Trip to Mohra: part 1

It has been some fifteen months since my first and brief visit to Kashmir. In the meantime there were the disastrous floods but now it is autumn the light is bright, the chinar trees have turned a purplish red colour and there is mist over the water in the morning rising to a gentle haze across the valleys. Yaseen Tuman who runs Mascot Travels and Mascot Houseboats has found out more about the Mohra power station. It is sited within a military base for a start but he has sorted permits and gone to some trouble to arrange access. The visit has aroused a bit of interest on the houseboat and we are a motley bunch as we set off sharply at 8am in two full cars. We have an appointment to keep.

Baramulla Road with poplars - 1908

Baramulla Road with poplars – 1908

As we pass through Srinagar I am surprised that so much repair has been done and as we leave the sprawly city we are faced by one of the classic dead straight poplar lined roads aimed at Baramulla. Almost immediately there is a major historic monument, the 9th century Sugandhesa Temple. It’s right by the road, a compulsory stop. But my luck ran out as I must have jogged a knob on my old camera and the negatives are overexposed. Note the date under the photo. It’s the same as the inauguration of Mohra power station; it would be unwise though to sit in the road these days!


Sugandhesa Temple

Sugandhesa Temple

I have massaged one to show a part of the temple. Luckily we have ‘Search Kashmir’ with us who has compiled an excellent and thorough Complete Guide. I recommend this link highly so please enjoy the diversion.
Onward until we suddenly peel off and into Pir Panjal Army Camp where we are treated very courteously and taken through an open passage to an immaculate well-manicured lawn. Seats are already in place and tea and biscuits are served. This is not what I expected; it’s almost surreal. There is a wonderful hazy view across the valley and facing us there is a smart soldier in combat gear standing next to a sentry box; he lets me take his photograph and cracks a smile too.
Time to move on and our new military escort vehicle takes our little convoy to Rampur and then to Mohra.

Flume clinging to the hillside and tunnel

Flume emerging from a tunnel and clinging to the hillside. It comes and goes like this for 6 miles

Flume mouth

Flume mouth near the start

We spent a lot of time looking at the later power station as we didn’t find the original until the end of the day so I have arranged the photographs roughly in historical order. An aerial view shows that the first power station of 1908 was on a wide bend and there were several buildings, more than I expected. It comes as no surprise to find the original building that housed the turbine and generator has long gone due to years of battering by high water levels, the fast flow and successive floods. But there are some remains of other buildings that were part of the extensive complex and these follow. It is obvious that they were once sturdy stone structures and they have an industrial look as opposed to domestic. Perhaps these were for maintenance workshops, engineering, storage etc. but the style of the stone buildings is very similar to ruined mining, mill and railway buildings that still exist in Yorkshire, England.

Remains of original building - old plant 2          Remains of original building - old plant 4

Here are two examples. The windowless one on the right is clearly a utilitarian building whereas the one on the left with windows could have been a manager’s office. This is pure speculation of course and if anyone recognises the type please let me know. My thanks to Yaseen who quicker on his feet than me rushed off with my camera and took these two excellent record shots.

5 thoughts on “Trip to Mohra: part 1

  1. Yaseen Tuman

    You get what you want and you have been venturing into high security zones of indian administration and extreme frontiers of Indian borders …… :-)

    I am inspired by your strong quest to visit the places connected to your family history..

  2. Deepti

    wow, I was randomly browsing and found this web page of yours. Interesting to see someone so interested in power stations :)
    I am going to visit Rampur/Mohra in mid August. Will try to look at the area through your lenses too :)

  3. Michael Thomas

    Glad you found it. Did you read ‘a piece of history’, the previous link? It makes one realise that this is a part of India’s Heritage being the first major hydec power station in Kashmir. If you want to visit the old part you need to get a permit from Pir Panjal Camp. I can give you a contact if you email me at GET IN TOUCH on the top menu. It comes straight to me and your address will not be divulged.

  4. John Dover

    Dear Mr. Thomas,
    Thank you for posting this fascinating, illustrated account of your visit to the Mohra Hydroelectric Scheme.
    I have been investigating my family tree for over 15 years and, during the course of that investigation, I discovered that I am related to James Cadwallader Hunter (1857 – 1941) and that, remarkably, he was a leading figure in the construction of the Mohra Hydroelectric Scheme completed in 1908.
    I’m writing to ask whether you would be able to give me the precise location of Mohra in Kashmir and, thus, the site of the generating station. In the newspapers of the time, the place is variously named as Mahora, Maoora and Mohara; my best guess is that the current Romanization of this place name is Mahurra, situated within the Indian postcode area 193123, a short distance upstream from Uri. Might this Mahurra be identical with Mohra (maybe differences in local languages are suggested by these spellings), or is Mohra a different place from Mahurra altogether? I’d be most interested to know. Unsurprisingly, I’ve taken the place name Mahurra from Google Maps.
    Kind regards,
    John Dover.

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