Kashmir is known for its heavenly beauty, which has earned it the title of being the " Paradise on Earth". Kashmir Valley is part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in north India. The decade old political and civil turmoil in the region has not taken anything away from the beauty of Kashmir. With peace returning to the Kashmir Valley, it has now become a tourist hot spot owing to its amazing cultural diversity, the sheer beauty of the mighty Himalayas, and the green valleys whose beauty has attracted a horde of migrants from West Asia and Central Asia down the ages.
History of Kashmir
Kashmir is the northern most state of India. It lies between 32.17 degree and 36.58 degree North latitudes. Of the total 22,22,000 square kilometer area of the state, 78,000 square kilometers is illegally occupied by Pakistan and 42,000 square kilometers by China. The state consists of the dry mountain belts of mountain plains, the high Pir Panjal range, the lower Shivalik range and the Indus river valley.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir became part of independent India on August 15, 1947, when the Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, decide to accede to India. The newly formed nation of Pakistan, however, sent in its army to capture the state. The Pakistani army illegally occupied almost 1/3 rd of the state. When the then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, took the matter to the United Nations, it issued an order for plebiscite in the region, provided Pakistan withdrew it army from the region. Since Pakistan did not withdraw the army, the plebiscite was never held, leading to strife and wars between the two neighboring countries over the decades. However, with peace and normalcy returning to the Valley, the state has been opened up for tourism.
According to the 2011 census reports, Kashmir has a population of 12,548,926. Almost 50% of the population is engaged in agriculture. The Kashmir Valley is dominated by Muslims, while the Jammu region has an equal distribution of Hindus and Muslims. The Ladakh Valley has a Buddhist population, with a sizeable Muslim minority.
Jammu and Kashmir is home to several valleys such as the Kasmir Valley, Tawi Valley, Chenab Valley, Poonch Valley, Sind Valley and Lidder Valley. The main Kashmir valley is 100 km (62 mi) wide and 15,520.3 km2 (5,992.4 sq mi) 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.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir has three climate zones: the Arctic zone of Ladakh, the temperate climate of the Kashmir Valley and the sub tropical region of Jammu. Altitude ranges from 1000 to 28,250 feet, causing sharp climatic differences in the state. The fierce beauty of the Ladakh Valley is a draw for tourists, despite the inhospitable terrain and cold desert like conditions. The Kashmir Valley, with its clear lakes, pine forests and heavy snowfall in winters, counts many tourist footfalls in summers.
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 5,753 metres (18,875 ft) above sea-level, the Siachen Glacier is 76 km (47 mi) long making it the longest Himalayan glacier.
Palaces to visit in Kashmir
Dal Lake Kashmir
Dal Lake has rightfully become an icon of the Kashmir tourism industry. A Himalayan urban lake, it has five basins and a number of channels that are well linked with each other. There are plenty of fishes in Dal Lake and fishery is the second largest industry of the region centered on the lake. The sparkling quiet waters of Dal surrounded by snow-capped mountains on its three sides, undoubtedly mark it as one of the most beautiful lakes of India.
Perfection beyond this world makes Kashmir a paradise. The land of sparkling rivers and sleepy lakes, of startling gardens and regal Chinar trees, Kashmir boasts of some of the most beautiful flowering meadows and snow-capped peaks. The abundance of natural beauty has earned the valley a nickname of the 'Switzerland of the East'.
Kashmir House Boats
The gentle sounds of rippling waters and the beautiful houseboats are the greatest attractions of Kashmir. Made up of cedar wood, these mesmerizing water boat residences have elegance and are complete with stately living quarters, drawing and dining rooms, carved wooden furniture, glowingly embroidered rugs and fabrics.