Jammu and Kashmir is a state in northern India, often denoted by the acronym J&K. It is located mostly in the Himalayan mountains, and shares borders 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 Pakistan-controlled territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan 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.
The Rajatarangini is the first of a series of four histories that record the annals of Kashmir. Commencing with a rendition of traditional ‘history’ of very early times (3102 BCE), the Rajatarangini comes down to the reign of Sangrama Deva, (c.1006 AD) and Kalhana. The second work, by Jonaraja, continues the history from where Kalhana left off, and, entering the Muslim period, gives an account of the reigns down to that of Zain-ul-ab-ad-din, 1412. P. Srivara carried on the record to the accession of Fah Shah in 1486. The fourth work, called Rajavalipataka, by Prajnia Bhatta, completes the history to the time of the incorporation of Kashmir in the dominions of the Mogul emperor Akbar, 1588.
Jonaraja (c. 15th century) was a Kashmiri historian and Sanskrit poet. His Dvitīyā Rājataraṅginī is a continuation of Kalhana’s Rājataranginī and brings the chronicle of the kings of Kashmir down to the time of the author’s patron Zain-ul-Abidin (r. 1423-74). Jonaraja, however, could not complete the history of the patron as he died in the 35th regnal year of him. His pupil, Śrīvara continued the history and his work, the Tritīyā Rājataraṅginī covers the period 1459-86.
In his Dvitīyā Rājataranginī, Jonaraja has vividly described the decline of the Hindu ruling dynasty and the rise of the Muslim ruling dynasty in Kashmir.
The Rājataranginī (The River of Kings) is a metrical chronicle of the kings of Kashmir from earliest time written in Sanskrit by Kalhana. It is believed that the book was written sometime during 1147-1149 CE. The work generally records the heritage of Kashmir, but 120 verses of Rājatarangiṇī describe the misrule prevailing in Kashmir during the reign of King Kalash, son of King Ananta Deva of Kashmir. Although the earlier books are far from accurate in their chronology, they still provide an invaluable source of information about early Kashmir and its neighbors, and are widely referenced by later historians and ethnographers.
In the Rajatarangini, a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in mid-12th century, it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake. This was drained by the great rishi or sage, Kashyapa, son of Marichi, son of Brahma, by cutting the gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula). When Kashmir had been drained, Kashyapa asked Brahmans to settle there. This is still the local tradition, and in the existing physical condition of the country, we may see some ground for the story which has taken this form. The name of Kashyapa is by history and tradition connected with the draining of the lake, and the chief town or collection of dwellings in the valley was called Kashyapa-pura name which has been identified with the Kao-1r6.nupos of Hecataeus (apud Stephen of Byzantium) and Kaspatyros of Herodotus (3.102, 4.44). Kashmir is the country meant also by Ptolemy’s Kao-ir,~pta.
Kalhana (c. 12th century CE) a Kashmiri Brahmin was the author of Rajatarangini, and is regarded as Kashmir’s first historian. In fact, his translator Aurel Stein expressed the view that his was the only true Sanskrit history. Little is known about him except from what he tells us about himself in the opening verses of his book. His father Champaka was the minister in Harsha of Kashmir’s court.

Hangul

The Kashmir stag (Cervus canadensis hanglu), also called hangul, is a subspecies of elk native to India. It is found in dense riverine forests in the high valleys and mountains of the Kashmir Valley and northern Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh. In Kashmir, it’s found in the Dachigam National Park where it receives protection but elsewhere it is more at risk. In the 1940s, the population was between 3000 and 5000 individuals, but since then habitat destruction, over-grazing by domestic livestock and poaching have greatly reduced that dramatically. The Kashmir stag is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as the population had been reduced to 160 mature individuals in the 2008 census. Earlier believed to be a subspecies of red deer (Cervus elaphus), a number of mitochondrial DNA genetic studies have revealed that the hangul is part of the Asian clade of the elk (Cervus canadensis).

Black necked crane

The black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis) is a medium-sized crane in Asia that breeds on the Tibetan Plateau and winters mainly in remote parts of India and Bhutan. It is 139 cm (55 in) long with a 235 cm (7.8 ft) wingspan, and it weighs 5.5 kg (12 lbs). It is whitish-gray, with a black head, red crown patch, black upper neck and legs, and white patch to the rear of the eye. It has black primaries and secondaries. Both sexes are similar. Some populations are known to make seasonal movements. It is revered in Buddhist traditions and culturally protected across much of its range. A festival in Bhutan celebrates the bird while the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir considers it as the state bird.

Chinar

Platanus orientalis, or oriental plane,is a large, deciduous tree of the Platanaceae family, growing to 30 m (98 ft) or more,and known for its longevity and spreading crown.The oriental plane is found naturally in riverine settings, together with such trees as alder, willow and poplar. However, it is quite capable of survival and success in dry soils once it is established.Flowers and fruit are round and burr-like, borne in clusters of between 2 and 6 on a stem.

Lotus

Lotus Cars is a British manufacturer of sports and racing cars, famous for its Esprit, Elan, Europa and Elise sports cars and for the highly successful Team Lotus in Formula One. Lotus Cars is based at the former site of RAF Hethel, a World War II airfield in Norfolk. The company designs and builds race and production automobiles of light weight and fine handling characteristics.It also owns the engineering consultancy Lotus Engineering, which has facilities in the United Kingdom, United States, China, and Malaysia.Lotus is owned by DRB-HICOM through its subsidiary Proton, which acquired it following the bankruptcy of former owner Romano Artioli in 1996.

Jammu is well connected by various domestic airline services with Delhi , Amritsar, Chandigarh , and Srinagar.Srinagar is connected to Delhi by daily flights via Jammu. Weekly flights are also operated by various domestic airlines from Leh to Srinagar and thrice a week flights are operated from Delhi to Srinagar.Various Airlines operates regular scheduled flights to Leh from Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu and Srinagar. Some private airlines are also planning to operate air services between Delhi and Leh in the near future.Jammu Tawi is an important railhead on the Northern Railway line, having excellent connections with other parts of the country. Express trains connect it with Delhi, Mumbai , Chennai , Calcutta and Amritsar.The nearest railhead from the Srinagar is Jammu Tawi, 305-km away. Jammu is connected to all parts of the country by express trains.

Located on the National Highway 1A, Jammu is linked by a network of roads to Amritsar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Katra, Srinagar, and Manali.The route between Jammu and Srinagar is 293-km long. From Jammu the road winds gently up and down to Udhampur then climbs steeply to Patnitop. From here it drops just as steeply to Ramban; the road follows a picturesque but hazardous river route along this stretch. At Ramban it ascends again to Banihal and on to the Jawarhar Tunnel. The road descends rapidly into the Kashmir valley after the tunnel, and runs flat the remaining distance to Srinagar. There are numerous places of interest on this route in Jammu.Srinagar being the only major town linked by road to the rest of the country, all visitors make it their base, going for excursions to nearby resorts, for fishing and trekking expeditions. The capital city is connected by JKSRTC bus services to Jammu, Leh, Kargil, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Chandigarh and Delhi. Several private bus operators also ply buses from there to Srinagar. Those arriving to Jammu by rail have the option of hiring a shared taxi or going by bus from Jammu to Srinagar. Either way the journey is best undertaken as early in the day as possible. The Banihal Tunnel, which links the valley of Kashmir to the outside world is closed to traffic after dark. The 295-km journey is taken through Udhampur, Kud, Batote, Patnitop, Ramban and Quazi Gund. As most of the road is downhill and curved rather than straight, high speed cannot be maintained on this route.Leh translates as the land of passes and on the 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh road one encounters three passes, Zoji la, Namika la and Fatu la. The main overland approach to Ladakh is from the Kashmir Valley via Srinagar-Leh road, which remains open for traffic from early June to November. The J&K State Road Transport Corporation (J&K SRTC) operates regular Deluxe and Ordinary bus services between Srinagar-Leh on this route with an overnight halt at Kargil. Taxis (cars and jeeps) are also available at Srinagar for the journey. Groups can charter Deluxe and A-class buses for Leh , Kargil or Padum (Zanskar) from the J&K SRTC at Srinagar. There is another road to Leh from the Himachal Pradesh side. This route from Manali is 473-km long and is usually open from mid-July to end-September.

Cuisine

The staple food of Jammu and Kashmir is rice. They take plenty of vegetables but the favourite dish is the hak or karam sag. In the cities mutton is consumed in large quantities but in the villages it is still a luxury reserved only for festive occasions. Although they are the inhabitants of a cold country, Kashmiris abhor the use of intoxicating drinks. The traditional green tea with spices and almond known as Kawa is consumed during the winters of Kashmir. Kashmiri Pulao is a common dish for Kashmiri vegetarians. Also spices, curd and condiments are common ingredients of Kashmiri cuisine. Muslims abstain from asafoetida (hing) and curds and Kashmiri Pandits abstain from using onions and garlic in their meals. Phirni is a sweet delicacy of Jammu and Kashmir.Amongst Kashmiri beverages, ‘Kahwah’ and ‘Noon Chai’ or ‘Sheer Chai’ (Chai meaning tea) are significant.

Costumes

The dress of Jammu and Kashmir essentially comprises a long loose gown buttoning at the neck and falling to the ankles. In winter it is made of wool and in summer of cotton. There is very little difference between the pheran worn by men and women. A pyjama of the loose type is generally worn under the pheran and this is all the dress of an average villager. The women wear a skull cap surrounded by a fillet of red colour in the case of Muslim and a fillet of white cloth in the case of Pandit women. A shawl or a white ‘chaddar’ thrown gracefully over the head and shoulders, more as a protection from the sun than to hide the features, completes their headgear. Men wear turbans as a sign of respectability and affluence. Among certain classes, women can also be seen wearing the graceful saree and Salwar whereas the men wear coat and trousers.

Music and Dance

Music in this region is called Sufiana Kalam. After the advent of Islam, Kashmiri music may have been influenced by Iranian music. The musical instrument Santoor used in Kashmir was invented in Iran. Other musical instruments include Nagara, Dukra and Sitar. Many Raaga or Mukams of Kashmiri music arc present in Persian i.e. Mukam Duga, Mukam/Nawa and Singha. In the same manner many Persian words are present in Kashmiri Talas i.e. Sol ha, Neamdor Chapandoz etc. Besides, Sufiana music, Chakri and Rouff are other forms of Kashmiri music.Rabab is popular folk music of Kashmir. In Dogra Pahari area of Jammu valley ‘Geetru’ is performed at the time of festivals like rural weddings and other social festivals. Rouff is also a conventional dance performed by the women of the Kashmir region. Sad songs are sung where these female dancers incorporate aesthetic dance movements.

Festivals

The people of Jammu and Kashmir are very fond of celebrating festivals and it constitutes a significant element of the culture of Jammu and Kashmir. The masked dance festivals of Ladakh enthral the tourists. In Uttar Behni area of Jammu valley, Chaitre Chaudash is famous. Bahu Mela is a significant festival observed at the premises of Kali temple in Jammu’s Bahu Fort. In Purmandal city of Jammu valley, Purmandal Mela is celebrated in the month of February or March to signify the occasion of wedding of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati. Dressed in colourful attires the people visit the places like Panjbhaktar Temple, Peer Khoh cave temple and the Ranbireshwar Temple. Apart from these festivals, the culture of Jammu and Kashmir incorporates all the other important festivals of India. These include Baisakhi, Lohri, Jhiri Mela, Navaratri Festival and others.

Literature

Kashmir has rendered a valuable contribution to Indian literature. Kalhana and Bilhana are well remembered for their historical works. The former wrote Rajatarangini which throws a flood of light not only on the history of Kashmir but also on the history of India. Bilhana’s Vikramankadava Charita is concerned with the history of South India. Charaka and Koka studied medicine and sex respectively. Vamana, Nammata, Anandavardhana, Ruyaka, Kuntala, Abhinavagupta are noted for literary criticism. Similarly, Mankha, Kshemenidra, Matrigupta, Shilhana, Jhalhana, Shivaswamin and Somadeva were eminent Kashmiri writers.

Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts of Jammu Kashmir are very classy. Woven carpets, silk carpets, rugs, woollen shawls, Pottery and kurtas are beautifully embroidered. Well-decorated traditional boats are made of wood and they are called ‘Shikaras’. Thus, the culture of Kashmir is a composite one, a synthetic pattern with unity in diversity.