The Myth Of Gool

Gool is a township on the southern flanks of the Pir Panchal in the Jammu region. The area is hilly, the habitation located on the slopes reside people who speak Kashmiri as well as Pahari. About two kilometers south of Gool are situated a large number of conspicuous looking stone horses and their cavaliers. The sculptures of horses mounted with riders and semi buried Bowlis are scattered all over the place. The ancient ruins of Gool are a topic of debate in terms of their origins and their purpose.

Meanwhile the locals have their own story about the origins of site, with slight changes in the description, the broader aspect of the myth revolves around the following lines:

There lived a king in Gool named Raja singh. He did not have a very good relationship with a muscle man named shoal Kamal, a resident of the same township who used to exercise immense power in the nearby regions due to his prowess and bravery so much so that its believed that Shoal Kamal used to shoot an arrow with such vigor that it could penetrate seven iron pans one after the other. The raja anxious of his power and popularity planned to know the reason of Shoal’s bravery. He made it possible to marry his daughter with him in order to gain insights into his personal life, using his daughter as a means to penetrate and control the man who had disturbed the power dynamics. She studied the muscle man and found that he had given up the use of salt and fire from his life as a result of which he was brave. The king thereafter asked his daughter to make the muscle man habitual of these two things. Shoal kamal thereupon lost his vigor and valor and in a battle lost to the king. The king thus commemorated the occasion with the erection of the lithic cavalry and Bowlis here.

While the origins of the site still remain obscure, the descriptive features of the site provide a slight glimpse into its possible ritualistic and religious connotation, for instance Ghora Ghali another name for the site, there was a structure built of stone blocks which housed wooden sculpture serving as the main worshipping deity. This structure was approached through a pillared gateway from the south west. The excavations are categorized into Bowlis, Cavalry, and other materials that are yet to be christened. Its speculated that this deity was the Revanta who is considered to be the lord of the horses and is shown riding a pacing horse. His main concerns are the protection from all kinds of vicissitudes, especially in the wilderness, the protectorate of the army and the horses and the patronage of the hunt and has a royal function as overlord of horses. The sculptures and the location of the site, in terms of the terrain and the prominent need and use of horses in these regions imply a possible “religion of the soldiers” glorifying horses and horsemen.

Source: aspects of folklore (Horsemen of Gool- Aijaz A. Banday)

– Taif Altaf

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