Jammu and Kashmir - Heaven on earth
Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India locked in Himalayan Mountains. Jammu and Kashmir is home to several Valleys such as the Kashmir Valley, Tawi, Chenab Valley, Poonch, Sindh Valley and Lidder Valley. Some major tourist attractions in Jammu and Kashmir are Srinagar, the Mughal Gardens, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Patnitop, Jammu, and Ladakh. Some areas require a special permit for non-Indians to visit.
Situated in the northernmost part of India, Jammu and Kashmir is bordered by Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan from West to East. From South to East, the boundary of the state touches Punjab and Himachal.The state can be divided into four major regions: the sub-mountain and semi-mountain plain known as kandi or dry belt; the Shivalik ranges, the high mountain zone constituting the Kashmir Valley; Pir Panchal range and its off-shoots including Doda, Poonch and Rajouri districts and part of Kathua and Udhampur districts; and the middle run of the Indus River comprising Leh and Kargil.
The history of Jammu & Kashmir is quite old. Kashmir is mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. In 250 BC, Ashoka, the great Mauryan king, established the city of Pandrethan and built many viharas and chaityas. This says much about the strategic importance that this region hadd even in that time. Some sources claim that Buddha also visited this region, though no proof is available to validate this theory. Kanishka, the great Kushana king, called the Third Buddhist Council at Harwan, near Srinagar, in the first century AD. This Council saw the division of Buddhism in two distinct streams called Hinayana and Mahayana. Kalhana, the first Indian history writer, gave a vivid account of the history of Kashmir before the 10th century AD. Local kingdoms ruled extensively in this region until the 12th century AD when Muslims invaded the region. The greatest Muslim king of early medieval age in Kashmir was Zain-ul-Abidin, who ascended the throne in AD 1420 and ruled up to 1470. His long rule contributed extensively to the spread of art, culture, music, and every other sphere in the life of Kashmir people. He also created a strong army and annexed many regions nearby Kashmir. These were the time of golden rule in Kashmir when peace and harmony prevailed. After the death of King Zain-ul-Abidin, a period of destruction came calling to Kashmir and many raiders from outside looted the state and made the people and local rulers their captive. In 1587, Akbar annexed Kashmir into his vast empire. Jahangir, son of Akbar and next Mughal ruler, visited Kashmir 13 times and created two beautiful gardens on the bank of Dal Lake, namely, the Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh. After two centuries of peace and development, Kashmir came into the hands of the Pathans in 1752, when the Afghan ruler Abdul Shah Abdali attacked this region on the request of local noblemen. The Pathans established a rule of terror here, no better than that of Aurangzeb, the last important Mughal ruler.In 1819, the Sikhs under Maharaja Ranjit Singh annexed this region, but their empire remained in place only for 27 years. From 1846 to 1957, the Dogras ruled over this region when British defeated Ranjit Singh and handed over the administration of this region to Maharaja Gulab Singh. The Dogra rule also for the first time put in reality the modern state of Jammu & Kashmir. During India's freedom struggle, people from this state participated extensively under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah and decided to go with India in 1948 after the country became independent.
Best Time To Visit Jammu and Kashmir : -Jammu and Kashmir is unarguably "Heaven on Earth"; and there isn't any season when heaven twitches its admirers away. It can be visited throughout the year but winters are the best time for snow lovers as compare to other season, spring tops the deal for nature enthusiasts and summers are perfect time to plan a Jammu & Kashmir tour with family.
Local Cuisine of Jammu and Kashmir : - Kashmiri food originated from the picturesque Kashmir Valley, the crown of India that lies in the lap of the Himalayas. Kashmir not only offers mesmerising locations but also a wide range of lip smacking and exotic delicacies. Traditionally rice has remained the staple food for the Kashmir populace which is most popularly complimented with varied preparations of meat. Kashmiris including the Brahmin Pandits are voracious meat eaters and thus a number of appetizing and luscious Kashmiri dishes of meat like rogan josh and yakhni are available. Varied range of traditional Kashmiri breads like bakarkhani and tea like sheer chai are also quite popular in the region.The region offers a wide array of food items, zaeka-e-Kashmir, particularly authentic non-veg cuisines made of chicken, mutton and fish, some of which has become hugely popular across the nation. The Kashmiri cuisines primarily non-vegetarian with of course some exquisite vegetarian dishes on offer are mostly influenced by the traditional cuisines of the Kashmiri pundits and the mughlai cuisines. Of late aspects of culinary styles of regions like Afghanistan, Persia and Central Asia are also noticeable in Kashmiri food. Generally Kashmiri cuisines, most of which are marked with ample use of turmeric and yogurt are quite rich in flavour and mild in taste. Spices like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and fennel which are generally considered hot are used widely in different Kashmiri cuisines, while garlic and onion are not used much.
Places to Stay in Jammu and Kashmir !
Here are my select set of hotels with great views of the snow peaks. Visit the links and read detailed reviews to know about all aspects of the hotel including service and amenities before you decide on one. Remember, only a great view isn't just enough to make a hotel a great one.