Kashmir

The sheer beauty and grandeur of the Kashmir Valley cannot be captured in plain words. Set at the foot of the awesome Himalayas, with the splendid Jhelum river meandering through it, this land of raw natural magnificence has enticed people from all over the world, for centuries. Aptly referred to as Paradise, Kashmir has been ruled by Emperor Ashoka, the Kushans, Gonondas, Guptas, Karkotas, Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs, and finally by the Dogras in the 19th century. Despite all these invasions, the Kashmiris have retained their traditions and innate simplicity. The major chunk of the population is Muslim, followed by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians.

Dal LakeKashmir is a land crisscrossed by umpteen lakes and rivers, each fascinating in its own way. The Jhelum or Vitasta, as it was called, is not only the bloodline, as it were, of the state, but also poses as the ethereal inspiration for many songs, legends, and poems. The other notable lakes include the Manasbal Lake, the Liddar river, the famous Dal lake, Nagin Lake and the Wular Lake, the largest in the state. Shalimar, Nasim Bagh, Nishat Bagh, and the legendary Chashme - e - Shahi are some of the delightful gardens, that are to be found here.

Nishat GardenApart from its being the land of soaring snowclad mountains, sparkling waterfalls, shikaras (water taxis), impressive chinar trees, and vast fields of vibrant flowers, Kashmir is also renown for its unique handicrafts - papier-mache, woodwork, stone jewellery, fine Pashmina and Shahtush shawls, carpet weaving and silverware. The arts and crafts of this region are more than 500 years old, and bear a distinct Persian imprint. The valley is studded with several mosques and temples, built in diverse architectural styles. The Hazratbal Mosque, the holiest of all Muslim shrines, the stone temples of Avantipur, the cave at Amarnath, the most sacred Hindu shrine in the state, the great Shankaracharya temple, the Martand Temple all add to the kaleidoscopic appeal of Kashmir.

PahalgamSrinagar, the capital of Kashmir and its very heart; Gulmarg , the snow haven; idyllic Pahalgam; Sonmarg, the golden meadow; Kokernag, Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary, Yusmarg and Daksum are some of the chief attractions of the valley.

Festivals

The major festivals that are celebrated with great pomp and show include the Id - ul - Fitr, Id - ul - Zuha, Shivratri, and Diwali.

Access

By air: Indian Airlines has regular flights from Srinagar to Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Delhi, Jammu and Leh.

By rail: The nearest railhead is Jammu Tawi, which is connected to all parts of the country by Express trains.

By road: Srinagar, located on the National Highway 1A, is connected by a network of roads to Jammu, Leh, Kargil, Gulmarg, Manasbal, Pahalgam, Delhi, Sonmarg and Pathankot.

Jammu & Kashmir