Srinagar: Human memory often fails and falters, but history itched in time and chronicles cannot be forgotten.
There might at present be none of the Kashmiri Pandit community living in the Batyaar locality of old city Ali Kadal in Srinagar, but the very name stands testimony to the fact that this was once a predominantly Kashmiri Pandit locality.The houses left behind in the Batyaar locality by Kashmiri Pandits are still standing as ruinous monuments of the homes these were once. Reverberating with life, its joys and sorrows shared by over 600 Pandit families with the 29 odd local Muslim families as the two communities lived like one soul in two bodies.A lone bakery shop that once catered to the needs of the predominant Pandit families in Batyaar thereby earning its name as the ‘Bat Kandur’ (Bakery for Kashmiri Pandits) still exists in the locality as the icon of a bygone era of eclectic culture, coexistence and the syncretic lives of the Hindus and the Muslims in Kashmir.The interior of this 200-year-old shop remains unaltered as does its name even though the bakery originally owned and started by a Kashmiri Pandit has since passed into the hands of multiple bakers despite which the shop has retained its essence.Local Muslims living in the area say the ‘Bat Kandur’ bakery is their connection with the glorious and prided past of Kashmir.“The very fact that the name kindles memories of my childhood spent together with my Pandit friends in those golden days proves one great truth. You may momentarily create a wedge between communities and they might appear to exist on the two sides of the river, yet tradition, culture, and history cannot be obliterated by any force,” recalls Muhammad Afzal Mir 69, who lived in Aali Kadal area and has now relocated to Rawalpora on city outskirts.The aroma of baked bread from this shop attracts not only the locals but visitors from outside visiting the place as a monument to the glory of Kashmir’s enviable past.Bakeries in Kashmir have evolved on the lines of the British legacy with a focus on cakes, pastries, fudges, buns, puffs, tarts, etc, etc, but ‘Bat Kandur’ at Batyaar has withstood the compulsions of the modern era. It is still a down-to-earth Kashmiri traditional bakery not succumbing to the urge for newfound delicacies for the tea table.This small bakery shop is representative of Kashmir’s heritage. The fact that it has withstood the vagaries of time proves that tradition and history cannot become subservient to the ever-changing demands of human taste buds.