Ten of my favourite ‘Kashmir songs’

Some of you may have noticed my recent hiatus. Some of you may even know the reason for that—a trip to Kashmir (or, to be more specific, Srinagar). I lived in Srinagar for 3 years, beginning with when I was about 9 years old. I loved Srinagar. It was a beautiful place, and the beauty of it changed with the seasons: from the golds and reds of the chinars in autumn to the billowy white of winter (winter also meant teeth-chattering cold and long power cuts and occasionally no water, but never mind). From the masses of narcissi and daffodils, and the flowering fruit trees in spring, to the gardens bursting with poppies, roses and pansies in summer.

It was breathtakingly lovely, and when my family moved to Delhi in 1985, I was heartbroken. I’ve wanted to go back to Kashmir for the past 27 years, and this year, we finally did it. So, to celebrate: a list of 10 ‘Kashmir’ songs from pre-70s Hindi films that I’ve watched. And, yes: no two songs are from the same film—otherwise, I’d probably end up listing the songs of only about four films.

(Note: All are songs that are actually, visibly set in Kashmir. This is why Humdum mere maan bhi jaao—set in Kashmir but filmed indoors, which could well have been done in a Bombay studio—does not count. Neither does Hum jab simatke aapki baahon mein aa gaye, which is obviously filmed in Kashmir but has no reference to Kashmir in the film itself.

In essence, these are songs which show Kashmir—especially Srinagar—in all its glory. Enjoy! And do  tell us which ‘Kashmir songs’ you particularly like.

1. Hum chalein door (Ek Thi Ladki, 1949): Shikaras—the long-prowed, sleek boats that are so common on Srinagar’s lakes and canals—make an appearance as far back as 1949, in a film where the lead man was supposed to be a Kashmiri (though Motilal himself was from Himachal). The lilt of this song is nicely folksy Kashmiri in places, and the chorus of the boatmen is especially infectious.


In all my time in Srinagar, though, I’ve never seen more than two people plying a shikara—usually it’s only one, or sometimes two people. No more. There was, for instance, this flower-seller who came by on his shikara to our houseboat. See? Just one man.


We didn’t buy any flowers from him. But it did remind me of a filmi flower-seller who certainly got her fair share of appreciation…

2. Yeh chaand sa roshan chehra (Kashmir ki Kali, 1964): One of those quintessential Shammi Kapoor-in-Kashmir films. Kashmir ki Kali had superb songs, and picturised well too, against a backdrop of a breathtakingly lovely Kashmir, flowers, poplars, and shimmering waters. This one—on a lake (Dal? Nageen? I can’t tell) is one of my favourites. What beats me is how Shammi Kapoor manages to keep his balance for so long.


3. Mere yaar shabba khair (Junglee, 1961): While talking about Shammi Kapoor and Kashmir, how can one possibly overlook Junglee? Nearly half of this film was set in Kashmir, and it was Kashmir at its prettiest—with songs set in the snow, the mountains, or in the Mughal Gardens at Srinagar. This one, romantic rather than boisterous, is a special favourite of mine.


I haven’t been able to figure out where Mere yaar shabba khair has been filmed, but it does remind me a bit of the more outlying parts of the Shalimar Bagh, laid out by Jahangir in AD 1619. Here’s a glimpse of what Shalimar looks like today:


4. Tumse achha kaun hai (Jaanwar, 1965): The Kashmir to which Shammi Kapoor’s character travels in Jaanwar is an autumnal one (though you’d never guess it from the sleeveless salwar-kurtas Rajshree wears in it!) In this song, for once, the hero is as skimpily clad as the heroine—Shammi Kapoor has to make do with a thin blanket that leaves his arms and calves pretty much bare.


As far as I’m concerned, the combination of Shammi Kapoor, Rafi, and the glorious golden-brown chinar leaves make this song an utter delight.
The chinar leaves don’t turn those wonderful shades of red and brown till mid-October, so we didn’t get to see them looking that way now. In May, this was how we saw the chinar leaves (and don’t they look lovely in early summer, too?)


5. Laakhon hain nigaah mein (Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon, 1963): Joy Mukherji, for a change—and in a song that could well be considered one of those ‘what to do and what to see in Srinagar’ travel brochures.


Here, he begins in a flower-filled Mughal garden (which looks rather like the Nishat Bagh), before he goes on a shikara, and then back to the gardens again—this time, more filled with balloons than with flowers.

If it is Nishat Joy is cavorting around in, you might want to see what it looks like today. No water in the channels (a restoration project is in progress), but the terraces, the flowers and the steps alongside the channel are all there.


6. Humko tumhaare ishq ne kya-kya (Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, 1962): Besides the fact that Ek Musafir Ek Haseena (like Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon) also starred Joy Mukherji, one particular song from this film had a link to Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon: this song contained the words “phir wohi dil laaya hoon” (“I have once again brought my heart”, literally).

While Ek Musafir Ek Haseena was chockfull of fabulous songs (and songs like Mujhe dekhkar aapka muskuraana is a good showcase for Kashmir too), I’m choosing this one—because it’s one of the few songs that actually shows the less touristy angle of Kashmir. All through the song, our heartbroken hero, searching for his beloved, wanders on a shikara through the canals of Srinagar, singing as he goes.


You can catch glimpses of the willow-lined narrow canals, and of the slope-roofed wooden houses so typical of the Old City of Srinagar.


Here’s a shot of some of Old Srinagar today; the river is the Jhelum.


7. Pukaarta chala hoon main (Mere Sanam, 1965): This was another of those ‘Kashmir in all its glory’ films. Mere Sanam had lots of good songs, though some (Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera, Humdum mere maan bhi jaao, and Tukde hain mere dil ke) were filmed indoors. Of the outdoor songs, Pukaarta chala hoon main is my favourite: fabulous music, and Rafi at his best.
True, the girls on their cycles waver around a bit, but the road itself—arrow straight between its rows of Kashmir poplars (which are distinctively slender and tapering)—is picture perfect.


8. Ae nargis-e-mastaana (Aarzoo, 1965): No sign of any nargis (narcissi) in this song, but the gorgeous Sadhana is substitute enough. Everything’s pleasant and pretty (with some possible exceptions…). Sadhana, her cute little pony, and even the landscape (somewhere outside Srinagar—one of the many places that are popular day trips from the capital, such as Pahalgam, Gulmarg, or Yusmarg).


9. Pardesiyon se na akhiyaan milaana (Jab Jab Phool Khile, 1965): In this film, Shashi Kapoor plays a Kashmiri, a young man who owns a houseboat and falls in love with a fashionable foreign-returned city girl. My favourite song from the film (Yahan main ajnabi hoon) isn’t set in Kashmir, but this one’s passable enough for me—mainly because it shows the serene willow-poplar-and water lily canals of Srinagar. You also see some of the old stone and wood bridges that crisscross the canals.


That’s a smart young houseboat owner.


I wonder if Maqbool Chacha, who was the caretaker of the houseboat we stayed in, ever looked like that.


10. Phir bhi hai dil beqaraar (Kalpana, 1960): This film boasted of—in rapid succession—two songs picturised on Padmini singing about beqaraari (restlessness). The other one was O ji sawaan mein hoon beqaraar. But for me, this song wins, because it shows off Nishat Bagh at its prettiest, with gurgling fountains, the rippling water channel, chinars and cypresses, and loads of flowers.


You can also see a view of the Dal Lake at the foot of the garden, with a very characteristic arched bridge in the middle of the Lake (the bridge was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar).

If you haven’t seen Kashmir yet, you should definitely give it a try. It’s just as pretty as it appears in the films. Even prettier, if you care to look closely.

124 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite ‘Kashmir songs’

  1. Another lovely post! The one time I went to Kashmir, in 1975 loved it mostly, despite a couple of disagreeable incidents, and had some real adventures (for us) – guess my parents must have been worried to hell!

    A couple of years ago, some Spanish friends, who are really really seasoned travellers went there – via the Kargil Road from Leh, and did not have a good time. They said there was such a sensation of tenseness for foreigners, and they had such awful encounters with locals, that they were dying to leave. Some other people they met were also in the same situation. It was especially noticeable I guess after being in Lahual, Spiti and Leh. A real pity, because I too have some fabulous memories.

    • Oh, that’s a ptiy about your friends. I wouldn’t have advised travelling to the Kashmir Valley a couple of years back, because Kashmir had only just about begun to recover and things were pretty bad, with a lot of suspicion and tension hovering in the air. Not a nice place to be in, whether you were Indian or not, I think.

      But from what I saw on this trip, I think Kasmir is quickly getting back to what it was in the late 70s and early 80s: welcoming tourists with open arms, most of the time. We even visited some really ‘untouristy’ sites – like the old mosques of Srinagar, which no tourists seem to visit – and received warm, friendly welcomes from worshippers and caretakers.

  2. It is interesting to see these places through the movies.

    Its scenic beauty definitely merits several more trips to enjoy its changing beauty through the seasons of the year. Just 3-4 days or one trip is not enough.

    Your post makes me want to pack up and head back again to Srinagar.

  3. Sigh. The place that tops my list of ‘places-to-see-before-I-die’. By the time we had a chance to go there, visits were being discouraged.:( I hope to go there *some* time. Thank you for filling your post with recent photographs too.

    ps: Confession time: When I read about your proposed trip to Kashmir, the first thought that crossed my mind is ‘List of songs filmed in Kashmir’. I’m glad it remained a thought. Your post is wonderful and does more justice to the place than I ever could have done. Soaking in the songs now. I will sit back and wait for others to post their favourites. They are sure to have some of mine too. Your list is playing in the background, and I don’t want to interrupt my daydreams about Kashmir.

    • Anu, you certainly must go see Kashmir. I remember, when I was a child and we were going to Srinagar (motoring all the way from Gwalior north), we stopped for a day at a relative’s house in Ludhiana. His mother, my father’s aunt, had been a fashionable, well-travelled lady, having visited Europe etc in the 60s. “Switzerland?” she scoffed. “Yes, very pretty. But Kashmir is prettier.”

      After we’d lived in Srinagar for just one year and seen it change with the seasons, we had to admit that it was by far the loveliest place we’d ever seen. I feel grateful that I got the chance to actually live there.

  4. Last year we went to Kashmir around this time (my husband and I) and understandably we were bowled over. It truly is Paradise on Earth. Both my husband and I had such a wonderful time that we have decided never to go back again (he says he wants the memories of the first experience to stay as it is!) I can understand his logic :) I have since then promoted Kashmir to all my friends and some of them have relented and gone. ONly to come back with memories as beautiful as mine :)
    Thank you Madhu for this special post. It brings back so many memories. In fact everytime I see a song picturised on Kashmir, I keep feeling special that yes, I am one of the few who has partaken of the beauty of that splendid place. It’s been through a lot and it sure deserves to be enjoyed by all of us yet again.
    Some of my favourite Kashmir songs (for reasons I can’t elaborate but since they stir something deep inside in me) Hai re Hai (Kashmir ki Kali), Subhaan Allah (Kashmir ki Kali), Deewana hua badal (from the same film yet again), and so on.
    LOL, i seem to focus too much on Shammi Kapoor and Kashmir. And I guess you can understand why. Somehow that man made Kashmir come alive and his exuberance matched the beauty of the place.
    Also, I somehow prefer Kashmir as seen in coloured films (obviously the old ones) because to me what’s Kashmir without the jolly good colours!!
    Thank you Madhu, thank you so much :)

    • we have decided never to go back again

      Hmmm… I wouldn’t advise that. Kashmir in spring is very different from Kashmir in summer or Kashmir in autumn or winter – and all are equally beautiful (though winter can be a bit uncomfortable). Now that things have become more normal, I’m looking forward to visiting in early spring – to see the daffodils and hyacinths and tulips – and in autumn, at least – it’s gorgeous then.

      Thank you for the appreciation! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I like your selection of songs too. But Shammi + Kashmir? How could the combination not be fantastic, na? ;-)

        • Yes – they look awesome! I remember, our school bus used to go past this vast stretch of land (I think it was a park or something) which had lots of chinars. I used to keep looking out of the bus window just so I could feast my eyes on those lovely fall colours.

  5. Ah, she’s back!!! :-)

    Lovely post, Madhu. Each of these songs showcases Kashmir SO well.

    I’ve never been there – it is definitely on my to-see list. I guess it will have to be next summer.

    I haven’t seen Ek Musafir Ek Haseena (of the movies in your list), so if I were to make a similar list, I would need to replace that with this song from Aabroo (a movie I’ve seen but I think you haven’t). I think I introduced you to this song a few weeks ago. :-)

    • Thank you, Raja!

      Yes, I remember Har chehra yahaan chaand – if I’d seen Aabroo, this one would’ve probably been on my list, simply because it’s such a perfect paean to Kashmir. :-)

      By the way, re: one of our earlier conversations… I made it a point to check with one of the very helpful people we met, regarding the best time to see autumn in Kashmir. “Mid-October,” he said. “Not before that; the chinars change colour only in mid-October.” So if you’re in India around that time this year, you might want to visit…

  6. Excellent post Anu! And what a wonderful selection of songs,every selection a gem, (except for Pardesiyon Se- which irritates me for some reason :( ) How beautiful is Pukarta Chala Hoon Main!

    Tell me one thing, is santoor a household instrument in Kashmir, I mean do people play it as commonly as someone would play the veena in TamilNadu? The reason why I ask this is, I have heard it being used in the interludes in many songs/background scores with reference to Kashmir.

    • Thank you, Karthik! (I must confess, Pardesiyon se na akhiyan milaana isn’t one of my favourites as a song, either – I chose it only because the picturisation shows off Kashmir very well, and that too a Kashmir that isn’t just mountains and deodar forests). I actually find both these ‘superhit’ songs of Jab Jab Phool Khile – this one, and Ek tha gul aur ek thi bulbul – irritating. Yahaan main ajnabi hoon is far better, in my opinion. Even Na-na karte pyaar tumhi se kar baithe, or Yeh sama, sama hai yeh pyaar ka… but neither of those would have fitted my rules for this post!

      I don’t know if the santoor is an integral part of Kashmiri music. I do remember watching music programmes telecast by the Doordarshan kendra in Srinagar when we lived there in the early 80s… and the only musical instrument I distinctly recall was a matka turned upside down. I do remember that there was a stringed instrument too, but whether a santoor or a rabab or something else, I don’t recall.

          • A slightly off-track musing on th esubject of party songs.
            Is not very surprising that the hero or heroine would pour out very personal emotions in the presence of so many people. And that the bystanders also would continue sitting or listening(?), seemingly disinterstedly! [I think all human beings are inherently gossip mongers, hence when you get such a public opportunity on a platter, would any one reamin so disinterested?)

            • Well pointed out! Yes, isn’t that one of the oddest things about Hindi cinema? All that dancing and singing and romancing often happens in the most public of places (and you can see the public too), and everybody stands sedately by and watches… or ignores.

  7. WONDERFUL is just not enough to describe this post.
    Kashmir was a destination, that I dreamed of as a kid. The dream still remains a dream. Hope it changes soon.
    For the first time after reading a post by you, I don’t know what to write since right now I am just filled with wander-lust.
    Will come again when I find my bearings! :-)

    • Can’t wait for you to find your bearings! :-)

      Maybe all of you who haven’t been to Kashmir ever should come on a group vacation – and spend all your time waltzing around the gardens and meadows and in the shikara, singing all these songs…

        • Considering so many Kashmiris seem to be so fond of music (all the drivers who took us around kept tuning into radio stations that played old Hindi film songs; one driver even sang along pretty well)… a group of singing-dancing tourists just might prove quite popular. ;-)

  8. I really really really want to go to Kashmir! Always wanted to go there ever since I saw those wonderful set-in-Kashmir films. Amazing post, Dustedoff! I want to go to Nishat Bagh! Nowwwwwww!

  9. Lovely post, Dusted Off. I haven’t been to Kashmir since the 90s, and how I’ve longed to go back. It is so, so beautiful. I loved the photos you interspersed with the screencaps. Specially the one of Maqbool Chacha, I can well imagine that he must have been as good looking as Shashi Kapoor in his youth.

    • Thank you, Banno! (And yes, I can well imagine Maqbool Chacha as being quite a looker in his heyday. A lot of the Kashmiris really are so good-looking. Maqbool Chacha’s assistant, for instance, was really very handsome).

  10. Wonderful list, DustedOff. I haven’t heard some songs, but am very happy you chose many of my own favourites. I simply adore “Arzoo”(1965) songs.

    I think I would have thrown in a couple of songs from the 70s too – One each from Kabhi Kabhie(1976) and Kasme Vaade(1978)

    When I saw songs of both Jab Jab Phool Khile and Mere Sanam (both 1965) in the list, I was reminded of that interview given by Shashi Kapoor a long time back. Apparently, shooting for both the movies were happening around the same areas. Shashi along with a few other crew members dressed up as Muslim girls and went over to tease Biswajeet. Shashi remembers him being so flustered at so many girls coming towards him from all sides.

    Only when they revealed their true looks, was he mighty relieved. Shashi added that the kind of camaraderie lead actors shared in those days were missing at the time of the interview.

    BTW, Madhu – Did you remember me when seeing a handsome young man in an open jeep there? :-D

    • Thank you! Please go ahead and embed the songs from the 70s films – I didn’t add any (though I could think of some), simply because I restrict this blog to pre-70s films.

      I’d never heard that anecdote about Biswajeet and Shashi Kapoor before! It was very amusing, and heartening too (as you say Shashi Kapoor remarked) to know that though they were both leading men – and therefore competitors – they got along well enough to play such tricks on each other.

      I recall hearing (or reading) somewhere that Shashi Kapoor, to prepare for his role in Jab Jab Phool Khile, spent a number of days living with houseboatwallahs in Srinagar.

  11. DARN !! I had typed a long comment and wordpress asked me to login to submit it. When I did that, it was lost.

    Gist of it was – a wonderful post Madhu. Maybe I would have thrown in 1-2 songs from the 70s (Kabhi Kabhie and Kasme Vaade). But the rest of the songs are just my favourites too.

  12. Aah! Kashmir! That’s one place I always wanted to visit, but never did, so I had to content myself with watching it on movies, while hubby would make me salivate even more with his descriptions, but now, thanks to you, at least I know which bagh is which, and what to see if I ever go there! As you have suggested, maybe a whole group of us should go there and have fun together – let us see if such a thing is possible, or if the bichhde huye sisters and brothers and mausi get separated once again.
    You have chosen wonderful songs, and now I am going to listen to each of them again, while I fold clothes and start the cooking. Thanks, Madhu! I am glad you took the vacation in Kashmir for all of us.

    • Thank you, Lalitha! I’m glad you enjoyed the post – I had a lot of fun compiling it. :-) And I do hope you get to visit it sometime. It reminds me in some ways of the Taj Mahal: we’ve seen it all in so many photos, and in films, etc – but actually seeing it upfront, for yourself – that’s a different experience.

  13. And here’s a song which is supposedly set in Kashmir, with Raj Kapoor and Premnath staying in a house boat, but could just as easily have been a studio setting:

    • I’d thought about putting a song from Barsaat into my list, but then I couldn’t think of a song that showcased Kashmir well enough, because almost all the songs from the film look as if they’ve been shot on a set supposed to represent Kashmir. But this is a nice song, even if it’s not really Kashmir. :-)

      By the way, both Anu and I have a connection to this song. (Anu: are you reading this?). My father used to know someone named Van Shipley – he was a family friend – and it turned out a few months back that Anu knew Mr Shipley too. The link with this song is that Van Shipley played the violin for Raj Kapoor all through Barsaat.

      • Yes, I think we thrashed that out very well in the post you wrote about your uncle. :) We’ll actually be meeting his youngest daughter in August. And about the sets – no, Barsaat was shot on location. I’m not sure it is Kashmir, though.

        • Barsaat was shot on location – one can see that in most of the film – but in this song, it somehow looks pretty unreal in places. Must watch it again (if only I could summon up the courage – my only recollections of it are of deep sadness) to try and figure out if it is Kashmir or not.

  14. First off, if this song is not shot in Kashmir, then it should have been.
    “Yeh kis kavi ki kalpana/ka chamatkaar hai”. Amazing, touching lyrics and excellent diction.What poetry used to be in movies.

    I think Chaand Si Mehbooba from Himalay Ki God Mein comes to mind as a “Kashmir” song, as opposed to very good ones like “Is Mod Se Jaate Hain” or “Tum Aa Gaye Ho, Nuur Aa Gaya Hai” from Aandhi, where the location was probably secondary. Mausam too, had “Dil Dhoondta Hai”, which was very well done.

    In recent times (though for sheer spectacular beauty you can’t beat Mani Ratnam’s title song in Dil Se), I liked this song set in today’s Kashmir … very well written and melodious, Shreya especially.

    • You’ve suggested some great songs, AKM – and if I extended my blog’s repertoire to films from the 70s, I’d certainly have added at least one of those songs from Aandhi. Probably Tere bina zindagi se koi, which includes sections filmed in Shalimar Bagh:

      Not sure where the ruins in the opening verse are shot, though…

      I also like Yeh kaun chitrakaar hai a lot; beautiful lyrics, great music, and very well sung. The scenery reminds me more of Uttaranchal, though – or possibly Himachal. Maybe someone else can say whether or not that’s Kashmir, or elsewhere.

      I’d never come across tha song from Yahaan before: it’s lovely! Beautifully picturised, and a wonderful song too. Thank you for that.

  15. Oh, what a post! I confess that for a brief moment, I considered not reading this piece since Kashmir always brings up very complicated and bittersweet emotions for me, but love for home won out. And I am glad I did read because you write with such affection for Kashmir. I think you’ve covered everything – except the food – that I love about Kashmir. I do hope you had the chance to partake of some good eats while you were there.:-)

    The songs selected showcase Kashmir nicely although I share the indifference for “pardesiyon se na aakhiyan milana.” On ” yeh chand sa roshan chera”, as far as I can tell, it’s shot on Dal (“deewana hua badal” is on Nageen though). And parts of “din sara guzara” are shot in Verinag and Achabal Garden. Okay, now I’m completely overtaken by nostalgia. :-)

    • I’m so glad you liked this post, Shalini, and thank you for identifying some of those settings.

      I’d really been yearning to go back to Kashmir, so much that my husband (despite being a little apprehensive…) had to finally give in. He ended up enjoying it a lot, and has now agreed that we must go back, so that we can see the Valley in other seasons too. :-)

      Oh, yes – we got to eat a lot of local goodies! The houseboat where we were staying had a good waza who made
      lovely food for us, and all the days we were there, we had only kehwa, no tea, no coffee, nothing else. Plus, good old Ahdoo’s Hotel on Residency Road (we used to buy the most wonderful coconut macaroons there when I was a child…) have also opened a restaurant. They serve excellent rista, gushtaba, mirchi korma, karam, nadroo yakhni, et al.

      If you’re still in the mood for more nostalgia, here is one of my first short stories ever to be published. It’s semi-autobiographical (in fact, more autobiographical than anything else):

      http://www.madhulikaliddle.com/narcissi.html

      • What a wonderful description of Kashmir, your visit to the flower farm, and most of all, that gracious couple, Mr. and Mrs. Malik! I do hope the ending of that story is fictitious and not real.
        I also wondered why the Maliks didn’t have dahlias and coneflowers and geraniums and hydrangeas and petunias in summer? How hot are the summers there? My dahlias and coneflowers do well until the temperature hits the mid-90s. Gladioli also do well in late spring and early summer, and so do my roses. Now you have me thinking I will visit Kashmir in late spring and early summer (yet another pipe dream of mine!).
        How is kehwa different from tea and coffee? Okay, I am off to google and find out.

        • Thank you, Lalitha. I don’t know if the lady (she wasn’t a Mrs Malik in real life) grew flowers in the summer. Hydrangeas, petunias, roses and dahlias – dahlias most of all – grow very well in Kashmir, and in fact all the Mughal Gardens are full of dahlias if you visit at the peak of summer. Gladioli, as you mentioned in your case, also grow in spring. Maybe she did grow these flowers on her farm in summer; we always visited in spring, so I only recall the tulips, narcissi, daffodils, etc – they were ethereal.

          Unfortunately, the end is fictitious only in that my family weren’t in Srinagar when that happened – we’d already shifted to Delhi, but we heard from friends still in Srinagar about what happened to ‘Mr Malik’. It was awful.

          Kehwa, in case you haven’t found it yet, is a green tea very well-loved in Kashmir. It’s traditionally brewed with spices – cardamom and cassia bark are favourites – and chopped almonds and saffron may be sometimes added. It’s delicious, and can be very addictive. Even though you can find it (with some searching) in Delhi, I got myself a large packet from Srinagar!

        • No, harvey – life is not always cheerful, no? That’s why I often escape into escapism. My cheerful stories far outweigh my not-so-cheerful ones, but there are a few of the latter too. And all written from the heart.

  16. wonderful post and great songs…Travelled to almost every part of India but Kashmir..know that missing a lot..just scared…every time make up my mind..there is some negative news about lal chowk ..

    All the songs you selected are ‘happy’ ones…except ek musafir one..that too is not ‘sad’…i mean why not ‘bedardi balma’ from Arzoo? in that songs even the lyrics reflect Kashmir…

    Great post otherwise…songs me hi Kashmir ko dekh kar khush ho jaate hein…

    • Well, considering the current number of tourists visiting Kashmir annually now is around 1 million (including pilgrims to Amarnath)… I don’t think there’s any need to be so scared. I spoke to quite a few people – drivers, people on the houseboat, shopkeepers, strangers we came across – and the general consensus seems to be relief that terrorism is dying down and that tourism is coming back, because it is, after all, one of Kashmir’s most major sources of income.

      I didn’t choose Bedardi baalma because I find that song irritating – it’s screechy and not at all to my taste. ;-)

        • Yes, Chirag dil ka jalao certainly looks like Kashmir in the first few frames:

          Actually, when I’d been compiling this list, I’d thought of including Teri aankhon ke siva (a lovely song – one of my favourites), but it’s been such a long time since I watched Chirag, I’d forgotten whether that was supposed to be Kashmir or just some unnamed pretty place.

  17. And, another song that was on my shortlist: Achha toh hum chalte hain, from Aan Milo Sajna. This one, besides the gardens and the Dal Lake, also features the island known as ‘Chaar Chinar’.

  18. You’re back with a bang, DO!!
    It’s like a location tour. Identifying where which song was shot ages ago must have been thrilling.

    Love Kashmir too and have visited a couple of times due to Kashmiri relatives (who you have met). Last time we got together in October 2010 for a wedding they talked about curfews round the clock, so I’m surprised that one can go there now.

    Your selection of the songs is of course fabulous. All the good ones that we always love :-)
    Can’t think of any other film you haven’t mentioned, show casing Kashmir. But as soon as one comes to mind, I will.
    Thankyou for this grand tour of the favourite spots of Kashmir.

    • Thank you, pacifist! When I was showing my parents my photos of this Srinagar trip, they were remembering our mutual connectuon too. Things certainly seem to have improved dramatically over the past year or so. I remember the dreadful photos and articles that used to keep appearing in the media every now and then. There are still moments of tension, I’m sure – but the few Kashmiris we spoke to told us that things are very much better.

      All right, here’s another song set in Kashmir. Not the Kashmir valley for a change, but in Ladakh, which has an ethereal beauty very different from the Kashmir Valley. This is Kahin yeh woh toh nahin, from Haqeeqat:

  19. I can just imagine, that it was painful to take leave of Srinagar and go to Delhi as a child.
    The photo of the poppies is great!
    I didn’t know of the Ek Thi Ladki song. It i lovely but the chorus at the beginning reminds one more of something from the Gangetic plain. Good observation about th shikara being manned normally only by one person. Even in the song, one sees except for the song boat only one woman per boat!

    Shammi’s energy is always stupendous and so must be his balance to remain atop the shikara while singing that song and performing his moves! I was wondering what the yellow flowers in Sharmila’s boat could be.

    Saira has this apologetic sort of reluctant look on her face below her smile in the song mere yaar shabba-khair. could it be that they didn’t get along well?

    Wonder where Shammi gets the proper pinned blanket, when he fishes himself out of the river! Hope he and Rajashri didn’t catch a cold while filming. The junior artistes were better protected with sweater and all.

    Did you see hordes of girls picnicking and sitting in rows and dancing around the fountains like in laakhon hai nigahon me?

    It is funny to see the smoke bombs placed on the banks, while Joy comes along with his shikara. But it is crime to notice such things while listening to this beautiful song and looking at handsome Joy. While the river in which Joy sails seems to have lots of vegetation, the river in your photo of old Srinagar looks as if it has been taken from Bandra creek in Bombay.

    Does the street in pukarta huwa chala hoon main, with its poplars have a name or are there more of them in Kashmir?

    I also would like to think that Maqbool chacha as rowing his shikara looking like Shashi in his salad days. Maqbool chacha has such a friendly look on his face. If I were come to srinagar, I would like to stay at his house boat. BTW, would you mind if I ask what these houseboats cost/night? I ask, because I have no idea at all.

    Phir bhi dil hai bekaraar: totally new for me.

    My favourite Kashmir song, which I wanted to post turned out to be a non-Kashmir song. I think it is in the vicinity of Simla. correct me, if I am wrong.

    BTW, are Kashmir songs a 60′s phenomenon?
    Just to contradict the question. Here is one song filmed in Kashmir and Studio

    • Thank you, thank you, harvey, for your very interesting comment. :-)

      We did see a couple of shikaras being rowed by two people (for instance, I saw a man and a woman rowing a shikara loaded with vegetables – I think kohlrabi, it was too far to identify it)… but 90% of all shikaras do seem to be rowed by only one person, no more.

      Do you think the yellow flowers in Sharmila’s boat are asters of some kind? I’ve seen a lot of these flowers around – there were even some growing next to our houseboat (If you check my FB album, the photo of the mooring post has some growing around the post).

      Yes, I noticed too that Saira looked a little uncomfortable in places in Mere yaar shabba khair. It was her first film, and Shammi seems to have been a little brutal in his teasing – he’d told her to wear a burkha to the shoot if the crowds of onlookers made her nervous! (That was when she was shooting Kashmir ki kali hoon main, but I’m sure this song was also shot with lots of eager spectators looking on).

      No, I didn’t see any balloons, or smoke, or bevies of girls in the gardens. Only lots of flowers. :-)

      Hehe. I know the Jhelum doesn’t look at its best in Srinagar proper. But then, that song from Ek Musafir Ek Haseena probably shows one of Srinagar’s many canals, rather than the river itself. And some of the more outlying canals are definitely cleaner than the Jhelum (or the Bandra creek)!

      The houseboat we stayed in was one of the Gurkha Houseboats, run by WelcomHeritage. I wouldn’t advise staying in one of the many privately-owned houseboats on Dal Lake, because their cleanliness etc can be very iffy – and Dal Lake, anyway, is quite polluted and nasty. Here is the link to the Gurkha Houseboats web page; you can check it out for yourself:

      http://www.welcomheritagehotels.com/hotel/gurkha-houseboats-srinagar

      I love Ek haseen shaam ko too, but yes – I think that was Shimla too. And as you can see from Ek Thi Ladki (and Barsaat, of course), Kashmir songs weren’t confined to the 60s.

      • P.S. Regarding the avenue of poplars, I see pacifist has said that it’s on the way to Gulmarg. I don’t remember that, but I do know that there’s an identical stretch along the Srinagar-Jammu highway. Shortly after you leave Srinagar.

        Talking of another song filmed between rows of poplars: Banda parvar thhaam lo jigar:

          • I’ve just been doing a little research, and it seems the Gulmarg stretch of poplars was the most popular for shoots, as you pointed out. The one I remember was (I think) Pulwama. I also remember going along a poplar avenue between Srinagar and Baramulla.

        • So Kashmir has at least two such avenues.
          Main suraj hoon tu meri kiran from Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya also seems to have been partly shot in this avenue. Notice hwo Dharam doesn’t want to hold Nutan’s hand and would rather hold on to the reins of his horse (1:00-1:04).

          A better song from this film is the title song,w here Dharam is caressing the surface of the water with his oar.

          • “Dharam doesn’t want to hold Nutan’s hand and would rather hold on to the reins of his horse (1:00-1:04).”

            Hehe. Good observation, Harvey. I think it gets accentuated because whoever’s done the editing (or whatever) has speeded up the visuals to make the horses look as if they’re going faster than they actually are. But, pretty song – and lovely views. :-)

            This is one film I’ve not seen yet (I hadn’t even seen the songs before, though I’ve heard some of them – including the title song).

  20. I forgot to mention that I think Maqbool chacha ‘must’ have been goodlooking (like Shashi Kapoor) in his younger days. :)

    The road with straight trees standing like sentinels on either side is the road to Gulmarg.

    • “I forgot to mention that I think Maqbool chacha ‘must’ have been goodlooking (like Shashi Kapoor) in his younger days. :)

      Considering he’s totally white-haired and must be pretty long in the tooth, he’s still pretty smart. Must’ve been really handsome in his younger days!

      • Madhu, are there trips arranged by the Kashmir Tourism to the places of filmi shooting?

        Not that I know of. Actually, I found their website (http://www.jktourism.org) tantalising in some ways, but lacking in others. For example, what’s the point of telling me about the interesting historic walks in the old city, if you don’t supply at least a map (even if you can’t arrange for atour guide to take me on that walk)?

        On the other hand, I don’t blame them. Things have been so terrible in Kashmir these past 20 years or so, I’m not surprised they’ve not paid that much attention to promoting tourism.

  21. I know everybody will put in the old songs, so I thought I would shamelessly plug my idol :)

    The title song (the male solo version) of Kabhi Kabhie was also shot in Kashmir in the winter – but I thought one Amitabh song is more than I could inflict on Madhu. :)

    This is a montage of shot of Kashmir – from a Malayalam film called Keerthi Chakra

    And this – a wonderful song, though Kashmir is not the total focus. I wish ARR would go back to this simplicity instead of focussing on technique.

    • You wouldn’t be ‘inflicting’ Amitabh on me, Anu! ;-) I may not be as fond of him as you are, but there are lots of movies in which he’s acted that I like a lot. And he did have some nice songs picturised on him (I wouldn’t count this particular one among them, even though the Kashmir angle is very pretty). I love the title song from Kabhi Kabhi, though. Nice song, and a lovely snowy Kashmir:

      I love the Roja song (it is Roja, isn’t it? Or am I making an utter fool of myself? Saw the film ages ago, and other than the basic plot and a couple of the songs, have forgotten much of it). And the songs in my list don’t focus on Kashmir, either – they’re just set in Kashmir – so this would’ve fitted perfectly if only it had been filmed 40 years earlier!

      God know why, I’m not being able to see the Mera Kashmir video. Will check again, later in the day…

      • Yes, it is Roja, Madhu, with your namesake in it. :) The Hindi version of the song is Yeh haseen waadiyaan.

        I can actually see the Mera Kashmir video right on your blog.It’s funny sometimes, how these blogs play up. It’s sad , though, because it shows a Kashmir, wounded and destroyed.

        • Yes, the Mera Kashmir video is showing up on my blog, but when I click play, it doesn’t – it spends an eternity buffering and then just gives up. Will try and see again by opening it in a new window.

  22. This is probably a Kashmir song, if not, I wonder where is it filmed ?

    Re: Harvey’s comment “Are Kashmir songs a 60′s phenomenon”; they were also a part of the 70′s. I know you will set the Internet police on me if I rattle off 5 or 6, but here is just one of the best (or worst);)

    I have never been to Kashmir, so cannot compare it to Switzerland/Europe; but Northern Iran by the Caspian Sea is one such underrated place.

    • Forgot to add, really wonderful post & almost all songs are favorites. Your love of Kashmir does come through, I hope to visit it someday :)

    • Thank you for Dooriyaan nazdeekiyaan ban gayeen, Samir! I like that song, but had forgotten all about it. From what I remember, though, Duniya wasn’t set in Kashmir; this was perhaps just one of those ‘pretty place’ songs where Kashmir was chosen as a setting. But I’ll need to rewatch it to be certain.

      That’s the first time I’ve seen Yeh jo public hai! Very Kashmir, streets, people, everything.

      My sister was telling me about friends of hers who’ve been to Iran recently and have been raving about it. My list of places to visit grows longer and longer daily…

    • Poor Rajesh Khanna, he didn’t know at that time to what an extent the ‘public’ would rootho from him and just wouldn’t mano afterwards.
      What an irony, that Rajesh Khanna should be singing this to Jeetendra, who could manage his fan-following, while Rajesh couldn’t!

  23. Hi, Madhulika. I find the “Pukarta chala hoon main” song very comic. You know why? Yes, Asha Parekh and her tight-fitting clothes. And the girls fall from their cycles at the end of the song.

    Wasn’t Manoj Kumar’s ‘Himalay ki god mein’ shot in Kashmir? And ‘Hariyali aur Raasta’?

    • Did the girls really fall off at the end of the song? I do remember most of them being very precariously perched on their cycles (I think the forced having-to-go-slow for the sake of the song, resulted in that). But no matter what, I love that song. And Asha Parekh, tight-fitting clothes and all. :-)

      Hariyali aur Raasta, I”m certain (since I reviewed it) is set in Darjeeling, not Kashmir. I don’t remember about Himalaya ki God Mein – it’s been a long time since I saw that film, so I don’t remember which part of the mountains that was set in. I have a feeling it was supposed to be either Himachal or Uttaranchal.

      • Yes, Himalay ki godmein is shot in Himachal. It says so in the film though sometimes they go anywhere to shoot a song. But I think they stuck to Himachal.

        • Maybe I should do another trip to Himachal (I keep going there every couple of years – love the state!), and do a songs post on that… :-) Or maybe Darjeeling. Lots of scope there, especially from one of my favourite movies!

  24. Another trip down the memory lane :-)

    I had gone on a 18 day long trek to Kashmir, in Kishtawad region, to be precise, in 1987 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This was just before all the insurgency started and we enjoyed tremendous hospitality of common Kashmiri people at all the places we visited. I remember, we even bravely drank tea made with Yak’s milk at Synthen Pass. I can tell you that it was an olfactory overload……

    Srinagar is beautiful but the pristine beauty of the outlying areas is to be seen to be believed! Even after so many years, so many of the landscapes are etched on my mind and when I close my eyes, I can see them clearly!

    To be truthful, in my opinion, none of the songs picturised in Kashmir do justice to its celestial beauty. You have to see for yourself and experience the divinity in Kashmir.

    • I agree that the songs picturised in Kashmir don’t do justice to its beauty – but that is, as my husband and I were discussing when we were wandering through some of the sights there – possibly the result of the fact that no matter what, a camera cannot replicate the experience of being surrounded by all that beauty.

      I can imagine how much of an olfactory overload drinking yak’s milk tea would’ve been. In the course of all my trips to Ladakh and Nubra, I’ve never been able to summon up the courage to try it. “Think of it as soup, not tea,” my mother told me once, but no, thank you. ;-)

  25. These are great. Maybe you should also do a list of Darjeeling songs. Apart from Kashmir, the 50s/60s movies had a lot of Darjeeling in them! :-)

    • Thank you! And yes, as I mentioned to pacifist too, I should probably plan a trip to Himachal or Darjeeling and follow up my vacation with a post of songs set in that place. Darjeeling, especially – I’ve never been there, and there are lots of good songs set in that area.

  26. Thanks for a very interesting discussion. Don’t know how this page opened. But it has been a very interesting visit. Loved the comments on the songs and on Kashmir. For one who has never been further north than Hoshiarpur this definitely provides a very strong incentive to make a long trip to Kashmir.

  27. I visited Kashmir when I was a kid, it was a different era almost, I have some wonderful memories which I would like to recount in that long cherished blog about my father( am keeping my fingers crossed ). Bythe way that song from Junglee I did remember the place where it was shot, for we had visited the place but now I have forgotten the name, Anyway wonderful post

    • Shilpi, so good to ‘see’ you! And thank you for your comment. I’m so looking forward to your blog about your father – I’m keeping my fingers crossed too!

      As for the song from Junglee, Shalini identified it as having been filmed partly in Verinag and partly in Achabal Garden. So that’s one mystery solved!

  28. Hi,
    This is Mathures Paul, Features Editor of The Statesman (www.thestatesman.net), which is India’s oldest surviving English newspaper published from Calcutta, New Delhi, Orissa and Siliguri. I recently came across your blog and found your articles very interesting, especially the one on “Kashmir songs”.
    Every weekend, we publish a film/music/dance magazine pullout, which contains articles and reviews. I would be grateful if you allow us to republish your article on your favourite songs set in Kashmir. We will not make any changes and, needless to say, give you byline and mention your blog. If you permit, what would your byline be?
    Looking forward to a positive reply. By the way, my official ID is mpaul@thestatesman.net, which is slightly difficult to access when on the move, thus this mail comes from my Gmail ID. My contact details are below.
    Warm regards,
    Mathures

    Mathures Paul
    Features Editor
    The Statesman
    4 Chowringhee Square
    Calcutta 700001
    INDIA
    Office: 091-033-22127070-76 (ext. 714)
    Fax: 091-033-2212 6181
    E-mail: mathures.paul@gmail.com & mathures@hotmail.com
    Website: http://www.thestatesman.net

  29. Lovely post…absolutely mesmerising. When I was reading through your post and going through each song, I was humming at least the first two lines in my mind, wonder if everyone who reads this post does that?? I had been to Kashmir a couple of years back in 2003. Despite the situation being very tense, we were there in December. It was freezing, but that did not deter us from not heading out…coz aptly said, if heaven is on earth, it is here! The songs that you have mentioned are melodious classics and will never be erased off our minds. One more thing that I saw in the people there is the ‘live life large’ attitude. They are poor and have bare minimum, but they are contended with what they have. I was surfing through the net recently when I came across this girl, Shraddha Sharma. She is from the small town of Dehradun, a girl with big dreams, something that makes her stand out in the crowd. She sings, posts them online and has become a huge web sensation! She has recently been endorsed by a renowned hair oil brand. This proves the statement that you need not be from a influential background with loads of money to become famous. I am sharing this link with you, it is her latest song - http://bit.ly/J9RVh8. Enjoy and do get back with your thoughts. 

    • Thanks. I’m glad you liked the post – and thanks also for the link to Shraddha’s song. Yes, she’s good. Hadn’t heard of her before, so this was a good find.

      • Yes, she is a great find. We should encourage young talent like this. She could have taken the shorter route of going through a reality talent hunt on TV, but how many of them surface later? Not even a handful…

  30. Awesome compilation! I had heard almost all except for he first some. It now really is one of the most interesting ‘Kashmir song’. Thanks! And your are right the song does have elements of Kashmiri folk…the boatmen in the song can be heard singing ‘Ya peer Dastgir’…which is like the traditional chant for Kashmiri boatmen and working class. Also, the probable reason for more than two men rowing those boats is that around that time regattas organised on Jhelum and Dal by Christian Missionary School were part of the city culture.

  31. Mere Yaar Shabba Khair was filmed at Verinag in kashmir. Verinag region is identified as the source are of the river Jhelum (Vitasta- as it was called earlier). Verinaga was a circular ‘nag’ (spring). ShahJahan gave it the octagonal shape. There are a few more songs picturised at Verinag. http://www.verinag.com/

    • Thanks! Shalini had identified it as Verinag in her comment, but I didn’t know some of the other information you’ve provided. Thanks for the link, too – makes it much easier to identify! That first photo is almost as if it were a screenshot from the song, with Shammi Kapoor and Saira Banu ‘photoshopped’ out of it.

  32. A very heartfelt post indeed….Actually I never been to J&K, but my father had visited just before the Kargill war….this post brings back memories of him.

  33. Lovely collection of Kashmir related songs.
    There is one song,a comparatively new song by Kailash Kher,which i really like.. it shows an old man, asking for return of the peaceful Kashmir. its a hindi song from a malayalam movie based on the Kargil war.
    If you would permit,shall post the link here

  34. the tragedy of having to leave kashmir was too immense…and it stays..
    and no, things are not more normal now and never will be…
    in all these beautiful songs . i post this..which is symbolic of what kashmir has become..

    nazar meri zameen ko lagi hai aasman ki..

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