Village Hawal is about 45kms away from the city of Srinagar on the
Mughal Road which comes after the village Nikas. Hawl is followed
by major villages: Gabarpora and Mughalpora the last villages of
Distt Pulwama and then Keegam , Tukur , Sharmal, Arihama in the
Distt Shopian which comes under the Pir Panjal range and signifies
the end of the Kashmir valley. Mughal road connects Shopian district
to Poonch and Rajouri.
Hawal of good old days in 1940’s used to be a very picturesque
village with beautiful view of snow-clad mountains and surrounded
by several streams originating from these mountains, which would
be at best 20 to 30 miles away. The village was inaccessible during
winters and when rivulets got flooded and washed away bridges in
summer. It had no medical facility and no toilets in homes or
electricity. The village was inhabited mainly by forty families of
Pandits and around 10 Muslim families. Pandits owned the entire
agricultural land while the Muslim neighbours were either artisan,
washermen, potters, barbers and landless agricultural peasants who
were hired for land tilling by the Pandits. Some of them also worked
as domestic servants for Pandit’s. There was a primary school there
with just one teacher from the village. After primary school students
had to go to Pulwama which had a middle school. Those few
students who had to study further had either to a high school in
Shopian run by Pandit teachers or go to Srinagar, which was
preferred if they had some relations in the city. Very few children
would study beyond middle and high school.
The village was surrounded by paddy fields and apple orchards. It
had 2 temples, Bidabal the temple of Goddess Durga and a separate
Ganesh temple. There was one mosque, near the washermen’s area
near a stream and a Sufi place of worship called Siminie where
Pandits and Muslims of the village used to go on specific days linked
to a Sufi saint. The nearest gurudwara was in Shajimarag a
predominantly Sikh village about 3 kms away very close to the
forests of Yarwan. Hawl thus had a world of its own.
Pandit Prasad Joo Khan is a name which is known to everybody in
Hawl even today. He came from a family of Patwari’s for three
generations and was a member of the Land settlement committee of
Sir Walter Lawrence in 1889 – 1894 during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s
regimen. The surname Khan was acquired by his fore fathers who
were working for Pathans in the regimen of Afghan rule in Kashmir
(1747-1819). He later left this job and chose to run a store. This store
would sell everything from hardware, cloth, tea leaves, herbs,
common medicines, Kashmiri bread, household goods, stationary etc.
It was a supermarket of the present days. Shopkeepers from
neighbouring villages would also come to buy things from this shop.
Prasad joo, however handed over the shop to his sons and took a
retirement at the age of 50 years and it continued to grow till 1990.
Eminent personalities from Hawl and neighbouring areas besides
Prasad Joo Khan were Pandit Janaki Nath Bhat (Maqdam), Justice
Moti Lal Bhat, Prem Nath Hali, Abdul Khaliq Bhat, Educationists:
Master Ram Chand and Suraj Prakash, and Prof Roop Kishan Bhat.
Politicians Ghulam Mohd Mir Rajpori of Rajpura a Minister and then
speaker of Kashmir assembly, Abdul Sattar Ranjoor a well-known
leftist from Keegam and Shamim Ahmad Shamim a famous journalist
and politician from Shopian.
Area around this village in the Pulwama district is the rice bowl and
the milk supplier of the valley. People of Hawl were quite prosperous
till 1990, when militancy in the valley ruined the ethos of the village.
There was exodus of Hindus to Jammu and other areas in India. The
village and its buildings got fossilized and the temple complex of
Bidabal was taken over by armed forces to curb militancy in the area.
Today it gives a very sad and desolate look. According to the present
system it is located in the Rajpora Tehsil of Pulwama district. It has a
gram panchayat. The total geographical area of village is 97.5
hectares. Hawl has a total population of 416 peoples with 66 houses.
Gauri Kaul Foundation has acquired a small area of land (230 Sq
Metres) belonging to Prof Upendra Kaul on the main Mughal Road
for making the Prasad Joo Khan Memorial Health Centre which will
have Tele medicine facility. The foundation stone of this project was
laid on 14 th July 2021, by the son of Late Prasad Joo Khan, Sh. Prem
Nath Kaul. The construction work was completed by the end OF May
2022. It would be linked to the Community Health Centre, Rajpora
for patients needing hospitalization. This smart hospital has good
facilities to care for patients who need urgent attention and is very
close to the village. An ambulance will be a part of this centre. The
centre will have tele medicine facility to connect to other villages of
Pulwama district and districts of Shopian and Kulgam. Gauri Kaul
Foundation will be running and operating this facility, with the help
of people of the village.
Oil and Natural Gas commission (ONGC) will provide the financial
support to equip this health centre from its CSR fund. Mrs Alka
Mittal, Director (HR) and Chairman and MD ONGC has agreed to
inaugurate the centre and dedicate it to the people of South Kashmir
in July 2022.