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location_onSTATES AND CITIES

Jammu & Kashmir

INTRODUCTION

Jammu & Kashmir is one of the 8 union territories of the peninsular subcontinent of India. It is located in the Northern part of India, separated from Pakistan by the Line of Control (a military control line) and is bordered by the Indian union territory Ladakh to the west and Indian states Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to its south.

History

Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) was a state of India from 1954 to 2019. The state of Jammu and Kashmir consisted of three divisions:

  • Jammu Division
  • Kashmir Division
  • Ladakh

these were further divided into 22 districts. Unlike other states of India, Jammu and Kashmir had its own constitution, flag and administrative autonomy – making its status a special one.

The Kashmir region under this has been a subject of dispute between India, Pakistan and China ever since the mid-20th century (post-independence of India from the British).

On 31 October 2019, a reorganisation act was passed to reconstitute the state of Jammu and Kashmir and it was declared as two union territories – 1. Jammu and Kashmir, and 2. Ladakh.

LANGUAGES

Kashmiri is the official language of Jammu and Kashmir, and is spoken widely across the territory. Apart from Kashmiri, people in Jammu & Kashmir speak Dogri (a regional language), Hindi, English and Urdu too.

CULTURE & FESTIVALS

Jammu and Kashmir’s population consists of a large percentage of Muslims, followed by Hindus. So, many Muslim and Hindu festivals are celebrated here, along with some regional festivals and rituals that are local to this place.

Some of the regularly celebrated festivals here include:

  • Baisakhi – A harvest festival in north India.
  • Lohri – A festival celebrated after the winter solstice, to welcome the longer summer days as the sun proceeds northward. (J&K being a cold place, people here always await the sunnier days for some respite form the biting cold of winter).
  • Eid Ul Fitr, Eid Al Adha – Although these 2 festivals are celebrated by Muslims across India, the Muslims of Jammu & Kashmir celebrate these in a more zealous and unique way, which adds a distinct festive charm to this place during these times.
  • Tulip festival – Kashmir’s Tulip gardens are famous and this festival celebrates the best blooming months of these.
  • Shikara Festival – During this festival the shikaras (boats) in Kashmir are decorated beautifully with flowers and other beautiful elements, and races and other events are conducted to exhibit these. This festival is celebrated between July and August every year, with the main aim of promoting Jammu and Kashmir’s tourism.

PEOPLE

Jammu & Kashmir has a population of 13.6 Crore people. Muslims comprise of majority of the population here (more than 65%) while Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs comprise of the remaining.

CUISINE

The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has 3 kinds of traditional cuisines, all of which comprise of flavorful, spicy dishes with lots of fruits, vegetables and meat:

  • Jammu’s cuisine (Dogri) – This includes Dogri dishes such as Khatta (sour) meat curry, Kulith Dal (a regional lentil dish), Phirni (a sweet milk pudding), Dal Patt (another lentil dish), Maa da Madra (Black gram lentils cooked with yogurt), Oria (Potato/Pumpkin in mustard sauce), Meetha Bhat (Sweet Rice) and Shasha (a raw mango chutney.
  • .
  • Kashmiri Muslims’ cuisine – This cuisine is mostly meat based, and consists of dishes made with lamb, chicken and fish. A multi-course meal with many of these dishes, called Wazwan, is usually relished during festivals and weddings in the Kashmiri Muslim community.
  • Kashmiri Pandits/Brahmins Cuisine – This cuisine comprises of dishes that use everything from fruits, vegetables and meat too (Brahmins in India are known not to consume meat, but the ones in Kashmir do consume meat at times). But this cuisine mostly abstains from the use of 3 things - onion, garlic and tomatoes.

Other commonly eaten dishes in the territory include: Kashmiri Pulao (made with Basmati rice, vegetables/meat and fruits like pomegranate, Kashmiri Aloo Dum – baby potatoes in a spicy rich gravy).

ATTRACTIONS

Jammu & Kashmir has many beautiful gardens, lakes, valleys and snowy regions, that are picturesque and also great for adventurous activities like para gliding, skiing, etc.

Some places that are a must-visit in the territory of Jammu & Kashmir are:

  • Dal Lake, Srinagar (Beautiful lake, with stunning views – and known for its house boats where tourists can stay).
  • Sonmarg (a beautiful hill station having great trekking routes that lead to some amazing Himalayan lakes such as  Vishansar Lake, Gangabal Lake, Gadsar Lake and Krishansar Lake).
  • Gulmarg – A beautiful and snowy place which is known for its winter activities like snowboarding, skiing, tobogganing, and heli-skiing. In fact, it is considered “the heartland of winter sports in India”. The place also has a gondola ropeway, and a ride on it is said to be one of the most picturesque in India – especially in winters with its snowy Himalayan aerial views.
  • Vaishno Devi – This is a Hindu temple located inside a cave, and dedicated to the goddess Vaishno Devi. It is one of the most popular pilgrimage spots in India, and get about 8 million visitors each year!

Other places worth visiting include Verinag and other Mughal gardens (esp. Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh) in spring season.

SHOPPING

Jammu & Kashmir also has many bazaars (markets) with unique souvenirs that are delightful, including handicrafts (like Papier Mache), spices, woolen clothes, locally made bags and shoes, and clothes (including Pashmina shawls, luxurious carpets and mats), and so on.

Some popular shopping spots in Jammu & Kashmir are:

  • Kashmir Government Arts emporium
  • Raghunath Bazaar
  • JDA Complex
  • Vermani World, Jammu
  • Gole Market
  • Bahu Plaza

ADVENTURES

Jammu and Kashmir include amazing places that are known for thrilling activities; there are many places here which offer some exciting adventure sports for the adrenaline junkies and enthusiasts, such as:

  • Skiing (Gulmarg)
  • Trekking & Hiking (Alpine lakes)
  • Wildlife (Safaris)
  • River Rafting (Pahalgam)
  • Mountain Biking
  • Shikara ride (Srinagar – Dal Lake)

TRANSPORTATION

Trains, Planes and Buses are major modes of inter-city transportation within Jammu & Kashmir. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as taxi/cabs, buses, and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars, or bicycles.

1. Airports – Jammu & Kashmir has 2 domestic and 1 international airport.

International Airports in J&K:

  • Srinagar International Airport, Srinagar

Domestic Airports in J&K:

  • Jammu Airport, Jammu
  • Kushok Bakula Rimpocche Airport, Leh

2. Railway Stations – The Jammu and Kashmir Union territory has a total of 34 train terminals/railway stations. Some of the popular train terminals and junctions here are:

  • Jammu Tawi Railway Station
  • Udhampur Railway Station
  • Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra
  • Chakdayala Railway Station, Chak Dayala
  • Kathua Railway Station, Kathua

3. Bus Terminals – Jammu & Kashmir has its own line of government-run JKRTC (Jammu Kashmir Road Transport Corporation) buses which provide the connection between all the cities and towns within J&K and also neighbouring states. These buses can be boarded at JKRTC stops/terminals that are available in every major district and town in the state. The prominent town/city bus terminals are located in almost every city and town - they can be easily found and are conveniently accessible.