Sopore (Sopur in Kashmiri)
is a major town in Baramulla District in Indian-administered Kashmir. It is 35 miles north-west from Srinagar, the summer
capital of Jammu and
Kashmir. The place is famous for its apples, which are considered among the best in
Sopore was founded by the famous Utpala engineer and irrigation
minister Suyya during the peaceful reign of king Avantivarman
in 880 AD. Actually the word
Sopore comes from Suyya-pur. Till the end of 14th Century the town
did not observe any significant growth. It was after independence
that Sopur was a rapid rise in population and expansion of the
town. After independence, a new bridge about 1.5 miles downstream
from the site of old bridge was constructed and agglomeration of
Administrative Offices brought radical change in the overall
development of the town. The rapid urban growth of the town can be
attributed mainly to its locational advantage, in the centre of the
valley, rich and fertile soil, abundance of water, potential of
rich variety of fish due to the proximity of Wular lake and forest
resources. It act as a collection and distribution centre and hub
of many economic and administrative activities of its hinterland
Sopore is located at . It has an average elevation of
). Sopore occupies almost central position
in the valley of Kashmir surrounded by Picturesque Lolab valley and
Bandipora town in the East-north; on the west by Tehsil Baramulla
and on the South by Karewas of tangmarg Tehsil. 
India census, Sopore had a population of 73,246 (2001 census) and area of 61 km² making it the fifth largest town after Srinagar, Anantnag, Jammu and Baramulla . Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Sopore has an average literacy rate of 55%, lower than the national average of 59.5%: Male literacy is 63%, and female literacy is 46%. In Sopore, 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.
the population of old Sopore resides on the banks of Jhelum Riverwhich passes through the township.
Main areas in
old Sopore include: Khushal-mutto, Muslim Peer, Kralteng,
BabaYusuf, Sofi-hammam, Khankah, HathiShah, Arampora, Jamia qadeem,
Peer mohala and Batpora. These localities are marked by homes with
old style of architecture. New Sopore consists mainly civil lines
areas like New Colony, Badambagh, Noorbagh and Ashpeer sahib.
Sopore has quite a population inhabiting several satellite areas
like Modeltown and Jalalabad. New areas like Naseembagh,krankshivan
colony, New light colony,Ummerabad have come up in the town
suburbs, making it more contiguous.
Sopore is surrounded by many tiny but beautiful villages. These
hamlets consist one block that is collectively called Zaingair.
Important villages of Zainagair Include: Warapora, Dangerpora,
Adipora, Harrdushiva, Watlab, Botingoo,Duroo, Mundji,Takya Khan
Mohd, Bomai, Seelo, Nathipora, Tujar, Wadoora,
Zaloora,Saidpora,Darapora, Goripora and Sagipora.
Sopore has been a major trading centre for years. Iqbal market is
the main market of the township. In chotta bazaar, one can shop for
spices, wholesale products and fish. Sopore's fish is much sought
after and relished in the whole of north Kashmir. The old town is
also famous for its bakeries
, which have
withstood the onslaught of modern day pastery corners and continue
to have long queues in the mornings.
miles from Sopore is the famed Wular Lake.
It is one of the largest fresh water lake's in Asia and home to
some rare water birds. The lake, along with the extensive marshes
surrounding it, is an important natural
habitat for wildlife
. The width and length
of the lake is 7 km. From Watlab to Sonawari, it is also an
important habitat for fish
, accounting for 60
per cent of the total fish production within the State of Jammu and
Kashmir. The lake is a source of livelihood for a large human
population living along its fringes. The catchment area of the lake
supports magnificent coniferous
pastures and orchards, adding
to the natural beauty and biodiversity of the wetland
area. Many villages get their livings from
the wular lake, Certain villages from Sopore tehsil residing near
banks of wular lake like Hathlangoo, Watlab, Zirmanz, Warapora
(Pethbugh), Get most of the livilihood from this lake. Fishes,
Firewood and leaves from trees are common items got from this lake
and vicinity by these people.
The people of Sopore have been historically anti-establishment but
very sporty. Football is a favourite sport. Old people can be seen
cheering along with children and young people in the evening
football ties, usually played in the degree college grounds,
Khushal Stadium, MET ground , Noorgah etc area.
Sopore is dotted by many places of religious
significance. The more important ones
include: Khan-kah Shah-i-Hamdan and Jama Masjid. Besides there are
numerous little shrines
') spread all over the place.
Frequented by people from many areas, some of these spiritual
places include: Baba Shukur Din Watlab Sopore, Shiekh Hamza
Makhdoomi Tujar, Syed Fatullah Haqani Bomai, Saed shahib Darapora
Zainagir, Daid Mouj Mundji, Arza sahib takya khan zainagair
,Hathi-Shah Sahib, Rahim-Sahib Armpora, Hab Shahib Hathlangoo,
Shah-Dargah Sahib, Syed Jamal-Din Sahib, Khuj Sahib-Shiva to name a
Old Hindu shrines include Rishi peer Mandir (Batpora) and Shiv
Mandir. Besides these shrines a lot of people in Sopore venerate
the local Peer's (holy
men) and the township
has been home to quite a few. The more famous ones are: Ahad Sahib
, Lassa Sahib Arm, Ama Sahib Guknu, Aziz Sahib Vandhome.
Apart from the seemingly distinct sufi religious streak, Sopore has
also been a centre of radical Islamic political formations,
notably, the Jamaat-Islami, J and K. The firebrand Islamist leader
Syed Ali Shah Geelani
currently Chairman of one faction of the separatist Hurriat
conference, belongs to a village called Dooru near Sopore.
In Jammu and Kashmir, on January 6, 1993, Kashmiris witnessed
bloodbath and arson by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel
in the apple town of Sopore.
At least 60 people fell to the bullets of troopers, hundreds of
shops and houses were gutted down and property worth crores of
rupees lost when the troopers went on a killing spree in vengeance
after one of their colleague had been injured in a firing incident.
Though 16 years have passed since the incident, the residents of
the town still shiver remembering the fateful chilly morning of
January 6, when markets of Sopore were razed to the ground within
This is one of the few massacres that have been mentioned in TIME
Magazine. The news report appeared on Jan 18, 1993 in TIME Magazine
under the headline, Blood tide
rising: Indian forces carry out one of the worst massacres in
Kashmir’s history. The magazine described the massacre as: “Perhaps
there is a special corner in hell reserved for troopers who fire
their weapons indiscriminately into a crowd of unarmed civilians in
the Kashmiri town of Sopore.”
In the reconstructed Main Chowk market of Sopore Town it is hard to
find the traces of the carnage the troopers carried out on January
6, 1993, killing more than 55 persons, most of them roasted alive
in shops, buses, and houses. The troopers set about 100 houses and
300 shops on fire after dousing them with gunpowder, the local
residents recall. For three days people rummaged the debris for