Kashmir is known for its unearthly beauty, which has earned it the sobriquet of being the " Paradise on Earth". Kashmir Valley is part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in north India. The decade old political and civil turmoil in the region has not taken anything away from the beauty of Kashmir. With peace returning to the Kashmir Valley, it has now become a tourist hot spot owing to its amazing cultural diversity, the sheer beauty of the mighty Himalayas, and the green valleys whose beauty has attracted a horde of migrants from West Asia and Central Asia down the ages.
According to the 1981 census reports, Kashmir has a population of 77,18,700. Almost 50% of the population is engaged in agriculture. The Kashmir Valley is dominated by Muslims, while the Jammu region has an equal distribution of Hindus and Muslims. The Ladakh Valley has a Buddhist population, with a sizeable Muslim minority.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir has three climate zones: the Arctic zone of Ladakh, the temperate climate of the Kashmir Valley and the sub tropical region of Jammu. Altitude ranges from 1000 to 28,250 feet, causing sharp climatic differences in the state. The fierce beauty of the Ladakh Valley is a draw for tourists, despite the inhospitable terrain and cold desert like conditions. The Kashmir Valley, with its clear lakes, pine forests and heavy snowfall in winters, counts many tourist footfalls in summers.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir became part of independent India on August 15, 1947, when the Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, decide to accede to India. The newly formed nation of Pakistan, however, sent in its army to capture the state. The Pakistani army illegally occupied almost 1/3 rd of the state. When the then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, took the matter to the United Nations, it issued an order for plebiscite in the region, provided Pakistan withdrew it army from the region. Since Pakistan did not withdraw the army, the plebiscite was never held, leading to strife and wars between the two neighboring countries over the decades. However, with peace and normalcy returning to the Valley, the state has been opened up for tourism.
Kashmir is the northern most state of India. It lies between 32.17 degree and 36.58 degree North latitudes. Of the total 22,22,000 square kilometer area of the state, 78,000 square kilometers is illegally occupied by Pakistan and 42,000 square kilometers by China. The state consists of the dry mountain belts of mountain plains, the high Pir Panjal range, the lower Shivalik range and the Indus river valley.