Jammu and Kashmir is the northern most state in India. The state is Asia’s ‘Heaven on Earth’, rich in premium cash crops like walnuts and saffron, blessed with jaw-dropping natural beauty all year long. With the Himalayas lining it from north-east side, there are many valleys formed such as the Kashmir Valley, Sindh Valley, Lidder Valley, Poonch Valley, Tawi and Chenab Valleys.
The following are some interesting facts about the Kashmir Valley.
1) Special Status
Article 370 of Indian Constitution gives the state almost complete autonomy. This has caused the status of J&K to be internationally disputed. It’s the only Indian state to have its own flag.
2) History and Administration
Centuries ago the Hindu religion flourished here, followed by Buddhism, and Islam with the invasion of Mughals. The state is divided into three administrations because of Article 370 – J&K under India, Azad Kashmir under Pakistan and Aksai Chin under China. Kashmir Valley, however, is completely under Indian governance.
3) Kashmir and Kashmir Valley
Kashmir is the jurisdictional area of Kashmir, separate from Jammu. Parts of it are currently under rule of Pakistan and China. Kashmir Valley on the other hand is one of the several valleys of Kashmir. It is marked as the area between the Pir Pinjal range in the south-west and the Himalayas in the north-east. The Jhelum river is the only river that flows through here.
4) Most Popular Tourist Spots of Kashmir
The state’s best destinations for Kashmir tourism such as Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam, best tourist spots such as Shalimar Bagh, Chasme Shahi and Pari Mahal, important lakes such as Dal lake, Wular lake, Manasbal lake – all lie within the Kashmir Valley.
5) Seasons and Capitals
There’s no distinctive rainy season due to limited rainfall. Hence the seasons are broadly summer and winter, or spring, summer, autumn and winter. Srinagar, in Kashmir Valley, is the summer capital while Jammu is the winter capital.
6) Dual Citizenship
It’s the only Indian state where the citizens here have both Indian as well as Kashmir citizenship.
The Kashmiris of Kashmir Valley are largely Muslims, with a few Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. Small groups of Gujjars and Bakarwals live along the mountains. Commonly spoken languages are Kashmiri and Urdu, though many speak decent English, like a second language.
8) Unique Accommodation
The houseboat or Shikara stays are a unique experience highly recommended and usually included in good Kashmir packages.
9) Items to Watch Out for
The traditional Kashmiri dress, Pheran, the unique copper kettles called Samovar, the earthen fire pots wrapped in woven wicker called Kangiri, handcrafted walnut furniture and souvenirs, etc. are some uncommon things to check out.
10) India’s Longest Railway Tunnel
The Pir Pinjal railway tunnel or the Banihal railway tunnel is 11,215 km or 7 miles long, 8.4m wide and 7.39m tall. It’s India’s longest and Asia’s fourth longest railway tunnel.