(Sinkiang Province and Tibet) borders Jammu & Kashmir to
the North and east, to the west, Pakistan's Northwest
Frontier Province to the west and the India states of Punjab
and Himachal Pradesh to the south. The whole region of
Kashmir has an area 228,800 square km with a population of about
11.8 million, but Pakistan controls 87,950 square km of the
Gilgit and Hunza areas of Kashmir to the northwest while China
has grabbed a further slice of the area in the east. Due
to these border disputes there is a large Indian military presence
in the state and following the Chinese activities in Ladakh,
two roads were built to Leh and the airport there was completed.
is the southern part of the state and forms a transitional area
between the India plains and the ranges, which make up the Himalayan
region. The northern part of the state is Kashmir but
this name usually refers just to the Vale of Kashmir, a large
valley in the Northwest. The eastern part of the state
is Ladakh, within which lies Zansker. The Himalaya's separate
the Vale of Kashmir from the Zanskar Valley and in turn the
Zanskar Range separates Zanskar from Ladakh. The Himalaya's
not only marks changes in climate and geography, but as you
move from Kashmir to Ladakh there are also great differences
in race, customs and religion. The Kashmir Valley is bounded
by two mountain ranges. The lower Pir Panjal Range curls
around the valley from the Southeast, through the south and
around to the Northwest. The eastern side of the valley
is closed off by the Great Himalaya, which runs almost straight
from Southeast to Northwest. At one time Kashmir was a
lake, which, like the Kathmandu Valley, was drained eons ago.
The climactic differences in the state of Jammu and Kashmir
are probably the most varied in all of India. In Jammu
in the hot season the temperatures can be consistently above
40oC while at Kargil in mid-winter the temperature has been
known to drop to minus 40oC. Similarly, during the monsoon
Jammu can have rain every day while in Ladakh whole years may
pass with no rainfall at all. Following is a brief outline
of the weather you can expect in the various regions.
Jammu situated at a height of only 300 metres, Jammu has three-season
weather typical of India and Pakistan Pelains. The best
time of the year is the cool season from early October to about
February-March. In October, immediately after the monsoon
finishes, the weather will be cool and fresh, the skies clear
and dust-free. Later in the cool season (December and
January in particular) it can get quite crisp with temperatures
as low as 5oC at night.
Kashmir is an altitude of more than 1,000 metres and the Kashmir
Valley is much cooler than Jammu but is most popular during
May and June. At this time the daily temperatures are
around 20oC, a delightfully cool contrast to the 40oC temperatures
common on the plaThe Kashmir tourist season ends in October
as minimum temperatures drop below 10oC. From November
to February night temperatures often fall below freezing in
Srinagar, snow falls and during cold years Dal Lake can freeze
over. In winter Gulmarg becomes Kashmir premier ski resort.
The spring thaws in February-March. Rainfall in Kashmir's
is fairly even year round.
Ladakh & Zanskar winter at the high altitudes of Ladakh
and Zanskar can be spectacularly cold although snow fall is
generally not heavy since the Himalaya's act as a barrier to
rain clouds from the south. Parts of Ladakh have no recordable
rainfall for years, yet in others may be deep and persistent
snow. Temperatures are consistently below freezing for
six months of the year in Leh and the snowbound pass into Kashmir
isolates Ladakh from October to June. Drass is reputed
to be one of the coldest places in Asia during winter.
The Zanskaris bring their sheep, cattle and goats into the house
in winter and from December to March they themselves retreat
into the central room of the house and wait for spring.
The Zanskar River usually disappears under ice and snow along
much of its length. The Ladakhis too spend much of winter
indoors. In summer the day temperatures are pleasantly
warm with maximums around 20 to 25oC, but night temperatures
are always crisp. Even at the height of summer the temperature
will immediately plummet when a cloud obscures the sun.
Population The State of Jammu & Kashmir and
Azaz Kashmir have a population of about 11.7 million.
Ladakh, which is just less than 100,000 square km in size, comprises
nearly half of the whole Kashmir region, making it the largest
district in Jammu & Kashmir. However its population
of just more than 100,000 also makes it the most lightly populated
region of the country. Ladakh has 112 villages and one
town, the capital of Leh.
Language Although English is widely understood in Kashmir
(but not so much in Ladakh) In the State of Jammu and Kashmir
these include Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi and regional languages like
Dogri, Dardi, and Pahari.ins to the south.
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