Kashmir Floods: A Chronology

Mohammad Ashraf FaziliOrigins Comments

Kashmiris have faced floods since the very beginning of life in the valley. Over the years, many measures were adopted to confine floods, but it is unfortunate that the authorities never devised a serious strategy to safeguard the lives and property. The last deluge on September 14 was one such instance that highlighted a lapse in state government’s preventive measures.

Authorities must plan to tackle natural calamities by learning from the successful models of other nations. If Netherlands can remain safe below the sea level, why can’t we protect our valley from the catastrophe that has been striking us every now and then?

But yes, the last floods have provided us an opportunity to rise to the occasion and give top priority—first, to rehabilitation of the flood victims; and next, to reform the Master Plan for floods on the advice of the expert consultants and adopt measures without loss of any time.

We should stay alarmed as ours is a ‘flooded’ history.

4000 years of flood history say: these floods were caused due to rains. Only two major floods occurred due to earthquakes.

In 2014 BC, the era of Raja Sundar Sen (2083-2042 BC), an earthquake struck in the night time; and the old city of Sindmat Nagar sank underground. Water gushed forth from the bottom and Wullar lake came into being. Rocks fell at Khadanyar Baramulla. As a result, valley got drowned up to Bijbehara in south Kashmir. Boatmen would see the rooftops under water for a long time.

In the era of Raja Durlab Dron (617-635 AD) during 7th century AD, Jhelum breached its banks. It changed its direction at Nawpopra and entered the valley of Vital Marg and gave birth to Dal Lake.

During 8th century AD in the era of Lalitaditya (715-752 AD), incessant rains submerged the whole city including Raj Mahal, which was shifted to Letapora. Hundreds of houses were washed away by floods in Srinagar.

In the period Raja Avantiverman (872-900 AD) in 9th century AD, an earthquake struck valley. Rocks came close at Khadanyar. The entire area got drowned up to Bijbehara, causing famine. Er. Suya helped drain the rivers. This was the first ever attempt of manual dredging carried out after allowing gushing waters by breaching the several artificial dams created across the alignment of the river.

During 10th century AD in the era of Raja Parth Warma (923-934 AD), floods washed away houses in the city; and dead bodies floated in Jhelum. Paddy fields destroyed causing famine.

In the era of Raja Harash Dev (1103-1114 AD) during 12th century AD, floods damaged all crops causing famines. People bought food stuffs by the weight of gold.

In the reign of Sultan Shahab-ud-Din (1360-1378 AD) during 14th century AD, floods damaged 20,000 houses in Srinagar, Sonawari and other low-lying areas

During 16th century AD in the era of Ali Shah Chak (1570-1579 AD), whole valley got inundated. All agricultural land was submerged. Landslides took place. Hundreds of houses got damaged. And, famine continued for three years.

In the era of Ibrahim Khan (1678-1686 AD) during 17th century AD, a continuous rains for one month caused devastating floods. Houses were washed away which floated on water like boats with inmates weeping and wailing. All the bridges gave way. Agriculture land and cattle were washed away. This was known as Tughyan-i-behad—that is, floods without borders. The areas that escaped floods were shaken by earthquakes, killing hundreds of people. Thousands of houses collapsed.

During 18th century AD in the era of Nawazish Khan (1709-1710 AD), torrential rainfall and winds caused floods resulting in great damage to agriculture and buildings. After this, a devastating fire broke out in Mohalla Malchimar in Safakadal, which destroyed twenty adjacent Mohallas and 40,000 houses in them.

Again in the era of Afrasiab Khan (1746-1748 AD), rains caused floods. It damaged crops. River overflowed its banks. Thousands of houses got damaged in the city. People died of starvation. The dead bodies could not be handled; shrouds were rare. Dead bodies would be wrapped in grass and thrown into river, which contaminated the water. About one third population perished. Others fled valley; and the rest stayed back to face the famine.

In the era of Amir Khan (1771-1772 AD), floods hit the valley which also washed away his Diwan Khanaalong with plenty of agricultural land and all bridges. After the floods, Sher Garhi was rebuilt with strong walls and grand buildings.

During 19th century in the era of Shaikh Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din (in 1841 AD), Jhelum overflowed its banks due to incessant rains. There was a breach of Qazizad bund and water entered Srinagar. Maximum damage took place in Rainawari and Khanyar areas. All bridges from Fatehkadal to Sumbal were washed away.

In the era of Maharaja Partap Singh during 20th century AD, a continuous rainfall for 59 hours on July 24, 1903, resulted in overflowing of Jhelum. All the low lying areas of the city were flooded. People saved their lives by rushing to higher areas. Houses and cattle got washed away. Many people died because of drowning.

In 1959 AD in the era of Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad, flood known as FORD damaged crops and property.

Now in recent September 2014 floods, everybody witnessed death very closely; their property perished before their very eyes. Within seven months this has been followed by another flood in March 2015 giving sleepless nights to many besides causing landslides.

About the Author
Mohammad Ashraf Fazili

Mohammad Ashraf Fazili

Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili is a retired chief engineer.