At Skardu, in the region of Baltistan in Pakistan, having visited the remains of the abandoned and dilapidated gurdwara, I thereafter strolled through the market.
As per the Jammu & Kashmir census of 1941, of the total population of 106,289 in Skardu, there were only 131 Sikhs and 141 Hindus. However the prominence of the Sikh community is reflective in the name of the main market, which is still referred by some as Sikh Maidan. Such was once the influence of the minority Sikh community in these remote high altitudes regions.


A grocer at the Sikh Maidan market welcomed me and after showing a local dried Trout fish, offered a handful of dried fruits, saying, “Bhai Jaan, keep munching these as they will help keep you warm.”


In his warm gesture, I could not help but contemplate the brotherhood that existed in these regions before the ironic turn of events of 1947.

 

Photographed in Jan 2017, during the research for the book “THE QUEST CONTINUES: LOST HERITAGE The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan”