“Gus Firdaus Bar rue zamin asto, Amin Asto Amin Asto”
“If at all there is heaven on earth, it is here, it is here”
Famous lines written by Amir Khusro when he was mesmerised by the beauty of the state. For most the word Kashmir springs an image of mountains in their mind, but the state offers a lot more. From the plains of Jammu to the glaciers of Siachen, a lot is hidden in 40000 Sq. kilometers of area of the state. Starting from South when we start from Lakhanpur it’s the plains, just like the plains of Punjab & Haryana. These plains support farming and contribute a lot in the economy of state. Majority of the population reside in this region.
Major rivers of the state include Ravi, Chenab, Jhelum, Kishanganga, Shyok, Sind & many other tributaries which contribute to Indus water system, all of which converge into one to drain in the Arabian Sea from Pakistan. Texture of water of various tributaries differs from region to region. With Chenab & Jhelum having shades of brown to Shyok and Sind having shades of blue. Dams have been built at various locations to harness hydropower and save water for locals. All of the above offers a great diversity for the viewer’s eyes.
When it comes to lakes, Jammu & Kashmir offers a very diverse platter. On one extreme are commercialised lakes like Dal lake and on the other are isolated like the ones in Ladakh region. In summer tourist can have fun in houseboats while during winters the same lake freezes where one can walk on its surface. From fresh water lakes to salt water lakes the number of lakes crosses more than 20, however only a handful of them are known to a common traveller.
Mountain offers challenge to adventure seekers where as valleys offers peace & calm. One always comes with the other. During summers, valleys offer pristine view of flowers which gives out unimagined colours whereas during winters the same snow-covered slopes offer a totally different yet beautiful view. The state boasts five peaks above 8000m and many other famous summits for climbers.
As we move northwards, the tree line ends and the mountains are barren and devoid of any vegetation. The region between Karakoram and Zanskar mountains is the Ladakh region also known as bridge between sky & earth. The air is very thin, temperature is sub zero even under a clear sky with bright sun shining above. Drass located here is the second coldest permanently habited place on earth after Siberia. Many Buddhists monasteries can be seen in the region and here one can see a major ethnic change from other parts of state.
As we move further northwards in Ladakh region, snow remains persistent through the year, resulting in formatting of glacier at higher reaches. It is always winter in this region. It is a major source of fresh water for the region and forms a part of Indus river system. Many rivers originate from this region which feed the region of Ladakh, Gilgit & Baltistan. Recently the glaciers have also attracted many tourists, even amidst heavy militarisation of region by India and Pakistan.
The state of Jammu & Kashmir offers unparalleled diversity, be it culture or landscapes. Leaving the exception of beaches, the state offers almost every form of landscapes one can imagine. Amongst all the turmoil in the region since last three decades, one thing hasn’t changed, the appeal of state amongst tourists and it is likely to be remain the same in future also.