is a land of fabled beauty and eternal romance, blessed by nature
with breath-taking scenery and a glorious climate. The Kashmir
valley, a fertile well watered spot, surrounded by high mountains
has been described with justification as a "heaven on earth",
a produce rich oasis in an area not noted for its abundance.
The valley of Kashmir is described as an emerald set in pearls,
a land of lakes, clear streams, green turf, magnificent trees
and mighty mountains. Although Kashmir has a rich heritage of
poets, writers, philosophers, intellectuals and craftsmen it
has basically established itself as an agricultural economy.
Kashmiris form a distinct cultural and ethnic group in the administrative
unit of the Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir, known as "Kashir"
to the inhabitants of the valley and as Kashmir in the official
circles. Perched securely among the Himalayas at an average
height of 6,000 feet above the sea. North east and west, range
after range of mountains guard the valley from the outer world
while on the south it is cut off from the Punjab by rocky barriers
fifty to seventy five miles in length. The valley is a resting
place for adventurous traders from distant markets of Yarkand
and Central Asia, and it furnished a base for military operations
against the wild and turbulent tribes of Shinaki country to
the north and north east. More to the east lie the peaceful
valleys of Baltistan or Little Thibet, where gentle Baltis lead
their harmless lives in a high, dry climate.
and Skardu (8,873 feet), the chief stronghold of Baltis, are
the great mountain plains of Devsai (13,400 feet), and to the
east lies the high valley of Dras through which runs the road
to Leh and Yarkand. A journey of a few days from Kashmir carries
one into countries of new languages, customs and religions like
the primitive Shins who live along the spurs of mighty Nanga
Parbat, the Mongolian Baltis of little Thibet and the simple
Ladakhis, Buddhists and polyandrists.
Kashmiris inhabit contiguous areas of Jammu region in Doda,
Rajouri, Poonch, Gool, Gulabgarh, Mahour, Dudu and Bani areas
of Kathua district. Kashmiri language is spoken in all these
areas of Jammu region and ethnically and culturally this forms
a compact area along with the valley of Kashmir.
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