Kashmir Valley

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Kashmir Valley
कश्मीर घाटी
Vale of Kashmir
State division
Dal Lake and Shikaras
Dal Lake and Shikaras
Kashmir Valley (orange bordered) lies in Jammu & Kashmir state of India
Kashmir Valley (orange bordered) lies in Jammu & Kashmir state of India
Country  India
State Jammu and Kashmir
Districts Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Bandipore, Ganderbal, Kupwara, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Srinagar
Headquarters Srinagar
Area
 • Total 15,948 km2 (6,158 sq mi)
Elevation 1,850 m (6,070 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 5,350,811
 • Density 340/km2 (870/sq mi)
Demonym Kashmiri, Koshur (in Kashmiri)
Languages
 • 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.[1] Kashmir Valley is one of the three administrative divisions in Jammu and Kashmir state other being Jammu and Ladakh and consists of Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Bandipore, Ganderbal, Kupwara, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Srinagar districts.[2]

The Chagatai Turkic Mughal emperor Jahangir, great grandson of the foreign invader Babur, called it "Paradise on Earth."

Geography[edit]

Kashmir Valley borders Jammu region to the south, Ladakh region to the east, and the Line of Control in the north and the west.

Kashmir valley seen from satellite. Snow-capped Pir Panjal range separates the valley from plains.

Climate[edit]

Srinagar
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
48
 
7
−2
 
 
68
 
8
−1
 
 
121
 
14
3
 
 
85
 
21
8
 
 
68
 
25
11
 
 
39
 
30
15
 
 
62
 
30
18
 
 
76
 
30
18
 
 
28
 
27
12
 
 
33
 
22
6
 
 
28
 
15
1
 
 
54
 
8
−2
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: HKO [3]

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.[4] 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.

In his introduction to the Rajatarangini, Kulan or Kalhana says about the climate of Valley:[5]

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.

Sir Walter Roper Lawrence writes in his book The Valley of Kashmir that:[6]

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.

History[edit]

Main article: History of Kashmir
General view of Temple and Enclosure of Martand or the Sun, near Bhawan. Probable date of temple AD 490–555. Probable date of colonnade AD 693–729. Photograph of the Surya Temple at Martand in Jammu & Kashmir taken by John Burke in 1868.

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. As per 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).[7] Kashmir is also believed to be the country meant by Ptolemy's Kaspeiria.[8]

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.

Demographics[edit]

A mosque in Srinagar

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.[9] The valley has also small communities of Hindu Kashmiri Pandits and Sikhs.[10]

Ten districts in Kashmir valley (Kashmir Division of the Jammu and Kashmir state) had population of 53,50,811 as per 2011 census.[11] The religious composition was 97.16% Muslim and 2.84% Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and others.[12][13]

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.[14] Hindi is the lingua franca for the security forces stationed in Kashmir valley.

Districts[edit]

Kashmir Division consists of ten districts:

Name of District Headquarters Area (km²) Population
2001 Census
Population
2011 Census
Anantnag district Anantnag 3,984 734,549 1,069,749
Kulgam district Kulgam 437,885 423,181
Pulwama district Pulwama 1,398 441,275 570,060
Shopian district Shopian 211,332 265,960
Budgam district Budgam 1,371 629,309 755,331
Srinagar district Srinagar 2,228 990,548 1,250,173
Ganderbal district Ganderbal 211,899 297,003
Bandipore district Bandipore 316,436 385,099
Baramulla district Baramulla 4,588 853,344 1,015,503
Kupwara district Kupwara 2,379 650,393 875,564

Cities[edit]

Srinagar is its main city and also the summer capital of the state. Other main cities are Anantnag and Baramulla.

Gund village in Sindh valley, a sub vallay of Kashmir Valley

Politics[edit]

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.

Tourism[edit]

Skiing is popular in Gulmarg, showing cable car in a snow clad mountain

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 the major Hindu shrine Amarnath Temple.

Before insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy. As a result, 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.[15] But this yatra has put Kashmir on the verge of ecological disaster .[16]

Tourism in the Kashmir valley has rebounded in recent years and in 2009, the state became one of the top tourist destinations of India. [17] Gulmarg, one of the most popular ski resort destinations in India, is also home to the world's highest green golf course.[18] However with the decrease in violence in the state has boosted the states economy specifically tourism.[19] 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 .

Hill stations[edit]

Sind River at Nilgrar Sonamarg
Lidder River flowing through Pahalgam Valley

Mughal gardens[edit]

Nishat Bagh
Chashme Shahi

Lakes[edit]

Anchar Lake

Mountaineering[edit]

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.

Culture and cuisine[edit]

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.

Economy[edit]

Apricot here grow in abundance, image from village Benhama

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.

Kashmir Valley is believed to have potentially rich rocks containing hydrocarbon reserves.[20][21]

Transport[edit]

Kashmir valley is connected to Jammu and Ladakh regions by road and air. It has access to Jammu region and the rest of India through the Banihal road tunnel near Qazigund on national highway NH 1A.

Air[edit]

Srinagar is the main airport in Kashmir valley and has scheduled flights from Jammu, Leh, Mumbai, Chandigarh and New Delhi.

Railway[edit]

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.

Road[edit]

Transport within the valley is predominantly by road.[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kashmir. (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 27, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica"
  2. ^ "In Depth-the future of Kashmir". BBC News. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Climatological Information for Srinagar, India". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  4. ^ Sharad Singh Negi (1986). Geo-botany of India. Periodical Expert Book Agency, 1986. p. 58–. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  5. ^ J. C. Aggarwal, S. P. Agrawal (1995). Modern History of Jammu and Kashmir: Ancient times to Shimla Agreemen. Concept Publishing Company, 1995. p. 1–. ISBN 9788170225577. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Sir Walter Roper Lawrence (1895). The Valley of Kashmir. Asian Educational Services, 1895. p. 13–. ISBN 9788120616301. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (1911) Kashmir
  8. ^ E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936, Volume 4, Kashmir
  9. ^ Calculated from the 2001 Census India District Profiles
  10. ^ 2001 Census India: Data by Religious Communities
  11. ^ 2011 Census Figures of Jammu and Kashmir
  12. ^ http://updateox.com/india/district-wise-population-india-as-of-2011-census
  13. ^ http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Tables_Published/Basic_Data_Sheet.aspx 2001 Census India District Profiles
  14. ^ "Kashmiri: A language of India". Ethnologue. Retrieved 16 September 2007. 
  15. ^ "Amarnath Board to study yatra impact on Kashmir economy". Online edition of The Hindu, dated 13 September 2007. 13 September 2007. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  16. ^ Online edition of Yahoo, dated 8 August 2011 http://in.news.yahoo.com/amarnath-yatra-environmental-disaster-making-101534702.html |url= missing title (help). 
  17. ^ "Foreign tourists flock Kashmir". Online edition of The Hindu, dated 18 March 2009. 18 March 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  18. ^ Fairway to Heaven – WSJ.com
  19. ^ Tourists arrival gives boost to J-K economy
  20. ^ Iftikhar Gilani (2008-10-22). "Italian company to pursue oil exploration in Kashmir". Daily Times. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  21. ^ Ishfaq-ul-Hassan (2008-02-22). "India, Pakistan to explore oil jointly". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  22. ^ http://www.bharatonline.com/kashmir/travel-tips/local-transport.html

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°02′00″N 74°40′00″E / 34.0333°N 74.6667°E / 34.0333; 74.6667