Shinon Meeras Museum


Gurez Valley, located in Kashmir at an elevation of around 9,000 feet, is a stunning place with the mighty Kishan Ganga River, diverse wildlife, beautiful plants, and picturesque mountains.  Gurez, apart from being a unique adventure destination in Northern Kashmir, is home to numerous tribes and traditions with unique history of culture and language of their own. It also serves as an entry point to the famous silk route in central Asia.

Dard Shin Tribe History

Dard-Shins are an ancient community that is believed to be descendent of ancient rig Vedic culture, tracing the feature in certain Dardic dialects that has continuous peculiarities of Rig Vedic Sanskrit.  The famous ancient Greek poet Herodotus also mentioned about Dard-Shins during 430 BC, which provides the evidence of presence of Dard-Shins in the region of Himalayas.  Gurez also pronounced as “Gorai” was a gateway to the famous silk route which lasted till 14th century and was connecting India with China, Persia, Greece, lialy and Arabia.  The route passed from Chorwan village (which is a border village of Gurez Sector) and used to connect Burzil Pass and finally to Astore & Gilgit (POK) providing access to Central Asia.   Silk route existed since 100BC and it provides evidence of existence of Dard-Shins in the area.  Kalhana, a Kashmiri historian during 1145 AD wrote Rajatarangini (“The river of Kings”) in Sanskrit which particularly focuses on the kings of Kashmir.  References were made to Dard-Shins as “Darads” or “Darada” in Rajatarangini.

In modern days, references can be drawn by various writers of Mughal Era that Gurez was part of Dardistan Kingdom extending from North Eastern Afganistan, Gilgit, Kargil and Gurez and was ruled by ruler of Dard-Shins tribe and subsequently taken over my Mughal emperor Akbar.   The control of the region kept on shifting from Mughals to Dogra ruler. Historically, they have been connected to the diverse ethnic tapestry of Jammu and Kashmir, contributing to the cultural mosaic of the area. Like other tribal communities, the Dard Shin people face challenges related to the socio-economic development, but their cultural heritage remains an integral parts of the region’s identity.

For generation, the Dardi people of Gurez have harboured a dream of showcasing their rich heritage to both the present generation and the visitors exploring the prestige beauty of the Gurez valley.  Rooted deeply in history, the Dard represent one of the most ancient tribes in the region.  The exhibits delve into the historical roots of the Dard-Shina Cultural, tracing its evolution through centuries.  Interpretive displays narrate stories of resilience, folklore, and the intimate connection between the people and the Gurez Valley’s pristine environment.

Need for Preservation

As globalization and modernization sweep across regions, the district cultural identities of indigenous tribes face the risk of erosion.  The need for a dedicated museum arises from the urgency to preserve and protect the Dard-Shina culture, ensuring that their stories, crafts and way of life are not lost to the sands of time.

Shinon Meeras Museum.

In response to the urgent need for preservation of the Dard- Shin culture a museum was brought up which was inaugurated by LG Manoj Sinha on 28 Aug 2023. India’s first museum for Dardis traces the journey of Shina culture, languages and Gurezi way of life. This centre is a tribute to the art and heritage of the Dard-Shin tribe. The museum’s architecture itself pays homage to the vernacular style of the region, seamlessly blending with the natural surroundings.  Its design echoes the traditional structures of Gurez Valley, creating a harmonious synergy between the exhibits and the environment for those seeking a more immersive experience, the museum offers workshops and demonstrations, allowing visitors to try their hand at traditional crafts or participate in Cultural activities. This hands on approach fosters a connection between the present and the past bridging generations and preserving the Cultural legacy.  The centre has a combination of digital displays, textiles, exhibits, artefacts and interactive boards.  There are also geographically aligned sections, including Dardistan, Kishanganga river, the Gurezi way of life and language section. The centre also shows the community’s relationship with the Indian Army.  Another prime highlight of the place is a sand art display showing the Indian Army’s operation eraze to liberate Gurez from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) in 1948.  The open air amphitheatre with seating capacity for 150 people is another prime attraction.

Different Sections of Shinon Meeras Museum

It welcomes to our dedicated section celebrating the rich heritage of the Dards. Discover their earliest mentions in texts dating back to 3 BCE, along with the geospatial spread of Dardistanand its tribes.

Get an immersive experience of the way Dard Shin people live in Gurez! This segment is dedicated to showcasing their lives which includes their clothes, local produce, consumed foods and cuisines, architecture and artefacts contributed by the locals.

A corner of smiles, with dreams that has to go miles! That is exactly how we can explain the Gurezikhab. Gurezikhab is more than just a wall filled with canvas with pictures. That wall represents the dreams and future vision of the localities consisting of everything from their bare necessities to their mission of new-age development.

This is the linguistic section of the Museum, which houses a small library and a research cell.

The Gurez valley has an exotic variety of flora and fauna. This picturesque valley contains a rich meadow surrounded with, willow, and walnut and linden trees. The valley is home to rare wildlife species such as snow leopards and Himalayan black bears. This area also has a flourishing ecosystem which is supported by KishanGanga River. It also stands as a storyteller of how Kishanganaga became the catalyst in bringing the Dards to settle in Gurez.

The harmonious fusion of sound and visuals often creates an immersive experience that engages our senses and ignites our emotions. Trying to create the same, our AV room showcases a fifteen-minute documentary regarding the rich history, legacy and culture of the Dard Shins.

Our research cell is a place welcoming all fellow researchers who would like to contribute to local research. This includes topics such as Dardistan, the Way of Gurezi life, the Way of Dardis, and Shina Culture and Traditions. The research cell is the heart of the museum as it plans to fuel its development with the help of people like you! So come join us and explore this support.

Souvenirs are more than just tangible objects; they embody cherished memories and unforgettable experiences. Similarly, at Shina Cultural Center, visitors are given the opportunity to purchase local produce and honey from regionals. Apart from that you can also find key rings, flasks, clothes etc produced by the locals that add to the cultural essence.

Impact on Culture

Beyond being a repository of artefacts, the museum plays a pivotal role in revitalizing and promoting the Dard-Shina culture.  It serves as a cultural hub for the community, fostering a sense of pride and identity among the tribe members.  Additionally, the museum attracts scholars, researchers, and tourists, creating a platform for cultural exchange and understanding.

The museum dedicated to the Dard-Shina culture in Gurez Valley stands as a testament to the vibrancy and uniqueness of this indigenous community.  It not only safeguards their heritage but also invites visitors to appreciate and celebrate the enduring spirit of the Dard-Shina people in the heart of the picturesque Gurez Valley.

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