Located very close to Srinagar ( 22km ) , Dachigam National park with its splendid forests and magnificent scenery is easily accessible . The two sectors of the park – Upper and Lower Dachigam are spread over an area of 141 sq . km . And altitudes vary between 1700 and 4300 meters . Two steep ridges enclose the Park with its great topographical variety – deep ravines , rocky outcrops , steep wooded slopes and rolling alpine pastures . Tumbling down from the Masrar Lake ( 4300m ) , up in the high ranges , the Dachigam River winds through Lower Dachigam.https://www.tourmyindia.com/states/jammu-kashmir/wildlife.html#:~:text=Some%20of%20the%20fauna%20found,species%2C%20is%20also%20found%20here. ABOUT JAMMU & KASHMIR
. HISTORY OF JAMMU & KASHMIR
Jammu and Kashmir came into 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 regions of Jammu , Kashmir and Ladakh was formed with Maharaja Gulab Singh as its founder ruler . The feudal dispensation in the State , however , was too harsh for the people to live under and towards the end of a hundred years of this rule when their Indian brethren were fighting for independence from the British under the inspiring leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru , the Kashmiris led by a towering personality , the Sher – I – Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah , rose against the autocracy .
HANDICRAFTS OF JAMMU & KASHMIR
A carpet is a life long investment – it may well be the single most expensive purchase during your trip to Kashmir .
Kashmiri carpets are world famous and renowned for two things i.c they are hand made and they are always knotted , never tufted . It is extremely instructive to watch a carpet being made- your dealer can probably arrange it for you , stretched tightly on a frame is the warp of Carpet
There are pure wool shawls called raffal which have different counts of wool – 40 , 60 , 80 etc. , and the shawl is progressively more expensive as the count increases . Shawls mixed with other fibers like cotton and cotton derivatives are far far cheaper . On the other hand , woollen shawls mixed with pashmina will be far more expensive . Then too , there are shawls that look and feel like pashmina and which are priced between wool and pashmina .
FESTIVALS IN JAMMU & KASHMIR
Lohri festival is also known as Makar Sankranti . It heralds the onset of spring . The whole of Jammu region wears a festive look on this day . Thousands take a dip in the holy rivers . ‘ Havan Yagnas ‘ light up nearly every house and temple in Jammu . In the rural areas , custom requires boys to go around asking for gifts from newly weds and new parents . A special dance called the ‘ Chajja ‘ dance is held on the occasion of Lohri . It makes a striking picture to see boys along with their ‘ Chajjas ‘ elaborately decorated with coloured paper and flowers move on the street in a dancing procession . The whole atmosphere comes alive with the pulsating drum beats .
The ideal trekking months starts from April to November , no special permits are required , though registration with the nearest tourist office is necessary . The state affords some spectacular contrasts in nature with its alpine pastures , barren wastelands and rugged mountains . Srinagar is a good take off point for trekking in the Kashmir valley or in Zanskar ( by road to Kargil ) . In the Ladakh region , Leh is the best point for base camp . Mules and porters charging approximately $ 4 per day can be engaged from the area’s nearest tourist office . Guides are also available and there are several specialised agencies in Srinagar and Leh dealing in trekking tours .
PILGRIM PLACES IN JAMMU & KASHMIR
To the west of the city is the much lower hill of Hari Parbat , which is surrounded by a fort . On this hill is the temple of Sharika Devi , believed to be a form of Durga Mata or Shakti . 25 kms from Srinagar , past Ganderbal , is the most important pilgrim place in Kashmir , the only exception being Amarnath cave . This is the temple and spring of Tulla Mulla , the local name of the Goddess Raginia , believed to be another form of Durga Mata . The site of the temple predates this millennium . The temple – spring complex is affectionately known as ” Kheer Bhavani ” because of the thousands of devotees who have offered milk and ‘ kheer ‘ to the sacred spring , which magically changes colour , turning black when warning of disaster.
Within Srinagar , on its highest hill is the Shankaracharya temple , nearly one thousand feet above the city . It is devoted to lord Shiva . The site dates back to 2500 BC . The philosopher Shankara stayed at this site when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive Sanatan Dharma . Before this date , the temple was known as Gopadri , as an earlier edifice on the same site was built by king Gopad Uya in the 6th century . In fact the road below the hill , with residences of high- ranking State government officials , is still known as Gupkar road .
Amongst the temples in the city , the Raghunath Mandir takes pride of the place being situated right in the heart of the Jammu . It consists of cluster of temples which makes it the largest temple complex in northern India .
The inner sanctums of the temples contain giganatic Sri statues of Gods and Goddesses and numerous ‘ lingams ‘ . It contains representatives of almost Hindu Pantheon which makes it rare site to see . Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara , the sixth guru of Sikhism travelled through Kashmir , stopping to preach occasionally . A gurudwara has been built at the exact site of each of these halts . The most important one is Chatti Parshahi Gurudwara near the Kathi Darwaza in Rainawari, Srinagar
WILDLIFE IN JAMMU & KASHMIR
WILDLIFE IN JAMMU & KASHMIR Located very close to Srinagar (22km), Dachigam National park with its splendid forests and magnificent scenery is easily accessible. The two sectors of the park -Upper and Lower Dachigam are spread over an area of 141 sq. km. And altitudes vary between 1700 and 4300 meters. Two steep ridges enclose the Park with its great topographical variety – deep ravines, rocky outcrops, steep wooded slopes and rolling alpine pastures.
Tumbling down from the Masrar Lake (4300m), up in the high ranges, the Dachigam river winds through Lower Dachigam.
The Park is the habitat of the endangered hangul or the Kashmir stag – the only species of red deer to be found in India. Winter is the best time to see the hangul, when they congregate in the shelter of the lower valleys.
Other inhabitants include the Himalayan black bear, species of wild goat like the markhor and ibex and varieties of exotic Himalayan birds. Colorful pheasants include the crimson tragopan, the iridescent monal pheasant with its glittering plumage, the blood pheasant and the koklass pheasant.
The golden eagle and the bearded vulture or lammergeier are seen circling the brilliant blue skies. The leopard, which is the only predator in this paradise, is rarely seen as is also the elusive snow leopard, which is found in the higher altitudes.
Other animals include the rare musk deer and the Himalayan marmot. A metallic road takes visitors from Srinagar into Lower Dachigam. Upper Dachigam can only be explored on foot.
The Lake City Srinagar is located in the heart of the Kashmir valley at an altitude of 1,730 m above sea level, spread on both sides of the river Jhelum. The Dal and Nagin lakes enhance its picturesque setting, while the changing play of the seasons and the salubrious climate ensure that the city is equally attractive to visitors around the year.
Kalhana, the author of ‘Rajtarangini’, states that Srinagri was founded by Emperor Ashoka (3rd Century BC). The present city of Srinagar was founded by Pravarasena-II, and Hiuen Tsang, who visited Kashmir in 631 AD, found it at the same site as it is today. Lalitaditya Muktapida was the most illustrious ruler of Kashmir in the Hindu period, which ended in 1339 AD. King Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-70 AD), popularly known as ‘Budshah’, was a great patron of Sanskrit. Akbar captured Kashmir valley from the Mughals, who endowed Srinagar with beautiful mosques and gardens. The Sikhs overthrew the last Muslim ruler in the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1819. In 1846 the Dogras secured the sovereignty of Kashmir from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, and in 1947 the state of Jammu and Kashmir with Srinagar as its capital, became part of the Indian Union. https://www.tripadvisor.in/Tourism-g297623-Srinagar_Srinagar_District_Kashmir_Jammu_and_Kashmir-Vacations.html#/media/297623/’88194756′:p/?focusedIndex=0
Today Srinagar is a resort for the tourist who can experience, at first hand, the peculiar beauty of the valley that has attracted the Chinese, the Mughals and the Britishers.
With terraced lawns , cascading fountains , paint – box bright flowerbeds with the panorama of the Dal in front of them the three Mughal Gardens of Chesmashahi , Nishat and Shalimar are the Mughal Emperors concept of paradise and are today very popular places for picnics and excursions.
Built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jehan, Shalimar, 15 kms from the TRC, is a beautiful garden with sweeping vistas over gardens and lakes, and shallow terraces. The garden is 539 m by 182 m and has four terraces, rising one above the other. A canal lined with polished stones and supplied with water from Harwan runs through the middle of the garden. The fourth terrace, by far the best, was once reserved for royal ladies.
Situated on the banks of the Dal Lake, with the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, (11 km. from TRC), this garden of bliss’ commands a magnificent view of the lake and the snow capped Pir Panjal 66 / Tourism mountain range which stands far away to the west of the valley, Nishat was designed in 1633 AD by Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jahan.
At Chashma shahi, is a tastefully laid garden in terraces, which commands a magnificent view of the Dal Lake below and surrounding mountain ranges. The cool water of the spring is highly refreshing and digestive. The original garden was laid out by Shah Jehan in 1632 AD. TRC Srinagar free of cost to visit the permits can be had from the infromation counter Chashma Shahi garden. Permits can be had from the information counter.
Once the royal observatory, Pari Mahal has a charmingly laid out garden and is a five-minute drive from Chashmashahi. A Buddhist monastery at one time, converted into a school of astrology by Dara Shikoh, Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan’s eldest son. Situated on the spur of a mountain overlooking the Dal, the ancient monument, with a well-laid spacious garden in front, is connected to Chashmashahi by road. It is illuminated at night.
On the hillside, south of the village of Harwan (19 kms from the TRC), remarkable remains of ancient ornament tile pavements of the Buddhist period have come to light. The tiles depict the dresses of the people, such as loose trousers, Turkoman caps or close fitting turbans and large car-rings which reveal Central Asian influence.
Hazratbal Mosque is located in a village of the same name on the banks of the Dal. Its pristine white marble elegance is reflected in the waters of the lake. Hazratbal’s special significance is derived from the fact that it houses a hair of the prophet Muhammad. This is displayed to the public on religious occasions, usually accompanied by fairs. Apart from these occasions, Friday prayers are offered at Hazratbal and attended by throngs of people. Hazratbal is notable for being the only domed mosque in Srinagar, the others havingdistinct pagoda like roofs. The shrine-mosque complex is situated on the western shore of the Dal Lake opposite Nishat Bagh and commands a grand view of the lake and the mountain beyond.
The Jama Masjid at Nowhatta, in the heart of the old city, is the other important mosque in Srinagar at which thousands of people congregate for the Friday prayers. Of imposing proportions, the mosque is built around a courtyard and is supported by 370 wooden pillars. The hushed quiet of the mosque counterpoints the bustle of the old bazaars surrounding it. Originally built by Sultan Sikandar in 1400 AD, and enlarged by his son, Zain-ul-Abidin, it is a typical example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Destroyed thrice by fire and rebuilt each time, the mosque, as it now stands, was repaired during the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh.
The sacred temple of Shankaracharya occupies the top of the hills known as Takht-1-Sulaiman in the south cast of Srinagar. The site dates back to 250BC. The philosopher Shankaracharya stayed at this place when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive Sanatan Dharma
Before this date, the temple was known as Gopadri, as an earlier edifice on the same site was built by king Lalitaditya the 6th century AD. In fact, the road below the hill, with residences of high-ranking state government officials, is still known as Gupkar road. Built on a high octagonal plinth and approached by a flight of steps with side walls that once bore inscriptions, the main surviving shrine consists of a circular cell. It overlooks the valley and can be approached by a motorable road. A modern ceiling covers the inner sanctum and an inscription in Persian traces its origin to the reign of Emperor Shah Jehan. The original ceiling was dome-shaped and the brick roof, it appears, is not more than a century old.
Situated on the banks of the river Jhelum, between the third and fourth bridge, it is the first mosque ever built in Srinagar. The original one was built in 1395.
Shah Hamadan’s full name was Mir Sayed Ali Hamadni, the surname being derived from the city of Hamadan in Persia. Shah-i-Hamdan, who came from Persia in the 13th century, was responsible for the spread of Islam in Kashmir. Khanqah-i-Mualla, on the banks of the Jhelum, was the very spot where Shah-i-Hamdan used to offer prayers.
After staying in Kashmir for many years, he left for Central Asia via Ladakh. A mosque established by him at Shey (near Leh) attracts devotees from far and wide. The Khanqah is a wooden structure whose chief aes thetic feature is its beautifully carved caves and hanging bells. The interiors are richly carved and painted, and the antique.
Hari Parbat Fort & Temple of Sharika Devi
The Mughal emperor’s fort crowns the top of Hari Parbat hill. There is little left of its former glory, but the ramparts are still impressive and the old apartments within the fort, even though in a state of ruin, still convey at least a little of the grandeur of the Mughals’ summer retreat in ‘paradise’ . The fort was later developed in the 18th century by an Afghan governor, Ata Mohammad Khan. The hill is considered sacred to the Hindus due to the presence of the temple of Sharika, which is believed to be a form of goddess Durga or Shakti. The wall around the hill was built by Akbar in 1592 98 AD. The hill is surrounded by almond orchards, which make a lovely sight during April when the trees blossom, heralding the advent of spring in Kashmir.
On the southern side of the Hari Parbat hill is the historic shrine of Makhdoom Sahib, which is visited by people of all faiths.
he sixth Sikh guru traveled through Kashmir, stopping ping to preach occasionally. A gurudwara has been built at the exact site of each of these halts. The most important one among these is Chhatti Padshahi gurudwara, situated near the Kathi Darwaza, in Rainawari, Srinagar, which is held in great reverence by devotees of all faiths.
Martand located atop a plateau, close to the township of Anantnag, has a temple dedicated to Surya, the “Sun God”. Built by king Lalitaditya Muktapida (7th to 8th century AD), it is a medieval temple with a colonnaded courtyard and the shrine in its centre. The temple complex has 84 columns and offers a commanding view of the valley of Kashmir.
The Goddess Ragnya Devi is symbolized as a sacred spring at Tula Mula village, 27 kms from Srinagar. Within the spring is a small marble temple. The devotees of the goddess gather here on the eighth day of the full moon in the month of May when, according to belief, the goddess changes the color of the spring’s waters. The temple-spring complex is affectionately known as Kheer Bhawani because of the thousands of devotees who offer milk and ‘kheer’ to the sacred spring, which magically turns black to warn of disaster.
Founded by Avantivarman who reigned Kashmir in the 9th century, this ancient township is 29 kms from Srinagar. The site has two imposing temples, the larger one of Siva Avantisvara is marked by huge walls, some half a mile beneath the town on the outskirts of village Jaubror. The subsidiary shrines are to the rear corner of the courtyard. The complex has, over the years, lost its grandeur and been reduced to ruins, though it is still visited by the devout. Half a mile up is Avantisvami-Vishnu, a better preserved, though smaller temple.
It is difficult to describe in mere words the beguiling beauty of Wular Lake. For one, its formidable size—this is one of Asia’s largest fresh water lakes—for another, it changes character with every few miles. The drive from Srinagar will take you to the calm waters of Manasbal Lake, where there is no other sound but birdsong. Manasbal has often been described as the bird watcher’s paradise, and as your shikara glides through this mirror of tranquillity, you will experience yet another facet of Kashmir. Driving through the town of Bandipora, which has a delightfully laid out Mughal Garden, the Wular will always be to your left. Here and there, you will hear women chanting some age-old ditty as they pick water chestnuts, deftly navigating the weeds in flat-bottomed skiffs,
Gradually, the panoply of the ‘real Kashmir’, miles from well-traversed areas, will unfold before you, and you will reach Watlab, Here, high on a hilltop is the shrine of a Muslim mystic, Baba Shukurddin. From here, the Wular Lake stretches away as far as the eye can see, edged by picturesque villages around terraced breeze-rippled fields of paddy, in a riotous burst of colour. At Watlab there is a Forest Rest House amidst sprawling apple orchards. You can rest here to enjoy the sheer grandeur of the spectacular countryside at leisure.
Once the pleasure retreat of Empress Nur Jehan, Achabal (1,677 m) has a fine garden in the Mughal style, with its own special charm and character. It was in Kashmir that the Mughal garden was brought to perfection, and Achabal is one such masterpiece. Situated at the foot of a hill with a row of majestic chinars framing it, the Mughal garden is a visual delight with their stepped terraces, formal elegance, ornamental shrubs, sparkling fountains and falling water. Achabal is 58 kms from Srinagar, via Anantnag.
Past the Mughal Gardens of Achabal, with their tinkling fountains, through the breathtaking splendor of the springs at Kokarnag, lies Daksum. Tucked away in a densely forested gorge at an altitude of 2438 m, Daksum would be completely silent but for the Bringhi river which gushes through it. Daksum is a walker’s paradise. Up the hills which are swathed in coniferous trees, past gurgling brooks, the simple haunting notes of a flute will waft down to you from where an unseen shepherd tends his flock. For in the hills surrounding Daksum, suddenly you will find yourself in grassy meadows where sheep are taken to pasture.Daksum is a reviving experience – the bracing mountain air, the solitude, the densely clad hills, and beyond them, snow covered mountains, all contribute to Daksum’s mystique, making it the perfect retreat.
Situated in the heart of Bringhi valley, Kokemmag (2,020 m, 70 kms from Srinagar), is set amidst sprawling gardens fragrant with the bloom of thousands of flowers. The Kokernag spring bubbles up at seven places at the foot of the forested mountain. The water of the spring is famous for its medicinal and digestive properties.
A two hour drive from Srinagar (47 kms) will take you to acres upon acres of grassy meadow ringed by forests of pine, and towering beyond them, awesome and majestic snow clad mountains. This is Yusmarg – close enough to Srinagar for a picnic, idyllic enough to make you want to stay for a few days. Here are walks of every sort a leisurely amble along flower-strewn meadows or away to where a mighty river froths and crashes its way over rocks, its mild white foam earning it the name of Dudh Ganga. Further away, a captivating lake, Nilnag, is cradled by hills. Nearby are several peaks – Tatta Kutti and Sang Safed to name a couple of them. About 13 kms from Yusmarg, a short detour away from the Srinagar road, is Charari-Sharief, the Shrine of Kashmir’s patron saint Sheikh Noor-ud-din or Nund Reshi, now rebuilt after the devastating fire of 1994 which engulfed the entire building.
Gradually, the distant rumble becomes a roar as one approaches the waterfall of Aharbal, which crashes down a narrow gorge. Aharbal is more than just a waterfall. There are several places to picnic in the surrounding areas, as well as delightful walks of varying lengths all over the hillsides. Interesting treks one of them to the high altitude lake of Kounsernag at 13,500 ft above sca level – takes off from Aharbal.
Located 80 kms from Srinagar at an altitude of 1,876 m, the spring of Verinag is believed to be the chief source of the river Jhelum. Construction of the octagonal base of the spring and the arcade around it was undertaken by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and completed during the reign of Shah Jahan. Down the stream to the east lie the remains of a Mughal pavilion and baths. Verinag can be approached through the link road, which turns off, from the national highway at Lower Munda.