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.
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!
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.
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.
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.