Let the Trees of Kashmir Guide You

Let the Trees of Kashmir Guide You

Let the Trees of Kashmir Guide You

 

“A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.”

When we think of icons we conjure up images of people, places, things that withstand the test of time symbolizing our beliefs, cultural history and traditions. Today let the trees of Kashmir, that stood all the test of time, guide you through an emotionally attached landscape of the place. Kashmir has grown old with the thousands of trees that line up the beautiful valley lapped on the majestic Himalayas. These trees have seen plenty of history pass by their trunks. Trees are not merely another living being; there are secrets that they have been keeping from us, these trees are friends, they talk to each other, some trees bully each other, some share deep love and some are loners.
The scenic beauty of Kashmir is magnified by its symbolic Chinar or Maple trees and Pine trees. It is symbolic to the region and it is believed that once you’ve visited Kashmir you will emotionally get attached to the trees, their shades, colors, beautiful flowers and captivating characteristics.

What is it about the silent companions that make them so captivating?

Pine Trees of Kashmir

The radiant red, yellowish-brown and mauve Chinar dotting the Autumn landscape of Kashmir, the needles of the tall Himalayan Blue Pine that survive the chilliest winters, the matured dark grey bark of the evergreen tall Deodar from the snowy slopes of the Himalayas, the pretty light green foliage and long thin leaves of the Willow trees that sweep lightly with the wind and the leaves that turn yellow in the fall are all native to the Heaven on Earth.

While these home-grown trees and their characteristics have attracted a lot of tourists, movies, writers, poets, wildlife, let us today walk you through some of the notable landmark trees of Jammu and Kashmir.

Chinar Tree

The breath-taking panaroma of the Nishat Bagh and the splendid Chinar
Jammu and Kashmir has declared the majestic, around 700 years old Chinars as the state tree. Though the chinars dots most of the valley’s shrines and mosques, this massive and splendid Chinar tree growing at the old Mughal Gardens in the famous city of Srinagar is marked as a heritage tree.

The Kashmir garden that made Shah Jahan green with envy – the Nishat Bagh and the remarkable double-trunked Magnolia
A lively garden on the eastern side of the Dal Lake, with waterfalls and a double-trunked magnolia by its side.

Chinar Nishat Bagh

The serene Nagin Lake and the large Chinar-

The Lake nestled at the foothills of the Zabarwan ranges in Srinagar is the same, the shikara boats are the same, and the large chinar tree on the Nagin Lake where the boat dock is the same but the dreams of the man who rows the Shikara, the fast-changing shades of the lake, the tourists enjoying their vacations keep changing.

 

Alchi Demon Tree (Populus ciliata:Salicaceae) : A demon mask accentuates an old and broadly branching tree at the small trinket market at Alchi, Ladakh [JK : Alchi : On path to Alshi monastery]

 

On the banks of the Indus river of Leh, lays the Alchi monastery and the famous Alchi Demon tree
A demon mask draws attention to an old and broadly branching bodhi leaf tree at the small knick-knacks market at Alchi, Ladakh.

Willow tree

A small Willow tree that stands guard and keeps watch
A small willow tree is encountered in the spectacular rocky gorge leading to the village of Dar from the Indus river crossing at Nor La.

Char Chinar

A must visit at Dal Lake, Char Chinar Island
A visit via shikaras to the island crowned by four large chinars.

The Char Minar Chinar
This four-trunked monster is the largest and most elaborate of the old Chinar trees in Srinagar and is planted just below the Mughal Gardens.

 

Leh Palace Ridgeline Trees (Populus ciliata:Salicaceae) : Set in a dramatic notch just along from the Leh Palace is a poplar tree decorated with prayer flags [JK : Leh : Just along the ridge about level with the Palace]

 

Leh Palace Ridgeline Trees
Set in a dramatic notch just along from the Leh Palace is a poplar tree decorated with peace, wisdom, compassion and strength – prayer flags.

The list is not over yet, we will keep adding.
The valley of Kashmir is decorated with many such heritage deciduous trees that bring cheer to people who live there. With a lot of trees facing the axe in the Kashmir valley these days, we need to increase awareness of the effects of tree felling on our environment.

Lots of thanks to Landmark Trees of India in helping us with the list of heritage trees of Jammu and Kashmir.
Wondering how to spot the trees? Fear not, we’ve got you covered:
Landmark Trees of India

10 Real- Unusual- Heavenly Pictures from Kashmir

10 Real- Unusual- Heavenly Pictures from Kashmir

 

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”- Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

Kashmir is heaven on earth. No doubts! But what makes it beautiful? Its landscape scenic beauty? Snow covered length? Or Sun drenched sky?

“Well, it is the human eye!

It’s in the eye of the seeker,

In the soul of the bearer.

Because what is beauty but truth,

What is heavenly but snood?”

Surely, the splendidness of the beauty of Kashmir can’t be described in words, nor can it be recited in verse. But through this article, I have tried to put forward an unusually beautiful part of our valley in the form of photographs picked up from Instagram profiles of various people- each with a different perspective and lens.

 

The journey to heaven begins:

  1. The Blue Sky

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

Kashmir is generally covered in clouds and snow and sunlight skipping beats in between of clouds. But rahul_gallery has a different story to tell. His picture defines beauty of departure in the form of love between dawn and the night.

  1. The Streets and Sheep

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

This photographer, sneha_ailsinghania writes the story of the greenery of the month of june in her photograph. She captures the herd of sheep, their beautiful flowing hair, quest to reach leaves on trees, and in it, embraces the beauty of Kashmir.

 

  1. The Snow Sloppy Fields

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

Yamini.1gupta decides to take on the candid. The candid trees that tilt a little, the sun that looks like a huge focus light and the snow slope that defines a bit of field is the basic couture of her photograph.

 

  1. The Greens of Dal

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

 

No sun setting pictures of Shikaras, no flower dressed shores! thepioneerofthenorth0822’s definition of Dal Lake is a common Kashmiri man taking his Shikara through an untouched and yet beautiful stream of the lake.

 

  1. The Heartland- Gulmarg

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

I am exceptionally in awe of Gulmarg and its beauty. Seen it, been in it and with it; but never have a picture expressed Gulmarg in an omniscient manner. Kashmir7888 has discovered this this lens of the valley and no words justify its beauty!

 

  1. The Winds of Winter

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

The dark is beautiful in Kashmir, because the white snow shines through the trees. This amazing- amazing picture from amazingindia_ explores the real winter in Kashmir.

 

  1. The Shadows and Land

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

101india has never failed to identify most uncommon aspects of India and so it does justice here. Five shadows, shades of ethnic surreal land and Kashmiri Sufi getup; what else does one require to soak their eyes with magnificence?

 

  1. The Confused Chaos

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

There is beauty in chaos, charm in confusion and it is only at Dal Lake that one can witness this fusion. captivatingkashmir captures an equally charming picture of Shikaras, mingled and tangled in each other, which is in fact the real beauty of the lake.

 

  1. The Tip of the Top

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

The crescent valley of Patni Top tatters its road in snow, and what comes out of it is only awe. in.prateek captures a chilling moment in the valley that many have dream to witness. The mist and the snow is the blur that defines it all.

  1. The Divine Divinity

 

kashmir, best pictures, winters in kashmir

 

 

reeneta_dutta’s genius of photography has made every bit of the sky, free birds and their shadows on ground speak the language of divine. Even the Dargah Sharif must have smiled to this scenic scenery.

 

Feel free to share your views on the photographs and share with us more such unusual captures.

Heart-Warming Stories from the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir

Heart-Warming Stories from the State of Jammu and Kashmir

This year as India celebrated its 72nd Independence Day let us remind ourselves that ‘Unity in diversity’ is something that has always been our first identity and a matter of our pride. With India celebrating its Unity in diversity we bring you heart-warming stories of communal harmony from the most diverse state.

Kashmiriyat’ is the symbol of unity in diversity through centuries that embodies the philosophy of amity, love, inclusiveness and tolerance. You’ll be overwhelmed to see the mutual love and brotherhood every Kashmiri has. Why are we ignoring the existence of a Kashmiri brotherhood? May be because the agenda of a few media is to show communal violence, and the reality of Kashmir and its Kashmiriyat and the many good things happening around the corner are often being ignored.

We keep reading instances of communal violence therefore any story that depicts that there is still hope is termed as ‘a rare display of communal harmony’. But here we bring some stories from Kashmir that suggests that the country has not yet come to the sorry pass and a few cannot change the DNA of India which celebrates and embraces diversity.

We Are Not Just Kashmiri Pandits or Muslims, We Are a Family
Hindus and Muslims of Kashmir have always expressed their love and respect for one another and have always valued them as part of the Kashmiri society. In difficult times they stood beside each other like a pillar and even as the times changed to happier ones as true friends they stuck around.

Let us lift the veil and celebrate the real unity in diversity.

Anwar Mir and Chaman Lal

Anwar Mir and Chaman Lal’s friendship

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Chaman Lal, a Kashmiri Pandit stays in Zainapora village of South Kashmir’s Shopian district. Like many others he did not migrate to Jammu in the 90s. With the passage of time Chaman Lal turned blind due to some eye complications.
Since then, the residents of Zainapora village, mostly Muslims, had been helping Chaman Lal in his daily chores.
Amongst his neighbours is Anwar Mir, a youth hood friend of Chaman Lal. In this sighted world that is always a challenging place for those living with sight loss, Anwar Mir has been a pure example of ‘a friend in a need is a friend indeed’. For the past 30 years Anwar has helped Chaman Lal in his daily chores. From taking stroll in the surroundings to visiting him daily everyday their special bond is a lesson for all of us.

While Anwar says,
I visit him every day. It is a routine for me. Lal puts his arm on my shoulder and we take a stroll around the streets. The same streets and shop fronts where we used to discuss our future some four decades years ago.

Chaman Lal says,
I was not blind by birth. It happened some 30 years ago but I’ve never felt insecure here. My friend is helping me here to move around. I was born here. I lived my life here and I will die here. Mir is always there in any kind of situation. If I have to go to a medical shop my friend helps me out. He is always there.

The local residents of the village to are a witness to the gentle breeze of this religious harmony and says,
Their 40-years of long friendship is a lesson for all of us. It purely is an example that a ‘friend in a need is a friend indeed.

Muslims attending last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit

Lending a Helping Hand in the Final Journey

In a belief that no one should walk their last journey alone, Muslim residents of Kulgam district of South Kashmir performed the last rites of Janki Nath, the only Kashmiri Pandit living among 5000 Muslims in Malvan, Kalgam. Janki Nath refused to leave the valley when all others in his family fled under threats. Therefore when he died he had no family member to perform his last rites.
Though many of us would call it a rare gesture, but his neighbours who described him as their brother thought it was their responsibility to perform the last rites of the deceased.

In another instance of communal harmony and brotherhood, residents of Sheikh Mohalla in Maharaj Gunj, defied the army curfew and stepped out of their homes to help perform the last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit woman.

It is worthwhile noting that while people who read such positive news are shocked at first, but the valley has witnessed such heartwarming ‘Kashmiriyat‘ for decades and this bodes well for the future of Kashmir.

Kashmiri woman and her husband braved a curfew to get food across to her Pandit friend.

Walking miles to feed a starving friend

A Muslim couple braved a strict curfew and walked through the violent streets to bring food for their starving Pandit friends. As they received a call from their friend that they were running out of food, Zubeda Begum and her husband risked their lives and defied the curfew imposed in Srinagar with a sack full of food to their Hindu friend in Jawahar Nagar.

She (Diwanchand Pandit’s wife and Zubeda Begum’s friend) called me in the morning, saying her family needed food supplies. They have an ailing grandmother staying with them. I am taking the food to them. It is difficult but we are trying to reach them,” Zubeda Begum told the Daily Mail.

Everyone is suffering here. We are so glad that these people came here. This is where humanity lies,” grateful Pandit was quoted as saying

According to the couple, the risk and effort of their long walk were paid for with the warmth they received after reaching the doorstep of Diwanchand’s house in Jawahar Nagar.

This is where humanity/Kashmiriyat lies. It helps you stay positive and help others in the face of adversities.

Here were just a few instances where the spirit of humanity shinned brighter. We are confident that there are more such sunshine stories of communal harmony against the rumours of communal violence that continue to haunt and we will bring them forward.

Kashmir – the perfect destination for your monsoon vacation

Kashmir – The Perfect Destination for Your Monsoon Vacation

Celebrating Monsoon Showers

From the mountains to the sea, the rain awakens every landscape and enhances the beauty of nature. Rain refreshes the mind and the soul. Monsoon in India is the most beautiful season and much-awaited for. Monsoon in India is not only about romancing the rain; it is an answer to the farmer’s prayers, a celebration of festivals and a reason to make special monsoon delicacies.

Just like the rest of India, the misty Himalayan range looks magnificent during rains. And if you’re desperately planning to run away from the crawling traffic and flooded roads with potholes, to rejoice joyous moods of green meadows, colorful flowers, chirping birds, lakes and rivers brimming with sparkling water and white and grey clouds painting the sky then Kashmir is where you ought to be!

That being said, there is also no official monsoon in Kashmir, but rainy days come in July and August turning ‘Jannat’ from beautiful to mind-blowingly gorgeous. The silver-grey clouds hanging on the lofty Himalayan peaks, the gurgling river flowing through the mountain towns, drops of water hanging from the evergreen pine branches after they’ve enjoyed the showers gives it a picture-perfect postcard setting.

Fall in Love with Disarmingly Charming Jammu & Kashmir, this Monsoon!

Jammu and Kashmir

The weather here is perfect – not humid, not cold nor warm. During the dry hours of the day take a short walk with the light breeze around the river Jhelum and exceed every expectation that you had. Browse the boutiques on the main road and discover a vibrant range of Sarees, Suits, Kurtis, Dresses and accents. Lend the cloudy grey skies some bright and beautiful colors of your own to spruce up the rainy days. Do not forget to pick up fabrics that are nothing less than perfect for the rainy days. By the time you are done shopping a gentle rain drizzle starts on your, smell the cool and damp air and unlike most locals if you’ve failed to remember to carry an umbrella with you, head back to the hotel. While the drizzle breaks into a heavy downpour after half an hour, grab a chair and sit beside the window overlooking the river and you can just spend hours watching dark clouds slowly turning the perfectly blue sky grey, adding a layer of mystery around. Pen down few lines as the rhythm of the falling rain brings out the hidden poet in you or just simply stare at all the beauty around you. A good friend would be a steaming hot cup of ‘Kahwa’ along with some crisp hot ‘pakodas’. Kahwa builds immunity against water-borne diseases and would double your happiness as you enjoy the downpour of rain by the window.

What is a cloudy, rainy day without a cup of coffee? Venture out of your hotel in the evening to a nearby café to enjoy the cozy and beautiful combination. Goodfellas café on the banks of the Jhelum would be a perfect place that offers a blend of perfect food, art and entertainment. Brighten up the rainy days with freshly brewed coffee and the café music playlist. Keep up the monsoon spirit and increase resistance by munching on dry fruits as healthy between-meal fillers.
When the night starts to fall, the bed starts to call. Tuck yourself in the bed with a book, or a soothing music and get a good night sleep with the rain pouring in the background.

Dal Lake, Kashmir

Take a Shikara ride on a rainy day and let the fresh air blow your hair slowly and the wet wind kiss your cheeks. Feel like a model while nature does the photography! Nature accepts you instantly; it welcomes you in like one of her own. Need not worry, the cute curtains on the sides will keep you fully covered, come rain or sunshine. Peaceful and serene!

Mustard fields, Kashmir

Get lost in the breathtaking Himalayan panorama, tall conifers, acres and acres of saffron and golden mustard fields, romantic houseboats and overall sublime appeal of Kashmir.

Irrespective of water logging, wet times, these are the much awaited flavours that you will crave in this season.

The munar brothers, wood carving, experts of wood carving

The Expert Wood- Carvers of Kashmir

The experts of wood carving in kashmir

 

“Beauty is truth; truth beauty”,

said John Keats and it stands apt for the luminous arts and craft culture of Kashmir. The first thought that crosses one’s mind while witnessing art in Kashmir is of awe as the unique and enchanting crafts synchronise with the beauty of our valley. While Kashmir is famous for various things, the most known are the astonishingly beautiful Pashmina shawls, most keenly knitted carpets, and various handicrafts like Papier Mache, etc.

One of the finest talents of crafting in Kashmir is Wood Carving. It is one of the oldest craft in the history of the world, but exceptionally unique to Kashmir. Why? With its ornamental and delicate aspects, it achieves its individuality due to the use of Walnut Tree wood for carving. Kashmir is one of the few places where walnuts grow, thus making Walnut Wood carving an extraordinary craft in Kashmir.

Wood carving is an extremely difficult craft and takes years of hard work to master. We are blessed with two such master artists, namely, Abdul Ahad Muran and Mohammad Yusuf Muran. The Muran brothers are the oldest Kashmiri wood-carving artists who have been carving beauty from the wood from more than 50 years.

Our talented artists were tragically born dumb and deaf but Allah made no mistake in blessing them with the creative hands and minds. Abdul chacha, who is 72 years old and Yusuf Chacha, who is 56, are Allah’s gifts to Kashmir. Both of them are tremendously good at conceiving and executing the art of wood carving.

The brothers do not let their disability, health or age hinder their work and have recently begun working on some major projects. Abdul chacha has taken up on craving a Mughal- Era wall hanging that does justice to the minute details of king and queen sitting in their palace garden. On the other hand Yusuf Chacha’s project will transcend you to 15th century’s Kashmir. It has all the subtle representation that represent the art of valley: A woman on the spinning wheel, a man weaving shawl, another man grinding spices and the last man with a hookah. These projects are huge and will get much praises from admirers, as the proud son, Mudasir Munar, of Abdul Chacha says, “You cannot spot a single mistake in their work”. Mudasir sells the carved woods made by his father and uncle in the markets in the valley, which is vastly known among the locals as well as visitors, as the fame of Munar brothers has reached beyond oceans. They are also internationally known for their art of wood carving.

 

wood carving in kashmir, the muran brothers

 

The Muran family has an ancient history in wood carving. Abdul and Yusuf chacha fall in the fourth generation of the family and are successfully keeping the tradition as well the almost dying art of wood carving alive. As their fame grew, the art also rode upon the roller coaster of recognition internationally. There is no a single artefact that they can’t perfect in. From carving animals, Hindu mythology gods and goddesses to the portraits of inspirational leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, the brothers have mastered their hands in all forms. They have successfully created the replica of a Hangul (Kashmiri Deer) to gift an US based NGO and carved the miniature replica of Srinagar’s Jamia mosque for the Iranian Ambassador.

 

wood carving in kashmir, the muran brothers

 

The only tragic part to this glorious art is the fear of its extinction. The young generation needs to pay heed to such rich traditional art form of Kashmir and carry forward its lineage. It saddens the Muran brothers to see their art form fade.  Unfortunately, due to old age, their health is challenge. Even though the artists die and their art lives forever, Kashmir will always fear the loss of its people.

Through Kashmiri Life, we aim to showcase the talent of our elderly artists and create awareness about the art of Walnut Wood Carving itself. Kashmir is blessed with the Walnut Tree wood and talented people, let’s combine them to keep tradition and the creativity alive.