected]