Jammu & Kashmir: Heaven on earth
Jammu & Kashmir, a piece of heaven on earth, is the 19th largest state in India and it is located mostly all in the Himalayan mountains. It is also the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population.
J&K consists of three main regions – Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Between the three, the state offers beautiful verdant mountains and valleys, religious shrines and remote mountains. The people here are warm and hospitable, and they will welcome you into their land and homes easily. Each of these regions has its own culture, and this is evident in their daily lives and also their lifestyle.
Whatever you reason for visiting J&K, whether it is to enjoy the beauty, or test your limits while trekking the mountains, or simply to discover serenity and peace, J&K will offer you several reasons to keep coming back for more.
|Jammu & Kashmir: A Quick View of the state|
|Capital||Srinagar (summer) and Kashmir (winter)|
|Population||14.324 (as of 2018)|
|Currency||Indian Rupee (INR)|
|Time Zone||UTC+05:30 (IST)|
|Area||222,236 square km|
Highlights of Jammu & Kashmir: Things to see and do
One can never run out of places to explore in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The land is brimming with picturesque vistas, amazing flora, stunning architecture and there are quaint homestays and eco-friendly resorts that visitors can choose from. Those with an adventurous bent of mind will find a plethora of activities waiting for them. And finally, if you are spiritually inclined, the numerous religious shrines will show you the way to peace and serenity.
Places to visit
Kashmir is an epitome of natural beauty, and it is renowned the world over for that. You can soak your senses on the many lakes, gardens and hill stations that attract thousands of tourists every year. Take perfect pictures and take home memories of a perfect holiday at:
Jammu & Kashmir is known for its religious shrines. The state abounds with important pilgrimage sites for people of all religions, whether Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist. There are people who travel from far to pay homage, and others who visit to feast their eyes upon the beauty of some of these ancient structures.
The beautiful sanctuaries of Jammu and Kashmir reward the nature seeker with views of diverse topography as well as the rarest species of wildlife. The state has several national parks and sanctuaries, aimed at protecting some of these endangered species. Lucky visitors can catch a glimpse of the hangul (Kashmiri stag), leopard, wild cats, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan marmot, musk deer, and a species of wild goat. Himalayan birds, like pheasants, the golden eagle and the bearded vultures can also be spotted. Add these natural forests to your itinerary.
Art and Culture
The culture of Jammu and Kashmir is based on the dances, music and festivals of the people. Its rich, varied history means its arts and crafts have a multi-religious and multi-ethnic flavor. Kashmiris are known the world over for their handicrafts. There is much Persian influence in the floral designs that are typical of Kashmiri art. When in J&K, visitors can pick up souvenirs in the form of:
The people of Jammu and Kashmir include dance in all their celebrations. The music is melodious and artists use instruments such as chhaina, narshingha, flute, drums, etc.
The festivals of Jammu and Kashmir truly demonstrate 'unity in diversity'. Even though the state is divided into three distinct regions, with their individual religions and way of life, nothing brings the different communities together like celebrations do. The joy and enthusiasm is infectious and has to be experienced to be understood.
The food in the state can be divided into the Jammu cuisine and the Kashmir cuisine, both of which are unique and delicious in their own ways. Jammu cuisine is predominantly vegetarian since the land is fertile unlike the higher regions of Kashmir. When in Jammu, visitors must sample the rajma-chawal, morel yakhani (a rare mushroom), rajma ka madhra, khatta meat, kachaloo chat and auria (a potato-based curry), among other delicacies. Kashmir serves up a rich non-vegetarian platter of seekh kabab, tabakh maaz (fried lamb ribs), methi maaz, rogan josh, kashmiri pulao and palak nadir. Do sample haakh, a simple but necessary addition to the Kashmiri life.
Interesting facts about Jammu & Kashmir
J&K is the only state in India to share its borders with just two other states, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, both to its south. Its international neighbors include Pakistan to its west and north, and China to its east, separated by the Line of Actual Control. J&K could be called the home of valleys. The main Kashmir Valley is massive, stretching 100 kms in width and covering an area of 15000 sq. km.
The Jhelum is the only major river that flows through the Kashmir Valley. Indus, Tawi, Ravi and Chenab are the other rivers of the state. Since Jammu and Kashmir has a wide range of elevations, its biogeography is diverse. The land is fertile, and the valley is known for producing some of the finest in rice, vegetables and fruits. The valley is also famous for the quality of its wool.
Timings: When you should visit
Jammu and Kashmir is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in India, and it pulls visitors in every season. If you like the pristine beauty of snow, then winter is the best time to visit. Spring is perfect for nature enthusiasts and young couples, while summer is ideal for families with kids or elderly people when the weather is warmer.
Winter lasts from October to March and temperature stays in the range of -2 to 12 degrees. Summer starts in April and lasts until June, with temperature between 15-30 degrees. J&K does get a spell of monsoon which is from the months of July to September. Spring sneaks in between winter and summer.
By flight: Visitors can fly into Jammu, Srinagar and Leh from most of the top cities in India on all leading airlines.
By rail: Udhampur is the last railway station on the northern railway line. Visitors can take the train up to this stop and then hire taxis or take a bus to go onwards. However, it is better to get down at Jammu as onward transport is more readily available from there.
By road: Travelers can drive into the state via Jammu and go up to Srinagar, or they can enter from Manali in Himachal Pradesh and drive up to Leh. There are several state-owned and private buses also that ply these routes.
History: The land created from water
The story goes that Raja Jamboolochan founded Jammu in 14th century BC and named it Jamboo after himself. Over time the name got corrupted and it became Jammu. Another folk story talks about Kashmir being named ‘desiccated land’ from the Sanskrit ‘ka’ meaning water and ‘shimeera’, meaning to desiccate.
Kashmir is one of the earliest inhabited lands of India. It has been invaded and ruled, in part, by rulers from Bactria, Tartary, Tibet, rulers from the Indus Valley and even the Ganges valley. The religion in the state has constantly fluctuated from Animist, Buddhist, Hindu and now Muslim, with the latter being the dominant religion.
After the British left India, Maharaja Hari Singh, who was the ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, couldn’t decide whether to merge with Pakistan or India. The decision was taken when in October 1977 some rebellious tribesmen from the Pushtoon region attacked J&K. The Maharaja requested help and India agreed after making him accede to the nation. There is, unfortunately, a debate over the accession, and J&K continues to be an area of conflict between India and Pakistan.
Indian Rupee (INR)
Talking about Kashmir tourism, Amir Khusrou, the famous Persian emperor and poet had once said, “Agar firdous baroye Zameen ast, Hami asto, Hami asto Hami asto”, which can be translated as, if there is paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here. Cold breezes, tall and green trees competing to stand out, a myriad of beautifully decorating colorful flowers, serene lakes and breathtaking snow-capped mountains that complete the landscape, is what tourism in Kashmir is all about! The alluring and verdant landscapes dotted with pine trees and bubbling streams of crystal clear water coupled with lush green meadows that stretch as far as the eyes can see makes a Kashmir holiday really enchanting.
|Kashmir Getaway With Gulmarg||4 Days / 3 Nights||Rs. 19,999|
|Super Saver Kashmir||6 Days / 5 Nights||Rs. 22,999|
|Honeymoon Special - Kashmir Getaway With Gulmarg||4 Days / 3 nights||Rs. 24,999|
|Luxury - Kashmir Getaway With Gulmarg||4 Days / 3 nights||Rs. 25,999|
|Exotic Kashmir||7 Days / 6 nights||Rs. 26,999|
A vacation in Kashmir is literally one for the picture postcards! With serene valleys and picturesque forests all over, this is the one place for photography and nature lovers alike. Moreover, the romantic appeal of the environment is something that needs to be experienced once in a lifetime to be truly felt! The summers in Kashmir is bountiful and colorful while winters in Kashmir is serene and blanketed in white snow. The array of activities and adventure sports that you can experience here are sure to leave you thrilled! Kashmir tourism season has something for everyone; the Amarnath Yatra for the religious, adventure sports for the thrill seekers, natural serenity, and beauty for the romantic and a path to self-discovery for the solo travelers.
Book your Kashmir holiday today!
Kashmir is the northernmost part of India as per the geography. Earlier, the region between the Pir Panjal Mountain Range and the Great Himalayas was known as Kashmir. However, post the mid 19th century, this region’s borders were extended to cover a larger area. It now includes Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir regions which are the areas under Indian control, the Pakistan controlled territories of Gilgit-Baltistan & Azad Kashmir and Trans-Karakoram Trakt & Aksai Chin regions which are under Chinese control. The area under Indian control is home to several valleys including, Tawi Valley, Kashmir Valley, Punch Valley, Chenab Valley, Lidder Valley, Sind Valley among many others.
J&K are further divided into 22 different districts for east of administration. The significant ones among them being, Anantang, Jammu, Srinagar, Udhampur and Baramulla.
Initially, the town of Shrinagari was set up by the Buddhist Mauryan emperor Ashoka, and hence Buddhism prevailed all over Kashmir. Ashoka was followed by the Karkota Empire which originated in this region and made it one of the principal places in South Asia. As time progressed, the Muslims set their foot in the area and brought Islam into the state; followed by Mughals, Afghans and the Sikhs. All these religious issues made Jammu and Kashmir as one of the most disputable lands of India. As a result of this, it has been separated into three parts, each of them belonging to Pakistan, India, and China. So far, Kashmir is the only place in India which has a majority of people who believe in Islam. Due to this, it has been a significant target for many terrorist threats in the past. Despite all these fact, the tourism in Kashmir has attracted crowds from all the areas of the world.
The area of Kashmir controlled by India consists of the Kashmir Valley, Jammu, and Ladakh. Kashmir Valley mainly comprises of a vast population that belongs to the Islam community; followed by Jammu which consists of about 30% of Muslims and Ladakh which has about 46% of Muslims in the vicinity. The total population of India's division of Jammu and Kashmir is 12.5 million; out of which Kashmir Valley has a share of 4 million; followed by Jammu having 3 million and Ladakh having 0.25 million people residing in the respective areas.
While Muslims are the majority at 90%, there are primarily three different faiths which dominate the J&K region; Islamists, Gujjars and Kashmiri Pandits. The Muslim community is further divided into two sects; the Shias and the Sunnis. In addition to people from these three faiths, there are also scant populations of Hindus and Buddhists in a few areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
People in Jammu speak Hindi, Punjabi, and Dogri; while those in Kashmir speak the local language of Kashmiri, and the Ladakh region is all about Tibetan and Balti languages. Kashmiri is an Indo-Aryan language; also known as Koshur. The people living in Kashmir Valley speak Kashmiri. Thanks to Kashmir tourism, most of them understand Hindi, and it would not be a problem to communicate with people in Kashmir if you know Hindi.
Cost and Money:
In basic hotels at Kashmir, you can stay for about INR 1000 per night for two people; it also has many luxury places where they can charge you anywhere between INR 7000-9000 per night. It all depends on the kind of places you choose and the type of places you want to stay in. The hotels located near famous tourist places occasionally charge higher than the ones away from the famous area. It is advisable to stay in the popular area because of the transport issues you might face due to adverse weather conditions sometimes. The main mode of transport in Kashmir is by taxis. These taxis charge their rates depending upon the distance the type of car you choose. It can range from INR 2000-2500 per day when it is from Srinagar and for local taxis, it will cost you approximately INR 1500-2000 for three points.
Make sure you have a comfortable car as sightseeing in Kashmir means long journeys on roads that are not really great. Local public transportation is not really well connecting. Trips by buses to popular tourist spots cost around 100 to 200 per trip. Local cuisine here is moderately priced. A regular meal can cost approximately 350-400 at local joints. This can go up to 700 to 800 per person at the better restaurants out there. The budget can be around INR 1000-15000 approximately per person if you wish to stay for one week including the hotel, meals, transfer, and sightseeing.
Though ATMs are available in every nook and corner of the place, it is always advisable to carry cash when you are in Kashmir. The mid-range or budget hotels do not accept cards at times. However, if you enter Pahalgam, Sonmarg, and Gulmarg; the number of ATMs will decrease, so make sure you have cash with you in case you want to savor the delicacies of local eateries in Kashmir. It is entirely safe to roam around in Kashmir; even with the cash, so you need not worry much about thefts and robberies. In all the famous eateries and shopping complexes, credit cards are widely accepted.
Tourism in Kashmir is becoming popular day by day. In recent years, the government is taking many steps to make this place better for the tourists. With increased harmony and security measures, the valley is witnessing one the highest tourist influxes it has witnessed in a relatively long time. The local population is welcoming and you will even get many local guides at public transport stops and tourist places.
My holidays were not good...they were the BEST ! Thanks to the Team of Thomas Cook
My cousins were visiting from USA for a wedding and we had a few days in hand. This was a perfect opportunity to revisit old days and Jammu and Kashmir felt like a perfect destination to do so. We went to Patnitop, Srinagar, Pahalgam, Aru Valley and Sonamarg. The trip was managed with superb professional capacity and the entire package was world class.
I had booked a package for Vaishno Devi and Patnitop for my parents. Thomas Cook ensured that they will have a comfortable travel experience and everything will be managed by their representatives in Jammu. My parents didn’t have a single issue during their journey and returned home with fond memories.
The idea of this family vacation was to make it a mix of pilgrimage as well as sightseeing. Thomas Cook arranged a plan starting from Vaishno Devi and ending in Gulmarg. It was an amazing journey from the mystical lands of Kashmir. The shikara ride in Dal Lake, Snow sports in Sonamarg and Gondola Rides. All 15 of us were so happy after returning from the trip.