Namda are felted rugs that are made by enmeshing wool fibers with water, soap and pressure and then embroidering the resultant fabric. These are extensively used in Kashmiri households as an effective and inexpensive floor covering and mattress.
Felting the wool rather than weaving it, makes the most striking characteristic of this craft. Low quality wool mixed with a small quantity of cotton is used to manufacture namdas. They are usually of two types, plain and embroidered. The locals of Kashmir as well as the royals to keep their family and guests warm when they would sit on the floor have used Namdas for centuries. The Namda is a very important part of a Kashmiri household and there will be next to no houses without these rugs.
Myths & Legends:
A popular belief among the Namda artisans goes like this. Once upon a time, Hakim Lukman was worried about the problem of adhesion of wool and he started crying. Tears, which rolled down onto the wool, joined them. This is how he discovered that water acts like a binder for working with wool.
Felted products are an integral part of nomadic life in the northern and central Asian steppes and probably the technique was first discovered in Central Asia. Nomadic Scythians lived in felted tents in the 5th century B.C. as the Kazakh nomads in Central Asia, particularly in Sinkiang, still do today. In the late 4th century B.C. It is mentioned that the technique of felting was known in regions now Pakistan. The Aryans probably introduced Namdas to Pakistan as saddle blankets from Central Asia during the Iron Age. Although their early decorative elements are undocumented, it can be surmised that the types of namdas still crafted as saddle blankets and mats, as in Swat, the Hyderabad District of Sind and Lasbela, Kharan and Mastung in Baluchistan, are reflective of this influence. The Pazyryk finds in the Altai region of the U.S.S.R. circa 5th to 4th centuries B.C. show that the same technique of felting an assortment of dyed fleece into complex decorative patterns, as employed in the Pakistani saddle blankets, was already well developed. Some or their motifs reflected Chinese influence. This particular technique remains traditional to Turkistan, the Subcontinent, as well as Tabriz in Iran, near Western Central Asia. The art of felting is certainly older than that of spinning or weaving. Felting as a practice, must have originated either parallel to use of animal skins or after.
Caps of thick solid felt from the early Bronze Age are preserved at the National Museum in Copenhagen. These date back some 3500 years and were found in the pre-historic burial mounds of Jutland and North Slesvig. In 1939, a tomb from the later Bronze Age (about 1400-1200 B.C.) was uncovered in Hesse, Germany, which yielded a horse bridle incorporating a carefully filled felt strap of sheep’s wool. According to experts, felt reached its peak of intensity among the nomadic tribes of Asia. Therefore, the very idea of felt making and perfecting the process can be attributed to them. The Mazenderan region of Iran is where this craft is believed to have originated. The technique and skills have not changed much over the years. Even the tools and their names are the same. The craftsmen were a mobile artisan group. They lived for a few days in a village as honored guests and made felt from the wool the villagers provided. They moved on to the next village with the money provided for their skills. Namda is said to have originated during 11th century when Akbar, the great Mughal ruler was on throne. History of the period reveals that the king ordered his exchequer to arrange for a suitable coverage for his horse that was affected by biting cold. In response to the proclamation that was done in this behalf, a wise old man from the east stood up and offered his intention of felt. He was Nubi by name. The man manufactured the felt himself and embroidered the same in multi-colored beautiful designs. The felt so made as given the title of Namda after the name of its manufacturer Nubi. The King Akbar is said to have been immensely impressed by the workmanship of Nubi and is said to have granted him villages in honor. The art of felting wool into namdas has come from Yarkand. In India, Namda is the local term used for felted wool floor coverings. It comes from the root word ‘Namata’ which is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘woolen stuff’. Before the 19th century, Namda was also produced in Ladakh. Sadha/ plain Namdas were brought in from central Asia to Kashmir for yarma/embroidery work. This work is the ancient skill and source of earning for the Kashmiris, even before the 14th century when Islam bloomed in Kashmir. In 1420, Sultan Zanulabdin took keen interest in handicrafts in Kashmir. Jalakdozi, a kind of handiwork, gained popularity and starting replacing the traditional Yama work. This led to rise in Namda making in Kashmir. Local wool was used as raw material in crafting these. Las Khan, according to his descendants from Kabul, used to come to Kashmir for Namda trade. In 1850, he settled in Srinagar and established his workshop. The craft slowly spread to other parts of Srinagar and the area came to be known as Namdagari Muhallah. This paved way for industrial development. His grandsons now have a huge workshop in Kashmir. During the First World War, Namda started to be exported to Yarkand Persia and peaked even more during the Second World War.
Namdas are a kind of mattress, originally from the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Felting the wool rather than weaving it, makes these. Low quality wool mixed with a small quantity of cotton is used to manufacture namdas. They are usually of two types, plain and embroidered. Formerly, woolen yarn was used for embroidery, but now acrylic yarn (cashmelon) is in use. Namdas and gabbas are embroidered with thread, which gives colour, beauty and strength to them. This cottage industry is concentrated in Anantnag, Rainawari and Baramula. Namdas are felted mats made from sheep fleece. The fleece is scoured, teased and fluffed. The contemporary workshops use a carding machine to prepare the fleece but until recently, the ‘painja’, a wooden tool resembling a large bow, was used to beat and fluff large quantities of wool. The fluffed fleece is piled on a large burlap cloth in the required size. Placing separate tufts of fleece along the edges creates the fringes. The mass of fleece is sprinkled with soapy water and rolled and kneaded until the layers of wool are felted. The namda is then soaked in a large cauldron of water and finally laid flat to dry in the sun. Since the technique is so primitive it can be assumed that it is the same process as was used in ancient times (wells, 2000). The second decorative style of namdas, characteristics of Kashmir, employs chain stitch embroidery and reflects Eastern Central Asian influence. Chain stitched namdas are still common in Sinkiang. The multi- coloured woolen yarns are hooked through the namda with the ‘ara-kung’, the Kashmiri tool used for chain stitching. Geometric and animal motifs and flora scrolls of chenar leaves, grapes, irises, almond and cherry blossoms are popular decorative elements. A document early mentioning the namda in Eastern Central Asia was found in the Khotan excavations in Sinkiang dating back to the 3rd century A.D. It is mentioned that namdas were also imported into the subcontinent by way of Leh in Kashmir during the 19th century (Hamid, 1989). These namdas might have been produced in Pakistan during the Moghul Period when Kashmiri crafts flourished in Lahore. However, their contemporary commercial production started with the migration of Kashmiri Muslim craftsmen to Azad Kashmir and Pakistan during the partition. Main commercial production points are in Azad Kashmir, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar. The first small industries training center for namdas was established in Muzaffarabad and new centers, as in the Punjab at Kahuta, mark the future trend to support and develop the namda cottage industry (Rabbani,1991).
Layout The namda presents an interesting use of geometric tessellating grids with bright colours breaking the monotony. The layout is said to be inspired from the khatamband or the wooden ceiling craft. Even the names of different motifs are derived from this similarity. The namda, thus, has a non-directional character and can be spread facing any direction.
Hashi (border) The borders are used to define and emphasize the central layout, without which the namda will look like yardage material. It thereby gives more visual impact to the motifs.
Motifs – Double Khatamband: This motif is a tessellation based on the interrelationship of octagons and squares. The use of verticals, horizontals, diagonals and bright hues provides a unique blend of dynamism. -Aemberzul: This depicts an eight petal- lower portraying the daffodil. These flowers are dainty white with a yellow center. An octagonal grid is emphasized in this tessellation. -Taldaar: Tal is a Kashmiri word meaning ‘ceiling’. It is named so since it a reflection of the ceiling craft with similar properties of design as well as insulation. – Gul-i-akhtab: This namda motif, like the meaning of its name, derives its character from the sunflower. It is depicted in large four-petal forms. -Jet jahaz: This motif brings in the influence of new technology into the craft. Simplified forms of the jet are incorporated into the designs of modern namdas. It is said that the artisans whose homes were near the airports devised it and they took inspiration from landing airplanes.
Because of the constant requirement of Namdas in Kashmir itself, the popularity and constant requirement of these rugs never stopped or went down. Soon, with it becoming famous, people from all over the country as well as the world wanted to keep these rugs at home because of their authenticity and beauty. This craft does not face any challenges in today’s world, rather, is widely celebrated.
This craft is said to have traveled to Kashmir from Iran along with a Sufi Saint, ‘Amir kabi Shah- e-hamdan’ many centuries ago (600yrs to 700yrs). Through crafts like Namda, one must appreciate the endeavoring spirit of the Kashmir craftsman who has managed to preserve the precarious honor of the craft, while standing on the edge himself.
Kat yer Kullu Kangra wool, Marino wool is imported from Australia. Wool is also sourced from Badgam, Pahalgam (inhabited by shepherds) and Naushera (where the Govt. House for wool distribution is stationed) Renta/ Namdasaban Locally made soap used in the binding as well as washing of the Namda. Colour Synthetic dyes mostly sourced from Amritsar Acid Used in the process of dyeing wool. Fitkari It is Alum, which is also used in the dyeing process.
Tools & Tech:
Dhoon Instrument used for cleaning the wool Punjah To flatten out puffed wool Maazan (Bush broom) Rod or pipe
Lud (Stick) Nard (Kettle) Dabba (Tin) Razz (Rope) Dukard – scissors Wagoo / Buhri tath – Mat or sack Mooza – socks
Namda is the craft of making carpets by felting. This craft is said to have traveled to Kashmir from Iran along with a Sufi Saint, ‘Amir kabi Shah- e-hamdan’ many centuries ago (600yrs to 700yrs). Through crafts like Namda, one must appreciate the endeavoring spirit of the Kashmir craftsman who has managed to preserve the precarious honor of the craft, while standing on the edge himself.
Cleaning the wool- ‘Dhonun’ Both men and women first clean wool by hand. It is then separated according to feel, fiber strength and colour. This separation process takes around 3-4 days.
Flattening and layering A mat is spread as the base for the namda. Earlier, ‘wagoo’ or weed mat was used. Now sacks are used as the base due its easy availability. The wool is spread evenly on this mat. To even it out more, two sticks and a punjah fork is used.
Soap water Warm soap water is sprayed with the help of a kettle and a bush broom. The craftsmen move along the length of the spread, to ensure that the soap water is evenly sprinkled.
Wattun or Rolling The wet wool is then rolled onto a pipe or a stick. This process is called the Wattun. This rolling is followed by Razz gandin or roping where the rolled Namda is held tightly with the help of a rope. The namda is rolled from one wall to another of the room for half an hour. The duration of the rolling depends upon the size of the Namda. Rolling is done in order to set the position of the frame, the physical form of the namda and forming a united whole by the action of cohesion.
Re-soaping After rolling, it is spread out again and soap water is sprayed on the front and backsides. The craftsmen wear socks on their arms, to prevent bleeding, and then roll the namda with their forearms. The namda is then dried in the sun. In summers, it takes two days and in winters it takes ten days for the drying.
Dyeing the wool The craftsmen themselves dye the wool. Small quantity of clean wool is dyed in different colours. Acid and alum are added in the process. They are diluted in water and the wool is dipped in the solution. This is heated on the traditional Dhaan or chulah for half an hour. It is occasionally stirred using a wooden stick. Once the dye has fastened onto the wool in required amount, the wool is taken out and dried.
Furma or frame for patterned Namda This is done for making a designed namda. The plain namda is cut into strips. The length is the same as that of the sadha/plain namda it is cut from. The breadth is half an inch. The craftsmen lay down the grid of the design on the mat using these strips. The gaps in the grid are filled using the dyed wool. Then, the whole surface is filled with raw wool. This will finally create the underside of the namda. The rolling, finishing, washing and drying is done after this.
One of the most beautiful cities this country houses, Srinagar is known for its elegance and marvel, straight out of a fairy tale. Wrapped in the hem of snow-capped mountains, the city holds in itself the most serene lakes, impeccable flower gardens, unending apple and apricot orchards and a plethora of handmade crafts of a variety of materials, unique only to the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu & Kashmir
Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, English
Local hotels or stay with locals
New Delhi-Srinagar, Amritsar-Srinagar, Chandigarh-Srinagar(by Air,Rail or Road)
Bus, Taxi, Jeep, Auto-Rickshaw
Up-to 600 BC : According to the Rajatarangini, the oldest ruler was Gonanda I, who appears to have ruled in the days just before the Mahabharata. It is emperor Ashok who is said to have founded the city of Srinagari, now Srinagar. The dialect of the North was known for its purity hence Brahmanas flocked to the North for the purposes of study. This is corroborated by the fact that Takshshila became a centre of learning and classical Sanskrit was first developed in Kashmir.
Alexander left the King of Abhisara to rule in Kashmir. According to the Mahavimsa, the Third Buddhist Council met at Pataliputra (Patna) and deputed a missionary by the name of Majjhantika to go to Kashmir and Gandhara (in modern day Afghanistan).
320 to 1000 AD: According to Kalhana (referred to above), nearly the whole of the Gupta age was ruled by the Gonanada dynasty i.e. for about 300 yrs. (unlikely though). It is also believed that the Kushanas and the Huns ruled over Kashmir during this period. After them a new dynasty known as Karkota or Naga was founded by Durlabha-vardhana. He had married the daughter of the last Gonanada king and became king in 527 AD.
Lalitaaditya Muktapada in 724 AD, the greatest king of that dynasty followed him. He defeated the Tibetans and the Turks. Lalitaditya's son Vajraditya who ruled from 762 AD is said to have sold many Kashmiris to the Arabs of Sindh and introduced many Islamic practices in Kashmir. The Arab governor of Sind raided Kashmir around 770 and took many slaves / prisoners. The next successor was Jayapida referred to above. He was a brave general like his dada Lalitaditya. Away from Kashmir, he won some battles and lost others and ruled Kashmir from 770 ad up to the closing years of the eighth century. Thereafter, a series of Kings ruled Kashmir. The Karkota dynasty came to an end in 855-6 AD.
1000 TO 1800 AD: Around 1014 AD, Mahmud Ghazni plundered the Valley for the first time. He carried him with a large number of prisoners and converted to Islam. He returned in 1015 AD and made a fruitless attempt to capture the hill fort of Lohkot, modern day Loharin. He failed to capture the fort in 1021 AD too.
In 1301 ad, Suhadeva asserted his supremacy over Kashmir but had to face Dulucha, commander in chief of the King of Kandahar who took a large number of Kashmiris as slaves. It is a very significant fact that the Himalayan countries of Kashmir, Nepal and Tibet came out of the mountain seclusion and enter the arena of Indian history and culture, almost simultaneously, from the seventh century onwards. Kashmir maintained this intimate association till the Muslims while Nepal; Tibet overran it until very recent times.
The next important king was Sikandar whose reign marks a turning point in the history of Kashmir from a religious/social perspective. Shahi Khan became the next king in 1420. He is the greatest king of Kashmir. The state became prosperous and he treated the Hindus well. He was well versed in Persian and Sanskrit, had the Mahabharata translated into Persian. He died in 1470 AD. From there on till 1530, there were a number of kings with treachery and instability being the name of the game.
A series of kings ruled Kashmir till 1540. It was then decided by Humayun's generals mainly Mirza Haidar to invade Kashmir. He conquered it in 1540. His imprisonment in spite of a promise of safe custody is a dark blot on the character of the chivalrous Akbar. His son Yaqub continued fighting Akbar till he was defeated.
1800 TO 1947 AD: Afghans ruled it till 1819. As long as they got their annual tribute of Rs 20 lakhs a year, the Afghan king did not interfere in the administration. Maharaja Ranjit Singh conferred Jammu as a jagir to the family of Gulab Singh. Among the three traitors in The First Sikh War was the Dogra Chief Gulab Singh. As a reward for siding with the Brits he was given the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1846 on payment of fifty lakhs rupees in cash.
Jammu and Kashmir was the biggest among the 562 princely Indian States that comprised two-fifths of the India under colonial rule for well over a century. Unlike the remaining 60 per cent area constituting the British India Provinces, these States possessed sovereignty in various degrees depending on their individual treaties with His Majesty's government; broadly speaking, they had a system of personal government while being under the overall suzerainty of the British Crown. The British Parliament's Indian Independence Act, 1947 (which received Royal Assent on 18th July that year) created two independent Dominions of India and Pakistan made up of the erstwhile British India Provinces. The Act freed the princely States from the Crown's paramountcy but denied them dominion status while permitting them to accede to India or to Pakistan.
If the state acceded to Pakistan, the non-Muslims of Jammu and Ladakh as well as considerable sections of Muslims led by the National Conference Party would definitely have resented such action. On the other hand, accession to India would have provoked adverse reactions in Gilgit and certain regions contiguous to Pakistan. Further, the road communications were with Pakistan and rivers flowing into Pakistan were transporting forest resources that constituted a considerable portion of the State's revenue.
In the early hours of 27th October 1947 began an operation the like of which had never before occurred in the history of warfare. On 7th November the Indian troops won the battle of Shaltang, thereby removing all threats to Srinagar. Three days later, Baramulla was recaptured. The process of retreat by the enemy on all fronts began. With the Indian Army finding that the only way the raiders could be completely removed from Kashmir was by attacking their bases and sources of supply in Pakistan, India warned Pakistan on 22nd December 1947 that unless Pakistan denied her assistance and bases to the invaders, India would be compelled to take such action.
At that critical stage in J&K's history, 53 years ago, Lord Mountbatten urged our PM, Jawaharlal Nehru, about "the overwhelming need for caution and restraint"
he stressed "how embroilment in war with Pakistan would undermine the whole of Nehru's independent foreign policy and progressive social aspirations. And, on Mountbatten's advice, Nehru decided to lodge a complaint to the United Nations Security Council. That was done on 31st December 31, 1947.
Jammu & Kashmir is a mystifying land. It is a picturesque collage of various elements of nature that makes it an ideal tourist destination. The northern frontier of the state is fortified with the majestic mountains of the Himalaya Range. These ranges and their snow-capped peaks complete a picturesque landscape that includes crystal clear streams and lush green vegetation. Jammu and Kashmir is not a homogeneous land. It is marked by undulating topography and varied soil types that lead to the growth of diverse plants. These in turn, support numerous life forms to constitute an ecological pyramid.
In terms of climate, Jammu and Kashmir is unique. The vast distribution of topographical features is a cause of this fact. The controlling factor of the climate is the Himalayas. Except the dry plateaus of Ladakh, the state receives ample amounts of rainfall. Srinagar has a humid subtropical climate, much cooler than what is found in much of the rest of India, due to its moderately high elevation and northerly position. The valley is surrounded by the Himalayas on all sides. Winters are cool, with daytime a January average of 2.5 Â°C (36.5 Â°F), and temperatures below freezing at night. Moderate to heavy snowfall occurs in winter and the only road that connects Srinagar with the rest of India may get blocked for a few days due to avalanches. Summers are warm with a July daytime average of 24.1 Â°C (75.4 Â°F). The average annual rainfall is around 710 millimetres (28 in). Spring is the wettest season while autumn is the driest. The highest temperature reliably recorded is 38.3 Â°C (100.9 Â°F) and the lowest is âˆ’20.0 Â°C (âˆ’4.0 Â°F)
Perennial streams of fresh water crisscross the land. The streams water the land and sustain the lives of the people that inhabit the land. Winter season sees extensive precipitation in terms of snowfall. In the winter, the snow resembles a vast sheet of white blanket covering the valleys.
Srinagar is a heavy cantonment area and it is the starting point to the Srinagar-Leh highway. Army movements and requirements have led to the city having impeccable roads and proper medical facilities and some very good hospitals, scattered across the city. Medical facilities are a heavy requirement in Srinagar because of the constant political and pseudo-social disruptions that the city and the state have to face together. Srinagar being the capital of Jammu and Kashmir has to be kept in order when it comes to the basic facilities because of it being the central point for the locals, the Indian army as well as prominent tourism. Electricity and water supplies are abundant and Srinagar has a large range of hotels of different tariffs and facilities to choose from. Markets are many and have all supplies for basic and luxurious living. Jammu and Kashmir mostly has manufacturing industries, small-scale industries, cottage industries etc. There are industries in almost all parts of Jammu and Kashmir but some areas have been marked as primarily and significantly industrial areas. Some of these important areas are:
Industrial Growth Centre in Samba
Integrated Infrastructure Development Project in Udhampur
Industrial Complex in Bari Brahmana
Industrial Estate in Zakura
Industrial Growth Centre in Ompora
The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has also laid some policies for the development of industries in the state. Educational institutes are abundant with medical, engineering colleges along with a number of specialized colleges.
Srinagar Airport (IATA code SXR) has regular domestic flights to Leh, Jammu, Chandigarh and Delhi and occasional international flights. The International flights terminal was inaugurated on 14 February 2009 with an Air India flight from Dubai. Hajj flights also operate from this airport to Saudi Arabia. Srinagar is a station on the 119 km (74 mi) long Kashmir railway that started in October 2009 and connects Baramulla to Srinagar, Anantnag and Qazigund. The railway track also connects to Banihal across the Pir Panjal Mountains through a newly constructed 11 km long Banihal tunnel, and subsequently to the Indian railway network after a few years. It takes approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds for train to cross the tunnel. It is the longest rail tunnel in India. This railway system, proposed in 2001, is not expected to connect the Indian railway network until 2017 at the earliest, with a cost overrun of INR5, 500 crores. The train also runs during heavy snow.
In December 2013, the 594m cable car allowing people to travel to the shrine of the Sufi saint Hamza Makhdoom on Hari Parbat was unveiled. The project is run by the Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation (JKCCC), and has been envisioned for 25 years. An investment of INR30cr was made, and it is the second cable car in Kashmir after the Gulmarg Gondola.
Architecture of Srinagar can be divided into at least three different time periods. Dating back in the history, before arrival of Parmars of Gujarat to Garhwal, and Srinagar's emergence as Capital in later time, the place was understandably a small hillside settlement scattered across the valley at an immediate sight. Excluding some Archaeological significance and recent findings, the place was much a junction and a stopover en-route Badrinath - Kedarnath. Excluding recent excavations and few heritage sites around Srinagar which reveal some breath-taking findings of settlements, civilisations and remains of prehistoric era or around 3,000 - 5,000 B.C. resembling culture, these depict an age old Architecture scattered randomly in some remains and submerged structures. This tells us various things including the very Culture and Architecture of the region. Findings at Ranihat & Thapli villages are a thriving reference and much needs to be undertaken to unearth, study and preserve this heritage. The Himalayan Archaeological & Ethnography Museum is taking keen interests in this mission.
The pre-medieval time when Srinagar was a small centre, the architecture was houses with conventional mountain specific design complying the low temperatures, snow-falls, heavy rains, etc. features which are high altitude typicality. However, yet placed at a moderate height of about 579 meters and settled across a moderate mountain fare of the valley, it gained the real architectural momentum when King Ajaypal established Srinagar as Garhwal capital in 1358. Previously the office was at Devalgarh, some miles away from Srinagar. The architecture was a conventional Himalayan Architecture blended with some extravagant attempts.
Year 1803 and 1804 are most unfortunate episodes in the History of Srinagar & Garhwal. The devastating earthquake destroyed the relics of capital Srinagar. It brought down and literally destroyed the 'living' of Srinagar. The period now is crucial phase, which makes a significant and more tangible architectural state of Srinagar. This composition is a well assessed, planned and better executed design of what is Srinagar of post the flood of 1894 till date. Never denying the recurrent floods and few more earthquakes, which took place during this period. Some officials made visits to few places and the present day Srinagar much resembling to Jaipur architecture as Jaipur's Architecture & Plans are reasonably followed to comply with Srinagar's exposition as:
a. A Big Valley Bazar
b. Garhwal Capital
c. Important Junction on Badrinath - Kedarnath route
However the volume and expansion of present day Srinagar is vast and wide comparing to other mountain towns. The old Architecture is visible and felt more in olden town area and the structures constructed within. Today, it is more a semi-urban structures yet rising in a random and unorganised manner across any available flat-patch of land. Typicality of high altitude and low temperature zones, snowfalls, foggy weather and unpredictable climate change, all have to play a vital role in designing a strong and rigid structure complying to the hillside rather than thinking and executing any pro-urban plans in this architecture.
Like the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar too has a distinctive blend of cultural heritage. Holy places in and around the city depict the historical cultural and religious diversity of the city as well as the Kashmir valley.
The culture, language, and traditions of Srinagar reflect a life that of a typical any contemporary, regional Indian town. It has to exhibit much uniqueness with customs, traditions, climate and folklore of the territory, the landscape where it sits. Mostly, the Himalayan Hills are still a maiden mountain space, so different, so natural, simple and very much mystic. Yet a very cosmopolitan Indian culture of Srinagar places this Himalayan valley, the ancient Garhwali Capital differently.
The very Himalayan culture intermixed with Lower Northern & Upper Western India's cultures, presence of Nath Sect in olden times, being headquarter to some prominent socio-cultural movements in Uttarakhand, creations in form of paintings (later and now known as Garhwali Paintings) and poetry from famous Garhwali Languages spoken in Srinagar are mainly Garhwali, Hindi, Punjabi and English. Sufiana Music: Sufi music came to Kashmir from Iran in the 15th century. Over the years it has established itself as the classical music form of Kashmir and has incorporated a number of Indian Ragas in its body. There are only a few families in Kashmir who are practising this musical form in Kashmir. 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-Aryanise 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.
The Dumhal is a famous dance in the Kashmir Valley, performed by men of the Wattal region. The women perform the Rouff, another traditional folk dance. Kashmir has been noted for its fine arts for centuries, including poetry and handicrafts. Shikaras, traditional small wooden boats, and houseboats are a common feature in lakes and rivers across the Valley.
Jammu and Kashmir is a state of different religions and beliefs. And accordingly, the customs followed and festivals celebrated are many. But the heartening thing about the all festivals here are that people of all faiths together with same enthusiasm celebrate them. Main festivals include - Eid-ul-Fitr, Baisakhi, Lohri and Hemis Festival.
As of 2011 census, Srinagar city's population was 1,192,792. Both the city and the urban agglomeration has average literacy rate of approximately 71%, whereas the national average is 74.04%. The child population of both the city and the urban agglomeration is approximately 12% of the total population. Males constituted 53.0% and females 47.0% of the population. The sex ratio in the city area is 888 females per 1000 males, whereas in the urban agglomeration it is 880 per 1000, and nationwide value of this ratio is 940. The predominant religion of Srinagar is Islam with 95% of the population being Muslim. Hindus constitute the second largest religious group representing 4% of the population. The remaining 1% of the population is Sikhs, Buddhist and Jains.
The Kashmiri people are a Dardic ethno-linguistic group living in or originating from the Kashmir Valley, located in the Indian administered part of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. There are both Hindu and Muslim Kashmiris. Other ethnic groups living in the state include Gujjars, Bakarwals, Dogras, Punjabis and Gaddis.
The Constitution of India does not allow people from regions other than Jammu and Kashmir to purchase land in the state. As a consequence, houseboats became popular among those who were unable to purchase land in the Valley and has now become an integral part of the Kashmiri lifestyle. Kawa, traditional green tea with spices and almond, is consumed all through the day in the chilly winter climate of Kashmir. Most of the buildings in the Valley and Ladakh are made from softwood and are influenced by Indian, Tibetan, and Islamic architecture.
According to language research conducted by the International Institute of UCLA, the Kashmiri language is "a North-western Dardic language of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European language family." There is, however, no universally agreed genetic basis for the language. UCLA estimates the number of speakers as being around 4.4 million, with preponderance in the Kashmir Valley, whereas the 2001 census of India recorded 5,362,349 throughout India, and thus excluding speakers in the non-Indian Kashmiri areas. The people living in Azad Kashmir speak Pothohari dialect that is also known as Pahari language. Pothohari is also spoken in neighbouring regions as well. There are approximately 4.6 million people living within Pakistani administered Azad Kashmir, this does not include the population living in Gilgit-Baltistan which if included increases the number to 6.4 million people. Most of these people speak languages other than Kashmiri, and are not ethnic Kashmiris, as they do not trace their origins to the Kashmir valley.
The people of Kashmir are believed to be the descendants of the immigrants from India proper. As Buddhism spread here, people from far and wide came for research and study. People of Kashmir experience a culture that is an amalgamation of a number of other cultures they came in contact with. Roman, Greek and Persian civilizations have influenced the culture of Kashmiri people to quite an extent. Kashmiri population is a blend of people belonging to distinct races with different looks, dresses, food habits, customs, traditions, rituals, etc. Have a look at the people and main ethnic groups in Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmiri Pundits: Kashmiri Pundits are amongst the original inhabitants of the valley. They used to dominate the region of Kashmir, at one point of time. However, acute terrorism in the Kashmir valley forced them to migrate to other places in the country. Today, their population has been reduced to minority in Kashmir.
Kashmiri Muslims: Approximately ninety per-cent of the population of Kashmir consists of Kashmiri Muslims. Muslims belonging to both the Shia sect and the Sunni sect reside in the valley. They are considered to be quite skilful in arts and crafts. Their other occupations include agriculture, sheep rearing, cattle rearing and other cottage industries.
Gujjars: Gujjars are considered to be the Rajasthani Rajputs, who converted to Muslim faith. They belong to the hilly area of Kashmir and are generally herdsmen by occupation. Tall and well built, Gujjars have notably Jewish features.
Kashmiri women love to dress up with a lot of ornaments. Almost every body part, be it the head, ears, neck, arms or ankles, is adorned with jewellery. A typical ornament of a married Kashmiri pundit woman is Dejharoo. It is a pair of gold pendants, which hangs on a silk thread or gold chain and passes through holes in the ears pieced at the top end of the lobes. The Muslim women are quite fond of wearing a bunch of earrings. The typical dress of a Kashmiris man is Pheran, a long loose gown hanging down below the knees. The men wear a skullcap, a close-fitting salwar (Muslims) or churidar pyjama (Pundits) and lace less shoes called gurgabi. In case of Kashmiri women, the Pheran is either knee-length (Muslim) or touching the feet (Hindu). The Pheran is tied at the waist with folded material called lhungi.
Indulgent houseboats, historic gardens, distinctive Kashmiri wooden mosques and a mild summer climate combine to make Srinagar one of India's top domestic tourist attractions. Except, that is, when inter-communal tensions paralyse the city with strikes and curfews. Srinagar's three main areas converge around Dal-gate, where the nose of Dal Lake passes through a lock gate. Northwest lies the Old City, fascinatingly chaotic in normal times but largely out-of-bounds during curfews. The busy commercial centre is southwest around Lal Chowk. The city's greatest draw card is mesmerizingly placid Dal Lake, which stretches in a south western channel towards the city centre, paralleled by the hotel-lined Boulevard from which a colourful array of houseboats form a particularly colourful scene. This area usually remains free of trouble even during the worst disturbances, as do the famous Mughal gardens, strung out over several kilometres further east around the lake.
Reaching Srinagar is quite easy as it is well connected via air, rail and road. Mini-buses and Auto- rickshaws form an integral part of the intra-city transport. The best time to come to Srinagar is between October and June. However, each season brings it's own beauty. Marvellous Spring, enjoyable summer and frosty winter, all have their characteristic beauty to offer.