Land & the People
is known to the Kashmiris as Veth. When it leaves
the Valley at Baramulla, it is called Kashur Darya.
After it joins Kishenganga, it is called Jhelum, the
name, derived from a Punjab town of the same name.
Jhelum is now the most commonly known name.
Purana regards Vitasta as an incarnation of Uma, who
at the request of Kashyapa came bubbling forth as a
river from a hole as big as Vitashi, made by Lord
Shiva with his spear. Traditional source is the Nila
Kund, also called Vitastatru. The auspicious Vitasta
is verily the holy river, remover of all sins.
According to a legend, Vitasta disappeared and
re-appeared three times till it finally appeared at
Vethavatur, about one mile to the West of Verinaag.
Vitasta has a zigzag course and wends its way
through the Valley. Its length from Khanabal to
Baramulla is 102 miles. Its breadth and depth may
vary with seasons. According to Lawrence, its
average width was 210 feet and depth 9 feet. Its
fall from Khanabal to its basin i.e. Wular Lake is
just 220 feet, with a little more up to Baramulla.
Its n.mp3al speed was 1.5 miles per hour (before
dredging). It is prone to floods in rainy season and
gets alluvial soil with it.
(Jhelum) is the recipient of the drainage of the
entire valley. Its major tributaries are as
its source and Khanabal, Vitasta is joined by
streams known as Sandrin, Brang and Arpal,
bringing water from Kothar, Kokarnaag and
its right bank, the Vitasta is joined by Lidr
near Khanabal, Sindh at Shadipur, Tsunthkol
(from Dal Lake) at Mysuma, Srinagar and Pohru at
Doabgah near Sopore.
its left bank, the Vishau Rambiara combine joins
it at Sangam (Khanabal) and the Doodganga just
is its biggest tributary. It drains the entire
mountain water from Dras to H.mp3ukh. It f.mp3s
the Priyag of Kashmir at its confluence with the
Vitasta at Shadipur.
Lalitaditya, and then Avantiv.mp3an’s engineer
Suyya attempted to increase the flow of the river,
by removing rocks and de-silting its bed at
Baramulla gorge. In modern times, it has been
de-silted with the help of machines.
navigable from Khanabal to Baramulla, it provided
the most important highway of the Valley for
transportation of passengers and goods, till roads
were constructed. Among its tributaries, Vishua,
Pohru and Sindh are mostly navigable. Three
power houses, one at Sheeri (Baramulla), second at
Mohara and the third at Uri use its water to
generate electricity. Till 1947, Mohara power house
was the only source of electricity in Kashmir.
river is sacred to Hindus. It is worshipped on Veth
Truvah, the bright thirteenth of Bhadrapetha (Bhadun),
which is considered as its birthday. On this day,
lot of singing and dancing was perf.mp3ed, Diyas
filled with ghee were lit and set afloat on the
river. Scents, garlands, eatables and flowers were
offered to the river.
are numerous big and small lakes in the valley of
Kashmir. Dal Lake is one of the two lakes situated
in the Srinagar city, the other being Anchar Lake.
Half a kilometer away from the Tourists Reception
Centre, this lovely lake lies to the east of the
city at the foot of Zabarwan mountain. The
Shankaracharya hill is to its south and Hari Parbat
to its west.
is a Tibetan word which means ‘Still’. It is
believed that in ancient times, there was no lake
here and instead a large meadow known as Watalanmarg
existed at the place. Later due to a massive
earthquake, water gushed into the meadow and took
the shape of a lake.
Lake was originally 6 kms. long in the north-south
direction and 3 kms. wide in the east-west
direction. It was divided by causeways into four
parts known as Gagribal, Bod Dal, Lokut Dal and
Nagin. Lokut Dal and Bod Dal each have an
island in the centre called Rupa Lank and Sona Lank
respectively. The jewel in the ring, is the
smallest but the most lovely part of the Dal Lake,
called Nagin. Separated by a causeway and only a
short distance from Hazratbal (Dargah), it has deep
blue waters and is encircled by a ring of green
trees. This part of the Dal is famous for water
Dal is famous not only for its beauty, but also for
its vibrance, because it sustains within its
periphery, a life that is unique anywhere in the
world. The Hanjis (House boat and Shikara community)
have lived for centuries on the Dal and so complete
is their infrastructure on the lake that they never
have to step on land. All day to day facilties are
available in tiny wooden shops on the lake near
picturesque vegetable gardens and acres of lotus
gardens. Because the Dal Lake is so central to the
landscape of Srinagar, many places of tourist
interest have over the ages, been built along its
periphery. They include Famous gardens like Nishat,
Shalimar, Cheshma Shahi, Naseem Bagh, Pari Mahal,
Jawahar Lal Nehru Botanical Garden etc. Dal
Lake is also famous for the floating gardens, which
are an important source of green vegetables. The
lake foliage is uprooted and allowed to float. On
this, the soil is implanted, making it a land
capable of vegetable cultivation. These gardens can
move from one place to another and a peculiar thing
about them is that they can even be stolen.
~ Mountain Ranges
Panchal range of mountain was known as ‘Pir Pant
Saal’ in ancient times. This mountain range
separates Kashmir from rest of the country. It
extends from Kishtwar to Muzzafarabad, along the
bank of river Chenab. It is 180 miles long and 30
miles wide. The mountains in this range go as high
as eleven thousand feet above the mean sea level.
The passes in the range, become un-passable in
winter and sometimes even in summer. The range
encompasses within itself some beautiful forests.
Some very important springs like Verinag, Achhabal
etc. flow from its foothills.
and archeological evidence shows that in ancient and
medieval times, the costume of the Kashmiri male
consisted essentially of a lower g.mp3ent, an upper
g.mp3ent and a turban. If Kashmiri sculpture is any
guide, men as well as women wore long tunic and
trousers, probably due to Kushan influence.
According to Hieun Tsang, they dressed themselves in
leather doublets and clothes of white linen. In
winter however, they covered their bodies with w.mp3
cloak which the Nilamata Purana calls Pravarana. The
rich wore woollen shawls while the poor were
contented with cheaper woolens.
of turban (Ushneek or Shirshata) was widely
prevalent. Strangely women dress consisted of mainly
saree and tailored jacket / blouse. She is also
shown wearing a long flowing tunic. It was fashion
of both men and women to braid their hair in
different styles, wearing sometimes tassels of
later dress of Kashmiri has been a long tunic called
Pheran. The name can be related to Nilamata
Purana’s Pravarana or Persian Perahan. Its
style differed from men to women. Men’s Pheran had
narrow sleeves and women’s wider ones. Women’s
Pheran was adored with borders and sleeves had
borders of golden thread - Narivar. Women also tied
a long decorated cloth girdle round their waist,
called Loongi. It was after a social movement spear
headed by Pt. Kashap Bhandu in early thirties that
the change to wearing sarees was initiated.
turban worn by men also has undergone change in
style, with the influence of tribes and rulers that
Kashmiris came into contact with. The last of the
styles in vogue, has been influenced by the Dogra
style. The turban is still worn traditionally on the
marriage or yegneopavit day. The traditional dress,
which had endured till late, of course now being
abandoned by Pandit women folk, has been :-
flowing dress. It is always worn with an under layer
called Potsh, being of white light cotton. As
indicated above, women sleeves are wider, are over
turned and fringed with brocades and embroidered
strips. Similar strips are used as border at the
neck and fringes. The one common among Muslims, have
a big embroidered portion around the cutting at the
neck. This version has become popular in other parts
of the country also.
- the head gear
the head gear reminiscent of racial fusion of Aryans
and Nagas. It is like the decorated head gear of
celestial serpent (Nag) with serpentine body
tapering into double tail almost reaching the heels
of the wearer. It has the following components:
- the cap. It is cone shaped of decorative brocade,
attached with wide band of pashmina in crimson,
v.mp3oline or scarlet. The conical shape would cover
the crown and the band would be shortened three fold
round the forehead. Zoojy.
A delicate network cloth tapped by embroidered
motifs, worn over the crown and tapering flowing
down the nape of the neck. Taranga.
This comprises of three narrow and continuous wraps
over and round the head, the final round -
moharlaath - starched and glazed. Puts.
Two lengths of white fine muslin hemmed together
longitudinally in fish spine pattern. Lengthwise,
whole piece is rolled and wrapped inwards both sides
so as to f.mp3 the long bodies of pair of snakes,
with tapering tails and a hood on the other side.
is known for its woollen embroidered shawls, which
not only go to different parts of the country but
even outside India. At one time, they were giving
tough competition to the French shawls even.
Pashmina is a fancy material for shawls. It is
hand-woven from a special soft woollen material
found on the mountain goats of Ladakh. The finest
material for this category is called Shahtosh. It
has been seen as the softest material which takes
very little space when kept folded and packed..
has also been the home for fine silk. Silk weaving
has been introduced during the last century. But
Kashmir silk has given quite a competition to other
Indian and Chinese very best of silk.
~ Some special features of Kashmiri Life
is a portable stove which Kashmiris use in winter to
keep themselves w.mp3. It is an individualised
heating system, which one can use while moving
around, sitting home and even in bed. It consists of
two parts. Inner part is the earthen-ware pot,
called the Kondul. The external encasement is
of the wicker work. It is filled with charcoal dust,
ignited at the top with a little fire. The burning
takes place slowly, going gradually from top to
bottom. To increase the heat emission, a little
stirring is done with a silver, iron or wooden spook
called Tsalan attached to the Kangri. The
Kangris are just rough and ready, or made
ornamental. Village Tsrar was famous for good
folk song has a special place for Kangri:-
has many lakes, rivers and rivulets. Many of them
are negotiable by boats. In earlier days, water ways
served as the main means of transportation of men
and merchandise from one place to other. The load
carrier boat was called Bahats . The one used for
living or carrying parties around, was called Doonga
and small boats as Shikara. But of interest are the
ornate boats, build for luxurious living for
visitors and nobels. These are called House boats.
They have well furnished drawing room, bed room with
attached toilets, with cold and w.mp3 water. An
attached doonga serves as the kitchen and service
boat. The inhabitants get personal attention from
the owners and their servants. The credit for
introducing them in Kashmir goes to an enterprising
Kashmiri Pandit, Pt. Narain Das, father of Swami
the trees/plants specially found in Kashmir are:
Chinar. Chinar may be called ‘king’ of
the plant kingdom of Kashmir for its majestic size
and grandeur. It gives nice and cool shade during
the summer. It has a big leaf which serves as a
symbol on the arts and crafts of Kashmir. It is
found scattered throughout the Valley with notable
clusters here and there. Some trees are as old as
three to four hundred years. Some believe that
Moghals brought it to Kashmir. Its green leaves turn
amber and finally red in autumn before they fall. At
that time, a chinar looks from a distance like a
huge fire. Some believe that its name comes from
this phenomenon - for nar in Arabic means fire.
Poplar. Poplar is locally known as ‘Phras’.
It has a unique shape, going straight up with
branches also pointing upwards and standing like a
sentinel. It has soft wood and can be used for
making match sticks. Those visiting Kashmir, are
enchanted by it when they see rows of poplar
standing on both sides of the national highway.
Walnut. It is a huge shady tree with
comparatively small stem. It bears the famous walnut
fruit. Each mature tree can bear up to twenty
thousand walnuts, hence of great economical value to
the village folk. Its bark serves as dental
cleansing agent, making lips red to good effect. Its
wood is hard and can be used for intricate carving.
It does not get spoilt for centuries. It is used for
furniture and other ornamental items. Its cutting is
prohibited by law because of its great value.
Kashmir supplies walnuts to the whole country and
also exports them to other countries.
Willow. It is locally called Vir. It grows
throughout the Valley but more commonly on the banks
of the river and lakes. Its branches hang downwards,
kissing the river water. This is the reason, it is
called ‘weeping willows’. Its twigs are used to
clean teeth. Its leaves are used for feeding
domestic animals like goats. Willow is commonly used
as a fuel in Kashmir. Its wood is best suited for
making cricket bats.
Pine. All types of pine trees of high
altitudes, are found in the forests of Kashmir.
Deodar is considered the best. Its wood is water
resistant, hence used in making boats and costly
wooden furnishings. Kail is the variety mostly used
in building construction. The other type of pine
known as Budloo, presents a ch.mp3ing look. It grows
straight up with a gradual thinning of the girth
towards its top. Its branches are small and unlike
Deodar and Kail. It has soft needle type leaves as
against Deodar which has hard needle type leaves.
Kail has long bushy leaves. Budloo wood is soft and
is mostly used as domestic fuel.
Saffron. Kashmir has the honour of
producing the much prized saffron for ages. It finds
mention in our old scriptures also. It is used for
worship by Hindus, Greeks and Romans etc. It has a
special scent and also imparts colour to the
material to which it is added. It is grown in
Pampore, ancient Padmapur, the birth place of
Lalla-Ded. Rajatarangini records a legend which says
that the flower was given as a gift by Takhshaka
Naga to the physician Waghrahaita, who lived in
Pampore. The plant flowers in late November. People
enjoy its sight and fragrance in the moonlit night.
Kashmiri has his own food habits and preferences,
though influenced by neighbours and invaders, yet
more conditioned by the geographical factors.
is essentially a rice eater. Rice is the main cereal
crop in the Valley. Wheat is harvested only in some
dry plateaus. Sugarcane does not grow in the Valley,
hence a Kashmiri has not developed any preference
for things sweet. This habit continues even when
they are away from the Valley. The tea that most
people take is salty. Salt, in the days bygone had
to be imported from long distances outside the
Valley (when today’s transportation facilities
were not available), hence treated as precious
thing. Spilling salt was considered very bad.
Daughters were given salt in gifts when they went to
their respective husbands’ homes. The custom
continues till date. Milk and milk products were not
in abundance. A hill variety of cow was reared
but they did not yield much milk. No greens were
available for good part of the year (winter), hence
they had to be fed on dry fodder.
medium is essentially mustard oil. Mustard is
locally produced as second crop to rice. It is sown
in early winter, remains under the snow for winter
and flowers in early spring (a pleasant sight
products are mostly consumed for breakfast as a type
of loaf (Tsot or Lavasa) or evening snack as Kulcha,
Telwor, Katlam etc., baked in a local tandoor. It
appears that Tandoor is an introduction from central
Asia, and so are the names of its various products
such as Girdeh (same in Persian) Lavasah and Rogni
are essentially non-vegetarian, both Hindus and
Muslims. Although some historians believe that they
might have been vegetarians in the beginning. Hindus
enjoy mutton and fish. Chicken and egg used to be a
taboo for them (Hindus) but not other class of
fowls. Cow slaughter is banned in Jammu &
Kashmir, punishable with up to eleven years’
like green vegetables. That is why Hak (brussels
sprout), Monji (knol khol), Palak (spinach),
Vopalhak, Swatsal (mallow), Obhuj, Hand, Meethi
(fenugreek) and a number of smaller leafy types, are
popular. Hak is a kind of long leafy vegetable and
is most liked. It f.mp3s part of every meal in all
seasons. It is not found in other parts of the
country although Chinese like it and call it Gailon.
Hak is one thing which a Kashmiri misses badly when
outside Kashmir. It’s leaves are cooked alone or
along with its stems. Cabbage, cauliflower and
potato are grown in Kashmir and they look to be late
arrivals in Kashmir as in the rest of the country.
Radish & Turnip are enjoyed as are their leafy
parts. Onion and garlic used to be a taboo for
Pandits. The gourds - yellow, long or the bitter
have been admired. Mushrooms, which used to appear
naturally, were very much enjoyed. Artificial
cultivation of mushroom is of recent origin. Guchhi
(a type of fungus) is very much prized and
considered to be a delicacy.
are taken rather infrequently. The ones locally
available Mong (kidney bean), Rajmash (red beans),
Dam-mah and Matar (green peas) are used more during
winter months, when fresh vegetables would be
scarce. Kashmiris enjoy Nadroo (lotus stem). It is
mostly available during winter. Brinjal is another
preferred vegetable. It can combine with any other
vegetable for cooking.
Kashmiris must have been one of the earliest addicts
to this brew in the subcontinent. Tea, as we know
today was introduced by the British tea companies in
India. But Kashmiris used to get their stuff long
before that from China through Tibet. Later, it used
to be imported from Shungla via Bombay. That is why,
in Kashmir it is still called Bombay Chai. But this
tea is the green untreated variety of tea. Its brew
is called Kahwa. No milk is added to it. It is
sweetened with sugar. Often, Dalchini (cinnamon),
Elaichi (cardamom), Badam (almonds) and sometimes a
little Kesar (saffron) are added to it to give taste
tea taken with salt and milk, is called Sheeri Chai
(perhaps adaptation from Ladakh and Tibet). It is
very popular among Muslims and to an extent among
Hindus. Hindus however prefer Kahwa to Sheer Chai
is prepared in a special vessel called Samawar. It
is a pot in which tea is made by burning charcoal in
the small chimney at its centre, having a seive at
the bottom. The ash is collected in the space below
the seive. There is a nozzled outlet for pouring the
tea, hot into the cup. Russians also have a Samawar,
but it slightly differs in looks. Hindus used to
take tea in a bronze cup called Khos, while Muslims
prefer Chinpyala, the cup made of china clay. The
Samawar used by Muslims is made of copper while
that used by Hindus is made of brass.
eat their food in a Thal, which earlier used to be
of bronze. Muslims prefer copper bowl (with tin
lining). At feasts, Muslims are served four
persons in one big copper plate called Traami.
Kashmir produces some of the best fruits. Its
various names Tsunth, Ambur, Trel are of Persian
origin, while Daen (pomegranate) Dachh (grapes) Tang
(pear) and others are of local origin. Tsanun and
Alubukhara may contain in their names, their
respective origin of Chima and Bukhara.
for a Kashmiri is both an art and a pastime. Hindu
and Muslim cuisines differ interestingly in
non-vegetarian domain. The special features of
Kashmiri cooking are: i) a slow and long
cooking process which allows the stew to flow from
the material cooked; ii) use of differential
proportions of each condiment for different dishes;
and iii) pre-frying of all vegetables,
Hak being an exception.
is famous for its non-veg. food. The varieties
prepared by Muslims and Hindus differ largely.
Hindus make Roganjosh - big pieces of mutton after
prolonged frying, cooked with condiments, curd and
fair amount of red chillies; Kalia - a variety of
handi meat - a yellow preparation of stewed mutton,
considered as a good company for white rice; Yakhni
- mutton with higher fat content, cooked with curd
and without red chillies and t.mp3eric; Matsh - balls
of minced mutton, cooked in condiments and red
chillies; Kamargah - breast pieces of lamb, cooked
in condiments and milk and fried deep in ghee to be
served hot; Tsok Tsarwan - sour liver pieces; Mutton
pulao - fried pieces of mutton, cooked with rice and
condiments, put on slow fire duly sealed. Hindus
also prepare sweet pulao with dry fruits.
Interestingly, many of the names like Roganjosh,
Yakhni, Kamargah are of Persian origin. Hindus
are considered specialists in cooking fish. Fish is
also cooked in combination with a number of
vegetables like knol-khol, lotus step, turnip,
(cooking mainly done by professional cooks called
Waza) prepare a large number of dishes from mutton
alone. A full course of their food with rice, curd
and sweet Phiruny is called a Wazawan. Dish of
choice is Goshtaba - a ball of beaten mutton, cooked
in milk and other ingredients; Rista is a red
variant of smaller size and different taste; Yekhni,
Methimaaz, Aabgosh, Kabab, Daeni etc. are other
varieties. Paneer (cottage cheese) cooked in tomato
is a delicacy. A Wazawan is a course dinner. The
guests are expected to finish eating one dish before
another is served. It therefore takes a long time
and enables the guest to ingest a large quantity of
mutton and other foods.
delicacies of Kashmir are also influenced by their
non-veg. cuisine. We have Yakhni - whether made of
lotus stem (nadroo) or long gourd (Al), made in
almost the same manner with curd and condiments. We
have Kalia made of Monje (knol khol). We have the
Roganjosh of Knol khol (Dam monje) or yellow
gourd. The top billing in vegetarian food is
for Dum Aloo. Potato whole, boiled, pierced
thoroughly, fried deep and long to metal hardness
and then cooked in a concoction of condiments
and fair amount of red chillies (could be compared
to Roganjosh). Hak is cooked in a mixture of clear
water, fried oil, salt and green chillies. Each leaf
should retain its fullness and green colour when
like combinations e.g. rajmash with turnip, lotus
stem with potatoes, knol khol or daal, brinjal with
almost every other vegetable and so on. Vegetable
and mutton combinations are common.