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Baffilyaz, village in J&K’s Poonch is named after the beloved horse of ‘Alexander The Great

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IQBAL AHMAD

Baffilyaz, a small town in the district Poonch of Jammu and Kashmir is situated on the historic Mughal road. A curious legend about it states that it is the place where the Alexander during his expeditions towards Indian subcontinent lost his cherished horse called Bucephalus.

Most of the people are well aware about the historic figure Alexander the great. He is well mentioned in the folk traditions of Jammu and Kashmir and is here known by the name of Sikinder Azam. His one of the battles which he has fought with Raja Pours is also very much popular among the local story tellers. I have myself read about him in various Persian literary works. These works are titled as Sikandra Nama and such works are housed in various museums, archival repositories and libraries of Jammu and Kashmir.

There is a one such well preserved manuscript of Sikander Nama housed in Dogra Art Museum at Jammu. This manuscript gives us a detail description of Sikander’s adventures which he made towards east and west.

Besides, coins of Alexander have also been found in Jammu and Kashmir and few of the ancient Macedonian coins are also housed in the numismatic collection at SPS Museum Srinagar.

One of the interesting pieces of coin depicting the battle scene of Alexander and Porus is also preserved in the numismatic collections of the British Museum.

Historically speaking Sikander Azam is known by the name of the Alexander the great, Plenty of Historical accounts are available, which tell us the story of Indian expeditions of this Macedonian king.

The Indian traditions tell us about the confrontation of Alexander with the Indian king Porus in the lower belt of Hydaspes, which is presently known as Jhelum. Tradition further tells, Porus drew up on the south bank of the Jhelum River, and was set to repel any crossings. The Jhelum River was deep and fast enough that any opposed crossing would probably doom the entire attacking force. Alexander knew that a direct crossing would fail, so he found a suitable crossing, about 27 km (17 mi) upstream of his camp. The name of the place is “Kadee”. Alexander left his general Craterus behind with most of the army while he crossed the river upstream with a strong contingent. Porus sent a small cavalry and chariot force under his son to the crossing.

According to sources Alexander had already encountered Porus’s son, so the two men were not strangers. Porus’s son killed Alexander’s horse with one blow, and Alexander fell to the ground.

Other traditions state that there was a fight at the actual landing between Alexander’s cavalry and a force of Indians commanded by Porus’s son, who was there ready to oppose them with superior numbers, and that in the course of fighting he (Porus’s son) wounded Alexander with his own hand and struck the blow which killed his (Alexander’s) beloved horse Buccaphalus.

An oral tradition preserved here states that the battle had taken place somewhere near the olden town of Poonch. Several Kashmiri scholars identify a village in Poonch District of the Jammu and Kashmir called Baffilyaz, located in the lap of Pirpanchal as the place named after the beloved horse of Alexander. They claim Baffilyaz as the corrupt form of Buccaphalus. Mohammad Yousf Taing, the eminent historian and author in one of his articles published in Kashmiri Shiraza has claimed that Baffilyaz is the corrupt form of Buccaphalus. And it is the place where Sikinder lost his cherished horse named Buccaphalus during a fight with Porus. In fact Alexander was encountered by Porus in Dravabhisar in the lower belt of the River Jhelum. The area has been identified as that of Poonch region.

How much reality is in this claim one cannot be certain. But if Baffilyaz is named after the name of Buccaphalus then the fight may have taken place somewhere near Poonch, which is one of the olden towns of the Jammu and Kashmir and mentioned in the olden indigenous and foreign records as well.

Indian traditions record that Porus was one of the many local kings who impressed Alexander. He was asked by Alexander how he wished to be treated. “Treat me, Alexander, the way a King treats another King”, Porus responded.

Alexander was very much excited by his brave reply and instead of bringing any kind of harm to him, he rewarded him by granting more empires to him. He later founded Alexandria Nikaia (Victory), located at the battle site, to commemorate his triumph. He also founded Bucephalus on the opposite bank of the river in memory of his much-cherished horse, Bucephalus, who carried Alexander through the Indian subcontinent and died heroically during the Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum). The local scholars have been identifying Baffillyaz with Buceaphalus , the site fist founded by Alexander in the name of his horse.

Besides, there in local records is the mention of some Abhisara the king of Poonch and Nowshehra, who is believed to have held Jammu and Kashmir during Alexander’s time. He is recorded to have surrendered to Alexander and then Porus was made the in-charge of the whole area which Alexander conquered. The area lay between the Beas and the Jhelum. King of Texila, Ambhi was given the territories west of Jhelum while Abhisaras authority was extended up to Kashmir. Abhisara’s authority over Kashmir is not testified by any other source. However, Alexander›s numismatic finds in Kashmir justify his campaign of the areas bordering the beautiful valley and the possibility of his visit of the land which since times immemorial was attractive for its visitors.

In fact, there are several ancient events and evidences related with several ancient Greek kings found in Jammu and Kashmir. Abhishara is recorded was the king of Nawshahra and Poonch when Alexander invaded the empire of Porus. There are several place names of several villages and towns of Jammu and Kashmir which have Greek Origen. The historic town of Menander in the same District is believed to have been founded in the name of Menendra, the most famous Indo-Greek king who had his capital at Sangla in present-day Sailkote which is only few kilometers from R.S. Pora Jammu. Demetrious and Minandra are recorded to have enjoyed their political authority on the lands which included parts south Kashmir as well.

Besides, ancient Greek evidences have also been found from Jammu. Dr. Michael Matcher in his monumental numismatic book has attributed several Greek coins to Jammu and Kashmir section of his book.

The author can be reached at iqbal61@yahoo.co.in

 

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