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JAMMU & KASHMIR         General Information of Jammu & Kashmir

They say a visit to Kashmir can divide your life into two halves - before and after Kashmir. Nestling in the lap of the dazzling, snow-capped Himalayas, the Kashmir Valley is undoubtedly the most exquisite jewel in India's crown. An undying inspiration for much of art, music and poetry, a nature lover's wonderland and a shopper's dream come true. It is made up of the rugged warm plains of Jammu, the land of passes 'Ladakh' and Kashmir - 'the paradise on earth'. The mystic snow-clad mountains of Kashmir, with the richness of cool streams and lush, verdant valleys and the ambrosial climate and the warm, hospitable people are an unforgettable experience.

Legend has it that Kashmir was once a large lake. A rishi drained off the water and made it his abode. Geologists, of course, have their own explanation. Whatever the reason, the valley of Kashmir emerged out of water and became a paradise on earth, and it is still the lush fairytale valley of our collective memory and imagination. The irresistible charm and the unblemished beauty of the land and its people does exist, but the passage of time and cross-border politics has made it more elusive then ever. Shopping - Kashmir carpets, in both wool and silk with their Persian design are a lifetime investment, and shoppers' selection range from the simple to the most extraordinarily intricate patterns handed down over the generations. Shawls - A pure Pashmina shawl runs into thousands of rupees. There are pure wool shawls called raffal, which have different counts of wool such as 40,60,80...and the shawl is progressively more expensive as the count increases. Then there are the embroidered shawls, with hook and needle kinds of embroidery. Papier-mache - From jewellery boxes to mirror frames, a range of intricately carved walnut wood furniture and accessories are available.

Ladakh is the land of high passes. It has an average elevation of 2,700 m to 4,200 m and lies across the Kashmir Valley over the famous Zoji La Pass. It is a cold desert lying in the rain shadow area. Natural forces have created amazing landscapes here. The rivers here have formed deep Gorges. The border of Ladakh touches the boundaries of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan. Ladakh has mixed population of Buddhists and Muslims.

Leh lies up in the mountains. The second highest mountain Mount Godwin Austin or Mount K2 lies a few miles to the north. It has the world's highest airfield, world's highest battlefield in the Siachen Glacier and the world's highest and second highest motorable passes. Now there are daily flights from Delhi to Leh.

Vaishno Devi: From time immemorial the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi has been attracting pilgrims from all parts of India and abroad. It is recognized as one of the Shakti Peeths of Goddess Durga. It is situated at distance of 61 kms from Jammu. The pilgrims cover a distance of 13 kms on foot, which begins from the base town of Katra, which is at an altitude of 1700 ft from the sea level. People of all caste, class, creed and sex come for "Darshan" of Mata Vaishno Devi. The Yatries are blessed with "darshan" of the diety in her three manifestations, as three Pindies in the sanctum. For the convenience of Yatries a large infrastructure has been developed including pedestrian track, electrification, accommodation, toilets, blankets stores, cloak rooms etc. The arduous climb, the scenic beauty and constant chanting of "Jai Mata Di" leaves a mystique effect on the Yatries.

Amarnath is 145 kms from Srinagar. There is an ice-sculpted Shiva -Lingam here that is also known as Amarnath. This linga changes its size with season and as the moon waxes and wanes. It is about 2 m high. Every year on the full moon day of July/August it attains its maximum height. To celebrate this every year a festival is held here. Thousands of devotes fight the vagaries of nature to have a darshan of their Lord. It is considered very lucky if once in a lifetime one can visit Amarnath. The Amarnath cave is 45 m high and 27 m high. There are four or five other ice formations resembling Gods. On the left side the formation is accepted as Ganesh and on the right is Paravti and Bhairava. It is 46 kms from Pahalgam from where most of the people begin their trek. It is a five-day trek from Pahalgam. The pilgrimage starts from the 11th day of the moon.

This place has been recently taken up by JKTDC and is being developed in a big way. It has already become popular with tourists. Discounts and other facilities are being provided by JKTDC. In winters it is covered by snow thus making an excellent site for winter sports. The whole area is covered by forest and is at a height of 2024mts from sea level. Patnitop with its scenic beauty makes an excellent spot for honeymooners.

Jammu & Kashmir

2,22,236 sq kms. The Capital of the state is Srinagar .

Boundaries: To the North of Jamuu and Kashmir is China, to the East is Tibet, to the West is Pakistan and to the South is Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. 

Important Cities and Towns : Ananthanag, Udaypur, Srinagar, Rajauri, Baramullah, Jammu.

Places of Tourist Interest: Sonmarg, Gulmarg, Srinagar, Pahalgam .

Best Time To Visit: April to October .

Airport: Srinagar, Jammu, Leh.

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