Jammu & Kashmir is a
state in India. It is a large state and was ruled by a Maharaja
(Indian King) in the past. Jammu & Kashmir is made up
of many regions but is called Jammu & Kashmir because
the two most populous regions in the state are called Jammu
. There are other distinct regions in the state
including Ladakh, Gilgit, Baltistan and Skardu. India's neighbour,
Pakistan, grabbed many of these regions about 50 years ago.
Some parts of the state were forcibly taken over by China.
The largest portion of the original state of Jammu & Kashmir
remains as a state within India.
Jammu and Kashmir came into being as a single political
and geographical entity following the Treaty of Amristar between
the British Government and Gulab singh signed on March 16, 1846.
The Treaty handed over the control of the Kashmir State to the Dogra
ruler of Jammu who had earlier annexed Ladakh. Thus a new State
comprising three distinct religions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh
was formed with Maharaja Gulab Singh as its founder ruler.
Jammu district derives its name from the city of Jammu which besides
being the winter capital of the state, is known as the city of temples.
It is believed that the city was originally founded by Raja Jamboo
Lochan who lived in fourteenth century B.C. The Raja had gone out
one day for hunting when he happened to witness a tiger and a goat
drinking water from one and the same pond. This extraordinary phenomenon
set him thinking and he decided to build a city at this site so
that the strong and weak could live together in peace and mutual
tolerance. Eventually, he founded the city which came to be known
as "Jamboo" after his own name. With the passage of time
and due to its frequent use the pronunciation of the name got slightly
distorted and the city, came to be known as Jammu
as it is called now
Jammu and Kashmir or J&K has the distinctiveness of having multihued,
motley of unique cultural blend, differentiating it from the rest
of the country. Jammu & Kashmir is not only different in cultural
forms and heritage, but also different in geographical, demographically,
ethical and social entities from other parts of the country. The
state is accurately shaped into a spectrum of variance and variation
Clearly visible in the distinct parts - Jammu,
Kashmir and Ladakh, all yielding diverse religion, language and
culture, but constantly interfusing, making it sparkling specimens
of Indian unity in diversity. The various cultural forms like art
& architecture, fairs & festivals, rites & rituals,
seers & sagas, languages and landscapes, mounted on the ageless
era of history, speaks aloud of uniformity and diversity with matchless
cultural symmetry & service.
The sheer beauty and grandeur of the Kashmir
Valley cannot be captured in plain words. Set at the foot of
the awesome Himalayas, with the splendid Jhelum river meandering
through it, this land of raw natural magnificence has enticed people
from all over the world, for centuries. Aptly referred to as Paradise,
Kashmir has been ruled by Emperor Ashoka, the Kushans, Gonondas,
Guptas, Karkotas, Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs, and finally by the Dogras
in the 19th century. Despite all these invasions, the Kashmiris
have retained their traditions and innate simplicity. The major
chunk of the population is Muslim, followed by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists
Kashmir is a land crisscrossed by umpteen lakes
and rivers, each fascinating in its own way. The Jhelum or Vitasta,
as it was called, is not only the bloodline, as it were, of the
state, but also poses as the ethereal inspiration for many songs,
legends, and poems. The other notable lakes include the Manasbal
Lake, the Liddar river, the famous Dal lake, Nagin Lake and the
Wular Lake, the largest in the state. Shalimar, Nasim Bagh, Nishat
Bagh, and the legendary Chashme - e - Shahi are some of the delightful
gardens, that are to be found here.
Apart from its being the land of soaring snowclad
mountains, sparkling waterfalls, shikaras (water taxis), impressive
chinar trees, and vast fields of vibrant flowers, Kashmir is also
renown for its unique handicrafts - papier-mache, woodwork, stone
jewellery, fine Pashmina and Shahtush shawls, carpet weaving and
silverware. The arts and crafts of this region are more than 500
years old, and bear a distinct Persian imprint.
The valley is studded with several mosques and
temples, built in diverse architectural styles. The Hazratbal Mosque,
the holiest of all Muslim shrines, the stone temples of Avantipur,
the cave at Amarnath, the most sacred Hindu shrine in the state,
the great Shankaracharya temple, the Martand Temple all add to the
kaleidoscopic appeal of Kashmir.
Kashmir has been the highest learning point of Sanskrit and Persian
where early Indo-Aryanic civilization has originated and flourished.
Ladakh on the other side, has been the highest living centre of
Tantrayan Buddhism. Similarly Jammu, has been the axis of Rajas
and Maharajas, who have enriched the cultural, historical and social
bonds of all these diverse ethnic and linguistic sections of the
state. The ancient archeological monuments and remnants of the past
are the true picture of the rich cultural traditions of the state.