Jammu and Kashmir is a State in northern India. It is located mostly in the Himalayan Mountains, and shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south. Jammu and Kashmir has an international border with China in the north and east, and the Line of Control separates it from the Pakistani-controlled territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Balistan in the west and northwest respectively. The state has special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
Many historians and locals believe that Jammu was founded by Raja Jamboolochan in 14th century BCE. During one of his hunting campaigns he reached the Tawi River where he saw a goat and a lion drinking water at the same place. The king was impressed and decided to set up a town after his name, Jamboo. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted and became "Jammu". According to one "folk etymology", the name "Kashmir" means "desiccated land" (from the Sanskrit: Ka = water and shimeera = desiccate). According to another folk etymology, following Hindu mythology, the sage Kashyapa drained a lake to produce the land now known as Kashmir.
With a fertile soil and temperate climate, the valley is rich in rice, vegetables and fruits of all kinds, and famous for the quality of its wool. Kashmir has been inhabited since prehistoric times, sometimes independent but at times subjugated by invaders from Bactria, Tartary, Tibet and other mountainous regions to the North, and from the Indus valley and the Ganges valley to the South. At different times the dominant religion has been Animist, Buddhist, Hindu and (after the period of the history) Muslim.
Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital. The Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, and Jammu's numerous shrines attract tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as "Little Tibet", is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture. It is the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population.
|Area||222,236 sq km|
|Capital||Jammu (Winter), Srinagar (Summer)|
|Population||12,548,926 ( As on 2011 )|
|Official Languages||Urdu, Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi|
The total area of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is about 2, 22,236 Sq Km, of which 78,114 Sq Km. is under the illegal occupation of Pakistan and 37,555 Sq km. under China.
Lohri Also Known As Makar Shankranti Is An Important Hindu Festival. Every Year It Is Celebrated On 13th January To Welcome The Oncoming Spring Season. The Celebration Generally Takes Place At Night When People Gather Around A Huge Bonfire. People Sing, Dance, Exchange Sweets And Throw Rice Into The Fire On This Auspicious Day. Jammu And Kashmir Has Many Holy Rivers And People Are Said To Take A Bath In These Rivers To Cleanse Their Soul For This Festival. In The Rural Areas It Is Celebrated With Much More Joy And Enthusiasm. In Rural Areas It Is Celebrated A Little Differently As Young Kids Get Gifts And Spend Time With Newlyweds And New Parents Also Receive Gifts For Their New Born Child. Young Boys Perform A Special Type Of Dance On Lohri Called Chajja Dance Which Is Quite Entertaining And Fun. Festivals Like Lohri Bring Together People Of All Religions And Give Them An Opportunity To Celebrate The Joy In Their Life. Many Fairs And Festivals Are Organized In Jammu And Kashmir During Lohri. These Fairs And Festivals Are Best For Shopping Traditional Apparels, Ethnic Jewelry And Shoes, Hand-woven Kashmiri Carpets, Local Handicrafts, Etc. The Fairs Are The Best Place To Experience The True Kashmiri Culture And Shopping For Traditional Items.
This Festival Is Celebrated Every Year On 13th Of April. This Festival Holds Great Importance To The Sikh Community And The Marks The Starting Of A New Year. The Sikh Community Has A Large Population In Jammu And In Some Parts Of Kashmir Due To Which The Festival Of Lohri Is Celebrated With Great Enthusiasm In Jammu And Kashmir. This Festival Signifies The Starting Of The New Harvesting Season And Is Strongly Believed By People Of Northern India. Lohri Brings Along With It Many Fairs Some Of Which Lasts For Days While Some For Weeks. If You Are Interested In Doing Some Traditional Shopping Then Visiting These Fairs Would Be A Good Idea. Lohri Is Also Said To Be The Birthday Of Guru Gobind Singh, The Tenth Sikh Guru.
The Festival Of Dusshera Is Celebrated Extravagantly In Jammu And Kashmir. On This Day The War Weapons And Instruments Are Hallowed And After That They Open A Campaign. Three Gigantic Figures Of Ravana, Meghnada And Kumbhkarana Are Made And Stuffed With Gun Powder And Fire Crackers. These Figures Are Placed In The Center Of A Large Open Ground Where The People Of The City Can Gather And Watch The Burning Ceremony Of The Demons. Little Kids Dress Up Like Ram, Sita And Lakshman, The Characters From Ramayana. There Is Also A Play Depicting The Whole Story Of Ramayana. When The Play Is Over The Raja Of Kashmir Sends His Troops With Guns And Instructs Them To Burn The Figures Of The Three Demons. The Person Who Is Dressed Up As Rama Is Responsible For Setting Fire To The Figure Of Ravana While Laskhman And Hanuman Are Responsible For Setting Fire To The Other Two Demons. They All Discharge Arrows At The Three Demons. The Fiery Arrows Cause The Explosion Of The Three Demon Figures Which Is Followed By Victory Shooting By The Cavalry. People Applaud As They Witness The Downfall Of Evil.
Jammu Thrives With Hindus Whose Main Festival Of The Year Is Diwali. It Is Celebrated In The Month Of November And Is Also Known As The Festival Of Lights. People Dress Up In New Clothes, Light Diyas And Candles And Play With Fire Crackers. As Diwali Is The Most Important Hindu Festival Of The Year It Is Celebrated With Extra Enthusiasm In Jammu And Kashmir As Well.
Vaishno Devi Is A Temple Of Vaishno Mata Who Is A Form Of Maa Durga. The Temple Of Vaishno Devi Is Situated 14 Kilometers Away From The Town Of Katra. Vaishno Devi Is One Of The Most Popular Temples In India And The Vaishno Devi Festival One Of The Most Important Festivals Of India. Unlike Other Indian Festivals The Festival Of Vaishno Devi Lasts For Three Months That Is From September To December.
The Cultural Heritage Of Kashmir Valley Is An Amalgamation Of Sorts. The Numerous Civilizations That Have Inhabited The Kashmir Valley From Time To Time Have Left Their Impression On The Culture Of Kashmir. The State Of Kashmir Abounds In Ancient Literature, Language, Religion, Arts, Crafts, Dance, Music, Etc. Infact, The People Of Kashmir Have Made Significant Contribution In The Fields Of Story-telling, Poetry, Philosophy, Sciences, Etc. The Handicrafts Of Kashmir Like Pashmina Shawls, Papier-mache Products, Silk Carpets, Woodwork, Etc Are Admired Throughout The World. The Renowned Folk Songs And Dances Are An Integral Part Of The Kashmir Culture. Music And Dance Is A Way Of Celebrating Festivities For The People Of Kashmir. At One Point Of Time In The Past, Kashmir Served As One Of The Highest Learning Centers Of Sanskrit And Persian.
The Food Of Jammu And Kashmir Differs From Region To Region With The Hindus Dogras Of Jammu Being Predominantly Vegetarian; Eating A Staple Diet Of Rice, Wheat And Beans. The Ladakhis Eat Rice, Wheat, Millet, Locally Produced Vegetables And Fruits, Goat Meat And Dairy Products Made From Yak Milk. Kashmiri Food Is Characterised By Its Vast Array Of Dishes Cooked Over A Long Period Of Time In Exotic Spices. The Seasons And Availability Of Fresh Produce Dictates The Ingredients, Some Of Which Are Dried And Used In The Winter Months. The Kashmiri Cuisine Is Essentially Meat-based, While The Eating Habits Of The Hindu And Muslim Kashmiris Differ In Its Use Of Certain Spices And The Prohibition Of Beef For The Hindus.
The Highlight Of Kashmiri Cuisine Is The Formal Banquet Called "wazawan" That Includes A Spread Of Over 36 Courses Cooked All Night Long By A Team Of Chefs Called 'wazas' Under The Supervision Of A 'vasta Waza' Or Master Chef, Descendants Of The Cooks From Samarkand. The Food Is Characterised By Thick Gravies Using Liberal Quantities Of Yoghurt, Spices And Dried Fruits, And Is Usually Cooked In Ghee (clarified Butter) Or Mustard Oil. Saffron, The Most Expensive Spice In The World, Is Grown Locally. It Is Used Extensively To Flavour The Pulaos (rice Dish) And Sweets. The Popular Dishes Include The Starter Yakhni, Tabaq Naat Made Of Fried Ribs, Dum Aloo (steam Cooked Potato Curry), Rogan Josh Made With Mutton, Gushtaba, A Meatball Curry And Haleem Made From Meat And Pounded Wheat. A Kashmiri Meal Has To End With A Cup Of 'kahva', Green Tea Flavoured With Cardamom And Almonds.
The Origin Of Hand Knotted Carpets Locally Known As "kal Baffi" Dates Back To 15th Century After Which It Progressively Attained The High Degree Of Perfection. It Is Said That Sultan Zain-ul-abidin Brought Carpet Weavers From Persia And Central Asia In To Kashmir To Train The Local Inhabitants. Carpets From 200 Knots To 900 Knots/sq. Inch Both In Wool & Silk Yarn Have Attained Such Excellence That They Rank Amongst The Finest In The World. The Loom Used In Kashmir Carpet Weaving Is Composed Of Two Horizontal Wooden Beams Between Which The Wrap Threads Are Stretched, One Beam In Front Of The Weaver And The Second Behind The First. The Difference Between A Carpet And Other Hand Woven Rugs Lies In The Fact That Short Lengths Of The Thread Or Yarn Are Tied To Wrap Chains To Form The Pile Of The Carpet. These Are Commonly Called Knots Though It Is A Loop Rather Than An Actual Knot.
About Kashmir Shawls It Is Said "of All Indian Textiles None Excels In Beauty, Colour, Texture And Design As The Famous Kashmir Shawl". Shawls Are Produced By Two Techniques, Loom Woven Or Kani Shawls And The Needle Embroidered Or Sozni Shawls. The Basic Fabric Is Of The Three Types - Shah Tush, Pashmina And Raffal. Shah Tush (king Of Wool) Passes Through A Ring And Is Also Known As Ring Shawl. It Comes From A Rare Tibetan Antelope Living At A Height Of Over 14000 Ft In The Wilds Of The Himalayas. Pashmina Is Known World Over As Cashmere Wool, It Comes From A Special Goat (capra Hircus) Living At An Altitude Of 12000 To 14000 Ft Reared By Shephered Nomads Around Famous Pongkong Lake In Close Vicinity Of Western Tibet. Raffal Is Spun Out Of Marino Wool Tops And Is A Popular Type Of Shawl.
Carved Walnut Wood-work Is Among The Most Important Crafts Of Kashmir. Kashmir Is Now One Of The Few Places In The World Where Walnut Is Still Available At An Altitude Of 5500-7500 Feet Above See Level. The Wood Is Hard And Durable, Its Close Grain And Even Texture Facilitating Fine And Detailed Work. It Also Presents Visually Interesting Effects With Mere Plain Polished Surfaces In Fact In Contemporary Products, Plain Surfaces And Small Carvings Are Preferred, Especially On Trays, Tables, Bowls And Similar Items. The Kashmir Craftsman, However, Rejoices In Carving Intricate And Varied Designs. A Variety Of Carved Products Bear Recurrent Motifs Of The Rose, Lotus, Iris, Bunches Of Grapes, Pears And Chinar Leaves. Dragon Motifs And Patterns Taken From Kani And Embroidered Shawls All Find Their Place In Wooden Objects With Deep Relief Carving. A Variety Of Articles, Both Decorative And Utilitarian, Ranging From Small Items Like Bowls, Trays, Cigarette Boxes, Wall Plaques And Table Lamps To Screens, Bedsteads And Larger Items Of Furniture Are Carved In Walnut Wood. Four Main Types Of Carving Are Usually Practised In Kashmir-raised, Engraved, Undercut And Plain. The Carving Of Furniture And Smaller Items Is An Elaborate Process And Involves High Degree Of Skill And Craftsmanship. The Carving Is Done With The Help Of Small Indigenous Tools. The Art Of Wood Carving Is Centred In The City Of Srinagar.
Chain Stitch - Natively Known As "jalakdozi", Chain Stitch Rugs Are The Speciality Of Kashmir. These Rugs Are Made On "hessain Cloth" Or Hand Made Cotton Cloth, In Continued Stitch With Superior Woolen Or Silken Yarn, With The Help Of A Hook Type Tool Natively Called "aurah". The Designs Range From Floral Patterns To Animal And Human Forms Traced By A Designer, While The Craftsman Embroiders In Two-ply Or Three Ply Woollen/silken Yarn. The Rug Looks Like A Carpet In Which The Pile Is Substituted By The Texture. Chainstitch Rugs Is Used Both As Floor Covering And Wall Hanging.
Papier Machie Is One Of The Most Popular Of Crafts Practised In Kashmir. The Tradition Of The Kashmir Papier Machie Has Its Origin Rooted In The 15th Century When King Zain-ul-abidin Invited Accomplished Artists And Craftsmen From Central Asia. A French Term So Commonly Adopted In East And West And Meaning "mashed Paper" Papier Machine Is In Fact A Unique Combination Of Line And Colour On Moulded Forms Of A Variety Of Objects. It Involves Ornamentation In Colour Over Smoothened Surfaces Built Up Of Paper Pulp Or Layers Of Paper. Paper Pulp Is Not Always Found Effective And Is Some Times Replaced By Other Substitutes. The Colours Painted On Object Are Made From Pigments Diluted In Water To Which Some Glue Is Added To Fix The Ground On Which It Is Used. The Three Categories Of Colours Are -- Mineral (both Actual And Artificial) Organic (both Plants Insects Etc.) Vegetables. The Final Objects Papier Machie Is Given One Or Two Coats Of Varnish Which Besides Giving It Shine Serves As A Protective Agent. Important Designs And Motifs In Papier Machie Designs Are: Gulander Gul (flower In Flower) Hazara (the Thousand Flowers) Gul Vilayat (the Dear Flower) Miniature Mugal Paints Mythological Figures Animals Hunting Scenes Battle Scenes The Product Range Covers Ring Boxes, Pill Boxes, Boxes Of Assorted Shapes And Sizes, Flower Vases, Wall Plaques, Bowls, Ashtrays, Screens Etc.
Crewel - A Special Kind Of Embroidery Done With A Hook Known As Crewel Is Commonly Used For Drapery And Upholstery. Rows Of Chain Stitch Done With Hook From Solid Patterns Usually Rotating From Centre & Creating An Embossed Effect To Add Richness To The Textile. Crewel Embroidery Is Done On Thick Material Popularly Used For Furnishing And Usually Carries Floral And Creeper Designs. The Designs Are Available In Assortment Of Colours Ranging From A Single Colour To Multi Colour Embroidery. The Width Of The Material Is 54 Inches And Is Available In Running Meterage. The Price Is Related With The Amount Of Embroidery Done On The Material. This Craft Is Also Available On Bed Spreads In Various Sizes Ranging From Single To King Size.
Phool Kari - A Traditional Craft, Recently Revived, Is Phoolkari, Bagh Or Shaloo Embroidered In The Phoolkari Style Was An Essential Part Of The Bride's Trousers Till Only A Few Decades Back. A Craft With Its Origin In Punjab Phoolkari, As The Very Name Suggests Is A Style Of Embroidery Of Floral Designs. The Present Day Designs, However, Are By No Means Limited To Flowers Alone And Include A Variety Of Other Patterns.
Basali Is A Town Located In The Foot-hills Of Shivalik Mountains In Kathua District Of Jammu Division. In The Late 17th Century, Basali Emerged As A Great Centre Of Painting. According To Well Known Dr. Herman Goltz, "basali Painting Are Among The Great Achievements Of Indians". Their Central Inspiration Is Vashnavism, The Themes Have Been Taken From The Epics And The Puranas. The Different Themes Of The Paintings Are Religious (gita Govinda And Ramayana), Secular, Historical, Contemporary And Literary. Besides The Paintings Bring Out Extreme Emotion Combined With A Lyrical Sense Of Basali Landscape. Basali Paintings Are Said To Have Been Described As Poems In Colours. The Paintings Are Marked By Strikingly Blazing Colours Bold Lines, Rich Symbols And Peculiar Features Giving An Accumulative Impact Of Highly Sensuous Environs.
Calico Painting - Samba, A Small Town About 40 Kms From Jammu, On Jammu Pathankot Highway Is A Well Known Centre Of Block Printing. Calico Printing Enjoys A Wide Popularity. Printing In Vegetable Color With Help Of Wooden Blocks On Hand Woven Cotton Cloth Is Being Used As Cool, Comfortable, Floor/bed Coverings And Are In Great Demand.