The region of Kashmir located at the confluence of the Great Himalayan and Pir Panjali mountain ranges, is one of the most visually stunning and violently contested regions on earth. The Mughal Emperor Jehangeer is said to have once written about Kashmir: Agar firdaus bar rue zamin ast hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast! (“If there be paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here!”). Torn by war, terrorism and violence since 1948, this beautiful valley has long been considered a dangerous place to go to, but tourism is slowly coming back to the valley as militancy, which began in the early 90s (as a means of protest against what some describe as forceful Indian occupation) has come down. Here are a few interesting facts about this region
1. The territory is administered by three different countriesAlways a flashpoint for dispute the interational borders in Kashmir are hotly contested. India, Pakistan and China all lay claim to the area. India has most of the territory called Jammu Kashmir state, slightly more than Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir, and China is in control of a small eastern section called Aksai Chin.
2. The territory has been governed by leaders of almost all major religionsIn ancient times Kashmir was an important seat of Buddhist power. Eventually Hinduism was introduce and the two religions ruled side by side for many centuries. With the invading Moguls came Islam. In the 19th century It was taken over by a Sikh dynasty who held it until it came under control of the Christian British Crown.
3. Disputes over the region led to two declared wars between India and Pakistan.The diplomatic relationship between India and Pakistan has always been thorny but nowhere has it been more pronounced than in the dispute over Kashmir. Brutal insurgency and counterinsurgency has raged since the partition but in 1967 and 1999 the two countries actually went to war over Kashmir.
4. Siachen glacier is the highest battlefield on earthLocated in the north eastern section of Jammu Kashmir or south eastern Azad Kashmir, depending on who you ask, this breathtakingly beautiful glacier has been the site of intense fighting between India and Kashmir. Both lay claim to the uninhabitable area. What’s unique about this situation is that it is the most elevated battlefield on earth, thousands of miles above sea level in the Himalayas.
5. The Indian administered territory has a different capital for the summer and winterAn interesting quirk about the Indian Administered region of Jammu Kashmir, is that there are two capitals. One serves during the winter and the other during the summer. The ancient city of Srinagar is the seat of power in the summer while Jammu takes control over the winter.
6. The famous namesake wool is no longer exported from the region
Once known for its supple wool with the same name, exports of this highly sought product have virtually ceased from the region. While locals are still known for their craftsmanship in knitting and stitching, decline in the goat population has made export unfeasible. Now most of that supple wool is exported from China.Unfortunately for many years the beauty of Kashmir was so greatly coveted by powerful interest that the region was not a safe place. As of late, however, the situation has seemed to have calmed and tourism is rebounding. Now the beauty of Kashmir can be enjoyed by all.