Pinjirakari is the craft of latticework in Kashmir. Chipped and carved out of light deodar wood, these pieces consist of strips of wood arranged in repeating geometric forms. These pieces are then joined to make the larger form. The distinguishing fact of this woodwork is that it does not use any glue for sticking together the pieces. They are held in position by precise joinery and the pressure they exert on each other.
It is widely believed that wooden latticework began with the making of ‘Mashrabiya’, in Central Asia during the 12th century. Mashrabiya is the Arabic term given to a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the second storey of a building or higher, often lined with stained glass. The Mashrabiya is an element of traditional Arabic architecture used since the middle ages up to the mid-20th century. Pinjira, a latticework on wood has remained a novelty of decorations in Kashmir and is done on the fences, doors, railings, ventilators, room partitions, screens and windows partitions in the prominent years of Islam as a veil screen for women as the religious beliefs prohibited them to be directly seen by the public. All the existing buildings in wood have such work in different geometric designs.
There are two theories for its name; the most common one is that the name was originally for a small wooden shelf where the drinking water pots were stored. The shelf was enclosed by wood and located at the window in order to keep the water cool. Later on, this shelf evolved until it became part of the room with a full enclosure and retained the name despite the radical change in use. It may have been introduced during the reign of Sultan Zain-ul-Abadin, for him being the founder and architect of many such works in Kashmir and for which he introduced many craftsmen from Central Asia. It is also used to adorn doors. The Pinjirakari pieces are also used to make ornamental partitions and screens.
One common use of latticework is in a privacy screen. The openings in the lattice allow light and air through, which can be critical in a climate where full enclosure would be stifling. The network of lathes prevents people from seeing inside the lattice, allowing for privacy in the area surrounded by the latticework. Latticework can be seen surrounding compounds and yards, and it is also used for things like window inserts so that people can enjoy fresh air while still feeling relatively private. A lattice also happens to make a great trellis. People training climbing plants may install a lattice so that the plant has something to grow on. When lattice is being used for privacy, training plants on it can increase privacy, as the plants will cover the lattice to prevent people from seeing in while still allowing air through. Plants can also make a privacy lattice more aesthetically pleasing, as people may not enjoy looking at the raw lattice material. Pinjirakari work is a common feature now in most Kashmiri houses. Thick hand-made and oily paper is used to together on these panels. This shuts of chilly winter winds but lets in ample light at the same time. These paper covers are washed off at springtime. This delicate wooden latticework adorns Sufi places of worship and house fronts and creates the lace-like trim on balconies and houseboats, those floating ‘luxury hotels’ from old times. Such trim is also found on wooden balconies that jut out from the main structure or may cover the entire front of a house.
It was during the Sultanate period that large worship buildings were made, where in wood was used extensively. Thereafter, not only wooden structures were constructed either exclusively or in association of stone and brick masonry to raise huge monumental buildings that exist till date, but also these were decorated with wooden ceilings, walls, doors, cornices and facades on balconies. During the medieval times in Kashmir common houses were built of wood and were most beautifully decorated as Mirza Haidar narrates: “In the town, there are many lofty buildings constructed of fresh-cut pine. Most of these are at least five storeys high; each storey contains apartments, halls, galleries and towers. The beauty of their exterior defies description, and all who behold them for the first time, bite the finger of astonishment with the teeth of admiration-.
Used as a veil screen for women, its design was such that it is see-through from inside the house but not see-through from outside. This is based on the fact that any Jaali can be seen through only when someone is standing close to it and would be difficult to see through from a distance. In Kashmir, wood was a material used by every stratum – by peasants, kings and boatmen. In such a wide variety of uses, specific methods were developed for the uses.
Myths & Legends:
With the coming of Central Asian ruler into Kashmir, came with them, their customs, religion, traditions and culture. Islam did not allow for women to come out in public without being fully covered and most of the times, they were not allowed to be present physically for an occasion or celebration. It is widely believed that the king of Persia, in the 12th Century loved his queen to the extent that he could not turn any of her requests down. The queen once told the king that she wanted to see the royal court hearing like he does. Unable to turn her request down, the king spoke to his court and the best architect in the land was called upon. He was offered a huge sum of money and built the king a window, covered with beautiful wooden latticework right above the court hearing hall. The work was such that whoever was on the darker side of the window could see everything on the brighter side, but not vice-versa. The people on the brighter side of the window could only make out a silhouette of the person on the darker side if he or she would be standing very close to the window. The king could not be happier. The morale of his religion and the happiness of his wife were both ensure and soon it became customary to have this work in the queen’s quarters wherever she went. The tradition was passed down and when his lineage migrated to India from Persia, they got with them skilled carpenters who brought the craft of wooden latticework along with them and it became widely prevalent in Kashmir as Pinjirakari.
Pinjirakari is deeply embedded in the Kashmiri aesthetic. It appears in romantic folklore of Kashmir and in it’s verses. For example – ‘Zaile pinjre tile nazar trav, Bali asimi tamblav’ translates to ‘Bestow upon me one glance from behind the Pinjira. Oh young beauty, pray do not tantalize me’.
Woodwork was an essential part of 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.
Although less known outside Kashmir, the region boasts numerous other acclaimed crafts, many of Persian origin. In the 14th century a Sufi saint, Sayyid Ali Hamadani, from the ancient city of Hamadan, arrived in Kashmir with a band of about 700 followers. He had a profound influence on the valley, convincing large numbers of people, including the king, to convert to Sufi Islam, thus leaving a lasting imprint on the valley’s culture. With him came a number of Hamadan’s famous artisans who brought many new handicrafts to Kashmir, including fine woodcarving. The Kashmiris proved to be apt pupils and have practiced and refined those skills to the present day. There is one example on stone at Srinagar’s 15th century Madin Sahib Tomb, which has carved lattice scrolls instead of the geometric designs. This work on the tomb built during the reign of Zain-ul-Abadin indicates that the lattice craft was known at that time even though there is no work left in wood of that era and it might have served as a forerunner to the wooden craft. During the reign of King Zain-ul-Abadin, woodcraft flourished and is said to have reached its artistic peak. Sultan Zain-ul-Abadin also got built a palace for himself, all of wood, in Naushahr. It has twelve stories, some of which contain fifty rooms, halls, and corridors. A golden dome surmounted it, and its spacious halls were lined with glass. This tradition of wooden architecture and craft seems to have developed and flourished under the Sultans in particular under the fostering care of Sultan Zain-ul-Abadin whose patronage attracted master artisans for various crafts from different parts. According to the Sultans court chronicler Pundit Srivara, the great king provided all amenities of life to such craftsmen and they popularized their arts and crafts among the Kashmiris. He had constructed another palatial building, the Zain Dab in Zainagiri, which the Chaks burned down. His palace was a testimonial for the richness of skill and heritage. During the Mughal times, stone architecture was reintroduced into Kashmir for monumental architecture and in their buildings stone screens instead of wood have been used on the Mughal patterns as in the Madrassa and mosque of Mulla Akhun. However, it seems that wooden screen works did not suffer as Bernier who visited Kashmir during the reign of Aurangzeb makes a special mention of the latticed doors of the houses of kings and nobles, which screened from view the beautiful ladies of the harem. The Jamia Masjid in Srinagar rebuilt on the earlier pattern during his time has retained the lattice designs that existed earlier. Latticework is a highly developed craft in Kashmir. In authentic Pinjira work, glue and nails are never used. The pressure the pieces exert on each other holds them together. The zali-Pinjira or acchi-dar is a recent term for Kashmiri latticework. In a later time, walnut woodcarving became popular, with designs with heavy European influence. It is believed that the complexity of the woodwork in Kashmir evolved from the boat making craft. Much like what happened in Rangoon and Peshawar. The reason being that much of the main roads connecting the big towns of the region were only built in the 20th century. Till then, all the commercial and private traffic were dependent on the boats.
Pinjirakari has many popular designs, which are both traditional and contemporary. The latticework called the rising sun and cobwebs are the most sought after. The other well known ones are Posh kandur, Chahar Khana, sadah kandur, shash-tez, shash-sitara, shash-pahlu, dwazdah sar, shekh sar, jujjari, shirin, totah shesh tez. All these designs however do not differ from the mathematical designs of the Arabs or that used by the Central Asians in limited form.
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. Many such splendid buildings still exist as models of the carpenter’s craft such as Khanqah-i-Mualla, Makhdum Sahibs shrine, Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, Khanqah-i-Naqashband, Srinagar etc. 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. Their super structures in the form of arcades and porticoes, their opening filled with latticework, Pinjira, and enriched carved wooden insertions enhance charm and accentuate the stylishness of this architecture.
The Pinjira work of Kashmir is basically an intricate piece of Jaali made out of small pieces of wood held through various joints inside a frame and mostly in traditional practices without the use of glue. Pieces are fixed only using dowel joints, mortise, and tenon joint and halved joint with very rare use of wooden screws for larger pieces. The pieces are so precisely made that they fit into each other perfectly. Though the pieces are not glued together, they stay in place and are quite strong and can stand huge pressures. They are fixed in their place due to the stress, strain, weight and force they exert on each other. An extra outer frame may also be used for further strength but traditionally made Jaali can stay together even without the use of such frames. The precision and design of this latticework was passed from one generation to another along with the knowledge of geometry and mathematics taught in Islam. Geometry, calligraphy and vegetation are used as sources of ideas. Out of these, the artisans only used geometry as their knowledge of mathematics helped them to make many complex designs which could be tessellated.”
Classically, latticework is available in a diagonally crossing pattern. Pieces of lattice can be fitted together to create a continuous pattern, or oriented in different directions to create more visual interest. It is also possible to find checkerboard lattice, which uses a vertical and horizontal pattern of lathes. There may be some settings in which checkerboard latticework is more aesthetically appropriate, depending on personal taste. Highly ornamental carvings may also be referred to as latticework. In this case, instead of making a pattern with lathes or strips, a pattern is pierced or cut into a solid sheet or wood or metal. The pattern may depict a scene, or take an abstract geometric form. In the Middle East, floral privacy lattice is very common, and similar styles are also seen in India. Some very fine designs done in this style can be seen on display in museums, which celebrate Middle Eastern and Asian art.
These techniques were passed down from generation to generation-in clan- based, closed shops. However, in the mid- 90s rising costs and a lack of interest from younger clan members threatened the survival of these traditions. The craft has now almost disappeared and even the existing works are vanishing from the old houses. The ruined and neglected houses of the old city of Srinagar exhibit a pathetic view of these glorious screens. As the things stand, the revival of the art in this modern age looks very difficult. However, few spinners of the art visible on the Muslim shrines and on traditional houses of old city could be saved if required steps are taken. The shrines and olden houses and building carrying these artifacts need to be preserved and conserved on modern and scientific lines.
This renowned lattice work of Kashmir is also known as Acchi-dar or Zali pinjira. In this craft, small pieces of laths wood, with their edges exposed, are held together within a frame. A network of intersecting lines are created without any use of glue or nails. These latticed panels are held together by the pressure, weight, stress and strain they exert on each other. The pieces of wood are sometimes engraved or notched.
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. Adhesive – For example fevicol and other adhesives for wood
Waste wood from the process was earlier used for firewood, but now is mostly thrown away or used as sawdust by the homeless people in Kashmir.
Tools & Tech:
Circular saw machine
The location where Pinjira work would be carried out was first surveyed and the direction of entry of light, the time span of the light entering and the various angles of visibility and the various possibilities of privacy issues are all taken into consideration before the work is begun. This is done to ensure that the purpose of the latticework is solved once created.
This renowned latticework of Kashmir is also known as Acchi-dar or Zali Pinjira. In this craft, small pieces of laths wood, with their edges exposed, are held together within a frame. A network of intersecting lines is created without any use of glue or nails. These latticed panels are held together by the pressure, weight, stress and strain they exert on each other. The pieces of wood are sometimes engraved or notched.
The design is cut out in strips from the logs of wood. Once that is done, grooves are made on every such strip. Once glue has been applied on the grooves, they are fit together to make the lattice.
In its original form, glues and nails were not used in this technique; the precision of the joinery alone held it together. The Pinjira frames are pasted with handmade paper, thus effectively cutting out chilly winds and yet allowing a sufficient amount of light to pass through. Latticework, locally known as Pinjira Kari, was once very popular in Kashmiri architecture. The craftsmen dealing with wooden works used to fill the doors, windows, and ventilators with Jaali screens formed of latticework. It was the most complicated art and perhaps no less than carving or inlaying.
The Jaali screens were formed of smaller wooden pieces finished very brilliantly and were then arranged in geometric forms so as to display their edges. They are held in position by the pressure they exert upon each other by certain main lines being doweled together and by the frame of the panel within which they are fitted. These wooden pieces made of either Deodar or walnut wood. The logs were chipped to the desired length and breadth and then woven in several orders. The geometric Sun and Moon patterns were commonly followed.
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.
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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.