ChadarJammu & Kashmir
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Vast stretch of landscape void of any traces of humans defines Chadar, a rugged yet promising destination for trekking fanatics worldwide! Surrounded by Karakoram and Himalayas, this fascinating place is a must visit if one is a true-blue adventurous and romantic at heart! It’s a moderate trekking destination based 3700 meters above the sea level.
The northern most state of India, Jammu and Kashmir or J&K (as it is abbreviated), consists of three regions: the Kashmir Valley, Jammu (winter capital of the state) and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital of J&K. It shares its borders with Himachal Pradesh in the south-east and Punjab in the south-west. To the north-west lies Afghanistan, and in the north-east it shares international border with China, and the LOC or line of control separates it from Pakistan in the west. Understandably, some parts of the Valley are disputed areas since they are either under control of Pakistan or China.
It is the only Indian state that has its own constitution and flag.
The state is full of mountains and is home to several valleys, viz, Kashmir Valley, Tawi Valley, Chenab Valley, Poonch Valley, Sindh Valley to name a few.
Jammu is situated on a Shivalik hillock with the river Tawi flowing at the foot of the hill. The mountain ranges and valleys of Kashmir are a rare beauty. Buddhist culture is widespread in Ladakh and it is also known as ‘Little Tibet’.
Virgin landscapes, lush greenery and snow-peaked Himalayas are a huge draw. The state is variously and very aptly described as ‘Paradise on Earth’; ‘Dreamland’; ‘Choicest Creation of God’. You will never find yourself wanting for reasons to visit this place as it sure holds a lot of promise to its tourists in very many ways.
The best time to visit would be between April-October and December-January.
Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have their own special and traditional foods influenced by climatic conditions and customs. Jammu is a Hindu-dominant land, Muslims outnumber Hindus in Kashmir, and you will find more Tibetans in Ladakh.
Try morel palov, madra, oria, maani, khameera, katha meat, shasha, shiri pulav and meetha bhaat in Jammu. People in this part of the state are mostly vegetarians.
The staple diet of every Kashmiri is rice. Mutton, chicken or fish are of prime importance in every Kashmiri course. Do not miss an invitation to Wazawan or a Kashmiri banquet if you are lucky. It is a lavish non-veg spread comprising no less than 36 courses. If you are a meat-lover, you can try rista or meat balls cooked in gravy, seekh kabab, tabak maz, roganjosh with a generous garnishing of Kashmiri chillies. Sweets do not play an important role in Kashmiri cuisine but kahva or green tea may be had to wash down the meal.
Several restaurants in Srinagar serve authentic Kashmiri Wazawan. You can check out Mughal Durbar, Grand on the Residency road; and others located on Lambert lane, Shervani road and Lal Chowk.
Kashmiri breads are just as popular – you may walk into any one of those bakeries at Dalgate to check out sheermal, baqerkhani, tsot and tsochvoru. They are those melt-in-the-mouth varieties, both sweet and savoury.
Leh hotels and restaurants serve traditional Ladakhi food that you will go yum-yum over; try out thukpa, skyu, khambir, chang, butter tea to get a taste of the region.
Every festival is celebrated with equal zeal by people of all religions in the state given the diversity of cultures. You will find no other place in India where people celebrate all religious festivals with equal enthusiasm. The beautiful valleys of Kashmir, the religious shrines of Jammu and peaceful monasteries of Ladakh together put into action series of festivals in J&K throughout the year. Be it Lohri or Baisakhi in Jammu, Eid and Urs in Kashmir, Hemis festival in Ladakh alongside Dussehra, Diwali, Holi, Christmas, New Year in all the three. The colorful celebrations, tasty feasts, great hospitality, and communal peace will impress you so much that you would want to return to the state during festivities. Some of them also organize fairs for several days and it is a good idea to do some traditional shopping in them.
The state is famous for its cultural heritage and amalgamates Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies. The diversity of the state stands steady and highlighted by factors like dance, music, cuisine and festivals. There is a special ritual dance named Kud which is performed by all age groups; it is a type of folk dance that is usually performed at night. Musical instruments that are played as background score are flute, drums, Narsingha, chhaina, etc. Fumenie and Jagarana are performed on weddings. Heren or the traditional theatre is the attraction on Lohri.
Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have a multi-faceted, multi-religious and multi-ethnic culture distinct to the three areas of the state.
The Kashmiris are known for their handicrafts. The Kashmiri carpets and shawls are famous across the world. Carpets are usually hand-knotted and made of either silk or wool with lots of Persian influence on it bearing floral designs. Woolen rugs are designed by colorful chain stitch embroidery. Other handicraft items include basketry, carved wooden furniture, and beaten silver and copper ware. The Kashmiri shawls usually made of cashmere wool or the soft Pashmina wool or the shahtoosh are very expensive and are famous worldwide.
Kashmiri shawls, carpets and rugs are not regular in your city malls; they will remain your prized possessions, safely tucked away; you will not risk wearing them out when they are a rarity. Unless you are budget-tight, you sure can carry a few pieces back home to gift your family and friends; they’ll be more than flattered to receive such high-priced mementos.
Multifarious languages are spoken across the state – from Hindi, English, Urdu to Kashmiri, Dogri, Punjabi, Balti, Gujri, Pahari, Dadri and Ladakhi. People living in Ladakh speak Ladakhi, whereas people in Jammu mostly speak Dogri. Hindi is mostly spoken by the Kashmiri Pandits and the Gujjar people of the state. Urdu is spoken by the Muslim population in Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir is by far the most interesting state to vacation with friends and kin. If you have the travel facts right, the stay is all the more exciting and fulfilling. So get going!
By Road: Leh is well connected to Manali and Srinagar via HRSTC and HPTDC buses. The trekking starts from Chiling and extends till Zanskar valley along the frozen Zanskar River.
By Train: Jammu Tawi is the closest rail head, if one wants to reach by rail. It has connecting trains to Howrah, Katra, Pathankot, Kanpur, Bhatinda and other places.
By Air: Kullu is the nearest domestic airport and New Delhi International airport is the closest major airport to this trekking destination.GET DIRECTION
Carry enough eatables and water to avoid dehydration as the trekking requires one to complete 105 kms approx on foot.
Ladakh town has buses, cabs, motorbikes and rented bicycles as local transports. Walking is another best way to explore this rocky terrain.
From May till September are the most preferred months to explore this topography.
Besides trekking along icy covered rivers, steep mountains and deep gorges and valleys, this place is perfect for exploring rock climbing, rappelling and river rafting during summers!
Padum Valley – It’s based 3505 meters above the sea level and was once the capital of the ancient town of Zanskar.