Situated in the northern part of India, Jammu & Kashmir
is the essence of everything that is Indian-its culture,
history, tradition, people, and natural splendor. The state has
a long history encompassing around 4,000 years and there are many
prehistoric sites, which give indication of human settlement in
this region in those times.
The state was integrated as a part of India in 1948, when the then
ruler of Jammu & Kashmir agreed to join the Indian federation
and the state was given a special status under article 370 of the
Situated in the northernmost part of India, Jammu and Kashmir
is bordered by Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan from West to East.
From South to East, the boundary of the state touches Punjab and
Himachal. The state extends between the latitudes 32°17¢N
to 36°58N and longitudes 37°26¢E to 80°30¢E.
The state can be divided into four major regions: the sub-mountain
and semi-mountain plain known as kandi or dry belt; the Shivalik
ranges, the high mountain zone constituting the Kashmir Valley;
Pir Panchal range and its off-shoots including Doda, Poonch and
Rajouri districts and part of Kathua and Udhampur districts; and
the middle run of the Indus River comprising Leh and Kargil.
Although a small state, the climate of this state varies from
one region to another. The climate of Jammu region is tropical while
it is semi-arctic in Ladakh and temperate in Srinagar region. Accordingly,
rainfall also varies from region to region and while there is almost
no rainfall in Ladakh, Jammu receives a rainfall of above 1,100
mm and Srinagar around 650 mm.
The state is rich in flora and fauna. In Jammu, the
flora ranges from the thorn bush type of the arid plain to the temperate
and alpine flora of the higher altitudes. Of the broad-leaf trees,
there are maple, horse chestnuts, silver fir, etc. At the higher
altitudes, there are birch, rhododendron, and a large number of
is also resplendent with many hues of wood and game. The most
magnificent of the Kashmir trees is the chinar found throughout
the valley. Mountain ranges in the valley have dense deodar, pine
and fir. Walnut, willow, almond and cider also add to the rich flora
the hilly regions of Doda, Udhampur, Poonch and Rajouri, there is
a large and varied fauna including leopard, cheetah and deer, wild
sheep, bear, brown musk shrew, and muskrat. Varieties of snakes,
bats, lizards and frogs are also found in the region. The game birds
in Jammu include chakor (Alectoris graeca), snow partridge,
pheasants, and peacock.
dense forests of Kashmir are a delight to the sport lovers
and adventurers for whom there are ibex, snow leopard, musk deer,
wolf, red bear, black bear and leopard. The winged game includes
ducks, goose, partridge, chakor, pheasant, wagtails, herons, water
pigeons, warblers, and doves. In the otherwise arid desert of Ladakh,
some 240 species of local and migratory birds have been identified
including the black-necked crane.
Ladakh fauna includes yak, Himalayan ibex, Tibetan antelope,
snow leopard, wild ass, red bear and gazelle.
The history of Jammu & Kashmir is quite old. Kashmir
is mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. In 250 BC, Ashoka, the great
Mauryan king, established the city of Pandrethan and built many
viharas and chaityas. This says much about the strategic importance
that this region held even in that time. Some sources claim that
Buddha also visited this region, though no proof is available to
validate this theory. Kanishka, the great Kushana king, called the
Third Buddhist Council at Harwan, near Srinagar, in the first century
AD. This Council saw the division of Buddhism in two distinct streams
called Hinayana and Mahayana.
the first Indian history writer, gave a vivid account of the history
of Kashmir before the 10th century AD. Local kingdoms ruled extensively
in this region until the 12th century AD when Muslims invaded the
region. The greatest Muslim king of early medieval age in Kashmir
was Zain-ul-Abidin, who ascended the throne in AD 1420 and ruled
up to 1470. His long rule contributed extensively to the spread
of art, culture, music, and every other sphere in the life of Kashmir
people. He also created a strong army and annexed many regions nearby
Kashmir. These were the time of golden rule in Kashmir when peace
and harmony prevailed. After the death of King Zain-ul-Abidin, a
period of destruction came calling to Kashmir and many raiders from
outside looted the state and made the people and local rulers their
1587, Akbar annexed Kashmir into his vast empire. Jahangir, son
of Akbar and next Mughal ruler, visited Kashmir 13 times and created
two beautiful gardens on the bank of Dal Lake, namely, the Shalimar
Bagh and Nishat Bagh. After two centuries of peace and development,
Kashmir came into the hands of the Pathans in 1752, when the Afghan
ruler Abdul Shah Abdali attacked this region on the request of local
noblemen. The Pathans established a rule of terror here, no better
than that of Aurangzeb, the last important Mughal ruler.
1819, the Sikhs under Maharaja Ranjit Singh annexed this region,
but their empire remained in place only for 27 years. From 1846
to 1957, the Dogras ruled over this region when British defeated
Ranjit Singh and handed over the administration of this region to
Maharaja Gulab Singh. The Dogra rule also for the first time put
in reality the modern state of Jammu & Kashmir. During Indias
freedom struggle, people from this state participated extensively
under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah and decided to go with India
in 1948 after the country became independent.
Majority of the people in this region are Muslims with concentration
of Hindus mainly in Jammu region, while Buddhists are confined to
Kashmiri shawls, the woven jewels of Kashmir, have developed
over 300 years. There are two distinct types of shawls-the amli
and the kani. Amli means embroidered, where narrow strips of cloth
woven on a small loom are carefully joined together with almost
invisible stitches. In kani shawls the designs are woven on the
loom like twill tapestry. The most valued shawls are the pashminas
composed of treads of delicate wool from the under-belly of the
wild Tibetan goat that lives 4,000 feet above sea level. The finest
wool is shahtoosh. It is superfine, extraordinarily light and amazingly
warm. The most complex woven shawl is the jamawar, woven like tapestry.
Sometimes, as many as 50 colors are used in a single weft.
origins of hand-knotted carpets can be traced back to more than
2,000 years. In India, the hand-knotted carpet appeared in the 15th
century. In Kashmir, it attained a high degree of perfection especially
in the 16th and 17th centuries under the Mughal emperors. Wool is
the basic material, but in Kashmir silk is also commonly used. The
appearance and number of knots on the back of the carpet indicates
the quality. The Bokhara carpets are one of the finest with about
125-500 knots in a square inch.
over 2,500 years, the patterns reproduced were those of flower arabesques
and rhomboids with an occasional animal design. The patterns have
never become outmoded even today.
As is the beauty of this state, it has a great cultural tradition.
Major performing traditions of this state are Rouf (a dance form
performed on the occasion of Eid and Ramjan), Hafiz Nagma (based
on Sufiana Qalam, a classical music tradition of Kashmir), song
of Habba Khaton (based on the folk renderings of Kashmiri music),
Jagarna (a theatrical activity performed by the womenfolk of house
when men go out in a marriage), Surma (Dogri songs set to dance),
Bakhan (Dogri songs), and Geetru (Dogri dance and song performance).
The Hemis Festival is held in the month of July when tourists
in large numbers converge here from all over the world to watch
the famous masked dances. The music is characteristically punctuated
with sounds of cymbals, drums and long, unwieldy trumpets. The masked
dancers move around slowly, very slowly, and the most vital part
of the dance is the masks and not so much the actual movements of
the dance. The dances end with Good vanquishing Evil and the evil
one is brought into the protective fold of Buddhism.
the Hemis festival, monasteries like Lamayuru, Thiksey, Spitook,
Likir and many others also have their individual festivals. Since
they follow the lunar calendar, the actual dates of the festivals
vary from one year to another. Other than these religious celebrations,
Ladakh has also been host to a 15-day festival each year to bring
forward the many nuances of this rich and exotic culture that is
peculiar to this high part of the world. The Jammu and Kashmir tourism
department organizes the Ladakh Festival in the month of September
bringing forward the regions folk dances, art and craft, sporting
events and rituals.
Think of Kashmiri cuisine and visions of deliciously spicy
meat dishes and the delicate flavor of saffron come to mind. The
Kashmiris are passionate about their food and this is evident from
the amount of time they spend either cooking it or discussing about
it. Meat being the staple, most of the special dishes have mutton
as a major ingredient. Nahari, a special breakfast dish, is a stew
of trotters and tongue, seasoned with cassia buds, cardamom, sandalwood
powder, vetiver roots and dried rose petals. The sheermal bread
goes well with this stew. The methi maz , on the other hand, is
a superb blend of mild-tasting entrails and strong-flavored fenugreek
its roots to Kashmir is the ever-popular rogan josh, which is spiced
lamb cooked in yogurt and aniseed, a spice not very commonly used
in other regional cuisines. While tabak maz is spiced ribs fried
to crispiness, for the qorma, a lightly sour creamy dish, shoulder
of lamb and tail are cooked in milk and dried apricots, and the
yakhni uses curd as the base for its sauce. Rista, the first gravy
dish to make its appearance in a wazwan, is a meatball of pounded
lamb that is silky in texture. After a whole range of dishes comes
the gushtaba, a giant meatball made of the same, pounded meat, cooked
in a curd based gravy.
semolina pudding sometimes follows the main courses of the wazwan,
but there are not too many sweet dishes in the Kashmiri repertoire.
However, a different preparation, served to freshen the mouth after
the wazwan, is the gota-a mixture of aniseed, sugar candy, bits
of supari (optional), coarsely grated coconut and kernels of muskmelon
specialty of Kashmir is the delicately understated saffron. It is
the worlds most expensive spice because farmers would have
to harvest 70,000 of Crocus sativus flowers to extract 210 thousand
stigmas to make one pound, which is less than a kilogram of saffron.
Handicrafts being the traditional industry, it has been receiving
top priority in the state. The handicraft products have demand from
both inside and outside the country. Coal, gypsum, and limestone
are the major minerals produced in the state.
Majority of the population of the state depends on agriculture.
Paddy, wheat and maize are the major crops. Barley, bajra and jowar
are cultivated in some parts. Gram is grown in Ladakh.
the state capital, is the most famous tourist destination in the
state. An ancient city, there are many attractions that can attract
even the most unwilling of tourists to this magical land. Dal Lake,
Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, and Chashme Shahi are some of the best-known
tourist spot in Srinagar.
is the winter capital of the state and next in importance after
Srinagar. Most of the tourists who come to the Jammu region have
the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine as their destination, which is quite
close by. However, the spirit of holiness permeates through the
entire city, so much so that Jammu is also known as the City
of Temples. If Bahu Mata is the presiding deity of Jammu,
the dargah of Peer Budhan Ali Shah is the other shrine that is believed
to protect the local people. The other major tourist attraction
is the Raghunath Temple Complex, which is the largest temple in
North India devoted to Lord Rama. The construction of this temple
was begun by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1851 and completed by his son
Ranbir Singh six years later.
temple of Maha Kali (better known as Bahu or Bawey Wali Mata), located
in the Bahu Fort, is considered second only to Mata Vaishno Devi
in terms of mystical power. The temple was built shortly after the
coronation of Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1822.
temples in the city include the Gauri Kund Temple, Shudh Mahadev
Temple, Shiva Temple, Peer Khoh Cave Temple, Ranbireshwar Temple,
and the Parmandal Temple Complex.
most stunning site in Jammu is the Sheesh Mahal. The Pink Hall of
the palace now houses the Dogra Art Museum, which has miniature
paintings of the various hill schools. The museum also has the handwritten
Persian manuscripts of the Shahnama and Sikandernama. The palace
was once the royal residence of the Dogra kings. Built as a group
of buildings around a courtyard, the palace has a commanding view
of river Tawi on one side and the city on the other.
Amar Mahal Palace Museum is a beautiful palace of red sandstone,
which stands amidst the most picturesque environs of Jammu. It offers
a beautiful view of the Shivaliks in the north and the river Tawi
in the south. This was once the residential palace of Raja Amar
Singh, but now it has been converted into a museum. The museum has
a golden throne made of 120 kg of pure gold.
treat for those interested in history is the town of Akhnoor, 32
km southwest of Jammu. Standing on the banks of the mighty river
Chenab, the town tells the tragic tale of the lovers Sohni and Mahiwal.
Along the riverbank are the majestic ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization
that are of great historical importance.
near the Vaishno Devi Temple, is fast becoming a busy hill station
and a good place to enjoy the nature in its eternity.
is home to the minority Buddhist community in the state. They have
preserved their unique culture for the past hundreds of years. Leh
is the headquarters of this region. The major points of attraction
are the Leh Palace, Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, Sankar Gompa, Shanti Stupa,
and Soma Gompa.
Area : 222,236 sq km
Population : 9,535,000 (1998)
Religion : Islam
Annual : Rainfall 619.66 mm
Capital : Srinagar (Summer), Jammu (Winter)
Languages : Urdu, Kashmiri, Hindi, Dogri, Pahari, Ladakhi
Literacy Rate : 26.67% (1981)
Urbanization Ratio : 23.83%
Best Time to Visit : April to June (Kashmir Valley), October
to March (Jammu Region)
Air: The state has three major civil airports at Srinagar, Jammu,
and Ladakh connected to Delhi and other places in the country. Indian
Airlines and its subsidiary Alliance Air operate in the Delhi-Chandigarh-Ladakh
and Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar routes.
Rail: Jammu Tawi is the main railhead of Jammu & Kashmir.
It is connected to most of the important towns and cities of the
country. Moreover, the longest rail route that stretches from Jammu
Tawi to Kanyakumari and touches almost all the main cities and towns
of the country originates from here.
Road: One can easily reach Jammu by the National Highway 1A
that goes from Punjab and runs through this city, connecting it
to the rest of the state, including the capital Srinagar. The state
transport corporation runs several buses to most of the big towns
and cities in north India.
is connected to Srinagar and Manali by some of the most difficult
road networks in the world. The Manali-Leh road is considered as
the highest motorable road in the world.