Sunday, June 9, 2013

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is the northern most state in India. It is surrounded on the north by Afghanistan and China, on the east by China, on the south by the state of Himachal Pradesh and the state of Punjab in India, and on the west by the North-West Frontier Province and the Punjab Province of Pakistan. J&K covers an area of 222,236 sq km (85,805 sq mi).

Jammu and Kashmir are really three regions: the foothill plains of Jammu; the lakes and blue valleys of Kashmir rising to alpine passes, the high altitude plains and starkly beautiful mountains of Ladakh which lies beyond those passes. The Indus River flows through Kashmir and the Jhelum River rises in the northeastern portion of the territory.

Kashmir possesses a more equable climate than that of southern and central India. The beautiful Vale of Kashmir is a noted resort region. Srinagar is Jammu and Kashmir's summer capital and Jammu is the winter capital.

History of Jammu and Kashmir

The state of Jammu and Kashmir which had earlier been under Hindu rulers and Muslim Sultans became part of the Mughal Empire under Akbar. After a period of Afghan rule from 1756, it was annexed to the Sikh kingdom of Punjab in 1819. In 1846 Ranjit Singh handed over the territory of Jammu to Maharaja Gulab Singh. After the decisive battle of Sabroon in 1846, Kashmir also was handed over to Maharaja Gulab Singh under the Treaty of Amritsar. British supremacy was recognized until the Indian Independence Act 1947.

When all the states decided on accession to India or Pakistan, Kashmir asked for standstill agreements with both. In the meantime the state became the subject of an armed attack from Pakistan and Maharaja acceded to India on 26th October, 1947 by signing the instruments of accession. India approached the then UN in January 1949. Another round of war between the two countries in 1965 was followed by the Tashkent Declaration in January 1966. Following the liberation movement in the former eastern wing of Pakistan, Pakistan attacked India in December, 1971. It was followed by the Shimla Agreement in July, 1972. A new line of control was delineated bilaterally to replace the ceasefire line between the two countries in Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir has been in the centre of contention between India and Pakistan ever since. Separatist movements have torn the peaceful fabric of the state for over a decade.

Climate of Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir has a varied climate which is mainly because of its rugged topography. The state has an altitude from 395 meters to 6910 meters. The Climate in summer is mild owing to the rainfall that takes place on the outer hills and plains. The temperature falls owing to the rainfall in the hills as moisture laden winds strike the high peaks. The valley being on a higher altitude has a milder climate than that of the outer plains. In winter, the Mediterranean winds cause snowfall in the valley. The elevation of the mountains and valleys in the middle zone is the influential factor of the climate in these regions. Summers are mild and of short duration while winters are cold and dry. The level of cold increases with rising altitude and eventually snowfalls occurs in the higher mountain ranges.

Economy and Infrastructure

The state has limited mineral and fossil-fuel resources, and much of these are concentrated in the Jammu region. Small reserves of natural gas are found near Jammu, and bauxite and gypsum deposits occur in the Udhampur district. Other minerals include limestone, coal, zinc, and copper. The pressure of population on land is everywhere apparent, and all available resources are utilized. The lakes and rivers provide fish, water chestnuts, hydroelectric power, and transport and are a tourist attraction. The mountains supply many kinds of timber and pasture for livestock. Gujar and Gaddi nomads practice transhumance in the mountains, keeping sheep, goats, yaks, and ponies.

The majority of the people are engaged in subsistence agriculture of diverse kinds on terraced slopes, each crop adapted to local conditions. Rice, the staple crop, is planted in May and harvested in late September. Corn (maize), millet, pulses (legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils), cotton, tobacco and rice are the main summer crops, while wheat and barley are the chief spring crops. Many temperate fruits and vegetables are grown in areas adjacent to urban markets or in well-watered areas with rich organic soils.

Sericulture is also widespread. Large orchards in the Vale of Kashmir produce apples, pears, peaches, walnuts, almonds, and cherries. In addition, the Vale is the sole producer of saffron in the Indian subcontinent. Lake margins are particularly favorable for cultivation, and vegetables and flowers are grown intensively in reclaimed marshland or on artificial floating gardens.

Cultivation in Ladakh is restricted to such main valleys as those of the Indus, Shyok, and Suru rivers, where it consists of small irrigated plots of barley, buckwheat, turnips, and mustard. Plants introduced in the 1970s by Indian researchers have given rise to orchards and vegetable fields. Pastoralism, notably yak herding, long has been a vital feature of the Ladakh economy. Sheep and goat farming as well as cattle breeding have been encouraged also. The Kashmir goat, which is raised in the region, provides cashmere for the production of fine textiles.

Society and Culture

The population of Jammu and Kashmir has the highest proportion of Muslims of any Indian state, about two-thirds of the total. Hindus constitute most of the remaining third, and there are small minorities of Sikhs and Buddhists. Urdu is the state's official language. Jammu and Kashmir has the distinction of having multifaceted, variegated and unique cultural blend, making it distinct from the rest of the country, not only from the different cultural forms and heritage, but from geographical, demographically, ethical, social entities. Its different cultural forms like art and architecture, fair and festivals, rites and rituals, seer and sagas, language and mountains, embedded in ageless period of history, speak volumes of unity and diversity with unparalleled cultural cohesion and cultural service. While Kashmir has been the highest learning centre of Sanskrit and Persian where early Indo-Aryanic civilization has originated and flourished, it has also been the embracing point of the advent of Islam in India.

Ladakh on the other hand, has been the highest and living centre of Tantrayan Buddhism. Jammu, the same way, has been the seat of Rajas and Maharajas which have cemented and enriched the cultural, historical and social bonds of all these diverse ethnic and linguistic divisions of the state. The ancient archeological monuments and remnants speak volume of the distinct cultural traditions of the state.

Jammu the land of the Dogras, offer an entirely different fare of dances and music. Over the century's long spell of separation from their soldier, husbands and brothers have led the hardy but graceful women of the Duggar to evolve many diverting dances and songs to keep themselves in cheer in their free moments. The songs of separation the ever increasing yearning for reunion with the beloved, the hard life on the mountain slopes and various other themes connected with their day-to-day life find their echo in folk songs and dances.

Ladakh is the repository of ancient cultural heritage. It is the only place in the world where Tantrayans Buddhism is practiced as a way of life. People of this region are deeply drenched in music, dance and drama which embody religious fervor. Ladakhi songs and dances are simple in thought, content and performance to. Ladakhi dances reveal the simple and noble nature of the Ladakhi people. Song and drama both are the means towards salvation. Jammu celebrates Lohri and Baisakhi in February. The 3-day Jammu Crafts Mela is organized during Baisakhi every year at the picturesque Mansar Lake, 60 km from Jammu. Bahu Mela, a major festival is held at the Kali temple in Bahu Fort (Jammu), twice a year during March-April and September-October. In Srinagar, besides Id other important festivals are Urs at Khaneka in downtown Srinagar and Urs at Chrar-e-Sharif. The annual Ladakh festival is held in September; the Hemis Festival features chaams danced by monks in elaborate masks.


The main languages spoken in the state of Jammu and Kashmir are Kashmiri, Urdu, Pahari, Dogri, Balti, Gojri, Ladakhi, Shina and Pashto. Nevertheless, Urdu written in the Persian script is the official language of Jammu and Kashmir. Apart from all these, the people in the state use Hindi or English as a second language.

Administrative Divisions

Jammu and Kashmir is divided into three divisions - Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. These are further divided into 22 districts. They are Anantnag, Badgam, Bandipora, Baramulla, Doda, Ganderbal, Jammu, Kargil, Kathua, Kishtwar, Kupwara, Kulgam, Leh, Poonch, Pulwama, Rajauri, Ramban, Reasi, Samba, Shopian, Srinagar and Udhampur. The state has 2 Municipal Corporations, 9 Municipal Councils and 21 Municipal Boards.

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