Friday, 24 May 2013

Sheep on a slope at "Meadow of Gold", Sonamarg, Ganderbal District, Jammu and Kashmir, India




Glorious Jammu and Kashmir


The northernmost state of India, Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir valley and Ladakh. While the Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, 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. Also known as Switzerland of the east, the natural beauty of Kashmir is astonishing. The valley is distinctively marked by breath-taking lakes, fresh water streams, luscious fruits, magnificent forests, mighty snow-capped mountains and lush meadows which make it a paradise on Earth. Kashmir is one of the top tourist destinations of the India. Jammu and Kashmir offers many sightseeing attractions such as lakes, monasteries, pilgrimages of Kashmir, wildlife of Kashmir and many more.



Culture
The culture of Jammu and Kashmir is influenced by the northern South Asian as well as the Central Asian culture. It has a rich cultural heritage along with its scenic beauty. The amalgamation of Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies has left it richer and spiritually robust. The composite symbolizes the secular character of the Region. The culture of Kashmir is very different from the other regions of Jammu and Kashmir, like Jammu and Ladakh. Their main cultural identity is the Kashmiri language, Koshour, spoken only in the Kashmir valley. Kashmiri culture and cuisine has the influence of Persian and Central Asian cultures. Music and Dance; carpet and shawl weaving, forms an important of Kashmiri identity. Ladakh on the other end is unique for its Indo-Tibetan culture. The life a Buddhist lifestyle, chanting in Tibetan and Sanskrit language. The annual masked dance festival along with archery and weaving forms an integral part of the Ladakhi life. Their cuisine is mainly Tibetan food and the people adorn themselves with gold and silver ornaments and wear elaborate waistcoats during Ladakhi festivals. The Dogra culture and tradition of the people of Jammu, is very different from the Kashmiri culture. Their culture is very much similar to the neighboring Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Traditional festivals like Baishaki and Lohri are celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm.




Jammu – Best season April to September
Jammu is separated from the Kashmir Valley by the snow-capped Pir Panjal range, is the winter capital Jammu and Kashmir. The land is mostly hilly and mountainous and is part of the Great Himalayas. It marks the transition between the Himalayas in the north and the dusty plains of the Punjab in the south. Jammu City is also known as "City of Temples" as it has many temples and shrines. The city’s skyline is dotted with glittering shikhars soaring into the sky and gives a feeling of a holy and peaceful Hindu city. The Hindu shrine, Vaishno Devi in Jammu is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in India. Other famous places to see are - The Gauri Kund Temple, Gadhadharji Temple, Amarnath caves, Mubarak Mandi Palace complex, Bahu fort, Amar Mahal,Dogra Art museum and many more. The Surinsar Lake is a natural attraction here. Places like Patnitop, Sanasar, Krimchi and Kishtwar are adventure spots where one can indulge in adventure activities like, mountaineering, trekking, rafting and nature walks. Jammu is also famo us for its intricate handicrafts.

Srinagar - Best season April to October
Situated on the banks of river Jhelum, Srinagar is the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The city is called the “Venice of the East” and embodies beauty and romance. Srinagar is surrounded by beautiful lakes like the Dal, Anchar and Nagin and beautiful houseboats sailing along these rivers. It is dream destination for tourists with the majestic snow-clad mountains surrounding these lakes. A trip on a houseboat or a ‘shikara’ along these pristine lakes is on every visitor’s to do list. Apart from its beauty, Srinagar has a place in history as an ancient settlement, which dates back 5000 years to the Neolithic ages. While the winters offers the beauty of snow clad mountains and fresh, chilly winter breeze; summers showcases the overabundance of colors on the canvas of nature. From deep greens, to autumn browns, to deep oranges. Some of Srinagar’s natural beauty are its magnificent sunsets, verdant green meadows, the sprawling Mughal Gardens that houses Shalimar Bagh. The floating market, the local cuisine and the hospitality are some the reasons for tourists to visit Srinagar.