Kashmir Valley

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Kashmir Division

Kashmir Valley
Kashmir valley seen from a satellite. Snow-capped peaks of the Pir Panjal Range (left in the image; southwest in compass) and the Himalayas (right in image; northeast in compass) flank the valley
Kashmir valley seen from a satellite. Snow-capped peaks of the Pir Panjal Range (left in the image; southwest in compass) and the Himalayas (right in image; northeast in compass) flank the valley
Peer Waer (Garden of saints), Rishi Waer (Garden of Rishis), Paradise on Earth[1] [2]
Kashmir Division (bordered orange) shown within the wider Kashmir region
Kashmir Division (bordered orange) shown within the wider Kashmir region
Country India
Union territoryJammu and Kashmir
DistrictsAnantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Bandipore, Ganderbal, Kupwara, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Srinagar.
Historical divisions
 • TypeDivision
 • Divisional CommissionerBaseer Ahmed Khan
 • Total15,948 km2 (6,158 sq mi)
 • Length135[4] km (83.885 mi)
 • Width32[4] km (19.884 mi)
1,620[4] m (5,314 ft)
 • Total6,907,622[5]
 • Density450.06/km2 (1,165.7/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Kashmiri, Koshur
Ethnicity and language
 • LanguagesKashmiri (majority), Urdu (as a second language), Pahari, Gojri, Shina
 • Ethnic groupsKashmiri, Pahari, Gujar, Shina etc
 • Religions97.16% Islam,[6]
1.84% Hinduism,
0.88% Sikhism,
0.11% Buddhism[6]
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Vehicle registrationJK
Highest peakMachoi Peak (5458 metres)
Largest lakeWular lake(260 km2 (100 sq mi))[7]
Longest riverJhelum river(725 kilometres)[8]

The Kashmir Valley, also known as the Vale of Kashmir, is an intermontane valley in the portion of the Kashmir region administered by India. The valley is bounded on the southwest by the Pir Panjal Range and on the northeast by the main Himalayas range. It is approximately 135 km (84 mi) long and 32 km (20 mi) wide, and drained by the Jhelum River.[4]

The Kashmir Division is a revenue and administrative division of the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmir division borders Jammu Division to the south and Ladakh to the east while Line of Control forms its northern and the western border. The division consists of the following districts: Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Bandipore, Ganderbal, Kupwara, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Srinagar.[9]


The word Kashmir was derived from the ancient Sanskrit language and was referred to as káśmīra.[10] The Nilamata Purana describes the valley's origin from the waters, a lake called Sati-saras.[11][12] A popular local etymology of Kashmira is that it is land desiccated from water.[13] Geologists agree that the Valley was formerly a lake, and the lake drained through the gap of Baramulla (Varahamula)[14] which matches with the Hindu legends.[15]

An alternative etymology derives the name from the name of the Vedic sage Kashyapa who is believed to have settled people in this land. Accordingly, Kashmir would be derived from either kashyapa-mir (Kashyapa's Lake) or kashyapa-meru (Kashyapa's Mountain).[13]

The word has been referenced to in a Hindu scripture mantra worshipping the Hindu goddess Sharada and is mentioned to have resided in the land of kashmira, or which might have been a reference to the Sharada Peeth.

The Ancient Greeks called the region Kasperia, which has been identified with Kaspapyros of Hecataeus of Miletus (apud Stephanus of Byzantium) and Kaspatyros of Herodotus (3.102, 4.44). Kashmir is also believed to be the country meant by Ptolemy's Kaspeiria.[16] The earliest text which directly mentions the name Kashmir is in Ashtadhyayi written by the Sanskrit grammarian Pāṇini during the 5th century BC. Pāṇini called the people of Kashmir Kashmirikas.[17][18][19] Some other early references to Kashmir can also be found in Mahabharata in Sabha Parva and in puranas like Matsya Purana, Vayu Purana, Padma Purana and Vishnu Purana and Vishnudharmottara Purana.[20]

Huientsang, the Buddhist scholar and Chinese traveller, called Kashmir kia-shi-milo, while some other Chinese accounts referred to Kashmir as ki-pin (or Chipin or Jipin) and ache-pin.[18]

Cashmere is an archaic spelling of modern Kashmir, and in some countries[which?] it is still spelled this way.

In the Kashmiri language, Kashmir itself is known as Kasheer.[21]


General view of Temple and Enclosure of Martand or the Sun, near Bhawan. Probable date of temple AD 490–555. Probable date of colonnade AD 693–729. Photograph of the Surya Temple at Martand in Jammu & Kashmir taken by John Burke in 1868.

Archaeological excavations at Burzahom archaeological site (located 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) to the northwest of Srinagar)[22] have revealed four phases of cultural significance between 3000 BC and 1000 BC.[23] Periods I and II represent the Neolithic era; Period IlI the Megalithic era (of massive stone menhirs and wheel turned red pottery); and Period IV relates to the early Historical Period (Post-megalithic period).[24] In the first half of the 1st millennium A.D, the Kashmir region became an important centre of Hinduism and later of Buddhism; later still, in the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose.[25] In 1339, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, inaugurating the Salatin-i-Kashmir or Swati dynasty.[26] For the next five centuries, Muslim monarchs ruled Kashmir, including the Mughals, who ruled from 1526 until 1751, and the Afghan Durrani Empire, which ruled from 1747 until 1819.[26] That year, the Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir.[26] In 1846, after the Sikh defeat in the First Anglo-Sikh War, and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became the ruler of a new State of Jammu and Kashmir. The rule of his descendants, under the paramountcy (or tutelage) of the British Crown, lasted until 1947. In that year, facing a rebellion in the western districts of the state as well as an invasion by Pashtun tribes instigated by the Dominion of Pakistan,[27] the Maharaja of the princely state signed the Instrument of Accession, joining the Dominion of India. Subsequently, he transferred power to a popular government headed by Sheikh Abdullah.

Following this, a war ensued between India and Pakistan. The territory of the state, however, has been the centre of a dispute ever since, now administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and the People's Republic of China, the latter having taken control of Aksai Chin in 1962. Kashmir valley is however fully under the control of India and is about 15,948 km2 (6,158 sq mi) in area which is about 15.73% of the total area under Indian control.


Kashmir Division: mother-tongue of population, according to the 2011 Census.[28]

  Gojri (6.27%)
  Hindi (1.36%)
  Pahari (3.86%)
  Kashmiri (85.50%)
  Punjabi (0.71%)
  Others (2.30%)
A mosque in Srinagar

The major ethnic group of Kashmir Valley are Kashmiris and they speak the Kashmiri language. Smaller ethno-linguistic groups include the Gujjars and Bakarwals who mostly live along mountain ranges of the Valley. The Valley has a Muslim majority population and Islam is practiced by 97.16% of the population with the remaining being Hindus (1.84%), Sikhs (0.88%), Buddhists (0.11%) and others.[6] The principal spoken languages in the valley are Kashmiri and Urdu, with Urdu being the official language. Many speakers of these languages also know English as a second language.[29]

Kashmir Division: mother-tongue of population, according to the 2011 Census.[28]
Mother tongue code Mother tongue People Percentage
001002 Assamese 4,341 0.06%
002007 Bengali 9,839 0.14%
004001 Dogri 7,004 0.10%
005018 Gujarati 2,409 0.03%
006102 Bhojpuri 2,187 0.03%
006195 Garhwali 483 0.01%
006207 Gojri/Gujjari/Gujar 432,024 6.27%
006235 Haryanvi 860 0.01%
006240 Hindi 93,480 1.36%
006340 Kumauni 1,084 0.02%
006439 Pahari 266,105 3.86%
006489 Rajasthani 1,703 0.02%
007016 Kannada 2,994 0.04%
008005 Kashmiri 5,889,909 85.50%
008019 Dardi 19,215 0.28%
011016 Malayalam 4,221 0.06%
012003 Manipuri 1,021 0.01%
013071 Marathi 9,932 0.14%
014011 Nepali 3,284 0.05%
015043 Odia 4,012 0.06%
016038 Punjabi 48,609 0.71%
020027 Tamil 6,701 0.10%
021046 Telugu 5,723 0.08%
022015 Urdu 9,410 0.14%
024001 Afghani/Kabuli/Pashto 17,350 0.25%
029002 Balti 2,497 0.04%
040001 English 540 0.01%
053005 Gujari 12,764 0.19%
073003 Ladakhi 1,402 0.02%
109005 Shina 19,560 0.28%
115008 Tibetan 1,731 0.03%
Others 6,081 0.09%
Total 6,888,475 100.00%


Kashmir Division consists of ten districts:

Name of District Headquarters Area (km²) Population
2001 Census
2011 Census
Anantnag District Anantnag 3,984 734,549 1,069,749
Kulgam district Kulgam 437,885 423,181
Pulwama district Pulwama 1,398 441,275 570,060
Shopian district Shopian 211,332 265,960
Budgam district Budgam 1,371 629,309 755,331
Srinagar district Srinagar 2,228 990,548 1,250,173
Ganderbal district Ganderbal 211,899 297,003
Bandipore district Bandipore 316,436 385,099
Baramulla district Baramulla 4,588 853,344 1,015,503
Kupwara district Kupwara 2,379 650,393 875,564


Srinagar is its main city and also the summer capital of the Union territory. Other main cities are Baramulla, Anantnag, Pulwama.


The major political parties in the region are the National Conference, the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party and the Congress. Bharatiya Janata Party has very little presence in Kashmir Valley but is dominant in the Hindu-majority Jammu region. Srinagar in the valley is the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The capital moves out of the valley in the winter to Jammu in a grand ceremony called Darbar Move.


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: HKO [30]

Kashmir Valley has a moderate climate, which is largely defined by its geographic location, with the towering Karakoram Range in the north, Pir Panjal Range in the south and west and Zanskar Range in the east.[31] It can be generally described as cool in the spring and autumn, mild in the summer and cold in the winter. As a large valley with significant differences in geo-location among various districts, the weather is often cooler in the hilly areas compared to the flat lower part.

Summer is usually mild and fairly dry, but relative humidity is generally high and the nights are cool. The precipitation occurs throughout the year and no month is particularly dry. The hottest month is July (mean minimum temperature 16 °C, mean maximum temperature 32 °C) and the coldest are December–January (mean minimum temperature −15 °C, mean maximum temperature 0 °C).

Compared with other plain parts of India, Kashmir valley enjoys a more moderate climate but weather conditions are unpredictable. The recorded high temperature is 33 °C and the recorded low is −18 °C. On 5 and 6 January 2012, after years of relatively little snow, a wave of heavy snow and low temperatures (winter storm) shocked the valley covering it in a thick layer of snow and ice.

Kashmir Valley has seen an increase in relative humidity and annual precipitation in the last few years. This is most likely because of the commercial afforestation projects which also include expanding parks and green cover.


Skiing is popular in Gulmarg, showing cable car in a snow clad mountain

Kashmir valley is a popular tourist destination for domestic and foreign tourists. Among the popular tourist places in the valley are Gulmarg that has a ski resort, Dal Lake that has popular house boats, Pahalgam and the major Hindu shrine Amarnath Temple.

Before insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy. As a result, the tourism economy in the Kashmir valley was worst hit. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit holy shrine of Amarnath every year and this significantly benefits the state's economy.[32]

Tourism in the Kashmir valley had rebounded at the turn of the century. In 2009, the state became one of the top tourist destinations of India.[33] Gulmarg, one of the most popular ski resort destinations in India, is also home to the world's highest green golf course.[34] However, with the decrease in violence in the state has boosted the states economy specifically tourism.[35] It was reported that 736,000 tourists including 23,000 foreigners visited Kashmir in 2010. Other tourist places include Sonamarg, Kokernag, Verinag, Aharabal and Semthan-Top.[36]

Hill stations[edit]

Sind River at Nilgrar Sonamarg
Lidder River flowing through Pahalgam Valley
Aru Valley
Beautiful Valley of Yusmarg
Dal Lake-Heart of Srinagar

Mughal gardens[edit]

Nishat Bagh
Shalimar Garden



This Himalayan valley provides a base to climb some of the challenging Himalayan peaks. These peaks were closed due to the rise in militancy, now they are opened for mountaineering.[37]

Culture and cuisine[edit]

Kashmiri cuisine includes dum aloo (boiled potatoes hollowed and stuffed 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 (kohlrabi greens), rista-gushtaba (minced meat balls in tomato and curd curry), danival korme and the signature rice. The traditional wazwan feast involves cooking meat or vegetables, usually mutton, in several different ways.

Alcohol is not consumed by many Muslims in the valley. There are two styles of making tea in the region: Noon Chai or salt tea that 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, cinnamon, sugar, noon chai leaves) and black tea.


Kashmir valley is connected to Jammu and Ladakh regions by road and air. It has access to Jammu region and the rest of India through the Banihal road tunnel near Qazigund on national highway NH 1A and through NH 1B that passes through Sinthan pass and Kishtwar.

Srinagar is the main airport in Kashmir valley and has scheduled flights from Jammu, Leh, Mumbai, Chandigarh and New Delhi. Kashmir valley has a 119 km (74 mi) long modern railway line that started in October 2009 and connects Baramulla in the western part of the valley to Srinagar and Qazigund. It further links the Kashmir Valley to Banihal across the Pir Panjal mountains through the new 11.215 km (7 mile) long Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel or Banihal rail tunnel from 26 June 2013. Banihal railway station will be linked to the rest of India in another few years as the construction of the railway line from Jammu to Banihal progresses steadily. Transport within the valley is predominantly by road.Other airports are in Udhampur, Leh and Jammu. Another airport is proposed in Anantnag.

Cities and towns[edit]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°02′00″N 74°40′00″E / 34.0333°N 74.6667°E / 34.0333; 74.6667