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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 and Kashmir. 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 and Christians.

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.

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