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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 and comfort.

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.
 

Cultural Background
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 cultural service.

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 follows :-


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 of people.

b) Chakri
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 presentation.

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 artists.



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