Walking on a wooden Bridge in Bhaderwah, with bewitching views of the majestic Himalayas, is an otherworldly experience. The rustic charm of these bridges is rooted in the religious belief that they are actually pathways for a soul’s journey to heaven.
Bhaderwah, a remote Indian tourist destination also known as “mini-Kashmir” for its landscape vistas is surrounded by unparalleled snowclad mountains, singing rivulets, along with plum, apple, and peach orchards. Amid this glorious spectacle lie hundreds of old and new bridges constructed as part of funeral rites to facilitate travel to remote areas on earthly planes and “otherworldly travels of the deceased.”
Krishan Dev, a priest belonging to the Sanatana Dharma (religious sect) living in Bhaderwah says, it has been a tradition since the time of his grandfather’s era and perhaps even older to build a wooden bridge over a stream or a nallah by the kin of the deceased. Earlier construction of bridges consisted of a simple wooden plank covering a stream-slashed corner. Today, artistically designed bridges embellish the valley and have become a vantage point for capturing panoramic views.
The newly constructed bridges are sturdy and sometimes contain a stone with the person’s name for who the bridge was designed. There are countless nameless bridges around the region that have existed for decades, despite being in dire need of maintenance, look timeless in the pristine setting of dawn and dusk.
These bridges according to Singh are less commemorative and more obligatory. Singh calls it, “a way to ensure the soul of the deceased can cross tough terrains to reach heaven.”
The youngsters of the valley have a different viewpoint, as they view the bridges as a positive use of natural resources rather than solely as an object of divinity. These wooden bridges fulfill the religious obligations towards the deceased, while connecting remote areas. They also allow Bhaderwah to retain its distinctive character of unparalleled natural beauty.
Cradled in the midst of magnificent Himalayas, overlooking vast expanses of alpine vegetation, this valley with deodar and kail forests is home to hundreds of bridges marking the presence of those who have begun their spiritual journey.
Know Before You Go
The bridges are located throughout the town. The GPS coordinates for this entry will take you to the heart of Bhaderwa.