Commonly known as wicker willow, Jammu and Kashmir enjoys a monopolized market for wickerwork. Straws, grass and leaf are used to make domestic containers that are used to store the agricultural produce. The wicker is produced profusely in the entire region and hence becomes one of the main industries.
Willow wicker is used to weave a variety of baskets and trays, sizes and shapes varying depending on the various uses. The large baskets are called ‘Kiltu’. It is also used to form an outer casing in the Kangri. This encases a clay bowl with smoldering coal pieces. The Kangri is worn under the long robes during winters for warmth. Picnic baskets and tiffin boxes are also made with woven willow. Contemporary developments have spread to making lampshades, small chairs and tables.
The willow wicker products have an attractive face value and intricate designs which make them a hit not only in local markets but they are also exported to India and foreign countries. In Kashmir, the willow crafts are mainly used in weddings and other occasions of festivity.
The advantage of willow as a material is that it is stronger and less susceptible to insects than bamboo or cane. The Forest and Irrigation departments are under requests for extensive growth of willow owing to the increasing demand. The craft is said to provide employment to over 5000 workers throughout the state.
Willow wicker is locally called Veer Kani. Wicker is the name commonly given to one-year sticks that result from the willow prune. It is generally grown in cool, fertile, irrigated lands, as it requires large quantities of water, though it can withstand cold winter frost.
Design schools and workshops in Srinagar have developed new designs and uses for woven willow wickerwork. They are also introducing the blending of willow with other easily available and commonly produced materials like metal and ceramic. This has helped the craftsmen to cater to the growing contemporary market. The basket industry is of importance, and most villages have their artisan who makes the necessary basket for the kangar, and basket for agricultural purposes, and the kiltus used for the transport of apples and for rough village work. The basket maker is called Shaksaz or Kainyal. In terms of adopting creative ingenuity to a need for physical comfort, the intelligent use of combination of materials and the inventiveness of the design, the kangri is unique.
Myths & Legends:
Wickerwork is so much a part of the history of man that it is mentioned in the myths of many primitive societies. The Potawatami Indians believed there was an old lady who lived on the moon and wove baskets. It was said that when the basket would be finished the world would be destroyed. Well thank goodness that never happened. It was all due to a dog (the eclipse) that destroyed the basket before its completion, so that the old lady had to start again!
Story in India goes that 12Kg of seeds and Maharaja Hari Singh imported some fine artisans from European lands during his reign. Before that, willow work in Kashmir used to be rough made of wild willow varieties. Gandharbal district in Kashmir provided the best land and climate conditions for the plant to grow.
Basket weaving has been a part of so many cultures around the world, and is in fact it is the oldest and most widespread of human activities. Today the production of modern wicker furniture is little more than an extension of the basic basket weaving techniques.
The earliest known evidence of wicker production can be traced back to the 400 BC Sumerian civilization. The Sumerians used wicker for shelter, floors, transportation, clothing, furnishings and utensils. The ancient Romans were found to have a design of wicker furniture similar to their predecessors. Sophisticated examples of ancient Egyptian wickerwork are still intact today. The word wicker is believed to be of Scandinavian origin: wika, which means to bend in Swedish, and vikker meaning willow. Wicker is not a material in itself, but rather an overall classification of furniture woven from any one of a variety of materials- cane (rattan), willow, bamboo, reed etc. The oldest surviving pieces of wicker furniture date from the Egyptian Empire. These pieces include chests made of reed and rush, wig boxes of reed and papyrus, and wicker hassocks and chairs.
Basketry is one of the oldest and basic crafts, closely linked with the daily lives of the people. The usages of woven baskets were abundant for settled farmers who needed containers to hold and transport goods. Tribal communities with their intimate relationship with forests were believed to be the first to start making them. In areas of Jammu and Kashmir, which are rich in vegetation, using the local grasses for basketry and matting was the natural result of agriculture and horticulture based economy. The Kangri is considered to be an ingenious method, developed in Kashmir. It was first mentioned in Kalhan’s Rajatarangini (Book V, Verse 106). The verse speaks of the rule of King Avanti Varman between A.D 855 and 883 when Suyya, the great engineer, skillfully regulated the course of the Jhelum River. Kashmir was thus saved from devastating floods for many years. Suyya kept the water out by means of circular dykes, which gave these villages the appearance of round bowls called Kundas. It is said that the word Kundal is from ‘Sha Kundala’ or rings, still used in Kashmir as the designation for round earthenware bowls.
The first technical institute in Srinagar was established in 1914-16. It’s first principal, Mr. Andrews, an Englishman, first introduced the English willow in and around the marshes of Bage-Dilawar Khan and the English method of wicker weaving in the institute. The students took up extensive willow wicker basket weaving.
The willow-wicker craft is used to make a wide range of products, for both the local and foreign markets. There are basically two ways in which the weaving is done, depending on the characteristics that a product should possess.
1) In the first kind, the thin split willow wicker plant are woven by interlacing one in the other to make products which are small and don’t have to bear much weight, like baskets.
2) In the second kind, the skeleton of the product (basic framework) is made using thicker willow logs after which, the split willow wicker splinters are woven on it. This is practiced for bigger products like furnitures which need more strength as well as bear more weight.
The most famous product of this craft has been the ‘kangri’. The baskets and kangris are made out of woven willows, usually the local white ones. The wicker is often dyed in various colours, and various geometrical shapes are produced by the multi-directional weaves. In some designs, small portions are left open to insert coloured foil containing mirrors encircled in coloured metal. The unique properties of this material is that it is a very good food grade material since no fungus attack happens on this and it can with stand good heat and also works like an insulator. Because of these unique properties it is used for Kangri (a traditional product in which coal is burned in a earthen pot and willow wicker fiber is woven around the pot in such a way so that it can be worn inside clothing.) a famous product of Kashmir which protects people from extremely cold climatic conditions.
The willow is retted until the outer skin comes out. The exposed inner skin is used for basketry. The inner skin is cut into strips of about 5 mm width and woven into basket. The upper half of the kangri is designed in multiple coloured strips in varied directional weaves. The basket can be further embellished with shiny coloured foil, mirrors and metal pieces.
The other products of wickerwork include baskets, boxes, lampshades, curtain rings, trays and cycle baskets. Main production clusters of the region are Anantnag, Badgam and Srinagar district.
At a time when the handicrafts sector is witnessing a decline in the state, the craftsmen involved with willow wicker (Kani Wallas) are expressing satisfaction over the returns the trade is fetching them. Earning fairly enough to carry on with their livelihood many wicker workers said that the non-intervention of the machines has been the biggest factor that the craft has survived so far.
Willow wicker art has traditionally been considered low- art because of which it has not gained the popularity it should have like other crafts in the valley. However, its low popularity and non-interference of the machines has been main reasons that the authenticity of this craft has not been compromised till date.
The raw material however, is getting expensive nowadays which is creating a hindrance among the workers initially.
The Willow Wicker Plant Willow is available in many species ranging from tree, which provides solid wood for making of products like a bat and fiber like material, which is used for making of basket. The identification of the willow plants primarily depend on the leaf, which are identical across various species and visually looks like liner and oval. The unique properties of this material is that it is a very good food grade material since no fungus attack happens on this and it can with stand good heat and also works like an insulator.
Water, Dye, Mirrors and foil
Tools & Tech:
Smoothening tool: This tool looks like an iron box with a textured surface on which the willow wicker splinters are smoothened out on. Hammers
Nails: Fine nails are used to hold the ends of the weaving together for the bigger products like furniture.
Wooden tools are used for further splitting Chushul is a wooden hand carved tools which is used to split the willow wicker in four parts Trishul is used to split the wicker in three parts.
Kangris have 2-7 rows of design on their upper halves. There are bridal Kangris, named after the number of rounds – ze-zal, tre-zal, tror-zal till sath-zal (7 chains) Special kangris are given during the Shushur Sankrant. This is a festival celebrated by the Kashmiri Pandits on the coldest day of January. On this day the new bride is given an ornate kangri with some money in it. Ritualistic kangris are given to priests by Hindu families to pay homage to their ancestors. These are colorful and decorated kangris, which the priest collects and can sell later for money.
Kangri is the main product, a wicker basket, which is used to carry clay pots that contain smoldering coals. The basket is slipped under the pheran worn by men and women. Shaksaz, the local names for kangri makers live in the Charar-e-Sharif. They make the kangris for festive occasion where the Kashmiri pundit uses them especially during Shushur Sankrant.
Apart from Haren and Shalabugh, villages like Gadora, Kujur, Kahan, Gogjigund, Fakirgund and Sindbal are involved in the manufacture of willow baskets. The raw material for the willow works is obtained after willow trees are cut in mid Oct-Nov.
1) Harvesting – The Willow Wicker Plant Willow wicker grows in clusters, usually planted at regular distances. Visually like a reed and the length ranges from 5 to 8 feet and diameter ranging from 5 mm to 12 mm. The willow wicker plant takes about a year to grow. Mature stems of about 6 to 8 feet are cut from the base. It requires water and can withstand extreme cold temperature.
Post harvest The green stems are stored in a water body so that the moisture is retained before boiling. Usually the stems are green when they are dipped into the boiling chamber.
2) Preparation of the Wicker: Boiling The harvested green stems are then boiled in a big community-boiling chamber for 24 hours. Boiling enables the sap to get separated from the usable wicker.
The community-boiling chamber- This is a large cuboid shaped metal body open box partly fixed heap of mud, little raised from the ground level. Below the box is a empty niche or an air gap which is used to burn firewood. The size of the box is about 8 x 5 x 5 feet. This container is located next to the water body so that water can be filled on a regular basis. Artisans usually book this container for the specific days depending on the quantity of the wicker. Artisans also bring their own firewood for boiling. After the bundles of the wicker are boiled sap is removed manually. To remove the sap the wicker stem is passed through two twigs, which grips the sap of the willow wicker when it is pulled.
3) Drying After boiling and de-skinning the wicker is again tied in bundles and kept inverted for drying in sunlight and air.
4) Splitting The wicker stick can be split in many ways, Two parts, three parts and four parts. After the splitting the core or the pith is removed by passing the wicker through a device called as machine made of a fixed sharpened Steel blade and an adjustable lower metal plate set within a woodden block. This apparatus is used to generate strips of a consistant thickness.
5) Weaving The baskets and kangri covers are hand woven, with deft interweaves of the sticks. The willow is soaked in a bowl of water to make it more flexible and easy to weave with. The finished products are left to dry and then sold.
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
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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.