Kashmir is a state of India located mostly in the Himalayan mountains. It shares a border with the states of Hiachal Preadesh and Punjab to the south. It also shares an international border with China in the north and east and Pakistani controlled territories Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. This territory is disputed among China, India and Pakistan.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is actually three separate regions: Hindu Jammu, Buddhist Ladakh and Muslim Kashmir.
The Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape. Along the northeast flank of the Valley runs the main range of the Himalayas. The Valley has an average height of 1,850m above sea-level. The biogeography here is diverse giving way to a broad band of western Himalayan broadleaf forests running from northwest to southeast. Rising into the mountains the broadleaf forests grade into western Himalayan subalpine confer forests. Above the treeline are found Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows. Around the highest elevations you will find no vegetation, simply rock and ice.
The climate here varies greatly owing to its rugged topography. Rainy periods can fetch up to 40 to 50mm of rain per month whilst (between January and March) and hot periods can reach temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius. In July and August there is erratic rainfall which can reach up to 650mm. By October conditions are hot but extremely dry with minimal rainfall and temperatures averaging 29 degrees Celsius.
Kashmiri cuisine has evolved over hundreds of years and is highly influenced by foods of the Kashmiri Buddhists and Pandits, the Hindu community of the valley. Other influences include Central Asia, Persia and the North India Plains. Mutton is the most notable ingredient in the cuisine here and food is usually prepared in lots of yogurt, oil and spices. Typical vegetarian dishes from the Pandits include Ladyar Tsaman (Indian cheese in turmeric), Veth Tsaman (Indian cheese cooked in oil and Kashmiri spices), Dama Oluv (potatoes), Nadeir yakhean (lotus stem), Choek vangan and Nadier Palak.
Things to do in Kashmir: Indira Gadhi Tulip Garden, Apharwat Peak, Baisaran (scenic/historic walking areas), Sonthan Top (interesting landmark), Shankaracharya Hill, Nagin Lake, Dal Lake, Pahalgam Golf Course, Jamia Masjid (architecturally interesting building), Amaranth Ji Caves, Gulmarg Ski Area, Betab Valley, Pari Mahal (ancient ruins), Gulmarg Gondola (trams), Sonamarg (mountains), Diskit Compa (monastery), Yousmarg (landmark), Nishat Garden, Mughal Gardens, Chashme Shahi Gardens, Shah-e-Hamdan (religious site), Lamayuru (religious site), Hemis Monastery, Manasbal Lake, Thajiwas Glacier, Kheer Bhawani Temple, Jama Masjid Mosque and Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Botanical Gardens.
Some Kashmiri Pandit festivals are Herath (Shivaratri), Navreh, Zyeath-Atham, Huri-Antham, Zarmae-Satam, Dussehra, Diwali, Pan, Zyeth Atham, Khetsimavas, Kava Punim, Mitra Punim, Tiky Tsoram, Gengah Atham, Tila Atham, Vyetha Truvah and Anta Tsodah.
Although civil unrest has been a concern in the area, harming tourism in years gone by, a sense of calm has been restored and visitors are flocking to Kashmire. Nevertheless, be prepared to see police and army personnel everywhere, as an ongoing measure of keeping the peace.