Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is a state in northern India. It is located mostly in the Himalayan Mountains, and shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south. Jammu and Kashmir has an international border with China in the north and east, and the Line of Control separates it from the Pakistani-controlled territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan in the west and northwest respectively. The state has special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital. The Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, and Jammu’s numerous shrines attract tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as “Little Tibet”, is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture. It is the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population.
History & Couture
Hari Singh had ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925 and was the reigning monarch at the conclusion of British rule in the subcontinent in 1947. One of the conditions of the partition of India imposed by Britain was that the rulers of princely states would have the right to opt for either Pakistan or India or remain independent. In 1947, Kashmir’s population was 77% Muslim and it shared a boundary with both Dominion of Pakistan and Union of India.On 20 October 1947,Locals and tribesmen backed by Pakistan invaded Kashmir.
Jammu’s Dogra culture and tradition is very similar to that of neighbouring Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Traditional Punjabi festivals such as Lohri and Vaisakhi are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm throughout the region, along with Accession Day, an annual holiday which commemorates the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the Dominion of India. After Dogras, Gujjars form the second-largest ethnic group in Jammu. Known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle, Gujjars are also found in large numbers in the Kashmir Valley. Similar to Gujjars, Gaddis are primarily herdsmen who hail from the Chamba region in Himachal Pradesh. Gaddis are generally associated with emotive music played on the flute. The Bakkarwalas found both in Jammu and the Valley of Kashmir are wholly nomadic pastoral people who move along the Himalayan slopes in search for pastures for their huge flocks of goats and sheep.
Dal Lake is a lake in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The urban lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir and is named the “Jewel in the crown of Kashmir” or “Srinagar’s Jewel”. The lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting. The shore line of the lake, is about 15.5 kilometres (9.6 mi), is encompassed by a boulevard lined with Mughal era gardens, parks, houseboats and hotels. Scenic views of the lake can be witnessed from the shore line Mughal gardens, such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Jahangir and from houseboats cruising along the lake in the colourful shikaras. During the winter season, the temperature sometimes reaches −11 °C (12 °F), freezing the lake. The lake covers an area of 18 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi) and is part of a natural wetland which covers 21.1 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi), including its floating gardens. The floating gardens, known as “Rad” in Kashmiri, blossom with lotus flowers during July and August. The wetland is divided by causeways into four basins; Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin (although Nagin is also considered as an independent lake). Lokut-dal and Bod-dal each have an island in the centre, known as Rup Lank (or Char Chinari) and Sona Lank respectively.
At present, the Dal Lake and its Mughal gardens, Shalimar Bagh and the Nishat Bagh on its periphery are undergoing intensive restoration measures to fully address the serious eutrophication problems experienced by the lake. Massive investments of around US$275 million ( 11 billion) is being made by the Government of India to restore the lake to its original splendour.
Thiksay Gompa or Thiksay Monastery (also transliterated from Ladakhi as Tikse, Tiksey or Thiksey) is a gompa (monastery) affiliated with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It is located on top of a hill approximately 19 kilometres (12 mi) east of Leh in Ladakh, India. It is noted for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and is the largest gompa in central Ladakh, notably containing a separate set of buildings for female renunciates that has been the source of significant recent building and reorganisation. The monastery is located at an altitude of 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) in the Indus Valley. It is a twelve-story complex and houses many items of Buddhist art such as stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. One of the main points of interest is the Maitreya Temple installed to commemorate the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama to this monastery in 1970; it contains a 15 metres (49 ft) high statue of Maitreya, the largest such statue in Ladakh, covering two stories of the building.
Betaab valley is situated at a distance of 15 kilometers from Pahalgam in Anantnag district in India’s northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir. The valley got its name from the Sunny Deol-Amrita Singh hit debut film Betaab. The Valley is towards northeast of Pahalgam and falls between Pahalgam and Chandanwadi and is en route Amarnath Temple Yatra. The valley surrounded by lush green meadows, snow clad mountains and covered with dense vegetation.
Hari Parbat, locally known as Koh-e-Maran and among the Hindus as Sharika Peeth, is a hill overlooking Srinagar, the largest city and summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the site of the Durrani Fort, built in 1808. It has the famous Shakti Temple on the western slope and shrines of Hamza Makhdoom and Badakhshi on the southern slope. On the southern side of the outer wall there is a Gurudwara which commemorates the visit of Guru Har Gobind.
Kheer Bhawani is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Kheer Bhawani (originally just Bhawani) constructed over a sacred spring .The worship of Kheer Bhawani is universal among the Hindus of Kashmir. The temple is situated at a distance of 14 miles east of Srinagar near the village of Tul Mul. The term kheer refers to rice pudding that is offered in the spring to propitiate the Goddess, which became part of the name of the temple. As is the custom with Hindu deities, she has many names: Maharagya Devi, Ragnya Devi, Rajni, Ragnya Bhagwati, and so on.