Shairbagh is one of the famous places of Kashmir and lies in the heart of Anantnag town. Shairbagh has many gardens and springs, as also a mosque, temple and gurudwara situated side by side. It is a place thus of both tourist attraction as well as symbol of communal harmony.
But the present condition of Shairbagh and the springs in it is pathetic. Once clear waters now exude a foul smell. One can hardly see any fish in the waters of the springs, which once could be seen flooded with fish. The gardens of Shairbagh are almost deserted and desolate. In the past decade or so this beautiful place has lost all its glory and charm. Though many a time some repairs were done, but they proved to be of no help. The sides and bottom of the springs were covered with tiles, forgetting the fact that the water that flows from the springs contains sulphur. With the passage of time the sulphur containing water started producing muddy weeds in the depths of the springs because of the tiled floors and absence of gaps in them. There should have been sand, silt and stones in the depths of the waters, as was in the past, to keep the flow of the water crystal clean. Once upon a time local youth used to bath in these springs to get relief from the sun’s heat or to simply entertain themselves. But now hardly anyone is seen taking a bath here.
Once upon a time one could also see crowds of people in the gardens of Shairbagh. Even tourists from other districts who were on a trip to Pahalgam or other Mughal Gardens in district Anantnag used to stay for a while in Shairbagh or have a cup of tea in Shairbagh on their way. But this practice is hardly witnessed now. Even the locals are hardly seen visiting Shairbagh.
This famous and beautiful place is in danger of going to ruin. If steps are not taken to restore its charm, this famous place will become history in the near future and we will then begin to say, “ONCE THERE WAS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE CALLED SHIARBAGH’.
—The writer is a teacher at Govt High School Brakpora, Anantnag. [email protected]