‘Reshmee Kaleen’ or silk carpets of Kashmir are famous for their intricate hand-knotting technique that makes it a highly prized work of art. The delicate appearance of these carpets belies a tough and durable strength that can withstand much pressure and last a lifetime. Complex and finely detailed designs are made without the use of any visual reference but only relying on a hand written script known as ‘Taalim’.
Traditionally these carpets were used only as floor coverings, but now their usage has come to include furniture coverings and wall hangings. The hand knotting techniques used in these carpets adds considerable strength to the weave, thereby greatly increasing its durability and life span. Most of these carpets have been seen to last a lifetime hence many consider them to be a lifelong investment.
It is a popular belief in Kashmir that a Kashmiri carpet is the soul of any house and without it the house is incomplete. The craft of carpet weaving has been a closely guarded family tradition passed from father to son over many generations.
In this tradition carpets are woven with the help of ‘Taalim’ which is a hand written color coded instruction used as guide for weaving. In this long-standing tradition the eldest male member of a family would instruct the younger weavers on which colored knot to be placed next by singing the instructions in a unique chant like manner. At one time no more than two weavers follow the instructions from the caller. Starting at either side of the rug, each weaver weaves according to the colors in the design, working in an asymmetrical manner as he moves towards the center of the rug.
Myths & Legends:
There is a legend, which claims to explain the origin of the Persian carpet, which is where the Mughals brought the art to Kashmir. King Balash was reputed to own a giant diamond, which was stolen and dropped onto a rocky plain, where it shattered into thousands of glittering fragments. When the king saw the ‘carpet’ of jewels he was so grief-stricken that he refused to leave it. To lure their leader back to his palace, his apprentice carpet maker and his fellows wove a silk carpet as brilliantly coloured with as much sheen as the one made of diamond. This legend is supposed to portray the healing power of art and the origin of Persian carpets.
Another legend about Persian carpets talks about the art coming to India and how the craft flourished here with a lot of mystery and luster. There are stories that ‘Scheherazade’, the queen would tell tales to her husband, a Persian king. The king had been in the habit of marrying a new bride every day and beheading her the following morning to ensure that she had no opportunity to be unfaithful. Scheherazade started a tale on their wedding night but didn’t finish it; her husband was forced to spare her for a day in order to hear the end of the story, and the beginning of the next.
One of these stories relates how Prince Husain, the eldest son of Sultan, travels to India and buys a magic carpet, which can transport a man any distance ‘in the twinkling of an eye’. Not so much a flying carpet as an ancient matter transporter! This story talks about the magnificence that the silk carpets in India had such that one glance at it could cause a twinkle in your eye so powerful that you would feel you travel the world.
Carpet weaving is one of the oldest known crafts having deep roots in central Asia. Experts claim that the nomads first produced rugs and carpets many centuries before the birth of Christ. They would insulate their tents with carpets and rugs to protect from the harsh winters of the desert.
In India carpet and floorings in India are an integral part of the homes and their evolutionary presence in history has been marked with mats and durries in a variety of materials. The history can be traced back to as far as 500 BC. It is said that when Babur came to India, he was disappointed by the lack of luxuries. He was the precursor of the crafts for extravagance. Akbar later laid the foundation of extensive carpet weaving in India in 1580 AD at his palace in Agra. These carpets were of the Persian style and were inspired by the designs of the Kirmaan, Kashan, Isfahan and many other places from Persia. The Mughals not only brought with them the techniques of carpet weaving, but also wove in many traditional Persian designs.
The kind of carpet, which caught fame was the pile carpet during the reign of Emperor Akbar in the 16th century. He had brought in Persian weavers and placed them in different parts of the kingdom. The carpets then got modified according to the region and the royal tastes. In Kashmir, Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (1341-1385 AD), the famous Sufi saint of Persia, had brought along highly skilled craftsmen through the silk trade route. He laid the foundation for the cottage industries in the Kashmir valley. The flourish came in the time of Zain-ul-Abadin in 1730 AD. The skill of carpet weaving was passed down from father to son like precious heirlooms. During the rule of Jahangir (1628-58), the Indian carpets rose in superiority. Materials like silk and pashmina were used which permitted greater number of knots.
Patterns of the carpets started resembling miniature paintings. Subtle gradations and shading were used artistically. Scrolling vines, plants, animals sprawled on the carpets more pictorially than before.
During Shah Jehan’s reign (1628-58) warps and wefts of fine silk yarns allowed as many as 2000 knots per sq. inch. Silk or pashmina piles gave the carpets a velvety texture. During this era, the patterns were primarily floral, at times adorned with geometric or calligraphic trims. There were Chinese and European influences too. Today, commercial workshop weaving is commonplace. Small village based projects do exists. Hand-knotted silk carpets of Kashmir have earned great reputation for their craftsmanship and grandeur.
Kashmir carpet weaving has strong Persian influence and hence the designs found in the carpets are exactly the same or similar to traditional Persian designs. Even the method of nomenclature is the same where the carpets are named after where they were woven. Nature was the source of inspiration for the designs. Buds, vines, flowers, animals were commonly used. Other common motifs are the willow tree motif and the paisley or ‘Keri’ motif. Some have verses written in Persian script.
Symmetry is a strong concept except for the carpets with the design of five horses, tree of life and the prayer rug. The tree of life pattern appears symmetric though it is done asymmetrically. The prayer rugs have arches, mihrabs or niches within which a design of floral motifs may be composed.
The various compartments in the general layout of the carpet are: 1-Saadilat/saadlat or selvedge2-Kangar/Jenar or thin border
3-Hashish/Saad hashi or thick border
4-Islim or thin border
5-Chothai or corners of the body
6-Chand or central medallion
7-Dashi or warp tassels
8-Jhara/saadvaar is the simple plain line of different colours
9-Matan is the body enclosed within the border
The motifs on the carpets can be divided into three groups:
Body motifs: They cover the maximum area of the carpet and are generally repeating designs Border motifs: They decorate the lateral bands of the carpet and are generally designs of latticework consisting of flowers and serrated leaf borders. Flowering creepers and sprawling veins with blooming flowers are usually used. Motifs used for smaller borders, which encase larger borders are simple and geometric. Simple single coloured lines are woven in between the broad and thin border to give more breathing space and enhance the importance of each motif. Some borders have calligraphic inscriptions on them. The script may either have the name of the weaver or the master or even a part of Quran written in. Stylized motifs of animals and birds are also used. Decorative motifs: These motifs are the ones that are not repetitive and are used only in the medallion
The vertical loom on which the weaving happens is located in rooms which poor sources of light. The reason for a small and dingy setup is believed to be so that it can keep the weavers warm during the harsh winters. The weavers also face a lot of health issues, which involves backache and joint pains due to sitting on the floor and weaving for long hours.
However, it is a sad fact that this beautiful industry is dying a slow death. The artisans whose families have been engaged in the preparation of carpets for generations are slowly turning to other professions on account of the low profitability involved in carpet making. The carpet-producing units in Amritsar, Rajasthan, Agra, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh meet nearly 90% of the demand for carpets in the country. Export of Kashmiri garments has gone down. Figures indicate that the export of carpets was 400 quintals in the year 1973-74, which rose to 5750 quintals in the year 1995-96. This again went down to 650 quintals in 1999-2000. The major export markets for these carpets are USA, Germany, UK, Australia and Canada.
Some of the major reasons behind the lack of growth of the Kashmir carpet industry are lack of financial resources, lack of modern technology, availability of duplicate Kashmiri carpets, lack of training as well as lack of innovations. Artisans are nowadays trying to experiment with different types of fabrics and designs so as to breathe new life into the industry.
The distinctive feature of the Reshmi Kaleen is that the carpet is woven with the help of the scripted design. The weavers work on the vertical loom, carefully under the guidance of a voice which reads out this script or the ‘Taalim’. Well finished asymmetrical knots weave intricate patterns to form the carpet, which requires great skill and experience.
Cotton – It is used for making the warp and sourced from Punjab costing Rs.50-80 per kg. Silk – is used for both warp and weft yarn and is sourced from Bangalore, China, Coimbatore and other areas of Tamil Nadu. Pure silk costs Rs.2000-2500 per kg and spun silk costs Rs.580-1800 per kg. Wool –Sourced from different parts of Kashmir and sent to Ludhiana for twisting. Bleach, polish and zarda –These chemicals are used in the finishing, cleaning and polishing of the carpets.
Tools & Tech:
Loom:The loom has a vertical frame that holds the warp threads upon which the whole fabric of the carpet is woven. Taalim: This is a script version of the design. It is hung on the warp while weaving for reference by interlacing the paper scroll on the yarns. Daj: Leash rods made of wood, which keep the warp threads alternately crossed and act like heedles eyes. Khoor: Sharp tool used to cut the yarn Panj: A hammer comb used to beat down the weft yarns tightly together. Kainchi: Scissors used to cut away the carpet and remove it from the loom. Pohra: Tool used to squeeze out water from the drenched carpet during washing. Burus: Brush with a long handle used to spread the Zarda and bleach mixture onto the carpet. Stretching machine: A machine with two movable channels on which the carpet is attached using screws called angles. Turning a small steering on the machine stretches the carpets. Istris: Iron is used to smoothen out the carpet.
The distinctive feature of the Reshmee Kaleen is that the carpet is woven with the help of the scripted design. The weavers work on the vertical loom, carefully under the guidance of a voice, which reads out this script or the ‘Taalim’. Well-finished asymmetrical knots weave intricate patterns to form the carpet, which requires great skill and experience.
Artists called the ‘Nakaash’ make the layout and patterns of the carpet. In earlier times, the ‘Nakaash’ used to draw from imagination. These days, since traditional designs used for many years have been woven, that does not seem necessary. When modifications or different designs are involved, the design is plotted onto a graph paper.
A script called the ‘Taalim’ guides the design of the carpet. It is a transformation of the design into a script or series of hieroglyphs done by a ‘Taalim’ writer, a task demanding time, patience and expertise. Two hundred strips of paper is generally used to write a ‘Taalim’ for a carpet of 9′ by 6′ with a knot count of 368 knots per square meter consisting of a central medallion. These strips comprise of symbols put together to indicate the color of the extra weft and the number of times it needs to be knotted to complete the design. The number to indicate the knots is written at the bottom while the symbol on the top of the number indicates the color of the cut pile thread. The ‘Taalim’ is read from right to left while the weaving is done from left to right. When the ‘Taalim’ is given to the master weaver, he begins chanting the ‘Taalim’ and the weavers chant their reply as ‘Hau’, which means they have carried out the instructions.
The sourced yarns are sent to the ‘Rangur’ or dyer. A chart is prepared according to the colours to be used. A dyer usually dyes either wool or silk in the whole day. Only natural dyes were used earlier but now only chemical dyes are used. The place where the dyeing is done is called the ‘Daan’, which is a brick structure with a permanently installed copper vessel for the purpose. The yarns are made into hanks and then dyed. There are certain notes, which indicate the amount of dyes to be mixed to get a particular shade of color.
A yean or warp is prepared by assembling the yarns of the same length. A warping frame is used for this purpose. The weaver does the warping himself. The yarn is wound in a continuous figure of eight between the two sticks of the frame. The distance between the sticks is varied according to the size of the carpet required. The warping takes around 1-2 hours and is done during the day. The Tanni or warp yarns are tied at strategic intervals with a tough cord to hold them in proper sequence for removal and shifting to the loom.
The weaving takes place on a vertical loom. The weaver is called the ‘kal baf’. He stretches the yarn on the vaan or rolling cloth beams. The yarn is then divided into two alternating sets of yarns to allow the weft to pass through. The separation is done by tying leashes made up of yarn with odd number of threads on one Daj and even number on the second Daj. The Daj is fastened to a shaft, which helps to interlace and interlock the ‘Tanni’ while weaving.
After the loom is set, a series of yarns are inserted in plain weave to secure the knots when the carpet is removed from the loom. The kal baf refers to the taalim and starts the weaving. The ground fabric is made up of plain weave and cut piles. The cut piles make the design in the carpet. The knot used in Kashmir for weaving the carpet is a Persian one called the Senneh or asymmetrical knot. After each weft is inserted, it is beaten down close to each other using a Panj. After weaving, the carpet is removed from the loom by simply cutting the warp ends with scissors.
The washing is called the ‘kaloon’ in Kashmir. After the carpet is taken off the loom it is sent to the washer. The back of the carpet is first checked for piling. If it does, then it is burnt away using a burning machine. The cut piles are then cut to equal height for the design to be clearly visible. The cutting is done manually using a kainchi or using a trimming machine.
For washing, the carpet is laid on the floor with its right side on the top and water is poured till it is drenched. The water is then squeezed out using the Pohra. Bleach and zarda (chemical dye) is mixed with water and splashed over the carpet. This is spread over evenly using the burus. This is kept on the carpet for 2-3 minutes. The procedure is repeated depending on the intensity of the beige color required or the antique look to be acquired. It is then once again squeezed out using the Pohra. The bleach is washed out from the carpet by brushing it with a mixture of shiner and mild shampoo. The tassels are cleaned next by turning the carpet upside down and rubbing them briskly using detergent.
The women in the house mostly do the binding. The binder is called the ‘Rafuger’. The selvedges are cut with the scissors. The sides of the carpet are mended and stitched using a buttonhole stitch. The yarn used is for stitching the sides is the same color as the one dominating in the carpet body.
The stretching of the carpets is necessary because the tension of the beating varies at every weft as it is done manually with a ‘Panj’. Due to this, the sides of the carpet have to be made perpendicular. The carpet is stretched on the stretching machine between the two movable channels.
The carpet is removed from the machine after stretching and polished using a chemical. The carpet is ironed using an Istris and then a Pohra is used to briskly brush away all the dust and dirt from the carpet.
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.