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One Village, Two Nations: The Beauty of Teetwal

One Village, two nations: The beauty of Teetwal

Introduction

In the year 1947, a massive change happened in the Indian subcontinent. Borders were redrawn, and nations were born. But in Teetwal, amidst all this chaos, one thing remained constant: the love shared by its people.

Teetwal is in the Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir, a region known for its stunning natural beauty. What makes Teetwal extra special is that it’s a place where two countries, India and Pakistan, live right next to each other, separated only by a river.

In this blog, we’ll explore Teetwal’s unique charm that shows how people can live peacefully, even when their countries are not on the best of terms. 

Ready for this adventure into Teetwal? Let’s go!

A Geographical Enigma

Now, you might think that living on a border like that is all tension and turmoil, but not in Teetwal. This village sits in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, India, while just a stone’s throw away, you’re in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. 

It’s a geographical head-scratcher.

Teetwal is a small village with a population of just over 1,100 people. It is situated on the banks of the Kishanganga River, aka Neelum River, which acts as a natural border dividing India and Pakistan.

What makes Teetwal genuinely fascinating is that the people on both sides of the border share more than just a geographical boundary. They share a rich cultural heritage, a deep connection to the land, and a way of life that transcends national borders.

beauty of teetwal

The People of Teetwal

What’s heartwarming about Teetwal is the profound sense of family and community. You won’t need binoculars to spot this; it’s everywhere. 

Families here go way back, generations deep. It’s like living in a family tree, with cousins, aunts, and uncles often setting up a house next door.

The inhabitants of Teetwal are predominantly Muslims, and their way of life is closely tied to agriculture and pastoralism. They rely on the fertile lands along the riverbanks to cultivate crops such as rice, wheat, and maize while also engaging in horticulture. 

The village is adorned with orchards that burst with apples, apricots, and cherries during summer.

Families in Teetwal have lived here for generations, and their bonds with their land and each other run deep. It’s not uncommon to find extended families residing in the same vicinity, with houses built in close proximity, reinforcing the sense of community.

The Unusual Border Rituals 

The border crossing rituals in Teetwal, a sensitive border area between India and Pakistan, are indeed intriguing. These rituals have evolved over time due to the region’s political situation and security concerns. 

Here are some key points about these rituals:

Supervised Crossings by the Army (Until 2019)

Before 2019 (Pulwama Attack), the Indian Army supervised the border crossings of relatives from Teetwal on both sides of the river that separates India and Pakistan. These supervised crossings likely involved strict security measures and procedures that ensured the safety and security of those crossing.

The “Meetup Point” on the Bridge

The border area has a bridge connecting the two villages on either side of the river. This bridge had a designated “Meetup Point” where relatives from both sides could gather to meet. It served as a symbolic meeting place for families separated by the border.

Idle Time for Those Without Permits

Those who didn’t have the necessary permits to cross the border would spend their time sitting on the narrowest bank of the river. This suggests that even though they couldn’t cross the bridge, there was still some form of interaction and communication between the people on either side of the border.

Prohibition Due to Political Tensions

As political tensions escalated, the means of communication between the two sides through the bridge and meetup point turned into a nuisance. This could have been due to security concerns or political disputes between India and Pakistan.

Official Bridge Openings Twice a Month

An understanding was reached to address the situation and provide some respite to the families separated by the border. The bridge over the Kishanganga River is officially opened approximately twice a month. 

During these scheduled openings, family members from both sides are allowed to cross the border and meet their relatives from the other side for a brief period. This controlled and periodic opening of the bridge likely involves security measures to ensure safe crossings.

The Beauty of Teetwal’s Landscape

Beyond its geopolitical significance and the unique lives of its residents, Teetwal boasts stunning natural beauty. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the village is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and photographers. The Kishanganga River, with its crystal-clear waters, is not only a border but also a source of sustenance for the people of Teetwal, providing them with fish and water for irrigation.

Trekking and hiking enthusiasts can explore the nearby forests, which are home to diverse flora and fauna. The Deodar and Pine trees create a picturesque backdrop against the azure skies, making it a perfect destination for those seeking tranquility amidst nature’s grandeur.

The Challenges of Life in Teetwal

Snowed In

Think about the coldest, snowiest winter day you’ve ever experienced. Now, imagine that going on for months. In Teetwal, heavy snowfall during winter can block roads and cut them off from the rest of the world. That means no quick trips to the grocery store or visits to the neighbors. It’s a real test of patience and resourcefulness.

Services, a Hike Away

Access to everyday services like healthcare and education isn’t a hop, skip, or jump away in Teetwal. 

When someone gets sick, getting to the nearest doctor can involve a trek through the snow. And if you’re a student, your daily commute might be a long walk through sometimes challenging terrain.

Living Near the Border

Teetwal is right on the edge of two countries – India and Pakistan. This geographical location sometimes brings tension, like living next door to a feuding neighbor. 

But, and this is the important part, the people of Teetwal have figured out how to deal with it. They focus on what truly matters – their families and their close-knit community – rather than getting caught up in the political drama between nations.

While Teetwal’s scenery is absolutely stunning, life here isn’t without its share of challenges. However, what makes this place remarkable is how its people face these challenges head-on, proving that when you have a strong sense of community and adaptability, you can weather any storm, even if it’s a literal snowstorm or geopolitical tension.

beauty of teetwal

Conclusion

In a world often filled with chaos and division, Teetwal stands as a beacon of hope, urging us to seek common ground and cherish the ties that bind us together as one human family. 

It’s not just a dot on the map; it’s a living testament to the idea that people can get along even when their countries might not. It’s not about politics here; it’s about people, their bonds, and their shared love for this land.

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