The Kashmiri embroidery has a distinct characteristic to it – both in technique and appearance. Kashida is the traditional name of Kashmiri embroidery, which came with the Persians, just as the motifs and style suggest much of Persian influence. The work is very colorful and derives its designs from elements in the scenic beauty of the land. This craft, mostly done by men, is said to have descended from royal patronage.
QWhat does the word Kashida mean?
Kashida is the traditional name of Kashmiri embroidery, which came with the Persians, just as the motifs and style suggest much Persian influence.
QWhat are the popular kinds of Kashmiri embroidery?
– Sozni or Sozankar – Fine and delicate embroidery, mostly done on Pashmina shawls.
– Chikandozi – Medium fine needlework
– Rezkar – Embroidery in multi-coloured threads and broad stitches
– Watchikan – Raised flower and floral designs in golden thread on Raffal shawls
– Jalakdozi – Hookwork embroidery done in staple yarn
– Jamwara Patterns – the pattern, which covers the entire shawl.
– Jalidar designs – Arabesques or net-like designs.
– Khatraash – Lines, either diagonal or vertical
– Dordar Khurd – Broad border of embroidery on 2 ends of the shawl, with a minimum width of 3 inches.
– Bootidar – shawls with small motifs or bootees
– Chaarbadam – four paisley forms
QWhat is Nyathh?
The craftsmen use a thimble called Nyatth, on the fourth finger of the right hand. This is used to push the needle into thick cloth. When the thimble is not used, the finger is dipped in mustard oil to enable the smooth movement of the stem.
QHow is the work distributed among men and women in the making of the kashida kari?
Men are said to be mostly working on Kashmiri embroidery while women prepare the yarn.
QWhat is the Amli shawl?
the revival of the Kashmiri shawl industry, which was crumbling under stiff competition from cheaper versions, produced in Lyons and Paisley. This was popularly known as the Amli shawl.
Various rulers like the Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs, and Dogras occupied Kashmir over the centuries. The rulers of all of these empires patronized Kashida embroidery to extensively adorn shawls for the royal family to wear as well as use as gifts among the royalties. These were heavily adorned and intricately embroidered. These shawls soon started getting famous among the locals and residents of Kashmir and varied versions of the shawls in the weight of the embroidery and the luxurious aspect of the shawls were introduced. For centuries, it has been widely used and worn by women and men not only in Kashmir but also all over the country and the world, bringing it a lot of fame and renounce. The uses have also blotted out to readymade garments and accessories like bags, belts etc. The craft has also spread onto home furnishings. The petit-point embroidery is used to adorn wall hangings and floor-coverings. Crewel-work on the other hand, is used chiefly for drapes.
“It is essentially a child of landscape and bountiful nature and is, therefore, as varied in it’s richness, as superb in its beauty”. The floral motifs with their inexhaustible display of colours, variegated birds, luscious fruits, majestic mountains, shimmering lakes – all find a place in Kashmir embroidery’ ~ Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
The Kashmiri embroidery is said to go through many skilled hands before completion. No single piece is ever done wholly by one person. The various threads and raw materials too are sourced from various places, and put together to form vibrant patterns. Yarns and/or plain shawls, which are dyed and treated are distributed for embroidering. The work is carried about privately in households or in groups at the Karkhanas / workshops. Training centres are another commonly seen feature, which have come up in large numbers owing to the growing demand for embroidered products.
An interesting and peculiar fact about Kashmiri craftsmen is that – almost all craftsmen embroider using their right hand. There are very few or no left-handed craftsmen. The craftsmen use a thimble called Nyatth, on the fourth finger of the right hand. This is used to push the needle into thick cloth. When the thimble is not used, the finger is dipped in mustard oil to enable the smooth movement of the stem. ‘Zangvaitth’ is the posture in which the embroiderers sit while working.They sit with their knees up, with their back against a wall. A thick hard cushion or a wooden plank at an angle, act as backrests. Men are said to be mostly working on Kashmiri embroidery while women prepare the yarn.
Sozni work on Pashmina – by men Less fine sozni – by women Rezkar, Petit-point – by both men and women Papier mache embroidery – by men mainly Watchikan – by women
Myths & Legends:
Zain-ul-Abadin (1400-1470) was believed to have introduced fine weaving to the valley. Embroiderers are said to have copied the patterns on these shawls. A local legend claims that the idea for embroidering came from a raffoogar or darner called Ali-Baba, who lived in the time of the Afghan ruler Azad Khan.
Ali-baba noticed the imprint of a fowl’s feet on a plain white sheet. He then went ahead and embroidered the outline with coloured thread, which gave a beautiful effect. An Armenian trader called Yusuf Khan came from Constantinople to Kashmir in 1803, to purchase woven shawls. He found that these were very expensive.
The taxation and sale prices on them, made these shawls less sought after in the foreign markets. It is believed that this was when he came up with the idea of copying the patterns on the shawls using thread and needle. Thereby came about the ingenious plan since embroidered shawls were exempted from taxes and were attractive. The Govt. duty levied on the loom shawl in 1823 amounted to 26 per cent of the value. Khwaja Yusuf joined hands with Ali-baba for its execution. This led to the revival of the Kashmiri shawl industry, which was crumbling under stiff competition from cheaper versions, produced in Lyons and Paisley. This was popularly known as the Amli shawl.
In Kashmir, embroidery evolved under court patronage. This fact sets it apart from the other kinds of embroidery found in India. Kashida-kari, the local name, was not sewn for trousseaus or functional uses. Nor was it a medium for carrying forward folk traditions.
Another characteristic is the fact, unlike other areas, most of the craftspeople are men. This is believed to be due to the influence of the Sayyids, who strove to propagate the Muslim way of life – which included separate spaces for men and women. The Kashmiri embroidery was the product of Persian influence. It’s name ‘Kashida’ is derived from Persian for free-flowing cursive writing.
In 1803 there were only a few raffoogars available with the necessary skill for the work. Twenty years later, there were estimated to be five thousand – many of them having been drawn from the ranks of former landholders, dispossessed of their property by Ranjit Singh in 1819, when Kashmir was invaded and annexed to the Sikh kingdom. There is, however, no evidence to trace the exact time of origin since textiles are perishable. Very few pre-17th century pieces have survived. In the absence of actual pieces, paintings have proven to be ample evidence. 11th Century wall paintings found in the Alchi monastery of Ladakh show exquisite embroidered garments worn by the figures.
Kani shawls, patterned using the intricate technique of interlocking twill tapestry, were highly sought after during the Mughal period (1586-1752). Meanwhile, in the rest of the country, embroidery had become fairly advances. There were court workshops set up by the Mughals in Delhi. There is a mention of the shawls in the Ain-i-Akbari. In Kashmir, therefore, the embroidery took a backseat with the Kani technique. The Mughal empire declined and in 1752 the Afghan ruler Ahmed Shah Durrani conquered the valley. His rule was tyrannous and the people faced many hardships. The Afghans utilized the shawl industry to derive maximum revenue, but overlooked the conditions of the craftsmen. The Mughals, like Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, created initiatives to develop the shawl further. They implemented policies that assessed the quality of the material; the colors used to dye the fabric, sought efficiencies on the production line, and enhanced the overall versatility of the final piece. Each subsequent Mughal ruler reassessed techniques and methods of creating shawls, honing them into finer, luxury products. This created high demand and growth in the industry. The Afghans subsequently ruled after the Mughals, greatly modifying the traditional shawl and introducing the square or moon shawls, with distinct colors and patterns that differed vastly from the Mughal era.
Meanwhile, the Sikhs slowly gained power and were acquiring their foothold in the valley. The coming of Sikhs introduced bold colours in the embroideries, as well as human figures. The earlier strong Islamic tradition forbade the use of figurative decorations. Shawls called Shikargah came into being with embroidered depictions of Shikar / hunting scenes on silk. The Sikhs followed the Afghans and played a role in how shawls and wraps were used, by understanding the versatility and durability of these pieces. They used them not only for wearing, but for ornamental purposes as well as shrouds. By the end of the 17th century, the shawls were not only well recognized in Kashmir and the Asian subcontinent but also in Europe and Far East Asia.
Finally the Dogras ruled after the Sikhs of Kashmir and contributed heavily in the embroidering aspect of the shawl. They improved techniques, designs, and colors. It was during their era that the do-rukha shawls came to exist, where the embroidery is visible and wearable on either side of the shawl. The French trading companies later introduced two styles for export, which were popular in Europe. One was where the entire surface of the cloth was covered with intricate threadwork consisting of florals and human figures. The other one was the standard square shawl pattern with a medallion in the centre and quarter medallions in the four corners. By the end of the 19th century, there was a decline in demand for the embroidered shawls. This led to the craftsmen taking up carpet weaving. The rest resorted to making cheaper versions. Since embroidery was not a domestic craft, it was concentrated in the workshops. Master craftsmen spearheaded these. After a slump, these had slowly developed into small manufacturing units. The units had the weavers, pattern makers, dyers and embroiderers all under one roof. The products came to be marketed in outlets in the city. In order to aid the process, they started to give embroidery work to small groups who could work at home. It was done parallel to farming, in the winter months when the fields could not be worked.
The Kashmiri embroidery is known to draw inspiration from the gentle colours of its landscape. The elaborate designs from the days of the Kani Shawls are still seen. A single sided embroidery pattern is called Aksi, meaning reflection in a mirror. The thread is split into half by a fine needle. Then only that portion of weft thread is picked up which is visible on one side. When the same technique is done on both sides, it is called Dorukha.
– Sozni or Sozankar – Fine and delicate embroidery, mostly done on Pashmina shawls. – Chikandozi – Medium fine needlework – Rezkar – Embroidery in multi-coloured threads and broad stitches – Watchikan – Raised flower and floral designs in golden thread on Raffal shawls – Jalakdozi – Hookwork embroidery done in staple yarn – Jamwara Patterns – the pattern, which covers the entire shawl. – Jalidar designs – Arabesques or net-like designs. – Khatraash – Lines, either diagonal or vertical – Dordar Khurd – Broad border of embroidery on 2 ends of the shawl, with a minimum width of 3 inches. – Bootidar – shawls with small motifs or bootees – Chaarbadam – four paisley forms
The craftsmen have modified the traditional motifs of Islamic and Persian influence to something with a distinct Kashmiri characteristic. The most popular of those are the Gulab pattern and the Badam or almond pattern. It is also known as Shawl-tarah. Another commonly seen motif is that of the Sarav or Cypress. This is similar to the Badam shape but is long and tapering. Stylised versions of the Sarav are also created which has floral, intertwining and curvilinear additions. The craftsmen also use motifs of the Chinar leaf. This is the five-pointed leaf of the Chinar tree which has come to be the symbol of growth in Kashmir. Calligraphic forms are also used in the embroideries. Some of the other motifs which are commonly used are : – Pamposh or lotus
– Sosan or Iris
– Dachh or vine
– Sumbal / Yambarzal or hyacinth and narcissus
– Dainposh or pomegranate
Abstracted forms of birds and animals are also seen in the recent designs. Lions, rabbits, wild cats, deers, horses, bulbuls, partridges, herons, ducks etc are most represented. Human figures appear in the patterns whenever requested by the clients and when there is an increasing demand. Especially in themes like the Shikargah (hunting ground) or the Jangal-tarah (jungle scenes). The Pherans traditionally have embroidery around the neck, front opening, hem and at the end of the sleeves.
The stitches used were simple, the chief being satin stitch, stem stitch and chain stitch. Occasionally, the darning and herringbone are used. Crewel embroidery is done with the use of hook. Kashida is general term for Kashmir embroidery, which includes other stitches as Zalakdo (chain stitch), Vatachik (Buttonhole stitch), Talibar (work of gold). One outstanding feature of the embroidery is the fact that it is made with a single thread giving a flat, formalized appearance to the design. The satin stitch has been adopted to cover larger surface without pulling the cloth. It has become the variation of long and short stitch. Chain is used only in inferior places and never on expensive piece of work. The Indian customer sets a great store by embroidery which displays the same fineness on both sides so as to make the wrong side distinguishable from right and Kashmiri workman has made himself adapt at this art.
a. SOZANI: The Sozani stitch can be a simple continuous line as an outline or a diamond shaped outline used for petals and flowers. It can also be used in filling up of a motif with small stitches. It al- ways has a reinforcing stitch over it. The stitches are so fine that there is very little embroidery visible on the re- Integrated Design & Technical Development, May 2011
verse side of the fabric. The graceful outlining of each petal and flower accurately is also another reference to assess skill and fine craftsmanship. Sozani embroidery is minute work and highly skill and time intensive. There- fore it is also expensive. Good Sozani work is exclusively used to add value to products for high end market segments. There are many qualities of Sozani embroi- dery beingpracticed today. The same pattern can be rendered in many ways depending on the price that the client is willing to pay.
1. The very fine Sozani work uses the Sozani stitch for outlining of the motif with a darker shade of thread while the filling up is done with the same fine Sozani stitches but in a different colour. There is no visible gap between the outline and the filling. The motifs are also outlined several times in shades of colour. The empty spaces outside the motif are also rendered with fine stitches of a different colour. It appears very compact and is also most expensive and therefore used on high value prod- ucts like silks, pure Pashmina wool and crepes
2. The less intricate work uses a combination of fine So- zani stitches for the outlining of the motif and larger stitches like satin stitch for filling up of the motif even sometimes using Vatachikan stitches for thicker fillings. Larger button hole stitch or herring bone stitch is used to fill up empty curved or straight background spaces in between different motifs.
3. The inferior quality of Sozani embroidery uses mostly large satin and Vatachikan stitches to delineate the motif with no outlining at all. The creeper and leaves are also rendered in large sized stem stitches and rarely employs any reinforcing stitch. These are not as long lasting as the original Sozani embroidery and is usually done on products for mass market. The demand of the Sozini embroidery has, in recent times, expanded to a range of applications like saris, dress materials, accessories and home furnishings. Like wise, the range of fabrics that Sozani embroidery is being done on has also expanded to various fabric types like cotton, silk, chiffon, silk crepes and spun polyester.
b.CREWEL EMBROIDERY:Chain stitch embroidery is done with a hook called ‘Aari’. It uses silk thread, cotton and wool. The chain stitch embroidery is done on a hand woven cloth or canvas base that covers the entire surface of the fabric. The motifs related to this embroidery range from flowery pat- terns to animals. This embroidery is done in two or three ply yarns. The crewel embroidery of Kashmir is basically chain stitch, done with a hook. It is done with thin wool thread on cotton fabric or linen. It involves an assortment of stitches that includes French knot, long, short, chain, vine and satin stitch. The usual application is on upholstery and drapery items. The designs include mostly creepers and stylized flowers. The embroidery usually does not cover the whole surface. The most conventional design in crewel embroidery features a style that is recognized as â€œJacobean styleâ€.
The motifs are available in a variety of colors, ranging from a sole color to multi- hued embroidery. The crewel embroidery fabric is available in bolts and is sold according to the length. It is 54 inches in width and 25- 29 meters in length, and the price is decided according to the extent of embroidery done on it. The various crewel items available in the market are cushion covers, bed sheets, curtains, bags, shams, throws and table covers, among others. These items make for domestic furnishing and can be both machine and hand washed. This embroidery is a very popular embellished art form, which came into existence around the 13th century. Al- though the origin of this art is still not confirmed, it is believed to have come from France, Rome and Egypt.
Most Kashmiri craftsmen are farmers and they work on the embroidery when farming is done. They are equally dependent on both occupations. The embroidery is very fine and detailed, and thereby more time consuming. The income usually does not last them through the making of the pieces, despite the income from farming. This has led to the emergence of ‘easier’ methods of embroidery and lower quality of the shawls.
The simple tools of the craftsmen create vast expanses of intricate and detailed embroidery. Tools like the needle and hook, universal to embroidery, in the hands of the Kashmiri craftsmen thread characteristic patterns. Only two different types of stitches are used on one fabric at a time.
Fabric – Shahtoosh, Pashmina, Raffal, silk, cotton, wool Yarns – staple cotton wool, silk. These are sourced from Amritsar and dyed in Kashmir. The wool is sourced locally or from Amritsar and Bombay. Meer – mixture of kerosene with white or yellow powder
Tools & Tech:
Needles (sozni work): Depending on the thickness of the embroidery and the intricacy of the work, hand sewing needles between the number of 6 and 10 are used. Hooks (crewel embroidery): Hooks are required for crewelwork. These hooks have long bodies, which can pass through tightly tied fabric making a chain stitch as it moves along. Agate stone: for polishing Wooden Blocks:
Different festivals like Diwali, Holi, Navaratri and other folk festivals have over several years witnessed the beauty of Kashida embroidered outfits donned by the women population of Kashimir. Besides, even traditional ceremonies and rituals can be complimented with this artwork, as it possesses the ability to mold with any environment or season.
The simple tools of the craftsmen create vast expanses of intricate and detailed embroidery. Tools like the needle and hook, universal to embroidery, in the hands of the Kashmiri craftsmen thread characteristic patterns. Only two different types of stitches are used on one fabric at a time.
Kashidakari is divided into many styles and techniques of embroidery. Sozni and sari work are two of the main kinds.
Sozni embroidery: Sozni is a fine embroidery done mostly on Pashmina and high quality Raffal. This type of embroidery is finely detailed and some works take over 3 years to complete. Not more than five colours are used for the sozni emrboidery.
The shawl is placed on a plank and rubbed with agate to smoothen the surface. The pattern is transferred onto cloth using charcoal or coloured powder. Stem stitches are used to make patterns which are flat against the ground. Individual threads of the warp are taken up in the stitching. The threads are of single strand of either silk or staple.
There are three basic stitches.
– One is a straight line and can be varied in length. It can also be made into a continuous curved line or even small dashes of stem. Smaller stitches are done over these for reinforcement.
– The second is a simple diamond outline stitch for petals and leaves.
– The third one is the filling stitch. These stitches are also reinforced with smaller stitches.
Hookwork embroidery: As the name goes, this type is done using a hook. There are three kinds under this category – crewel stitch, chain stitch and the Ari embroidery. The technique for all three is the same. The difference lies in the materials used and the fineness of work thereby.
The craftsmen makes his own hook by turning a steel rod and fitting it into a wooden handle. The thread, in hookwork, is held under the surface of the fabric to be embroidered. The hook is pushed in, along the lines of the design. There is a mark on the wooden handle. The point of the hook is always towards the right. The mark of the hook remains on top when this happens, as an indicator. The thumb and the index finger are the major steers in this technique. The craftsmen rub mustard oil on the index finger to enable smooth movement of the needle against it. Some also use a Nyatth or a thimble.
Apart from these, there are many other kinds of kashida:
Tilla and Dori work: This kind of embroidery is done using golden/silver zari (tilla) or resham (dori) and is mostly done on Pherans, sarees and shawls. The decorative thread remains only on the surface. The designs are first drawn on butter paper with small perforations as guidelines. The fabric on which the design is to be transferred is spread out tautly on a wooden plank. The butter paper is placed above the fabric. Meer is rubbed onto the butter paper to transfer the designs onto the fabric.
The zari is stitched on using three different movements – looped stitch, straight stitch or the spiral stitch. Outlines are mostly done using the looped stitch and the filling is done with the others. The dori work is done on woolen material in slightly darker shades. It is usually a plain staple yarn stitched on with fine thread.
Petit-point or Tapestry technique: This kind of embroidery is made with simple cross stitch on canvas net cloth with an open weave. (11 ends in the wrap and 12 picks weft-wise per inch) . It is believed to have taught to Kashmiri craftsmen around 50 years ago by a foreigner lady. The cloth is nailed to a frame once the design is transferred from the butter paper. The frame sizes are usually 2ft X 3ft or 3ft X 5ft. In this technique, shades of particular colour are used. If a double cross stitch is employed, then a single thread is used. Double threads are also used.
Rezkar embroidery: This is similar to Sozni except that the stitches are longer and less delicate. It is done on Raffal, silk and cotton cloth. 2 or 3 strands of staple 2/20s yarn is used.
There are 2 kinds of stitches. One is the diamond shaped outline stitch and the other is the straight stitch. The petal and leaf outlines are made first, and the straight stitches are used to make patterns inside those.
Watchikan: Done on very large motifs. The needlework forms a raised pattern on the fabric. The fabric can be Raffal, thicker woollen fabric and cotton.Staple 3,4 or 5 strands may be used for this type of embroidery.
Mainly 2 kinds of stitches are used for this type of embroidery. A satin stitch is used for filling, and a stem stitch is used for long continuous linear forms. No outlining is done. The yarn is thick, and the embroidery rises above the fabric.
Papier-mache designs: These designs resemble those which appear on the surface of papier-mache products of Kashmir. The papier-mache embroidery designs are a recent development.
The 3 major stitches used are the outline stitch, the stem stitch and the filling up stitch. The outlining of the entire pattern is done with yellow thread on dark fabrics, and black thread on light fabrics. The filling up is then done in a way so as to cover all the space within the outline.
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.
District / State Srinagar-Srinagar / Jammu & Kashmir
Language Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, English
Best time to visit February-November
Stay at Local hotels or stay with locals
How to reach New Delhi-Srinagar, Amritsar-Srinagar, Chandigarh-Srinagar(by Air,Rail or Road)
Local travel Bus, Taxi, Jeep, Auto-Rickshaw
Must eat Kashmiri Food,Kehva
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.