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Destinations


Jammu and Kashmir
Overview

Of Kashmir, it was said, "Gar bar-ru-e-zamin ast; hamin ast, hamin ast, hamin asto" or " If there be a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here."

The lofty snow clad mountain ranges, sylvan landscape and remarkably good-looking people made this state a virtual paradise. Of Kashmir, it was said, "Gar bar-ru-e-zamin ast; hamin ast, hamin ast, hamin asto" or " If there be a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here."

This state, at the extreme north west of the country, is bounded on the west and north by Pakistan, on the northeast by China and on the southeast and south by the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. The State lies between 32.17" and 36.58" north latitude and east to west, the State lies between 73.26" and 80.30" longitude. More than 90 percent of the state is mountainous. From southwest to northeast the region contains the fertile Jammu and Punch plains, the coniferous Himalayan foothills from 2,000 to 7,000 feet, the heavily glaciated Pir Panjal range at 12,500 feet, the valley of Kashmir at 5,300 feet, the Himalayan ranges above 20,000 feet, the upper Indus River valley at 11,000 feet, the stark, barren plateau of Ladakh and the remote Karokaram range. The Indus, Jhelum, Chenab and Tawi are the principal rivers while the Dal and Wular are the major lakes. The climate varies from alpine in the northeast to subtropical in the southwest.

The topography of Jammu and Kashmir offers a wide variety of climate and vegetation making the state a wildlife enthusiast's delight. No animal better exemplifies the character and concerns of mountain environment than the snow leopard. Another rare animal is the hangul or Kashmir stag, one of the most endangered species of red deer in the world. The eco-system here is well balanced with animals and people coexisting peacefully and one third of the world's true mountain animals belonging to these mountains.

More on Kashmir
History
Geography
People
Economy
Festivals
Wildlife
Adventure
Tourist Information
Climate

Places to Visit
Drass
Gulmarg
Jammu
Pahalgam
Sonamarg
Srinagar
Ladakh
More on Ladakh
Pilgrim Places
Amarnath Yatra
Vaishno Devi


Adventure
Mountaineering
Trekking
Rafting
Paragliding
Rock climbing

According to legend, corroborated by some geologists, Kashmir was earlier a huge lake called the Karewa, which was formed by the blocking of the Jhelum river by the rising Pir Panjal range during one of the periodic phases of Himalayan uplift. The river finally escaped by forming a deep gorge through the Pir Panjal range at Uri. After the waters of the Karewa had drained away, the valley of Kashmir was left behind. There is evidence of coral and other marine fossils in this region.

The lofty snow clad mountain ranges, sylvan landscape and remarkably good-looking people made this state a virtual paradise.
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In the second century, Kashmir was known to have been annexed by emperor Kanishka and became a part of the Kushan Empire, though reliable sources trace the history of Kashmir only to the seventh century. For a thousand years after, the country flourished, maintaining its culture. Converting peacefully to Islam in the 14th century, the state was later subdued by Akbar in 1585, followed by a period of brutal Afghan rule, which was replaced by neighbouring Punjab's Sikh rule. Following the treaty of Amritsar in 1846, Kashmir and the adjoining regions of Jammu, Baltistan and Ladakh became part of the Maharaja's state of Jammu and Kashmir with the British assuming control over the state's external affairs, while the Maharajas determined their own domestic policy. A Hindu maharaja in a predominantly Muslim state, attacked by Pathan tribals, appealed to India for protection. In the ensuing conflict, 64,000 sq. kms in Ladakh were occupied by China, one third of Kashmir's territory was occupied by Pakistan and the rest was claimed by India. Though there was a formal ratification of Kashmir's accession to India in 1954, the state has continued to witness bloody wars, territorial disputes and terrorism.

J & K is divided into three broad segments : Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Kashmir has the maximum population at 53%, Jammu has 45%, while remote and difficult to access Ladakh is a stark, sparsely populated moonscape of incredible rough-hewn beauty. The state has been in the glare of international interest because of the constant disputes over territorial rights.

The state has several pilgrim destinations for Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists.
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The state has several pilgrim destinations for Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. The Amarnath temple and the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine are among the most revered and sacred of Hindu pilgrimage sites and hundreds of devotees pay homage every year at these places. The Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar where the Moi-e-Muqqadus, or sacred hair of Prophet Mohaamad is preserved, is a Muslim pilgrim site where the faithful come to pay homage. The Shahdara Sharief in Rajouri district is a symbol of communal harmony. Baba Ghulam Shah, born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, made Shahdara his home and Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs visit the shrine to offer prayers and seek the blessings of the Pir. Ladakh, remote and isolated, has a fascinating barren landscape and attracts tourists keen to experience the stark atmosphere that forms the backdrop to the many monasteries and monastic festivals here.

The state has several diverse locations, which are enthralling, indeed. These include Srinagar, the land of Mughal gardens, enchanting houseboats and the summer capital; Pahalgam with its soaring mountains, icy glaciers and cascading streams, the base for the famous Amarnath yatra; Gulmarg with its pretty landscapes, highest golf course in the world and ski slopes that tempt the daring; Sonamarg the land of the golden meadows and religious Jammu- the winter capital. Buddhist populated Ladakh has its own special enduring charm with the isolated plateau of Leh, Kargil the second largest town of Ladakh, the enchanting Suru Valley and mountainous Zanskar.

Compiled by Puneet Sachdeva


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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.