Bandipora (misspelled as Bandipore, Bandipur, Bandipura) is the administrative headquarters of the district of Bandipora in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is located on the northern banks of Wular Lake – the second largest fresh water lake in Asia. Bandipora has a terraced garden similar to that of Nishat Bagh in Srinagar. In Kashmiri there is a famous phrase about Bandipora or in other words Bandipora is famous for three A’s – A’lim (knowledge), Adab (good habits or literature) and Aab (water). As can be known from the folklore, the name of Bandipora (pronounced as Band e pur) originated either from Band of Wullar Lake, due to the Bands of place or due the Closed (Band in Kashmiri) geographical location (i.e., Bandipora is bound by mountains on three sides and by Wular Lake in the fourth).
Bandipora is situated on the banks of the Wular, the largest fresh-water lake in Asia which is home to a lot of migratory birds. Inadvertent dumping of the polluted river waters and sewage affluence has led to a pandemic growth of algae in the waters of the Wular which is threatening the lake and its supporting life itself. The main source of pollution to Wullar Lake is Jehlum river. Jehlum river carries all the wastes from Srinagar city and other surrounding areas and deposits it in Wullar Lake. Despite being the richest wetland of South Asia and Largest Fresh water lake in Asia, no steps have been taken to save Wullar Lake. Bandipora is also a stepping town to the higher reaches of Razdan, Gurez and Tragbal.
The famous Lolab valley in Kupwara district is adjacent to the Bandipora. It is just 30 km from Bandipora via Aaloosa village. Once this road is upgraded it will become a lifeline of the Lolab valley and it will provide an additional route to the Kupwara district.
Bandipora was the connecting link between North India and Central Asia via the Silk Road. At Pazalpora village there was a custom and immigration department which is now a forest check post. There are strong links between skardu gurez and Bandipora.
As of 2001 Indian census, Bandipora had a population of 25,714. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Bandipora has an average literacy rate of 57.82%, lower than the national average of 59.5%; with 65% of the males and 35% of females literate. 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.
It has a Muslim majority though there are a few villages where Pandits also lived before their migration to the other parts of the country. The Pandit population were in large numbers at Ajar, Kalusa, Kharapora, Mantrigam Aragam etc. Some Pandit families at Ajar and Kaloosa did not migrate. The temple at Kaloosa (or Kaloosa) is known as Sharda Mandir dates back to old times. It has a very big and old tree which is a few hundred years old and is a rare tree of its type. This is popularly known as Bran, a revered tree. There are many villages in this newly formed district named after Hindu gods and goddesses such as Chakreshipora, named after Chakerishwar. The forest training school of Kashmir is located in Bandipora. It was established in 1905. This institute is a premier body in the conservation process of the forest department.
The majority of the population speak Kashmiri. Gojri and Pahari are also spoken. Tehsil Gurez is Shina-speaking and has a Shina majority. There are few Pashtun villages on the Line of Control. The famous Kishan Ganga Hydro Electric Project is also located in the Gurez Tehsil of Bandipora. Project is worth Rs. 2700 Crore (Rs. 27 billion).It will generate electricity of 330 MW, which will be distributed from Kashmir.
The literacy rate in the main town of Bandipora and adjoining areas is quite high. The Pandit population had nearly 100 percent literacy. Waseem Bilal Shah, hailing from a small village Rampore, Bandipora, became the first global business head for Adobe Systems Incorporated (EMEA) region. Waseem is the first Kashmiri who has been directly nominated by the vice-president of the company “Matt Thompson” for this position while he introduced few plugins for the newly released Adobe Flash player in 2012. He is considered to be a role model in the organization and has been awarded several times for his innovative work.
The main township of Bandipora is called Plan. The name stuck after the area was constructed under a plan approved by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, Ex. Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, on his visit to incinerated town of Bandipora in 1963. The important villages of Bandipora are Nowpora, Naz Colony Nowpora, Lowdara, Dachigam, Ahamshareef, Ajar, Aloosa, Aragam, Arin, Ashtangoo, Ayathmullah, Barazullah, Bonakoot, Binleepora,Brar,Doban, Dardpora, Gamroo, Garoora, Gund-i-Dachina,Gundpora, Gund-i-Qaiser, Gurez, Kaloosa, Kehnoosa, Kemah, Khayar, Kharapora, Kralpora, Konan, Lawaypora, Mader, Mangnipora, Mantrigam, Muqaam, Nadihal, Nusoo, Paanaar, Panzigam, Papachan, Patushai, Pathkoot, Qazipora, Quil, Rampora, Sonarwani, Sumlar, Tangath, Turkpora, Wanagam, Watapora, Waven, etc.
One of the sacred places of the Hindus is Danishwar, locally also called Chota Amar Nath. It is a cave in dense forests of Erin. Pilgrims have to crawl about 60 meters to reach a cave where there are engraved features of Lord Shiva. People used to go there on the Sharvan Purnima, the date on which Amar Nath Yatra is being performed. Disputes: for many years Bandipora is being disputed in Papachan district was most followed by it. Stoon pelting is the common way of disputation.
Bandipora is the location of the Forest Training and Research Institute in Jammu and Kashmir. It is 3 km distance from the main town. The Darul-Ullom-Rehamia (School for Philosophers) is the largest religious institution in Jammu and Kashmir. It is the largest Islamic institution of valley.
Bandipora is known for tracking, mountaineering and fishing. The famous Arin Nallah is home to one of the most exotic trout (Rainbow Trout, Silver Trout and Gray Trout).