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Jammu and Kashmir

AREA IN Sq. km 222,236,000

Jammu & kashmir, commonly known as Kashmir, the territory is bounded on the north by Afghanistan and China, on the east by China, on the south by the state of Himachal Pradesh and the state of Punjab in India, and on the west by the North-West Frontier Province and the Punjab Province of Pakistan. Kashmir covers an area of 222,236 sq km (85,805 sq mi).

Jammu and Kashmir are really three regions: the foothill plains of Jammu; the lakes and blue valleys of Kashmir rising to alpine passes, the high altitude plains and starkly beautiful mountains of Ladakh which lies beyond those passes. The Indus River flows through Kashmir, and the Jhelum River rises in the northeastern portion of the territory. Kashmir possesses a more equable climate than that of southern and central India, and the beautiful Vale of Kashmir is a noted resort region. Srinagar is Kashmir's summer capital and Jammu, the winter capital.

The state sends 6 representatives to Lok Sabha and 4 to the Rajya Sabha. Its own Legislative Assembly has 89 seats (25 seats reserved for area under Pak occupation). Administration is based on 14 districts.


The state of Jammu and Kashmir which had earlier been under Hindu rulers and Muslim Sultans, became part of the Mughal Empire under Akbar. After a period of Afghan rule from 1756, it was annexed to the to the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab in 1819. In 1846 Ranjit Singh made over the territory of Jammu to Maharaja Gulab Singh. After the decisive battle of Sabroon in 1846, Kashmir also was made over to Maharaja Gulab Singh under the Treaty of Amritsar. British supremacy was recognized until the Indian Independence Act 1947.

When all the states decided on accession to India or Pakistan, Kashmir asked for standstill agreements with both. In the meantime the state became the subject of an armed attack from Pakistan and Maharaja acceded to India on 26th October, 1947 by signing the instruments of accession. India approached then UN in January 1949. Another round of war between the two countries in 1965 was followed by the Tashkent Declaration in January 1966.

Following the liberation movement in the former eastern wing of Pakistan, Pakistan attacked India in December, 1971. It was followed by the Shimla Agreement in July, 1972. A new line of control was delineated bilaterally to replace the ceasefire line between the two countries in Jammu and Kashmir. Kasmir has been in the centre of contention between India and Pakistan ever since. Separatist movements have torn the peaceful fabric of the state for over a decade.

Society and Culture

The population of Jammu and Kashmir has the highest proportion of Muslims of any Indian state, about two-thirds of the total. Hindus constitute most of the remaining third, and there are small minorities of Sikhs and Buddhists. Urdu is the state's official language.

Jammu and Kashmir has the distinction of having multifaceted, variegated and unique cultural blend, making it distinct from the rest of the country, not only from the different cultural forms and heritage, but from geographical, demographically, ethical, social entities, forming a distinct spectrum of diversity and diversions into Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh, all professing diverse religion, language and culture, but continuously intermingling, making it vibrant specimens of Indian Unity amidst diversity. Its different cultural forms like art and architecture, fair and festivals, rites and rituals, seer and sagas, language and mountains, embedded in ageless period of history, speak volumes of unity and diversity with unparalleled cultural cohesion and cultural service.

While the Kashmir has been the highest learning centre of Sanskrit and Persian where early Indo-Aryanic civilization has originated and flourished, it has also been embracing point of advent of Islam bringing its fold finest traditions of Persian civilization, tolerance, brotherhood and sacrifice.

Ladakh on the other hand, has been the highest and living centre of Tantrayan Buddhism. Jammu, the same way, has been the seat of Rajas and Maharajas which have cemented and enriched the cultural, historical and social bonds of all these diverse ethnic andlinguistic divisions of the state. The ancient archeological monuments and remnants speak volume of the district cultural traditions of the state.

Kashmir is rightly said to be Nature's grand finale of beauty. In this masterpiece of earth's creation seasons in strong individuality vie with one another in putting up exquisite patterns of charm and loveliness. Nature has left an indelible mark on the folk performances of Kashmir as they are intimately interlined with the moods and movements of the seasons.

Jammu the land of the Dogras, offer an entirely different fare of dances and music. Over the centuries long spell of seperation from their soldier, husbands and brothers have led the hardy but graceful women of the Duggar to evolve many diverting dances and songs to keep themselves in cheer in their free moments. The songs of seperation the ever increasing yearning for reunion with the beloved, the hard life on the mountain slopes and various other themes connected with their day-to-day life find their echo in folk songs and dances.

Ladakh is the repository of ancient cultural heritage. It is the only place in the world where Tantrayans Buddhism is practised as a way of life. People of this region are deeply drenched in music, dance and drama which embody religious fervour. Ladakhi songs and dances are simple in thought, content and performance to. Ladakhi dances reveal the simple and noble nature of the Ladakhi people. Song and drama both are the means towards salvation.

Jammu celebrates Lohri and Baisakhi in February. The 3-day Jammu Crafts Mela is organised during Baisakhi every year at the picturesque Mansar Lake, 60 km from Jammu. Bahu Mela, a major festival is held at the Kali temple in Bahu Fort (Jammu), twice a year during March-April and September-October. In Srinagar, besides Id other important festivals are Urs at Khaneka in downtown Srinagar and Urs at Chrar-e-Sharif. The annual Ladakh festival is held in September; the Hemis Festival features chaams danced by monks in elaborate masks.

Economy and Infrastructure

The state has limited mineral and fossil-fuel resources, and much of these are concentrated in the Jammu region. Small reserves of natural gas are found near Jammu, and bauxite and gypsum deposits occur in the Udhampur district. Other minerals include limestone, coal, zinc, and copper. The pressure of population on land is everywhere apparent, and all available resources are utilized. The lakes and rivers provide fish, water chestnuts, hydroelectric power, and transport and are a tourist attraction. The mountains supply many kinds of timber and pasture for livestock. Gujar and Gaddi nomads practice transhumance in the mountains, keeping sheep, goats, yaks, and ponies.

The majority of the people are engaged in subsistence agriculture of diverse kinds on terraced slopes, each crop adapted to local conditions. Rice, the staple crop, is planted in May and harvested in late September. Corn (maize), millet, pulses (legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils), cotton, and tobacco are--with rice--the main summer crops, while wheat and barley are the chief spring crops. Many temperate fruits and vegetables are grown in areas adjacent to urban markets or in well-watered areas with rich organic soils.

Sericulture is also widespread. Large orchards in the Vale of Kashmir produce apples, pears, peaches, walnuts, almonds, and cherries. In addition, the Vale is the sole producer of saffron in the Indian subcontinent. Lake margins are particularly favourable for cultivation, and vegetables and flowers are grown intensively in reclaimed marshland or on artificial floating gardens.

Cultivation in Ladakh is restricted to such main valleys as those of the Indus, Shyok, and Suru rivers, where it consists of small irrigated plots of barley, buckwheat, turnips, and mustard. Plants introduced in the 1970s by Indian researchers have given rise to orchards and vegetable fields. Pastoralism--notably yak herding--long has been a vital feature of the Ladakh economy; sheep and goat farming, as well as cattle breeding, have been encouraged. The Kashmir goat, which is raised in the region, provides cashmere for the production of fine textiles. Given below is a peep into the state’s infrastructure:

Total Railway track length 72 kms
Number of Railway Stations 7 Stations
Total road network 12,209 Kms
Number of National Highways 3
Domestic Airports 3
Location: Srinagar, Jammu, Leh
Number of Post Offices 1567
Number of Telegraph Offices 369
Number of Telephone Exchanges 155
Installed capacity 296(MW) for the year 1991-92
Electricity Generated 982(MUs) for the year 1991

Tourist Centres

Kashmir valley is described as a paradise on earth. Chashma Shahi springs, Shalimar Bagh, Dal Lake, etc., in Srinagar; Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg, etc., in the valley; Vaishno Devi temple and Patnitop near Jammu, etc., are importanttourist centres. Pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi have registered a steep rise from 21.69 lakh in 1990 to 44.37 lakh in 1997. The number of pilgrims visiting Amarnath in Kashmir has gone up to 1.49 in 1998.