Set like a jewelled crown on the map
of India, Kashmir is a many faceted diamond, changing character
vagrantly beautiful. Three Himalayan ranges, Karakoram, Zanaskar
and Pir Panjal - snow capped, majestic, frame the landscape from
northwest to northeast. They are the birthplace of great rivers
which flow through the Kashmir valley. Raj Taringini the
chronology of the Kashmir Kings written by Kalhana eulogizes the
beauty of Kashmir as follows "Kasmira Parvati Paroksh; Tat Swami
ch Maheswara". Meaning Kashmir is as beautiful as Goddess Parvati
manifest; and its owner is Lord Shiva Himself" And the Mughal
Emperor exclaimed "Gar Bar-ru-e-Zamin Ast ; Hamin Ast ,Hamin Ast
Hamin Asto. Meaning if there is paradise on this earth : This is
it, this is it, this is it.
Srinagar is at once a collection of images: a son-et- lumpier that
tells the story of the love of the Mughal emperors for this
paradise vale; deep green rice fields and river bridges of gardens
in bloom and lakes rimmed by houseboats; at once summer capital of
the state, business centre and holiday resort.
Srinagar is as much imagination as it is fact, for every season
offers new vistas to this city of great antiquity. Spring breathes
life again into a frozen world and the air is heady with the
fragrance of a million flowers that blossom on trees, shrubs and
creepers. Summer heightens the effect and autumn is poignant in
its colours of warm introspection. Winter brings with it snow,
sometimes the Dal Lake freezes and beneath a leaden sky, roasted
chestnuts turn the atmosphere aromatic with the promise of warmth
The river Jhelum and the Dal and Nagin lakes dominate Srinagar and
its life and activities. Here lush wild gardens of lotus and water
lily flower amidst bustling lanes. By the lakeside spread the
gardens of the Mughals in patterned beauty. And the people move
with a tranquility borne of a history laden pulse of activity.
IF legends are to be believed, the Kashmir valley was once a lake
as large as a sea and here lived an abominable demon who was
killed after most of the lake had been drained with the collective
help of Brahma's grandson, Kashap and the goddess Parvati. She was
finally stilled the demon by dropping upon him a mountain and
thereby crushing him to death. This legendary mountain is no other
than Hari Parbat, Srinagar's 'Takht-i- Sulaiman' hill that forms
the famous backdrop to the city.
Jammu and Kashmir has the distinction of having multifaceted,
variegated and unique cultural blend, making it distinct from the
rest of the country, not only from the different cultural forms
and heritage, but from geographical, demographically, ethical,
social entities, forming a distinct spectrum of diversity and
diversions into Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh, all professing diverse
religion, language and culture, but continuously intermingling,
making it vibrant specimens of Indian Unity amidst diversity. Its
different cultural forms like art and architecture, fair and
festivals, rites and rituals, seer and sagas, language and
mountains, embedded in ageless period of history, speak volumes of
unity and diversity with unparalleled cultural cohesion and
While the Kashmir has been the highest learning centre of Sanskrit
and Persian where early Indo-Aryanic civilization has originated
and flourished, it has also been embracing point of advent of
Islam bringing its fold finest traditions of Persian civilization,
tolerance, brotherhood and sacrifice.
Some of the popular performing traditions of Srinagar are as
a) Bhand Pather
It is a traditional folk theatre style combination of play and
dance in a satirical style where social traditions , evils are
depicted and performed in various social and cultural functions.
Bhand Jashan is performed by a group of 10 to 15 artists in their
traditional style accompanied by light music for the entertainment
It is most popular form of Kashmiri folk music. It has some
resemblance with chakra of mountainous regions of Uttar Pradesh.
Normally Garaha, Sarangi, Rabab were the musical instruments used
in the past. But now thw harmonium too has made its way in its
c) Sufiana Music
Sofians music came to Kashmir from Iran in the 15th century. Over
the years it has established itself as the classical music form of
Kashmir and has incorporated a number of Indian Ragas in its body.
Hafiz Nagma in fact, used to be part of sofiana music. The
instruments used in this form are Santoor, Sitar, Kashmiri Saz,
Wasool or Tabala. In Hafiz Nagma a dancer is a female while her
accompanists on various instruments are males. Hafiza moves her
feet on musical notes.
There are only a few families in Kashmir who are practicing this
musical form in Kashmir. Whereas the tallest ustad Ghulam Mohd.
Qaleenbaft is unable to move out because of health problems, Ustad
Ghulam Mohd. Saznawaz and Ustad Abdul Ghani Namathali are
imparting training to their family members and are the practising