A heaven on Earth, Kashmir is located in the north-western region of the Indian Subcontinent. With abundant natural beauty, the destination until the mid 19th century was geographically denoted as the valley nestled between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. However, at present Kashmir denotes a much larger area that includes the Indian administered state of Jammu and Kashmir.
History of Kashmir
According to a legend, it is believed that Kashyap, the great sage drained a lake, which was inhabited by the Brahmins and then the place came to be known as Kashmir. A synonym for its turbulent past, Buddhism was introduced in the region by the missionaries of Emperor Ashoka. This religion flourished in Kashmir until the 2nd century, till the time it was ruled by Kushan. However, for several centuries, Hinduism was the dominant religion of Kashmir.
In the 7th century, the destination was under the rule of Durlabhavarrdhana, who founded the Karkota Dynasty. This was replaced in 855 AD by the Utpalas, who were then succeeded by the Tantrins, Yaskaras, Guptas and Loharas respectively.
In 1346, the last Hindu king, Udiana Deva was replaced by Shams-ud-Din, the first Muslim king, who reigned in Kashmir. However, in 1586, the Mughal Emperor Akbar conquered Kashmir and made it a part of his empire.
In 1757, Kashmir saw the victory of Ahmed Shah Durrani as a result of which the destination went under the rule of Pakistan until 1819. However, Ranjit Singh won Kashmir from Pakistan and added it to his Sikh Empire.
In 1846, the Sikhs were defeated by the British army and sold Kashmir to Ghulab Singh of Jammu. The destination was sold under the Treaty of Amritsar for INR 7.5 million. As a result of this treaty, Ghulab Singh acquired the status of an independent prince of Kashmir.
Later, he conquered Ladakh also, which he added to his dominion. After he died in 1857, he was succeeded by Maharaja Ranbir Singh. As time passed, the destination was ruled by Maharaja Partap Singh and Maharaja Hari Singh respectively.
In 1947, during the reign of Hari Singh, the Indo-Pakistan partition took place. However, during that time the rulers of the princely states were given freedom to accede to either Pakistan or India or to remain independent. Since the Maharaja of Kashmir was a Hindu, so he decided to join India, despite the fact that majority of population residing in Kashmir were Muslims.
Things to do in Kashmir
Kashmir is one of the most popular tourist places in the country that is known for its natural beauty. From beautiful shikaras and wooden handicrafts to apples and cherries, all attract tourists from across the country to visit Kashmir.
Tourists can also make a visit to Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. Situated in the valley of Kashmir, Srinagar is known for its traditional Kashmiri handicrafts and also for its houseboats. In addition, tourists can also visit attractions like Hazratbal Mosque and Dal Lake.
The best time to visit this beautiful destination extends from the month of March to October. This time period covers three main seasons prevailing in Kashmir, namely spring, summer and autumn.
Travelling to Kashmir
To reach by air, at Srinagar is the airport, which is approximately 14 km from the city of Kashmir. Daily flights to Srinagar are operated by Indian Airlines from Delhi, Mumbai and Jammu and Jet Airways from Delhi and Jammu.
The nearest railhead to Srinagar is from Jammu Tawi which is approximately 305 km away. Trains from Delhi, Calcutta, Pune, Mumbai and other cities arrive at Jammu Tawi and so is of easy access. During peak tourism season, additional trains operate for and from this station.
Travelling within Kashmir
Jammu & Kashmir SRTC bus services connect most points around the state. They even offer package tour to Gulmarg, Shonmarg, Yusmarg, Ular lake, City tour, etc. Tourists can opt for jeeps which are quicker in reaching locations. Private hire jeeps are also available.
Accommodation options in Kashmir
There are ample accommodation options in Kashmir and range from heritage hotels to luxury hotels and to budget hotels