Jammu and Kashmir is a state in North India. The state shares international border with China in the north and east. The Line of Control separates the region from the Pakistani-controlled territories in the west and northwest respectively. Some areas require a special permit for non-Indians to visit.
The region is located mostly in the Himalayan mountains and consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. The state has two capitals: the summer capital – Srinagar and the winter capital - Jammu.
Three major religions are dominant in the state: Hinduism in Jammu, Sufi based Islamic faith in the Kashmir Valley and Buddhism in Ladakh.
The region is known for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, arid canyons, snow-topped mountains, numerous shrines attracting thousands of pilgrims, Shikara boats and houseboats of Srinagar, floating vegetable market, etc.
Recreational activities in the region include skiing in Srinagar, golfing at the highest green golf course at Gulmarg, mountain climbing, trekking, biking, rafting, kayaking, etc.
The region is known for pilgrimage trips. Vaishno Devi and Amarnath shrines attract thousands of Hindu pilgrims from all other the country.
Major tourist sites in the state include: the cities of Kashmir, Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Jammu, the region of Ladakh, the hill station of Sonamarg, Vaishno Devi shrine at Katra, Raghunath Temple in Jammu, Bahu Fort in Jammu, Mubarak Mandi Palace in Jammu, Vernag Spring and Mughal Garden, Dal Lake in Srinagar, etc.
Ladakh is famous for its unique Indo-Tibetan culture, annual masked dance festivals, while Jammu and Kashmir Valley are known for saffron, pashmina shawls, embroidery, handmade carpets, wood carving and lacquered papiermache. Crafted from layers of paper then painted with vivid designs and lacquered, papiermache items range from floral bowls and letter holders to cheeky faced puppets and festive Christmas decorations.
The region is known for a variety of festivals and fairs. The famous ones include: Losar - Ladakhi New Year, celebrated with Buddhist feasts, rituals and dances (December); Mansar Food and Craft Mela - a three day festival near the Mansar Lake (April); MathoNagrang Festival known for blindfolded acrobatics and ritual mutilations performed by monastery oracles, (February-March); Ladakh Festival (September), etc. Other festivals celebrated in Jammu and Kashmir are Guru Ravi Das's Birthday, Diwali, Lohri, Holi, etc.
A full traditional Kashmiri thali (plate) have dozens of courses, notably mutton-based dishes like goshtaba (pale mutton balls in saffron-yoghurt curry), tabakmaaz (fried lamb’s ribs) and mildly spicy rogan josh (rich, vividly red-coloured mutton curry). Kashmiri chefs also serve deliciously aromatic cheese-based curries and seasonal nadir (lotus stems) typically served in yakhni (a curd-based sauce made mildly minty with fennel). Kawa, traditional green tea with spices and almond, is consumed all through the day.
Ladakh’s cuisine has a strong Tibetan influence. Famous dishes include salty butter tea, momos (dumplings), thukpa (noodle soup), thenthuk (noodle soup) with pieces of mutton or yak meat), paba (bread), skiu (a dish made of wheat flour, similar to pasta). Local brew in Ladakh is called chang.
Urdu is the official language of the state. Hindi or English is used as a second language while Kashmiri, Dogri, Pahari, Balti, Ladakhi, Gojri, Shina and Pashto are principal spoken languages.
Jammu And Kashmir state experiences four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The maximum temperature in summers is around 29 °C (84,2 °F), and the minimum temperature in winters is around -2 °C (28,4 °F). Temperatures vary considerably by elevation. Jammu can get very hot in summers with infrequent rain showers (monsoon) from June to September. Ladakh area experiences cold winter with average January temperature of about −20 °C (−4 °F). The best time to travel to Ladakh is during summer season.
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