Khatamband is a specialty in the art of Kashmiri woodwork and compromises the making of ceilings of rooms, from thin panels of pinewood, cut into geometrical designs. The ceilings are made by fitting small pieces of wood (preferably walnut or deodar wood) into each other in geometrical patterns. Brought to Kashmir in 1541 by Mirza Hyder Doulat, the process is not done through machines but, painstakingly hand crafted as the pieces are made to be held together purely by the joinery and no glue or nails.
QWhat is Khatamband?
Khatamband is a specialty in the art of Kashmiri woodwork and comprises the making of ceilings of rooms, from thin panels of pinewood, cut into geometrical designs.
QWhere is the design on wood called Khatamband found?
Earlier Khatamband used to be the domain of shrines, palaces, houseboats and royal houses. Now the technique is used on screens, doors, windows etc.of Srinagar
QWhat type of roofs are there in the houses of Srinagar?
The roof of Sri-nagar is in pyramidal wooden style supported on long wooden columns with a paneled ceiling in khatam-band.
QHow is the structure of Khatamband?
Khatamband in Kashmir is decorative ceilings, fitted by small pieces of polygonal wood into each other in geometrical patterns, which are held together by beadings.
The craft of Khatamband is used to make elaborate ceiling work in Kashmir. These provide both insulation against harsh cold, as well as a rich aesthetic appeal. Earlier Khatamband used to be domain of shrines, palaces, houseboats and royal houses. The shrine of Khwaja Naqshband is probably the best example of this craft. Its traditional customers had been houseboat manufacturers, but that was a long time back – “ for the last decade, no new houseboat has been made However in today’s day, every other person wants it for his or her house. Now the technique is used on screens, doors, windows etc.
With fewer or no nails used at all, the Khatamband ceiling can easily be disassembled and re-assembled at another place. Now-a-days Khatamband has become a sort of status symbol in Kashmiri society, plus its insulation from cold adds to its value. Whatever the reason the renewed demand has saved an old tradition from extinction. The uniqueness of this art is that when the ceiling is complete, it acquires a unique geometrical pattern. The forest department at appropriate intervals supplies wood, the primary raw material for this craft. This is facilitated due to the Association of Khatamband artisans. They act as mediators to distribute the stock within the registered groups in stipulated quotas. Few changes have taken place in the process of Khatamkari. Earlier the Ricna was a traditional tool used to make markings on the wooden plank. Now, they use a pencil. Though the Ricna was more precise in it’s markings, the craftsmen discontinued its use since it strained the eye to use it. Ply has replaced the wood in the ceiling frames as wood has become more expensive.
Myths & Legends:
Woodwork was an essential part of Kashmiri lifestyle from time immemorial. The carpenter made not only household items but also items for temples and royalty. The art of carpentry was recognized as an essential part of community work. Ancient texts like the Brihat Samhita and Shilpa Shastra provide detailed instructions on woodwork – how to work with the different kinds of wood and even how to fell the various trees.
Jammu and Kashmir is known for its woodwork, stemming from the wide variety of trees growing in the region. It has a rich history of woodwork and carving, popularly seen in the architecture of the place. History mentions 12-storeyed palace in Srinagar made of woodwork. This was destroyed during the reign of King Harsha, when invaders set fire to it. Woodcraft flourished post 1028, especially in architectural elements. The new palaces called the Razdanis were set up on the banks of river Vitasta or Jhelum. These banks were close to the rich forests of Tashwan where the wood could be sources easily. The palace, moved to the left bank during the reign of King Ananta (1028-1063), was beautifully crafted in wood. Bihana mentioned the wooden architectural elements, the great 11th century Kashmiri author. He wrote about them with awe in his courtly epic, Vikramankadeva Charitam. King Jayasimha (1128-1140) allowed his citizens free supply of wood from the forests, which led to many wooden houses being built in this region. During the reign of King Zain-ul-Abadin, woodcraft flourished and is said to have reached its artistic peak. His palace was a testimonial for the richness of skill and heritage. Unfortunately, it was set alight by Chak rebels. It is said that the palace kept smoldering for an entire year. It is believed that all Hindu/Buddhist buildings of Ancient Kashmir are of stone, on the other hand many of the mosques and shrines that were built subsequently, are either made wholly of wood or are decorated finely in wood. Their facades even though partly built of brick masonry have yet eloquent use of wood in the form of structural material as well as decorative element. The wood has been utilized to build the pyramidal roofs, balconies, verandahs, arcades, porticoes, paneled walls and painted ceilings.
It is believed that the famous saint, Shah-I-Hamdaan, who visited the Himalayan valley along with many followers that also included Khatamband artists from Iran, brought Khatamband to Kashmir during the 14th Century. These artisans passed on this art to local Kashmiris. Architect Bilal Sheikh says, â€œKhatamband got popular in Kashmir because of its beauty and quality of insulation.â€. Later, Mirza Hyder Douglat worked hard in spreading the art throughout Kashmir. A finished ceiling comes alive in unique geometrical patterns. With hardly any nails used, this ceiling can easily be dissembled and re-assembled at another place. . Few of these artists stayed on in Kashmir in the Traal village.
These artists passed on their craft to the Geeru family. Khatamband however did not flourish at the time. Mirza Hyder Daulat later revived it in 1514. The Geeru families are now concentrated in an area called Safa Kadal. The art of khatamband is said to have been introduced by Mughals from the Persian khatamband that was also made in Central Asia. However, the existing specimens show that in Kashmir certain innovations were made in the craft that replaced the ivory, bone, mother of pearl, brass and silver and in this place pure wooden pieces were painted with floral motifs as in the mosque of the Madani. It was also sometimes painted to give different hues to separate geometrical panels or else inscriptions written as on the panels of the wall in the Khanqah at Srinagar. Such innovations even though make the craft different from the khatamband in the outlook, yet these make it more beautiful. In the past this craft may have been very popular and has been appreciated for its beauty. In the mid nineties, the craft died down due to its extravagance and the cost, which came with it. Houseboat manufacturers were the traditional customers of Khatamkari. That too did not help since no new houseboat has been constructed for over a decade. The Geerus secretly guarded the craft till the 20th century and then passed on through generations
There are more than 160 designs for the Khatamband in Kashmir, but today’s artists can only reproduce about 100. Artists have however greatly compensated the lost designs with newer ones, where they experiment with mirror, colour combination and other things and there is no limit to their creativeness. The meaning of Khatam translates to ‘incrustation’. These incrustation patterns are usually star shaped. They are made with thin sticks of ebony, teak, ziziphus, orange or rose wood. Brass was used for golden parts and camel bones for the white parts. For collection objects, expensive material like gold, silver and iron are used. The mosque of Madani in Srinagar, a small building but the earliest example surviving, has its roof in the pyramidal wooden style supported on long wooden columns with a paneled ceiling in khatam-band, as is the case in the Khanaqh-i-Mualla in Srinagar. These and many buildings in and outside Srinagar that have elaborate carving on the base and capital of the pillars as well as wooden ceiling in Khatamband design. Their super structures in the form of arcades and porticoes, their opening filled with latticework, and enriched carved wooden insertions enhance charm and accentuate the stylishness of this architecture.
The design consists of various polygonal patterns held together by beading. Few names of the many patterns are Muraba, Kansut, Sarva, Lakut, Bod, Badam, Sakhur, Bita, and Tobul etc.
The craft of Khatamband is not facing any challenges as such and is rather doing very well both domestically and internationally. But, the increase in demand is leading to large scale requirement of hardwood from deodar and pine trees growing in the hills, which in the coming years might lead to environmental damage.
Khatamband is an art of making a ceiling, by fitting small pieces of wood (walnut, fir or deodar) into each other in geometrical patterns. All this is done entirely with hands without use of nails. The wood is processed, cut into panels and fixed in the ceiling in various floral and geometrical designs. A painstaking work, which once used to take months to finish a 10 feet by 10 feet ceiling.
Wood – Fir, deodar or walnut wood are bought in cubic feet. Fir is predominantly used as the weather is not humid and the wood works well in Kashmiri conditions. For installations outside Kashmir, deodar is used.
Tools & Tech:
Band saw, Zamambari, Woodcutting machine, Circular saw machine
Preparing the raw material
The logs of wood are first separated into pieces of long beading and panels. Using a band saw, the pieces are cut into planks. The skin is removed and discarded. The ends are used for Guz strips. These are then dried out in the sun. No other special methods are used to season the wood. Fir wood takes only one month to season; Deodar takes 3 months whereas Walnut wood takes a year. The wood is stacked in a crisscrossed manner.
Cutting of Guz and Phati
Depending on the designs, the strips are cut into lengths of 1’6- and 2’2-. The Guz strip is usually Â¾- thick and 1- wide. The Phati is 10mm thick and the widths vary between 4-, 6- and 9- depending on the design.
Planing of Guz and Phati
The guz and phati are planed from three sides. The side, which is left uneven, is not seen while it is installed onto the ceiling. When the planing is done, 1- is subtracted from the final measurement.
Using Kannat marking on Guz and Fatte
Kannat markings are an age-old technique used by the artisans for marking distances and angles. These markings are made using a scale, pencil and a khurat (90 degree scale). Put together, the planks and the scales act like a T-scale set up for markings. Different shapes like Posh (polygon) are made by joining the points.
Cutting of Guz and Fatte into different geometric shapes
The guz planks are cut using the zamambari. From the side the plank will be visible after installation; it is cut at an angle. Then a 90-degree cut is done on the opposite side. The phati planks are cut into shapes using a circular saw.
Nakashi is the engraving and etching work had lost its charm for a long time. Now it is done on Khatambandh also.
The pieces are packed in gunny bags for transporting to sites nearby and in willow baskets or corrugated boxes for the ones far away. These are stacked in a special way so as to not break.
Khawaza is a shed where the craftsmen sit and work on the installation. It is made up of wooden pieces and a metal sheet. The only tool used here is the tori. The Jaamp or frame is made of wooden pieces of 1.5- breadth and 2- length. The length depends on the length of the ceiling. The distance between two wooden pieces is 1’6-. The ply is attached after the frame is installed. Space is left for fans and wires.
Inlay Various types of inlay work are done in Khatamkari.
Genuine inlaying In this interlocking technique, designs are fitted into each other using grooved lathes. No nails or glue is used.
False inlaying In this method, no nails are used in the polygons but the beads were held together with nails. When the wood shrinks, splits may appear in this case.
Entirely embossed inlaying This is a frequently used technique. In this method, all the patterns and the beading is done in relief work. The relief work does not run to much of a depth, and in time it is known to develop cracks.
Waste wood from the process was earlier used for firewood, but now is mostly used in the kangris.
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.