“Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.”
“If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.”
Mughal Emperor Jehangir said it all when he visited Kashmir in the 17th century. You’ve been places and you’ve been places, but if you have not visited this Paradise on Earth, you’ve missed out on an experience of a lifetime.
The name Kashmir, in Sanskrit, implies land desiccated from water and is derived from the two words, ‘ka’ (water) and ‘shimeera’ (to desiccate). According to Hindu mythology, Sage Kashyap drained the erstwhile lake to produce the land of Kashmir.
Modern day Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is the northernmost state of India, lying mostly in the Himalayas. The state shares a border with Himachal Pradesh on the south, Pakistan on the west and China on the north and the east.
Jammu and Kashmir consists of three divisions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is its summer capital and Jammu its winter capital. (J & K) is India’s only Muslim majority state. Minority religions in the state include Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The languages spoken here are Kashmiri and Urdu, with most people also speaking Hindi and English.
The only Indian state to witness all four seasons — spring, summer, autumn and winter — Kashmir has something on offer for every type of traveller. While its quiet, almost virginal beauty makes it the ideal honeymoon getaway, it is also great for a family vacation, offering activities like shikara rides, horse riding and cable car rides.
The adventure-seeker can trek the lovely mountainous terrain of Ladakh and nature lovers will be smitten by the verdant greenery of the Valley in summer and its snow-topped mountains in winter. For religious travelers, Kashmir offers the famous Amarnath Cave, a 5,000-year old shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, where an ice stalagmite is formed every year in the shape of a Shivling.
Once you come here, you are sure to fall in love with its beautiful gardens, vast lakes, pristine streams, alpine forests, stunning mountains and, most of all, its friendly people. Kashmiris are a very warm and welcoming people and they truly believe in the ancient Indian adage ‘atithi devo bhava’. Guests really are God for them.
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