Physical Resources

Physical Resources

Physical Resources

Historical Background

Geologists believe that about ten crore years have passed when Kashmir Valley which was once a lake called Satisar, the lake of goddess Sati, came into its present form.

For hundreds of million years Kashmir Valley remained under Tethya sea and the high sedimentary-rock hills seen in the valley now were once under water. Geologists have come to believe that Kashmir Valley was earlier affected by earthquakes. Once there was such a devastating earthquake that it broke open the mountain wall at Baramulla. and the water of the Satisar lake flowed out leaving behind lacustrine mud on the margins of the mountains known as karewas. Thus came into existence the oval but irregular Valley of Kashmir. The karewas being in fact the remnants of this lake confirm this view. The karewas are found mostly to the west of the river Jhelum where these table-lands attain a height of about 380 meters above the level of the Valley. These karewas protrude towards the east and look like tongue-shaped spurs with deep ravines.

Ancient legends and popular traditions say that Samdimat Nagar, capital of the kingdom of Sundra Sena, was submerged as a result of an earthquake, and the water that filled the area formed the Wular Lake, the largest fresh water lake in India. The oldest igneous rocks are still found at Shankaracharya hill. When the whole Valley of Kashmir was under water this hillock was the first piece of dry land lying in the form of an igneous island.

Significance of its name

Historians say that Kashmir Valley was originally known as Kashyapmar or the abode of Kashyap Rishi. It is said that the Rishi once went on a pilgrimage to Kashmir. When he reached Naukabandan near Kaunsarnag via Rajouri, he killed Bahudev, the Giant of Satisar, at the request of the people and let the water of the lake flow out near Baramulla. The land, therefore, came to be known as Kashyampar, which afterwards changed into Kashmar and from Kashmar to Kashmir. But some historians are of the opinion that when the people of Kash caste settled here permanently the valley came to be known as Kashmir. Kashmir is known by many other names also. The Greeks called it Kaspeiria, while the chinese named it Shie-in or Kia-Shi-Lo. The Tibetans called its Kanapal and Dards named it Kashart.

Situation, Location Area and Extent

The territories of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and Gilgit form the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, which had earlier been under Hindu rulers and Muslim sultans, became part of the Mughal Empire under Akbar from 1586. After a period of Afgan rule from l756, it was annexed to the Sikh Kingdom of Punjab in 1819. In 1820 Maharaja Ranjit Singh made over the territory of Jammu to Gulab Singh. In 1846 Kashmir was also made over to Gulab Singh under the Treaty of Amritsar. Ladakh was annexed by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1830. Thus this northernmost state was founded by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1846 and was the biggest princely state in India before the partition of the country in August 1947. At that time the total area of the state was 2,22,236 sq. km. Pakistan invaded the State in October 1947. Indian forces pushed Pakistan back but in 1949 when a cease fire line was drawn about one third of the area i.e. 78932 sq. km. i.e. the whole of Gilgit, Mirpur, Kotli and a part of Poonch came into the possession of Pakistan, leaving behind only 143,30 sq. km. on the Indian side. Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua and Anantnag districts remained unaffected. Again in 1962 China occupied about 64000 sq. kms. in Ladakh known as Aksai Chin. Pakistan again made an unlawful possession over Chhamb, Deva, Chakla and Manawar gaining an area of3999 sq. kms. Thus total area left on the Indian side is about 12850 sq. kms.

There are many low lying valleys in the state like Tawi Valley, Chenab Valley, Poonch Valley, Sind Valley and Liddar Valley, but the main Valley is the valley of Kashmir, which is 100 kms. wide and 15520.3 sq. kms. in area. Through this velley flows the river Jhelum with its tributaries. The height of the valley above sea level is about 1700 metres.

On the map of India, the State of Jammu and Kashmir looks like a crown. The state is 640 kms. in length from north to south and 480 kms. form east to west. To its north lie Chinese and Russian Turkistan. On its east is Chinese Tibet. On the South and South-West lie the states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. On the west is the North West Frontier Provinces ofPakistan, China and Russia. Afghanistan and Pakistan now have come close to the boundaries of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, The nearness to the boundaries of foreign countries has made the position of the State most important from military point of view.

The entire State lies between 32.17" and 36.58" North altitude and East to West, the State lies between 73.26" and 80.30" longitude. The standared time is 5.30 hours ahead of Greenwitch time as in the rest of India and has a difference of half an hour with the local time. In lalitude, the State of Jammu and Kashmir corresponds with South Carolina (North America), Fez (Morracco), Damascus, Baghdad and Peshawar (Pakistan).

Maps of Srinagar, Kashmir, India

(Click on any image to display full size)

The Maps of Jammu and Kashmir.

Area: 2,22,236 sq. kms. out of which 78,114 sq. km. is under illegal occupation of Pakistan,
5,180 sq. km. illegally handed over by Pakistan to China,
and 37,555 sq. km. is under illegal occupation of China.

The Map of Srinagar city. 
The Map of Srinagar city.

The Map of India. 
The Map of India.

Maps of Ladakh Region       




Geographical and Political Importance of the State

Kashmir is famous for its beauty and natural scenery throughout the world. Its high snow-clad mountains, scenic spots, beautiful valleys, rivers with ice-cold water, attractive lakes and springs and ever-green fields, dense forests and beautiful health resorts, enhance its grandeur and are a source of great attraction for tourists.

It is also widely known for its different kinds of agricultural products, fruit, vegetables, saffron, herbs, minerals, precious stones handicrafts like woollen carpets, shawls and finest kind of embroidery on clothes. During summer, one can enjoy the beauty of nature, trout fishing, big and small game hunting etc.; during winter climbing mountain peaks and sports like skating and skiing on snow slopes are commonly enjoyed . In addition to the above, Pilgrimage to famous religious shrines of the Hindus and the Muslims make Kashmir a great tourist attraction. About Kashmir Sheikh Sadia great Persian poet is believed to have said said, "If there is any heaven on earth, it is here in Kashmir. "

Political Importance

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has acquired since the 19th century a unique geo-political status in the Indian sub-continent It has contiguous boundaries with Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Tibet that deserve constant vigil and as such it has made the State very important. geographically, politically, economically and from the military point of view. Jammu and Kashmir state acceded to the Indian Union in 1947 after the partition. Before the partition in 1947, The English rulers of India took away Gilgit in 1946 from the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir on lease for thirty years so that they could check the advancement of Russia towards India.

Physical Divisions, Mountains and Passes

The State of Jammu and Kashmir falls in the great north-western, complex of the Himalayan ranges with marked relief variation, snow- capped summits, antecedent drainage, complex geological structure and rich temperate flora and fauna.

Kashmir or the Jhelum Valley is situated between the Pir Panjal range and the Zanskar range and has an area of 15220 sq kms. It is bounded on all sides by mountains. The river Jhelum, which flows out from the spring at Verinag in Anantnag district, passes through this Valley at a very slow speedand ultimately flows out through a narrow gorge at Baramulla. Districts of Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, Kupwara and Pulwama lie in this valley. Average height of the valley is 1850 metres above sea level but the surrounding mountains, which are always snow-clad, rise from three to four thousand metres above sea level. The surface of the valley is plain and abounds with springs, lakes and health resorts.

Rice is the main crop and fruits like apples, pears, apricots, almonds, walnuts, peaches and cherries grow in abundance. The valley is also rich in forests. Mulberry trees grow in abundance and are the mainstay of silk industry in the Valley.

Summer is pleasant but winter is cold and there is snowfall. It rains from the middle of March to the middle of May in the valley with an annual rainfall of about 75 cms.

Road transport is common in the valley but the river Jhelum still serves as one of the means of transportation. There is also Air Service from Delhi and Jammu to Srinagar and Ladakh.

Kashmir is the home of handicrafts like wood carving, papier-mache, carpet, gabba and shawl making and embroidery on clothes. Natural scenery of the valley attracts thousands of visitors every year from abroad. People generally speak Kashmiri and their common dress is phiran, shalwar and a turban or a Kashmiri cap.

There are also some small valleys in this region. On the north of Baramulla is Lolab valley which is 6 Kms long and 4.4 Kms wide. It has many meadows and grovesof walnut trees. Forests are so thick that they hide villages in them.

Nullah Sind is the largest tributory of the river Jhelum. The Nullah Sind valley is 100 Kms long upwards and its scenery is diversified. At the head of the valley is the Zojilla pass which leads to Ladakh.

Towards Pehlgam lies the Lidar Valley. Its length is 64 Kms. It has small glaciers, grassy meadows, huge rock walls and gorges in its upper mountains. The path to the holy Amarnath cave passethrough this valley. The Kolohai and Sheshnag streams join at Pahalgam to form the Lidar river.

Mountains and their Passes

Mountains have a special geographical importance to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir valley is enclosed by high mountain-chains on all sides except for certain passes and a narrow gorge at Baramulla. There are Siwalik hills towards the south and very lofty mountains in the north, the peaks of which always remain covered with snow. There are volcanic mountains too in the State. They have caused havoc in Kashmir in the past.

Some of the famous mountains and their passes are:

1. Karakoram (8615.17 M) and Kyunlun Ranges:
Both these mountains lie to the north and north-east of the State and separate it from Russian Turkistan and Tibet. In the north west, Hindukush range continues towards Karakoram range, where K2 peak, the second highest peak of the world, is situated. Two lofty peaks of Gashorbram (8570 metres) and Masharbram (7827 metres) also lie there. People of Ladakh pass through Karakoram pass (5352 metres) and Nubra pass (5800 metres) while going to Chinese Turkistan and Khattan. One can reach Tibet from Ladakh via Kharudangala pass (5557 metres) and Changla pass (5609 metres).

 2. Zanskar Range:
It is about 600 metres above sea level and separates Indus Valley from the valley of Kashmir; it prevents south-west cold winds from reaching Kashmir. Ladakh region terminates at Zojila pass (3529 metres) from where begins the valley of Kashmir. Poat pass (5716 metres) of this range is also a famous pass in this range.

3. Nun Kun Range:
It lies between Ladakh and kashmir border. It is 7055.1 metres above sea level. To its south-east is situated Kulu and to its north-west is situated Kargil tehsil of Ladakh . One has to pass through Bawalocha pass (4891 metres) to reach Leh (Ladakh) from Kulu. In 1947, when Kargil was attacked by Pakistan, Indian forces, arms and ammunition were sent to Ladakh by the Indian Union through this pass.

4. Nanga Parbat Range:
This range spreads in Gilgit. Its height is 8107.68 metres above sea level and is utterly devoid of vegetation. It was conquered by the Italian mountaineers in 1954. This is now under the unlawful possession of Pakistan.

5. Harmukh Mountain:
This is a range of the Himalayas and is situated at a height of 5141.3 metres above sea level towards Bandipore between the rivers Jhelum and Kishan Ganga valley.

6. Burzil Mountain:
It bifurcates Kashmir and Ladakh on which Burzil pass is situated at a height of 3200 metres above sea level.

7. Amarnath Mountain:
This is famous for its holy Amarnath Cave, at a height of 5372 metresabove sea level, which thousands of pilgrims visit every year on Rakshabandan. They have to pass Mahagunas pass (1475 metres) on their way to Shri Amarnathji. Gwasharan (5450 metres) is situated in the Lidar valley towards Pahalgam; on it lies the famous glacier Kolahi. Sheeshnag Mountain also spreads in this valley. It is called Sheshnag as its peaks resemble the heads of seven big snakes.

8. Toshmaidan:
Toshmaindan (4270 metres) and Kajinag (3700 metres) mountains lie in the Inner Himalayas. They remain clad with snow throughout the year, but during summer when the snow melts, the water flows down into the Jhelum river.

9. Afarwat:
This mountain spreads through the Gulmarg valley. The famous spring Alpathar lies on its peak, from which Nullah Nagal comes out and flows down into the Wullar lake.

10. Pirpanjal Range:
It separates Kashmir valley from the outer Himalayas and is about 2621 Kms. in length and 50 Kms. in breadth. Famous Banihal pass (2832 metres) lies in the shape of a tunnel on its peak; it remains covered with snow during winter making it impassable. Now at a height of 2200 metres above sea level a new tunnel 'Jawahar Tunnel' has been constructed. The tunnel is 2825 metres long and it was opened for traffic on 22nd Dec. 1956. On the other end of this range lie Baramula pass (1582 metres) and Hajipir pass(2750 metres). Hajipir joins Poonch and Uri. During 1965 Indo-Pak war, the Indian army had occupied this pass. Later on it was handed over to Pakistan.

11. Siwalik Range:
These hills extend from the north of the outer plains to middle mountains of the State reaching heights varying from 600 metres to 1500 metres above sea level.

12. Volcanic mountains:
One volcanic peak, 'Soyamji' (1860 metres) is situated in North Machhipura (Handwara) and the other 'Kharewa' peak lies in Tehsil Pehalgam, which is dead so far; the former, however, continued eruption of lava for about l3 months during 1934.

There is a temple on this peak and many sulphur springs are found at the foot of the hill. These volcanic mountains are the cause of earthquakes in Kashmir. So far twelve devastating earthquakes have occurred in Kashmir. Of these the earthquake of 1885 was the most devastating. Hundreds of houses collapsed, thousands of people died and there were cracks in the earth as a result of this earthquake.

Rivers, Lakes, Springs, Tributaries and Glaciers

Jammu and Kashmir State is well known for its charming scenery. There are beautiful springs, lakes, rivers and their tributaries. All these add to its scenic beauty.

The Jhelum (Vyeth in Kashmiri, Vetesta in Sanskrit and Hydaspes in Greek) is the main waterway of the valley of Kashmir. It rises from a beautiful spring called Verinag. This spring is situated at the foot of a spur of the Pir Panjal mountain.

The Jhelum flows to a distance of 25.6 Kms to Khanabal like a nullah. From that place a number of tributaries join the Jhelum and make it navigable from Khannabal to WullarLake. Its total length in the valley is 177 kms. It flows in loops through the valley till it enters the Wullar; it flows out from its other side to Baramulla and then it enters the boundary of Pakistan. This part is not navigable, as the river makes a very deep bed and acquires a swift flow.

The river Jhelum
The river Jhelum.

One of the bridges that span the Jhelum in the old city
One of the bridges that span the Jhelum in the old city.

Srinagar town is situated on the either side of the river Jhelum. This enhances the beauty of the town making it a source of attraction for the tourists who stay in house-boats staying permanently in water on the banks of the river.

Tributaries of the river Jhelum

1. The Vishav is fed by lhe Kaunsarnag lake which is about 3 Kms long. It joins theJhelum below Bijbehara. Kounsarnag is at an elevation of about 4000 metres above sea level in the Panjal mountains to the south of Kashmir. Ice is present in the lake even in summer.

The Vishav irrigates the Kulgam Tehsil and logs of timber cut in the forests in its upper course are floated down it to be transported to the valley.

2. The Romushi is another tributary of the Jhelum. It flows from Kharmarg to Pakharpur and flowing towards north-east. It joins the Jhelum at 75 deg. East longitude.

3 . The Dudhganga is another tributary of the Jhelum that flows from Ludurmarg and rises in the central Pir Panjal near Tata Kuti mountain. Two mountain streams, the Sangesafed and the Yachera, form this river. This river flows through Batmalu Swamp near Srinagar.

4. The Sukhang is another important tributary. It rises near Gulmarg and irrigates a large area.

5. The Lidar is one of the largest tributaries of the Jhelum. It flows in a swift narrow stream from Sheeshnag lake to the east of Pahalgam. The Lidar passes through many villages of which Mattan (Martand) is very famous. The Kolahai and Sheeshnag streamlets join the Lidar at Pahalgam to make it a river.

Lidar at Pahalgam
Lidar at Pahalgam.

6. The Ferozpore Nullah is an important water-way in the western mountains of Baramulla-Gulmarg area. It collects water from many mountain streams, small lakes and springs. This mountaineous area is mostly full of snow even in summer.

7. The Sind Nullah has its source in the Inner Himalayas at Dras and after it is fed by the Gangabal lake lying at Harmukh mountain (5150 meters), it joins the Jhelum at Shadipur. It is 96 Kms in length. The famous health resorts of Sonamarg and Ganderbal are situated on its banks. Its water is used for irrigation purposes and the 'Sind Valley Hydroelectric Power Project' uses its water at Gandarbal to produce electric power. It is navigable from Gandarbal downwards.

8. The Flood Spill Channel was constructed in 1904 to relieve the strain on the Jhelum in the city of Srinagar. By taking 2/3rd of the total flow in the river it helps the river Jhelum to regulate its water level while passing through the city of Srinagar. The Jhelum rises during floods and the Channel saves the city from being flooded.


1. The Wullar Lake in Kashmir is the largest fresh water lake in India. It is about 16 Kms.long and 9 .6 Kms wide with ill-defined shores. This lake lies between Bandipore and Sopore at a distance of 75 Kms. from Srinagar. The Jhelum enters this lake from the south-east and leaves it from thewest. Storms rise in the lake everyday in the afternoon. The deepest part of the lake is at Watlab towards the hill called Baba Sukhuruddin in the north-west. Many small streams, Harbuji, Aarah, Erin and Pohru join this lake.

Wular Lake
Wular Lake.

2. The Dal Lake is a beautiful lake near Srinagar. It is 8 Kms long and 6.4 Kms. wide. It is the flood-lung of the Jhelum. The famous Mughal gardens are situated around it. The lake is an ideal place for swimming and sailing in Shikaras and motorboats. Floating gardens are found in this lake where a large variety of vegetables is grown. The The Dal lake has two parts, the small Dal and the big Dal, separated by a swampy bund. The road round the lake is called Boulevard. There are two artificial islands in the lake, Rupalank and Sonalank, built by Mughal Emperors. Nehru Park is the western terminus of the lake. The lake is a spot of great attraction for visitors, who enjoy staying in house-boats in the lake.

Dal Lake
Dal Lake.

3. The Anchar Lake is a swampy area. The Sind Nullah enters this lake from one side and flows out from the other. It is about 8 Kms long and 3 Kms. wide. Gandarbal is a famous township on its north-west bank.

4. The Mansbal Lake is at a distance of 29 Kms. from Srinagar and is situated at Safapore (Tehsil Gandarbal). It is 5 Kms long and one Km. wide. It is connected with the Jhelum by a canal near Sumbal. Mughal Emperors have built a summer palace on its bank.

Manasbal Lake
Manasbal Lake.

5. The Harvan Lake is situated at a distance of 21 Kms from Srinagar. It is 278 meters long, 137 meters wide and 18 metres deep. This lake is a source of water supply to Srinagar city.

6. The Hokarsar Lake lies on Baramulla road about 13 Kms. from Srinagar. It is about 5 Kms. long and 1.5 Kms. wide. Willow trees are grown in abundance around its banks.

7. The Konsarnag or Vishno Pad Lake is situated in the Pir Panjal range at a height of 4000 meters above sea level to the south of Shopian. It is about 5 Kms. long and 3 Kms. wide and is the source of the river Vishav. It is at a distance of 34 Kms. from Shopian.

8. The Gangabal Lake is situated at a height of 3570.4M. on the peak of Harmukh mountain. Hindus consider it a sacred lake.

Gangabal Lake
Gangabal Lake.

9. The Sheshnag Lake is situated near Vavjan, enroute to Shri Amarnath cave. It is at a distance of 28 Kms. from Pahalgam.

Sheshnag Lake
Sheshnag Lake.

10. The Neelang Lake is situated in Tehsil Badgam at a distance of 10 Kms from Nagam. It is a beautiful lake with dense forests around it.

11. There are two more lakes, Tarsar and Marsar that lie on the northern slope of the Harmukh mountain. Marsar lake is the origin of the Canal Sharab Kohl that provides water to the fountains that play in the Mughal Gardens. Marsar lake flows into the Lidar which is one of the largest tributaries of the Jhelum.

Mansar Lake
Mansar Lake.

12. Sokh and Dokh are two frozen lakes situated at Harmukh Mountain. These are said to be two tear drops of Parvati; one a warm tear drop indicating happiness and other a cold one showing grief.


Kashmir valley abounds in numerous springs of which Verinag (source of the Jhelum), Martand (Anantnag), Achhabal (Anantnag), Kukarnag (Anantnag), Chashma Shahi (famous for its fresh and digestive water, situated near Srinagar on one side of the Boulevard road), Tullamulla or Khirbhawani (a sacred spring), Vicharnag, Sukhnag, Vishnosar and Harmukat Ganga in Srinagar area and Chirnagand Vasaknag in Anantnag are very famous.

Vishnosar Lake
Vishnosar Lake.

Gadsar Lake 
Gadsar Lake.

Climate Patterns and Climatic Divisions

Climate Patterns

The territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir lies between four degrees of latitude from 32.17 to 36.58 North. Within these 640 Kms. there is a sudden rise of altitude from 305 metres to 6910 metres above sea level. The State of Jammu and Kashmir, therefore, lies between the hot plains of the Jammu Province and coldest dry table-land of Ladakh. These territories are, as such, transitional in climate.

Weather conditions are different at different places. There are many causes of difference:

1. Relief is the main factor. Lofty mountains like the Pirpanjal, the Zanskar and the Karakoram check winds from blowing in thus moisture is stopped from entering the valleys by the lofly mountains.

2. The Monsoon winds in summer cause rain in the Outer Plains and the Outer Hills. But these winds can cross the Pirpanjal range only when they are very strong. In winter winds from the Mediterranean cause snow and rain in the Valley of Kashmir. Snow falls on the mountains which enclose the valley.

3. Forests influence winds, rainfall and temperature. The moisture laden winds cause rainfall in the forests on the hills making the temperature to fall in summer. Thus the climate of Pahalgam, Gulmarg etc. is comparatively milder than that of Srinagar or Sopore.

4. Altitude is also a factor. So the climate of the valley of Kashmir is comparatively milder than that of the Outer Plain that lie on a very low altitude. The rainfall also varies as the altitude rises.

Climate of Kashmir

The climate found in the zone of the Middle Mountains and the valleys enclosed is of a particular type. Altitude determines the degree of coolness and elevation the form of precipitation and summer temperature. Winter is cold and of long duration. When the monsoons are strong, rain is caused. In higher mountains round the valley of Kashmir, winter is very cold and there is snow-fall. Summer is very short and milder.

The climate in the Valley of Kashmir has its own peculiarities. Winter is very cold. It lasts from November to March. During these months strong winds bring snow and rain from the Mediterranean depressions. These come over from Iran and Afghanistan. Spring begins after 15th of March when rain falls heavily. It causes landslides. But for sowing crops this rain is extremely useful. Rainfall in July and August is as high as 70% and with summer temperature, it causes discomfort. The lakes and waterways make the atmosphere damp and oppressive. The entire valley is covered with a haze that hides the surrounding mountains from view.

The seasons are marked with sudden change and the year is divided into six seasons of two months each.

Spring  March 15 to May 15.
Summer  May 15 to July 15.
Rainy Season  July 15 to Sept. 15.
Autumn  Sept. 15 to Nov. 15.
Winter  Nov. 15 to Jan 15.
Ice Cold  Jan. 15 to March 15.

From December 24 to March 8 temperature is often below zero. Strong winds blow from south and southeast. It snows during winter and there are thick black clouds in the sky.

Annual rainfall of the valley recorded is about 75 cms. It rains in July and August and also in March and April . August is the warmest month. Temperature rises to 85 deg. F. January is the coldest month. Temperature falls down to below zero. Longest sunshine hours are in September, October and November.

  December has 80% humidity which is the highest and May has 71% which is the lowest. In July atmosphere has a pressure of 62.68 cms.

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