Rain, snow and chilling winter in Kashmir

A Kashmiri walks past a frozen water in Kokernag some 100kms south of Srinagar.



Kashmir Timeline

Key dates in Kashmir’s history:

1846 – Creation of the princely state of Kashmir.
1947-8 – Kashmir’s Maharaja hesitates over whether to join India or Pakistan, prompting the two countries to go to war over the territory.
1949 – Kashmir is partitioned between India and Pakistan, with a ceasefire line agreed.
1962 – China defeats India in a brief war in a dispute over the Aksai Chin border area.
1965 – Second Indo-Pakistan war over Kashmir ends in a ceasefire.
Rise of Kashmiri nationalism: Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front is founded with the aim of forming an independent state through the reunification of Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
1972 – Simla Agreement: India and Pakistan formalise the ceasefire line as the Line of Control as part of new resolve to negotiate differences after their war which ended in Bangladesh splitting from Pakistan.

1980-90s – Kashmir insurgency: Discontent over Indian rule leads to armed resistance, mass protests and a rise in Pakistan-backed militant groups. Ten of thousands of people are killed.

1999 – India and Pakistan engage in a brief conflict after militants cross the Line of Control into the Indian-administered district of Kargil.
2008 – India and Pakistan open trade route across the Line of Control for the first time in six decades.
2010 – Anti-India protests in Indian-administered Kashmir in which over 100 youths are killed.
2015 – Political watershed: Elections in Jammu and Kashmir see India’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party emerge as a major political player in the region for the first time when it forms part of a coalition government with the regional Muslim People’s Democratic Party.

Jamia Mosque, Srinagar

Jamia Masjid  is a mosque in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India. The Jamia Masjid of Srinagar is situated at Nowhatta, in the middle of the old city. It was built by Sultan Sikandar in 1400 AD under the order by Mir Mohmmad Hamadani son of Shah hamdan Later, the son of Sultan Sikandar, Zain-ul-Abidin got the mosque extended. The attractions of the Jamia Masjid of Srinagar, Kashmir include beautiful Indo-Saracenic architecture, a magnificent courtyard and 370 wooden pillars. Another feature of the mosque is the peace and tranquility inside it, standing out against the hustle of the old bazaars around it. Thousands of Muslims assemble at the mosque every Friday to offer their prayers.

Damage caused by fire 
Jamia Masjid of Srinagar has been subject to much destruction till date. This mosque was damaged thrice by fire. The damaged portions were restored after every disaster. The latest restoration work was carried out under the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh.

Jamia Masjid is known as one of the sacred mosques in India. Composed of 370 pillars of wood, Jamia Masjid symbolizes one of the best architectural specimen which survived the ravages of time ever since it was constructed in the valley of Jammu and Kashmir. The area of Jamia Masjid extends up to an area of 384 feet by 381 feet. This spacious mosque holds a capacity to accommodate more than 33,333 people offering prayer at a time. However, there is a perfectly square garden in the middle and the mosque is surrounded by wide lanes on all the four sides. At the peak, about 100,000 people offer prayers together. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is religious clerk and head priest (imam) of this mosque. This mosque is often subject to political activities. Processions have been held after Friday prayers outside this mosque from past couple of years.

Hari Parbat

Hari Parbat, locally known as Koh-e-Maran, is a hill overlooking Srinagar, the largest city and summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the site of the Durrani Fort and has a notable religious dimension for the Hindus, Muslim and Sikhs alike, hosting a famous Hindu temple, two shrines of locally venerated Muslim saints and a Sikh gurudwara. 

Durrani Fort 
The first fortifications on the site were constructed by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1590 who built an outer wall for the fort as part of his plans for a new capital called Nager Nagor. The project, however, was never completed. The present fort was built in 1808 under the reign of Shuja Shah Durrani.
Sharika temple 
The hill is considered sacred by the Kashmiri Pandits and hosts a temple of Shakti, or Goddess, which is located in the middle part of the western slope of the hill. Shakti is worshipped there under the name Jagadamba Sharika Bhagawati (or simply Sharika) and depicted as having 18 arms and sitting in Shri Chakra, an emblem of cosmic energy pervading the universe.
On the day celebrated as Sharika’s birthday, devotees make a sacrificial offering of taher-charvan to the goddess (taher – rice boiled with turmeric powder and mixed with oil and salt; charvan – cooked goat liver). This day is also called Har Navum. 

Muslim shrines 
Makhdoom Sahib, Srinagar.
The southern side of Hari Parbat features Makhdoom Sahib, the shrine of Hamza Makhdoom, a 16th-century Kashmiri Sufi saint locally known as Hazrat Sultan and Sultan ul-Arifeen. Another shrine on the hill’s southern slope is dedicated to Shah Badakhshi, a 17th-century Sufi saint.
Gurudwara Chatti Patshahi 
Gurudwara Chatti Patshahi at Kathi Darwaja, Rainwari, Srinagar is one of the most important Sikh gurudwaras in Kashmir. It is believed that Guru Har Gobind, the sixth Sikh guru, travelled through Kashmir, stopping to preach occasionally and stayed there for few days. 

Legend has it that Hari Parbat was once a huge lake inhabited by a demon called Jalodbhava (“Water Demon”). The inhabitants called on the goddess for help. She took the form of a bird and dropped a pebble on the demon’s head, which grew larger and larger until it crushed the demon. Hari Parbat is revered as that pebble and is said to have become the home for all the gods of the Hindu pantheon.
Another version of the myth says that two demons, Chand and Mund, lived in the Kashmir Valley. Chand hid in the water near the present location of Hari Parbat and Mund somewhere above the present Dal Gate, and both terrorized the people of the Valley. The gods invoked Shakti who assumed the form of a hari (myna) and flew to Sumer , picked up a pebble in her beak and threw it on Chand. The pebble grew into a mountain, crushed the demon and was later named Hari Parbat (“the Myna Mountain”).

Kashmir Culture and cuisine

Kashmiri cuisine includes dum aloo (boiled potatoes with heavy amounts of spice), tzaman (a solid cottage cheese), rogan josh (lamb cooked in heavy spices), yakhiyn (lamb cooked in curd with mild spices), hakh (a spinach-like leaf), rista-gushtaba (minced meat balls in tomato and curd curry), danival korme, and the signature rice which is particular to Asian cultures.
The traditional wazwan feast involves cooking meat or vegetables, usually mutton, in several different ways. Alcohol is strictly prohibited in most places. There are two styles of making tea in the region: Noon Chai, or salt tea, which is pink in colour (known as chinen posh rang or peach flower colour) and popular with locals; and kahwah, a tea for festive occasions, made with saffron and spices (cardamom, cinamon, sugar, noon chai leaves), and black tea.

Kashmir Etymology

The Sanskrit word for Kashmir was कश्मीर (káśmīra) and, as with many ancient toponyms, its source and original meaning remain unknown. Kashmir was archaically spelled Cashmere in English. Over the centuries, various Puranas linked the word kaśmīra to the name of the mythical sage Kashyapa. The word kaśmīra was thus said to be a contraction of kaśyapa-mīra meaning “Kashyapa’s sea” (and the Kashmir Valley is then claimed to have formerly been a lake) or, alternately, kaśyapa-meru, or “Kashyapa’s mountain”.