Srinagar  - Gateway to Kashmir & One of Sam's Exotic Travels

  Boating on Dal Lake - Srinigar Kashmir India  Young Batsman - Srinigar Kashmir India  The courtyard inside a Muslim Mosque, Srinigar Kashmir India

Kashmir, famed for its natural beauty, is often referred to as the “Switzerland of the East.” Srinagar , located in the center of Kashmir Valley, is the main entry-point to Kashmir. The sprawling city borders Dal Lake overlooking the foothills of the Himalayas, with a view praised by poets and travelers alike. English were not permitted to buy land in Srinagar  so they built houseboats on Dal Lake, which are still used 100 years afterward as accommodations.

About 12 million people live in Kashmir, of which around 70% are Muslims. The rest include Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. Hindus live mostly in the south and around the city of Jammu. Most of the Kashmiri people work on farms. Others are engaged in small industries making shawls, rugs and carpets. Kashmir is well known for its wool and, in particular, its shawls and carpets.

Kashmir has been the key to the dispute between India and Pakistan since their independence from the British in 1947. Each country claims Kashmir as a part of its territory. As a result of a rebellion in 1947 and the subsequent wars between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the area is separated by a Line-of-Control (LOC or cease-fire line). To the east of the LOC lies the vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh which are administered by India. To the west lies the area now known as 'Azad [Free] Kashmir' which is governed by its own government with strong ties with Pakistan.

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