A question with a lot of obvious and beautiful explanations, definitions, and an amazing answer.
The valley of Kashmir – a well-known name for various reasons and today we will talk about these various reasons that will satisfy your curiosity about what Kashmir is famous for.
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This should not come as a surprise, what Kashmir is famous for is one of the expensive spices in the world, and that is SAFFRON.
Crocus sativus, the flower that produces the precious saffron is also known by its Persian name – Zafran.
Saffron has always attracted the rich and elites throughout the history to present; allegedly the well-known Egyptian ruler Cleopatra was fond of saffron baths for their cosmetic and aphrodisiacal qualities.
Saffron has various medicinal as well as cosmetic properties; it helps in reducing inflammation, builds immunity, and aid in fighting Alzheimer’s and depression.
Because of these immense favorable properties and extremely hard labor, saffron can cost up to $4,000.
And it’s not the end, saffron is also a culinary star, the spice is used in broths, stews, and kebabs by the Kashmiri people. People also use it in milk to break the Ramadan fast. Saffron was first used in Sheermal(flatbread), lamb curry, and fruit sherbet during Mughal rule in India.
Each year, on average, as per the agriculture department, Kashmir produces 17 tonnes of saffron. The PAMPORE town, a small village located around 14 kilometers from the state capital Srinagar, is known as The Saffron town of Kashmir with more than 20,000 families associated with saffron cultivation.
The saffron produced in Pampore region is of superior quality and can cost up as much as 2, 50,000 Indian Rs per kilogram.
Saffron is a delicate plant that thrives in moist soils that is rich in humus, hummus is the dark organic material formed by matter decays of plants and animals.
The laborious and time-consuming process of saffron cultivation begins with picking delicate flowers and collecting them in wicker baskets. Then sorting of flowers according to its three parts – the petals, the yellow strands, and the red strands, then derivation of pure saffron from red strands.
For a kilogram of saffron, more than 1,50,000 flowers are sifted and scanned. The laborious and time-consuming task of cultivation is the reason which makes saffron the most expensive spice. Saffron despite being expensive is in demand because of its miraculous antioxidant properties.
And Kashmiri saffron, because of the concentration amount of crocin in it, is superior in quality, with a dark maroon-purplish hue, Kashmir saffron has a strong flavor, aroma, and coloring effect.
This spice has many names, Zafran in Persian, Kesar in Hindi, kungumapoo in Tamil, and Kong posh in Kashmiri.
As well as names there are numerous legends of how this spice came to India, a legend claims that the Persians brought it to the country from Iran in 500 B.C during their trades, another legend that dates back to the 12th-century states that two Sufi saints while traveling through the country, presented a local chieftain with a saffron bulb after he cured them of an illness.
Another answer to what Kashmir is famous for is Pashmina.
After centuries of experimentation and refinement of the traditional practice of shawl making, with Kashmiri Pashmina – the finest and most exquisite fabric ever made, Kashmir is the only place in the world where finely embroidered Pashmina shawls are being produced.
PASHM is a Persian word that means wool, but in Kashmir, Pashm is referred to as the raw unspun wool of Changthangi goats. The material is famous for its use in Kashmiri shawls.
The Pashm fiber comes from the Changthangi or Capra hircus goats which is indigenous to high altitudes of the Himalayan mountains. This goat is exotic and can be found only 15,000 feet above sea level in Ladakh – Kashmir.
Changthang and Changthangi goats
Changthang, the land of nomads and region of changthangi goats is located in the east of Leh, the region has an extreme climate, high altitude, and remoteness. These properties create the perfect home for changthangi goats.
Every spring Capra hircus goats shed their winter coat, and then it is collected for the weaving process. A single Pashmina shawl requires wool from about three goats; one goat produces only a few grams of pashmina each year, hence proving the high range of prices.
It was in the 16th century that Pashmina was discovered under the Mughal rule. Later Pashmina attracted the attention of French monarch Napoleon Bonaparte, who allegedly gifted his beloved wife – Josephine, a Pashmina shawl, in India Maharaja Ranjit’s court was decorated with hand-embroidered pashmina shawls as well as pashm fabric.
During the Mughal period, the material- pashmina, was used as an indicator of royal rank and high nobility, during his ruling period, mughal emperor BABAR started a tradition\ritual\practice called giving khilat or “robes of honour”, the Mughal khilat was a set of clothes, in which, any one or all of them (clothes) could be made of pashmina and gold embroidery, that indicates the high services and their royal achievements as the members of the mughal darbar.
Pashmina hand embroiderers
The hand embroidery of Pashmina is an art, living in families who have learned, taught, and passed it to generations. This skilled art can take a time span of half a decade for a single shawl. The most exotic pieces with embroidery which is visible from both sides are rare in modern times. These double-sided embroidered shawls, also known as “do-rukha” were worn and highly appreciated by the royal and elites, wife of Napoleon – Josephine was so impressed with these “do-rukha” shawls that she asked more of them so that she can gift it to her friends at the royal court.
Another aspect and answer of what Kashmir is famous for can be expressed by this couplet
‘ Jis khaak ke zameer me hai aatish – e – chinar
Mumkin nahi ki sard ho wo khaak – e – arjumand’
The couplet of poet Sir Muhammad Iqbal, roughly translation is – the dust that in its conscience carries the fire of the chinar, it is impossible for that celestial dust to cool down.
The majestic chinar, scientifically known as – Platanus orientalis, is the state tree of the valley of Kashmir, and known as BUEN or BOOYN in Kashmiri, is an important heritage of Kashmir valley.
The Platanus orientalis aka Chinar can grow as tall as 25 meters with a girth exceeding 50 feet in some rare cases.
The attraction that captures the victim in its glorified hold is the view of chinar in autumn. The valley in autumn is a view that cannot be explained properly in words, one has to experience it with their own eyes.
The view of chinar with colorful hues of blood-red, mauve, amber and yellow, it starts somewhere around October end and remains that way till the end of November.
The shedding of chinar leaves in autumn is known as Buen in the Kashmiri language and it marks the beginning of a change in weather as well as clothing and food habits of Kashmiri people.
Naseem bagh in Srinagar, a garden, a perfect spot for lovers and romantic gateways houses more than 100 chinar trees.
Though its origins are believed to be in Greece, yet chinar is essential for Kashmir in every aspect, the fallen chinar leaves are used in Kangri as burning material; it helps in keeping warm during the bone-chilling winters of the valley.
Apple sounds weird to be on this list of what Kashmir is famous for but yes it is an important and delicious reason for what Kashmir is famous for.
Apple is most probably the most ancient fruit of Asia and Europe. There are various records that prove the existence of this temperate fruit to be near 3000 years old, a mention of it can be found in the reign of King Nara (1000 BC).
And Kashmir is also known for this temperate fruit. And Kashmir valley is probably the most favorable location for the growth of sweet, red, and juicy fruit. Some main factors that affect and help in these temperate fruit-bearing trees are soil, climate, and environment; in the region of Kashmir, these factors are highly favorable and unparalleled, thus ensuring a good crop and high quality of apples.
A famous Chinese pilgrim named Huen Tsang who visited Kashmir had mentioned various temperate fruits like pears, apricot, and apple, thus a mention in history is enough proof to make apple an answer of what Kashmir is famous for.
Till 1945 there was no proper factual information and detailed report of various tree varieties was available, and the compilation of various surveys it was identified that the valley has a surprising 113 variety of apples available in the region (now it all sounds pretty amazing), some major ones are – Ambri Kashmir, American Trel, Maharaji Apple, Hazratbali apple also known as Benoni locally, and the golden delicious apple.
The Chunt Var is popularly known for apple cultivation in the valley, it has a lot of apple yards. Apple is grown on about 3.5 lakh hectares of land in Kashmir. According to official data, more than 50 percent population of the valley means more than 7 lakh families are directly dependent on the fruit industry.
If you are a foodie and have a friend or anyone in your contacts who is from Kashmir, and you ask them what Kashmir is famous for, I bet that they will mention Wazwan, the pride of Kashmiri culinary taste and variety – wazwan is an essential in this list. Kashmiri wazwan is part of the local culture.
The valley of Kashmir is well known for its exotic and spicy food delicacies, and if you are a foodie, and a non-vegetarian too, then you should know the name WAZWAN. Kashmiri wazwan is popular because of its appealing flavor, texture, and delicious characteristics.
Wazwan is the most popular, multi-course meal, of Kashmiri cuisine. The preparation of wazwan is an art and considered a skill to be proud of in the Kashmiri culture.
In the wazwan, almost all the dishes are meat-based and cooked overnight, under the supervision of a master chef, called wouste waze in Kashmiri language and locally.
Let’s take a look at some main dishes of this royal delicacy;
A vital to wazwan, rista curry comprises of Kashmiri meatballs made of meat from lamb’s leg, these meatballs are then spiced and flavored in shallot gravy.
Kebab made with minced lamb meat then flavored with some spices is an appetizer that can be devoured alone and dry or with a curry combination of tomato and yogurt or our always available at ease dips aka chutney.
And a dish that is not at all about tomato or spices, this dish is on side of sweetness but it is definitely not a dessert. This lamb curry is cooked in milk and then flavored with minimal spices like cardamom and cinnamon that enhance its sweetness.
A chicken-based dish that starts by splitting a full chicken into two halves, then cooked with ground cashew nut and poppy seed paste that gives it a whitish look.
A vegetarian dish in which Paneer is cubed mixed with tomato and milk-based thick gravy flavored with spices like fennel seeds, ginger powder, and so on.
This dip aka chutney is slightly different from other chutneys like walnut and apricot dip. This dip is prepared by combining radish and yogurt. This dip is uniquely spicy and an integral part of wazwan cuisine.
This dish is the one that most people know of or heard of already, Rogan josh – rogan means ‘oil’ and josh means ‘intense heat’. The secret of the unique flavor of this tender lamb recipe is the indigenous flower known as the mawal or cockscomb.
The second vegetarian dish of wazwan cuisine is Waza palak, spinach leaves cooked until soft then spiced in the typical Kashmiri way. If you are on the non-vegetarian side you can always add some spicy meatballs to it.
Yogurt-based curry is usually made with chopped lotus stems which can be replaced with mutton meat according to the situation. With an abundance of curd in the curry, the flavor is further enhanced with the use of spices such as cardamom and fennel seeds.
A dish served after everything else as the finale of wazwan cuisine – Gushtaba, which consists of sweet and creamy textured lamb meat dumplings with curd gravy, and the meat is minced with fat to enhance the taste.
These are only 10 dishes out of a course of 36 delicacies for what Kashmir is famous for.
A very obvious answer to what Kashmir is famous for is because Kashmir valley is the most attractive destination for both domestic and international tourists.
The valley of Kashmir is a destination of mountains, lakes, beautiful landscapes, snow-filled adventures, and exciting cable car rides.
The capital and the soul of the valley – Srinagar, attracts tourists with what Kashmir is famous for – the crystal clear waters of Dal Lake and soulful shikara rides.
The Mughal gardens include Nishat bagh meaning the garden of happiness, the most beautiful terraced garden located at the side of Dal Lake, and Shalimar Bagh located northeast of Dal Lake, both are the finest examples of Mughal Architecture.
Chashma Shahi, a Garden along the banks of the Dal Lake has a freshwater spring, terraces, water pool, and a large fountain.
A popular and well-known hill station for what Kashmir is famous for as well as a popular skiing destination, perfect for sport and adventure-seeking travelers.
If you are a beginner you can even take ski lessons there with an expert ski instructor for hire for a day or a week or even a month, or if you are a veteran skier, do not worry, there are slopes for you as well as baby slopes for beginners.
After skiing the next essential that should be on your list is the Gondola ride. Experience the world’s second-highest cable car project.
Then enjoy your day at the world’s second-highest golf course situated at an altitude of 2650m.
Next on the list is Khilanmarg – the most popular sightseeing place, located at a short distance of 4 km from Gulmarg. It is a beautiful valley that is adorned with varieties of flowers during summertime.
Then comes the time to visit Alpather Lake, you can spend a day here. Located around 13 km from Gulmarg, the lake will give you some scenes and memories to remember.
And to witness the rich variety of flora and fauna of the region, you can head towards the Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve. Located at an altitude of 2400m above sea level, the reserve is home to wildlife species like Himalayan musk deer, red fox, black and brown bear. Gulmarg biosphere reserve is the second home for many migratory bird species and that makes it the bird watcher’s paradise.
Located 95 km east of Srinagar, Pahalgam is a destination for what Kashmir is famous for.
Situated among mountains, glaciers, streams of ice water, and pine and cedar forests, Pahalgam easily attracts tourists with its exquisite beauty and adventurous attractions.
You can enjoy trekking, camping, skiing, and mountaineering here, an ideal post for adventure sport seekers.
Pahalgam is the base for Amarnath – the religious trek to the abode of Shiva. The Hindu holy shrine of Shiva is located about 29 kilometers from Pahalgam
Kolahoi – at a distance of only 1,467 m from Pahalgam is a trekking base of a three-day return trek to the Kolahoi Glacier.
Baisaran Valley – located 5 km aways from Pahalgam is often called mini Switzerland because of its amazing picturesque landscapes. You can enjoy horse rides, pony rides, zorbing, and ziplining here; it is a popular sightseeing destination.
Betaab valley- located at a distance of 7 kilometers from Pahalgam is a lush beautiful meadow surrounded by snow White Mountain peaks with trees like chinar dotting its landscape, betaab valley is a popular tourist attraction. You can enjoy sightseeing, trekking, camping, and an amazing picnic here.
Aru Valley is at a distance of 12 kilometers from Pahalgam. The valley is known for its gorgeous views and you can enjoy various activities like skiing and heli-skiing or fishing also. The valley also serves as the base camp for kolahoi glacier and tarsar lake trek.
Tulian Lake is situated in between the Zanskar and Pir Panjal mountain ranges. At a distance of approx 16 kilometers from Pahalgam, the lake is famous for its bluish-green waters and exotic sightseeing landscapes.
A hill station is situated at an altitude of 2800 meters. This destination is an exotic attraction for what Kashmir is famous for; tourists love this destination because of various reasons that include different activities like whitewater rafting, trout fishing, trekking, and camping. This destination is a picturesque hill station that is adorned with dense forests, lavish and beautiful meadows, a majestic Glacier, and snow-capped mountains.
Krishansar Lake – situated in close proximity of less than 1 kilometer of sonmarg, the lake is surrounded by lush meadows and snow-capped mountains. The most interesting fact about this destination is that the color of water changes according to the time of the day. Travelers can enjoy trout fishing and angling here.
Vishansar Lake – a second exotic picturesque lake located in close proximity of sonmarg. The lake is blessed with breathtaking beauty. Apart from its beauty, tourists can enjoy trout and mahseer fishing here in summer. One can even trek from sonmarg to Vishansar Lake.
Gangabal Lake – located at the foothills of Mount Harmukh in Ganderbal District, this lake is an exotic alpine high altitude lake, home to numerous species of fish including brown trout. Travelers can enjoy horse riding, fishing, and sightseeing here. One side of the lake takes you to views of lavish beautiful meadows; another side is overlooked by mountains covered with blue-white bluish clouds.
Thajiwas Glacier – located at a difference of approx 3 kilometers from Sonmarg. Thajiwas is blessed with overlooking mountains, surrounding meadows, frozen lakes, and conifer trees. Visitors can enjoy sledding, sightseeing, hiking, photography, and building snowman here.
Baltal Valley – located at a distance of 15 kilometers from north of sonmarg is a spectacular landscape as well as a well-known base campsite for devotees and pilgrims visiting Amarnath cave. The valley is dotted with waterfalls, glaciers, snow-capped mountain peaks and happily flowing Sindh River.
Situated amidst the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas, yusmarg meaning ‘the meadows of Jesus’ is the place that is believed to be where Jesus once lived. Yusmarg is a perfect tourist destination for people looking for rejuvenating and relaxing days amidst nature.
Dudh Ganga – a gorgeous river flowing through Yusmarg that appears exactly like its name, milky in color. The river is one of the best angling and fishing destination as it is rich in the population of trout fish.
Nilnag Lake – a high altitude lake amidst a dense pine forest, Nilnag lake is in top attractions situated in yusmarg. This destination offers a great opportunity of trekking on a beautiful yet steep uphill trek.
Sang – e – safed , a beautiful oval shaped meadow through which the dudhganga river flows.
Charar – I – Sharief, shrine of Sheikh Noor – ud – din whose reamisn are also buried here, the patron saint of Kashmiris, with the age of almost 600 years old it is the oldest sacred shrine of Kashmir, on the occasion of death anniversary aka annual Urs (Urdu), people from all beliefs and religion swarms the shrine to seek the blessings.
Pakharpora shrine – a heritage site built several centuries ago is the holy mausoleum of Syed Balkhi, a popular Muslim pilgrimage in Yusmarg.
That’s what Kashmir is famous for, it has everything, almost everything that a tourist seeks – beautiful monuments, marvelous gardens, colorful and royal culture, attractive architecture, spots for different adventurous activities, food, fruits, flora and fauna, wildlife, surrounding background of the Himalayan mountain range, what else one will want for memories other than this!!!!
Gulmarg is the ultimate destination in the valley of Kashmir, for the adventure seekers – it offers different sports activities, but the main attraction of the spot is the GULMARG GONDOLA, the second highest operating cable car in the world.
The starting point of the Gondola ride is only 20 minutes away from Gulmarg, you can either hire taxis that are readily available or can opt for the walking option.
This must do activity will give you the opportunity to get to the top of the mountain and enjoy the best skiing experience. The scenic views that you will see during the ride will leave an imprint on your memory.
The gondola ride can ferry 6 people at a time and takes place in two stages/levels and can take up to 1-2 hours depending on the rush and the season.
Although the winter is the best season to enjoy the ride because of the excellent skiing opportunity but the ride is available all through the year.
SHIKARA RIDES AND HOUSEBOATS
How about a ride on the crystal clear waters of the world famous – DAL LAKE on a shikara, this is also an answer to what Kashmir is famous for and what do you think about a stay in a house built on a boat!!??, sounds pretty awesome to me.
A shikara ride on the waters of dal lake, with the surrounding scenery of Himalayan mountains and chinar trees of the mughal gardens, is a memory, that any individual will love to cherish and live, again to again.
And a stay on a houseboat, to wake up to the beautiful shikara rides around you and the scenery of mountains in front of your eyes, no doubt, these are the views of the paradise and the amazing answer to what Kashmir is famous for.
And the conclusive and obvious answer to what Kashmir is famous for is people of Kashmir, also known as koshurs, are very well known for their hospitality and warm nature.
Any traveling experience mainly depends on the behavior of the residents of the region, because that impacts the traveler or tourist in every possible aspect, no matter how beautiful a place/destination/region is, the real beauty lies in the heart of the residents.
No one would want to go to a place full of rude or arrogant or ignorant people. And the real beauty of the Kashmir really lies in the hearts of the koshurs (Kashmiri people), as they are full of hospitality, warmth, and love.
And I hope you’ve got an answer to your query of What Kashmir is famous for, and to be honest, that’s not it, there are more things, more than what is written here already. The valley of Kashmir is a place that got the name ‘Paradise on Earth’ and I cannot explain all the reasons in a go or in a single post.
And to know about some more traveling destinations, travel guides or some mysterious as well as amazing places to travel all over the world, you can visit our trending section, there we have covered places like kata tajuta, travel guides of Japan as well as the United Kingdom, we have even added as an instructional guide of how to prepare and pack for traveling, so do check it out.
And you can always tell us in the comments if we have missed something and your feedback/comments are always welcomed, as they boost our motivation to write more and more for you, pour your heart out in the comment section, and do tell your experiences, and to know more about the PARADISE OF EARTH – THE VALLEY OF KASHMIR, the answer as the KHUSRO had said is Hameen ast-o, hameen ast-o, hameen ast, means it is this, it is this, it is this means THEKASHMIRVALLEY.COM
Feature Image Photographer: Umer Qadir
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