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Jammu & Kashmir

The Rajatarangini tells the story of Kashmir, its people and its rulers, from mythological times to 1149 A.D.
Three more Rajataranginis were to follow. The second was the work of a historian named Jonaraja. He took up the thread of Kalhana's narrative and took the chronicle forward to 1432 A.D. In the third Rajatarangini, Jonaraja's student, Shrivara, advanced the chronicle by another 54 years—to 1486 A.D. The chronicle came to an end with the fourth Rajatarangini authored by Prajyabhatta and Shuka. They record Akbar's conquest of Kashmir in 1585. Kashmir then became part of the Mughal empire.
Many eminent rulers, both Hindu and Muslim ruled Kashmir before it became part of the Mughal empire.
There was King Lalitaditya of the Karkota dynasty, founded around the seventh century A.D. He was a great warrior and builder.
Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin (1420–1470) was one of the most enlightened rulers of Kashmir. It was he who introduced the arts of shawl embroidery, carpet making and papier mache in the state.
At the time of Indian independence, Kashmir was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh. It was up to him to join either India or Pakistan, but he dithered and Pakistan used this time to engineer tribal raids.
The raiders led by the Pakistan army crossed into Kashmir and advanced towards Srinagar. Maharaja Hari Singh formally appealed to the Indian government for help and signed the instrument of accession on 26th October 1947. Thus Kashmir became a part of India.

Though not as picturesque as Kashmir, Jammu has its share of attractions. The Vaishno Devi cave shrine, accessible only by a steep 12-foot wide pony path, draws thousands of pilgrims every year.
Jammu is connected to Srinagar in Kashmir by a 2,500 m-long tunnel, called the Jawahar Tunnel. It was named after India's first prime minister, who was a Kashmiri pundit. Kashmir has lush green rice fields flanked by willows, chinars and stately poplars. The sheer beauty of the Valley inspired Mughal emperors in the past to lay out exquisite gardens. The most famous of these are the Shalimar and Nishat gardens.
During British rule, many Britishers wanted to build homes in Kashmir. The maharaja, however, would not permit them to own land in the Valley. So they built houseboats and lived on the Valley's beautiful lakes. Houseboats and the long, graceful shikaras that take people back and forth to these floating houses, are major tourist attractions.
Kashmir's famous places of worship include the Jama Masjid, the biggest mosque in the valley; the Hazratbal mosque, where the Prophet's hair is enshrined and displayed annually; and, the Siva shrine on Shankaracharya hill, where the sage is known to have meditated.
Hardly 16 km from Srinagar at Pampore, the emerald green of the valley takes on a purple hue as paddy fields are replaced by rows of purple autumn crocus flowers that yield saffron. Pampore is the centre of Kashmir's saffron industry.
Gujjars and Gaddis (shepherd communities) graze their cattle on the mountain slopes in summer, dressed in the traditional phiren and baggy shalwar. In winter, Kashmiris wear the kangri (a small wicker basket with a metal pan containing burning coals) around their necks to keep warm.
The traditional Kashmiri dance is the rouf – a dance with slow movements and haunting music that reflect the slow pace of life in the Valley.
The road from Srinagar to Ladakh, once an important trade route to China, is across the famous Zoji La pass (3529 m high). Ladakh is predominantly Buddhist and has many monasteries. The largest and most famous of these is the Hemis Gompa.


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