Vale of Kashmir
Dal Lake and Shikaras
Kashmir Valley (orange bordered) lies in Jammu & Kashmir state of India
|State||Jammu and Kashmir|
|Districts||Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Bandipore, Ganderbal, Kupwara, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Srinagar|
|• Total||15,948 km2 (6,158 sq mi)|
|Elevation||1,850 m (6,070 ft)|
|• Density||340/km2 (870/sq mi)|
|Demonym||Kashmiri, Koshur (in Kashmiri)|
|• Official, Main spoken language||Urdu, Kashmiri|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
The Kashmir Valley (Urdu: وادی کشمیر; Hindi: कश्मीर घाटी) or Vale of Kashmir is a valley located between the Karakoram and the Pir Panjal Range in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. No part of the valley lies in the area currently administered by Pakistan. It is around 135 km long and 32 km wide, formed by the Jhelum River. Kashmir Valley is one of the three administrative divisions in Jammu and Kashmir state and consists of Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Bandipore, Ganderbal, Kupwara, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Srinagar districts.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Kashmir Valley has a moderate climate, which is largely defined by its geographic location, with the towering Karakoram Range in the north, Pir Panjal Range in the south and west and Zanskar Range in the east. It can be generally described as cool in the spring and autumn, mild in the summer and cold in the winter. As a large valley with significant differences in geo-location among various districts, the weather is often cooler in the hilly areas compared to the flat lower part.
Summer is usually mild and with good little rain, but relative humidity is generally high and the nights are cool. The precipitation occurs throughout the year and no month is particularly dry. The hottest month is July (mean minimum temperature 6°C, mean maximum temperature 32°C) and the coldest are December–January (mean minimum temperature −15°C, mean maximum temperature 0°C).
Compared with other plain parts of India, Kashmir valley enjoys a more moderate climate but weather conditions are unpredictable. The recorded high temperature is 33°C and the recorded low is −18°C. On 5 and 6 January 2012, after years of relatively little snow, a wave of heavy snow and low temperatures (winter storm) shocked the valley covering it in a thick layer of snow and ice.
Kashmir Valley has seen an increase in the relative humidity and annual precipitation in the last few years. This is most likely because of the commercial afforestation projects which also include expanding parks and green cover.
It is a country where the sun shines mildly, being the place created by Kashayapa as if for his glory. High school-houses, the saffron, iced water and grapes, which are rare even in heaven, are common here. Kailasa is the best place in the three worlds, Himalaya the best part of Kailasa, and Kashmir the best place in Himalaya.
In latitude Kashmir corresponds with Peshawar, Baghdad and Damascus in Asia, with Fez in Morocco and South Carolina in America, but it presents none of the characteristics of those countries. People have linked the climate of Kashmir to that of Switzerland until the end of May, and of Southern France in July and August. But it is impossible to speak of Kashmir as possessing any one climate or group of characteristics. Every hundred feet of elevation brings some new phase of climate and of vegetation.
According to folk etymology, the name "Kashmir" means "desiccated land" (from the Sanskrit: Ka = water and shimeera = desiccate). In the Rajatarangini, a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in the mid-12th century, it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake. According to Hindu mythology, the lake was drained by the great sage, Rishi Kashyapa, son of Marichi, son of Brahma, by cutting a gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varahamula). When Kashmir had been drained, Kashyapa asked Brahmans to settle there. The name of Kashyapa is by history and tradition connected with the draining of the lake, and the chief town or collection of dwellings in the valley was called Kashyapa-pura, which has been identified with Kaspapyros of Hecataeus (apud Stephanus of Byzantium) and Kaspatyros of Herodotus (3.102, 4.44). Kashmir is also believed to be the country meant by Ptolemy's Kaspeiria.
Cashmere is an archaic spelling of Kashmir in English but it is still spelled this way in many languages. Up to 14th century Kashmir was a Hindu state. Islam was adopted in 14th century under Shah Mir. His dynasty ruled up to 16th century when it was finally overthrown by Chaks. They were tricked by Mughal emperor Akbar and Kashmir became a part of Mughal empire. Later Afghans ruled Kashmir until they were overthrown by Sikhs who were defeated by British in 1845. British sold it to Dogras under Gulab Singh who ruled Kashmir up to 1947 as a subordinate to British. In 1945 during partition of India the Hindu king acceded to India without consulting its Muslim majority. This lead to Kashmir dispute which continues up to present time.
The majority of people of Kashmir Valley are called Kashmiri and they speak the Kashmiri language. Kashmir Valley has a Muslim majority population. Islam is practiced by 97% of the population. The valley has also small communities of Hindu Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs.
Ten districts in Kashmir valley (Kashmir Division of the Jammu and Kashmir state) had population of 53,50,811 as per 2011 census. The religious composition was 97.16% Muslim and 2.84% Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and others.
The principal languages in the valley are Kashmiri and Urdu. However the main spoken language is Kashmiri. Urdu is used as lingua franca. However, Urdu written in the Persian script is the official language. Many speakers of these languages also know English as a second language. Hindi is the lingua franca for the security forces stationed in Kashmir valley.
Kashmir Division consists of ten districts:
|Name of District||Headquarters||Area (km²)||Population
The major political parties in the region are the National Conference, the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party and the Congress. Srinagar in the valley is the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The capital moves out of the valley in the winter to Jammu in a grand ceremony called "Durbar Move". Separatist parties who advocate independence for Kashmir such as All Parties Hurriyat Conference, JKLF and other enjoy mass support and separatist leaders are highly popular. Separatist politics is an important part of politics in Kashmir due to its disputed nature.
Kashmir valley is a popular tourist destination for domestic and foreign tourists. Among the popular tourist places in the valley are Gulmarg that has a ski resort, Dal Lake that has popular house boats, Pahalgam and Amarnath Temple.
Before insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy. The tourism economy in the Kashmir valley was worst hit. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit holy shrine of Amarnath every year and this significantly benefits the state's economy. But this yatra has put Kashmir on the verge of ecological disaster .
Tourism in the Kashmir valley has rebounded in recent years and in 2009, the state became one of the top tourist destinations of  Gulmarg, one of the most popular ski resort destinations in India, is also home to the world's highest green golf course. However with the decrease in violence in the state has boosted the states economy specifically tourism. It was reported that 736,000 tourists including 23,000 foreigners visited Kashmir in 2010. Other tourist places include Sonamarg, Kokernag, Verinag, Aharbal and Semthan-Top .
- Dal Lake
- Gadsar Lake
- Gangabal Lake
- Krishansar Lake
- Manasbal Lake
- Nundkol Lake
- Satsar Lake
- Sheshnag Lake
- Tarsar Lake
- Vishansar Lake
- Wular Lake
- Kousarnag Lake
This Himalayan valley provides a base to climb some of the challenging Himalayan peaks. These peaks were closed due to the rise in militancy, now they are opened for mountaineering.
- Mount Haramukh (16,870 ft (5,142 metres))
- Kolhoi Peak (17,799 ft (5,425 metres))
- Machoi Peak (17,907 ft (5,458 metres))
- Sirbal Peak (17,178 ft (5,236 metres))
- Amarnath Peak (17,014 ft (5,186 metres))
- Sunset Peak (15,571 ft (4,746 metres))
- Tatakooti Peak (15,502 ft (4,725 metres))
- Mahadev (13,999 ft (4,267 metres))
Culture and cuisine
Kashmiri cuisine includes dum aloo (boiled potatoes hollowed and stuffed with heavy amounts of spice), tzaman (a solid cottage cheese), rogan josh (lamb cooked in heavy spices), yakhiyn (lamb cooked in curd with mild spices), hakh (a spinach-like leaf), rista-gushtaba (minced meat balls in tomato and curd curry),danival korme and the signature rice. The traditional wazwan feast involves cooking meat or vegetables, usually mutton, in several different ways.
Alcohol is not consumed by many Muslims in the valley. There are two styles of making tea in the region: Noon Chai or salt tea that is pink in colour (known as chinen posh rang or peach flower colour) and popular with locals, and kahwah, a tea for festive occasions, made with saffron and spices (cardamom, cinnamon, sugar, noon chai leaves) and black tea.
Tourism is one of the main sources of income for vast sections of the Kashmiri population. Kashmir Valley‘s economy is centred around tourism and agriculture. Traditionally the staple crop of the valley is rice, it forms the chief food of the people. In addition, Indian corn, wheat, barley and oats are also grown. Given its temperate climate, it is suited for crops like asparagus, artichoke, seakale, broad beans, scarlet runners, beetroot, cauliflower and cabbage. Fruit trees are common in the valley, and the cultivated orchards yield pears, apples, peaches, and cherries. The chief trees are deodar, firs and pines, chenar or plane, maple, birch and walnut, apple and cherry.
Historically, Kashmir became known worldwide when Cashmere wool was exported to other regions and nations (exports have ceased due to decreased abundance of the cashmere goat and increased competition from China). Kashmiris are well adept at knitting and making Pashmina shawls, silk carpets, rugs, kurtas, and pottery. Saffron, too, is grown in Kashmir. Efforts are on to export the naturally grown fruits and vegetables as organic foods mainly to the Middle East. Srinagar is known for its silver-work, papier mache, wood-carving, and the weaving of silk.
The economy was badly damaged by the 2005 Kashmir earthquake which, as of October 8, 2005, resulted around 1,500 deaths in Kashmir Valley.
Srinagar is the main airport in Kashmir valley and has scheduled flights from Jammu, Leh, Mumbai, Chandigarh and New Delhi.
Kashmir valley has a 119 km (74 mi) long modern railway line that started in October 2009 and connects Baramulla in the western part of the valley to Srinagar and Qazigund. It further links the Kashmir Valley to Banihal across the Pir Panjal mountains through the new 11.215 km (7 mile) long Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel or Banihal rail tunnel from 26 June 2013. Banihal railway station will be linked to the rest of India in another few years as the construction of the railway line from Jammu to Banihal progresses steadily.
Transport within the valley is predominantly by road.
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- Calculated from the 2001 Census India District Profiles
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