Largest city :
45.31/km² (117/sq mi)
Jammu and Kashmir (abbreviated as J&K or simply Kashmir) is the northernmost state of India. Situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains, Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to the west and the People's Republic of China to the north-east and east.
Jammu and Kashmir consists of three divisions: Jammu, the Kashmir valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu its winter capital. While the Kashmir valley, often known as paradise on Earth, is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, Jammu attracts tens of thousands of Hindu and Muslim pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as "Little Tibet", is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture. Though Islam is practiced by about 65% of population (and 95% of the population in the Kashmir Valley), the state has significant minorities of Hindus (who constitute 67% of the population in Jammu and 32% of the state's population), Buddhists (who constitute 51% of the population in Ladakh and 3% of the total population of the state), and Sikhs (who form 5% of Jammu's population and 2% of the state's population).
The Valley of Kashmir was once the great lake Satisar. According to Hindu texts, the Hindu sage Kashyapa drained a lake lying north of the Pir Panjal range by cutting the mountain near Varamulla. The sage then encouraged people from India to settle in the valley that was formed after the lake was drained. The locals named the valley Kashyap-Mar and Kashyap-Pura in honour of the sage. The name Kashmir is derived from ka (the water) and shimeera (to desiccate). In other words, the word Kashmir implies land desiccated from water.
Kashmir was one of the major centres of Sanskrit scholars in ancient times. According to Mahabharata evidence, Kambojas had ruled over Kashmir during epic times and it was a Republican system of government under the Kamboj. The capital city of Kashmir (Kamboj) during epic times was Rajapura e.g. Karna-Rajapuram-gatva-Kambojah-nirjitastava. Epic Rajapura is the same as Ho-lo-she-pu-lo of Yuan Chawang and has been identified with modern Rajauri.After, the Panchalas are stated to have established their sway. The name Peer Panjal, which is a part of modern Kashmir, is a witness to this fact. Panjal is simply a distorted form of the Sanskritic tribal term Panchala. The Muslims had prefixed the word " peer " to it in memory of one Siddha Faqir and the name thence-after is said to have changed into Peer Panjal.
The Kashmir valley was first incorporated into the Maurya Empire and then into the Kushan Empire. In the early 8th century, Kashmir became the center of Hindu warrior Lalitaditya Muktapida's empire spanning much of northern India and Central Asia. Kashmir was invaded in mid 12th century by the Muslim Turkish army but it was completely occupied by Turkish Zulkadur Khan in 1322. Later in 1394, another Turkish occupation took place by Sikandar who made Islam the state religion allegedly resulting in forced mass conversions. Udayan Dev was the last free Kashmiri ruler but after his death in 1338, Kashmir was completely occupied by the Muslims Turks. Turkish rule ended when the Mughal Emperor Akbar invaded Kashmir in 1586, led by Hindu King Bhagawant Das and his aide Ramchandra I. The Mughal army easily defeated Yusuf Khan of Kashmir. After the battle, Akbar appointed Ramchandra I as the governor of the Himalayan kingdom. Ramchandra I founded the city of Jammu (named after Hindu goddess Jamwa Mata) south of the Pir Panjal range. Ramchandra was the ancestor of the last Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir Hari Singh whose kingdom was invaded by Pakistan on 20 October 1947.
1909 Map of the Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu. The names of different regions, important cities, rivers, and mountains are underlined in red.
Portrait of Maharaja Gulab Singh, former Governor of Jammu of the Sikh Empire of Ranjit Singh, in 1847, after signing the Treaty of Amritsar with the British, when he became Maharaja for the territories of Kashmir east of the Indus and west of the Ravi. (Artist: James Duffield Harding).In 1780, after the death of Ranjit Deo, a descendant of Ramchandra I, Jammu and Kashmir was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore and afterwards, until 1846, became a tributary to the Sikh power. Ranjit Deo's grand-nephew, Gulab Singh, subsequently sought service at the court of Ranjit Singh, distinguished himself in later
wars, and was appointed as the Governor or Raja of Jammu in 1820. With the help of his able officer, Zorawar Singh, Gulab Singh soon captured Ladakh and Baltistan, regions to the east and north-east of Kashmir. In 1845, the First Anglo-Sikh War broke out, and Gulab Singh "contrived to hold himself aloof till the battle of Sobraon (1846), when he appeared as a useful mediator and the trusted advisor of Sir Henry Lawrence. Two treaties were concluded. By the first the State of Lahore (i.e. West Punjab) was handed over to the British, as equivalent for (rupees) one crore of indemnity, the hill countries between Beas and Indus; by the second the British made over to Gulab Singh for (Rupees) 75 lakhs all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the east of Indus and west of Ravi" (i.e. the Vale of Kashmir). Soon after Gulab Singh's death in 1857, his son, Ranbir Singh, added the emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar to the kingdom.
Ranbir Singh's grandson 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 Inida. On 20 October 1947, tribesmen backed by Pakistan invaded Kashmir.
The Maharaja initially fought back but appealed for assistance to the Governor-General Louis Mountbatten, who agreed on the condition that the ruler accede to India. On 25 October 1947 Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 and it was accepted on 27 October 1947 by the Governor General of India. Once the Instrument of Accession was signed, Indian soldiers entered Kashmir with orders to evict the raiders, but they were not able to expel everyone from the state by the time the harsh winter started. India took the matter to the United Nations. The UN resolution asked both India and Pakistan to vacate the areas they had occupied and hold a referendum under UN observation. The holding of this plebiscite, which India initially supported, was dismissed by India because the 1952 elected
Contituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir voted in favour of confirming the Kashmir region's accession to India. The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was deployed to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan. UNMOGIP's functions were to investigate complaints of ceasefire violations and submit findings to each party and to the U.N. secretary-general. Under the terms of the ceasefire, it was decided that both armies would withdraw and a plebiscite would be held in Kashmir to give Kashmiris the right to self-determination. The primary argument for the continuing debate over the ownership of Kashmir is that India did not hold the promised plebiscite. In fact, neither side has adhered to the U.N. resolution of 13 August 1948; while India chose not to hold the plebiscite, Pakistan failed to withdraw its troops from Kashmir as was required under the resolution.
In course of time relations between India and Pakistan soured for many other reasons, and eventually led to three more wars in Kashmir in 1965, Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and 1999. India has control of 60 percent of the area of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir; Pakistan controls 30 percent of the region, the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir and China has occupied 10 percent of the state in 1962. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Although there was a clear Muslim majority in Kashmir before the 1947 partition and its economic, cultural, and geographic contiguity with the Muslim-majority area of the Punjab (in Pakistan) could be convincingly demonstrated, the political developments during and after the partition resulted in a division of the region. Pakistan was left with territory that, although basically Muslim in character, was thinly populated, relatively inaccessible, and economically underdeveloped. The largest Muslim group, situated in the Vale of Kashmir and estimated to number more than half the population of the entire region, lay in Indian-administered territory, with its former outlets via the Jhelum valley route blocked."
The eastern region of the erstwhile princely state of Kashmir has also been beset with a boundary dispute. In the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, although some boundary agreements were signed between Great Britain, Tibet, Afghanistan and Russia over the northern borders of Kashmir, China never accepted these agreements, and the official Chinese position did not change with the communist takeover in 1949. By the mid-1950s the Chinese army had entered the north-east portion of Ladakh. "By 1956–57 they had completed a military road through the Aksai Chin area to provide better communication between Xinjiang and western Tibet. India's belated discovery of this road led to border clashes between the two countries that culminated in the Sino-Indian war of October 1962." China has occupied Aksai Chin since 1962 and, in addition, an adjoining region, the Trans-Karakoram Tract was ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963.
Since the 1990s, the state has been hit by confrontation between Islamic separatists supported by Pakistan and Indian Armed Forces, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people and expulsions of the non-Muslims from the Kashmir valley. The Indian army maintains a significant deployment of troops in Jammu and Kashmir to maintain law and order.
Geography and climate
Jammu and Kashmir is home to several valleys such as the Kashmir Valley, Tawi Valley, Chenab Valley, Poonch Valley, Sind Valley and Lidder Valley. The main Kashmir valley is 100 km wide and 15,520.3 km² in area. The Himalayas divide the Kashmir valley from Ladakh while the Pir Panjal range, which encloses the Valley from the west and the south, separates it from the Great Plains of northern India. Along the northeastern flank of the Valley runs the main range of the Himalayas. This densely settled and beautiful valley has an average height of 1,850 meters above sea-level but the surrounding Pir Panjal range has an average elevation of 5,000 meters.
The Jhelum River is the only major Himalayan river which flows through the Kashmir valley. The Indus, Tawi, Ravi and Chenab are the major rivers flowing through the state. Jammu and Kashmir is home to several Himalayan glaciers. With an average altitude of 5753 meters above sea-level, the Siachen Glacier is 70 km long making it the longest Himalayan glacier.
The climate of Jammu and Kashmir varies greatly owing to its rugged topography. In the south around Jammu, the climate is typically monsoonal, though the region is sufficiently far west to average 40 to 50 mm (1.6 to 2 inches) of rain per months between January and March. In the hot season, Jammu city is very hot and can reach up to 40°C (104°F) whilst in July and August, very heavy though erratic rainfall occurs with monthly extremes of up to 650 millimetres (25.5 inches). In September, rainfall declines, and by October conditions are hot but extremely dry, with minimal rainfall and temperatures of around 29°C (84°F).
Across from the Pir Panjal range, the South Asian monsoon is no longer a factor and most precipitation falls in the spring from southwest cloudbands. Because of its closeness to the Arabian Sea, Srinagar receives as much as 25 inches (635 millimetres) of rain from this source, with the wettest months being March to May with around 85 millimetres (3.3 inches) per month. Across from the main Himalaya Range, even the southwest cloudbands break up and the climate of Ladakh and Zanskar is extremely dry and cold. Annual precipitation is only around 100 mm (4 inches) per year and humidity is very low. This region, almost all above 3,000 metres (9,750 feet) above sea level and winters are extremely cold. In Zanskar, the average January temperature is -20°C (-4°F) with extremes as low as -40°C (-40°F). All the rivers freeze over and locals actually do river crossings during this period because their high levels from glacier melt in summer inhibits crossing. In summer in Ladakh and Zanskar, days are typically a warm 20°C (68°F) but with the low humidity and thin air nights can still be cold.
Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India that has a Muslim majority population. Though Islam is practiced by about 65% of the population of the state and by 95% of the population of the Kashmir valley, the state has large and vibrant communities of Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs. In Jammu, Hindus constitute 67% of the population and Muslims 27% and Sikhs, 5%; In Ladakh, Buddhists constitute about 51% of the population, the remaining being Muslims. The people of Ladakh are of Indo-Tibetan origin, while the southern area of Jammu includes many communities tracing their ancestry to the nearby Indian states of Haryana and Punjab, as well as the city of Delhi. In totality, the Muslims constitute 65% of the population, the Hindus, about 30%, the Buddhists, 3% and the Sikhs, 2% of the population.
In the 1901 Census of the British Indian Empire, the population of the princely state of Kashmir was 2,905,578. Of these 2,154,695 were Muslims, 689,073 Hindus, 25,828 Sikhs, and 35,047 Buddhists. The Hindus were found mainly in Jammu, where they constituted a little less than 50% of the population. In the Kashmir Valley, the Hindus represented "only 524 in every 10,000 of the population (i.e. 5.24%), and in the frontier wazarats of Ladhakh and Gilgit only 94 out of every 10,000 persons (0.94%)." In the same Census of 1901, in the Kashmir Valley, the total population was recorded to be 1,157,394, of which the Muslim population was 1,083,766, or 93.6% of the population. These percentages have remained fairly stable for the last 100 years. In the 1941 Census of British India, Muslims accounted for 93.6% of the population of the Kashmir Valley and the Hindus constituted 4%. In 2003, the percentage of Muslims in the Kashmir Valley was 95% and those of Hindus 4%, the same year, in Jammu, the percentage of Hindus was 67% and those of Muslims 27%.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the principal spoken languages are Kashmiri, Urdu, Dogri, Pahari, Balti, Ladakhi, Punjabi, Gojri and Dadri, Kishtwari. However, Kashmiri written in the Sharada script is the official language of the state. Many speakers of these languages use Hindi or English as a second language.
Ladakh is famous for its unique Indo-Tibetan culture. Chanting in Sanskrit and Tibetan language forms an integral part of Ladakh's Buddhist lifestyle. Annual masked dance festivals, archery and weaving are an important part of traditional life in Ladakh. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being noodle soup, thukpa and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as Ngampe, roasted barley flour.
Typical garb includes gonchas of velvet, elaborately embroidered waistcoats and boots, and gonads or hats. People, adorned with gold and silver ornaments and turquoise headgears throng the streets during various Ladakhi festivals.
Shikaras are a common feature in lakes and rivers across the Kashmir valley.The Dumhal is a famous dance in the Kashmir valley, performed by men of the Wattal region. The women perform the Rouff, another traditional folk dance.
Kashmir has been noted for its fine arts for centuries, including poetry and handicrafts.
The Indian Constitution does not allow people from regions other than Jammu and Kashmir to purchase land in the state. As a consequence, houseboats became popular among those who were unable to purchase land in the Valley and has now become an integral part of the Kashmiri lifestyle.
Kawa, traditional green tea with spices and almond, is consumed all through the day in the chilled winter climate of Kashmir. Most of the buildings in the Valley and Ladakh are made from softwood and is influenced by Indian, Tibetan, and Islamic architecture.
Jammu's Dogra culture and tradition is much 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. 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 Vale 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.