★★★★Kashmir Cultural Tour
The culture of Jammu and Kashmir is a comprehensive mingling of customs and practices of its three distinct regions, Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. Apart from its demographical variations, specific cultural diversions of its elements are what make the culture of Jammu and Kashmir remarkable. Music, dance, cuisine, lifestyle, festivals all these only highlight the diversities prevalent in these provinces. Unity is restored when a common thread of cultural tradition binds them together thus making it a part of Jammu and Kashmir as a whole. Culture of Jammu and Kashmir is therefore an interesting reflection of color, zest, harmony and concord which makes Jammu and Kashmir to stand apart with its distinct features of age old tradition and deep ethnicity.
Music and Dance
Rouff Dance Any referral of cultural heritage of any of the Indian state would be incoherent without mentioning about the music and dance of the region. The culture of Jammu and Kashmir , too, is not an exception. Innovative dance forms and melodious numbers are composed which are the treasures of performing artforms of this region. Rouff is a conventional dance performed by the women of the Kashmir region. Sad songs are sung where these female dancers incorporate aesthetic dance movements. Rouff is performed mainly during Ramzan and Idds. The Dumhal is an illustrious dance form of Kashmir The men of the Wattal region are expert in performing it. A special theatrical art form has been created intermingling both marriage song and dance. It is a part of marriage celebration, which is observed at the time period followed after the departure of men of the groom`s residence along with the couple. Fun , gossips and various incidents of nuptial nights are done creating an ambience of amusement and jubilance. Surma , a Dogri dance , expresses the frustration of newly married bride whose groom has gone in the war.
The culture of Jammu and Kashmir has a plenteous tradition of folk music. Rabab is popular folk music of Kashmir. Musical instruments include nagara, dukra and sitar. Hafiz Nagma is grounded on the classical music of Kashmir- the Sofiyiana Kalam. The danseuse is called `Hafiza`. The salient instrument employed in Hafiz Nagma is called Santoor. It is the famous musical instrument of one hundred strings beat with sticks. Songs of Habab Khatun too are composed depicting the sadness of the famous Kashmiri princess of the same name. She was sad as she had been separated from her beloved husband Yousuf king. The uniqueness of Bakhan songs of the region is that it is hummed without the aid of any musical instrument . These songs are composed in the form of poems. The beat is unpredictable and is influenced by intonation in musical note. Hand movements of the musicians suggest various `note` fluctuations. In Dogra Pahari area of Jammu valley Geetru is performed at the time of festivals like rural weddings and other social festivals . It mingles both dance and singing formats. Both the sexes take part in this performing art format, which continues throughout day and night.
Bahu Fort The people are very fond of celebrating festivals and it constitutes a significant element of culture of Jammu and Kashmir. The masked dance festivals of Ladakh enthrall the tourists . Not only the major Indian festivals are celebrated in typical traditional fervency, few festivals of the locales are observed in high esteem and also in style and joy. In Uttar Behni area of Jammu valley, Chaitre Chaudash is famous . Celebrated in the month of March or April, this festival is named following the epitomology of Hindi language. where it signifies the fact that hither Devak River runs toward the northern part. Bahu Mela is a significant festival observed at the premises of Kali temple in Jammu`s Bahu Fort . Generally it is celebrated twice a year in the month of either March /April or September /October.
In Purmandal city of Jammu valley, Purmandal Mela is celebrated in the month of February or March to signify the occasion of wedding of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati. Dressed in colorful attires the people visit the places like Panjbhaktar Temple, Peer Khoh and the Ranbireshwar Temple.
In Jhiri village of Jammu valley , Baba Jitu is an annual fair organized by the supporters in the honor of Baba Jitu , a rebel peasant who sacrificed his life rather than to accept barbarities of the local proprietors .
Apart from these festivals, the culture of Jammu and Kashmir incorporates all the other important festivals of India. Typical Sikh festival namely Baisakhi is celebrated in the 13th day of April month. For the Sikh communities of Kashmir it holds a special importance and it marks the heralding of New Year . Lohri festival of Punjab is a time of welcoming spring in the region of Jammu valley, celebrated at one day before Makar Sankranti. In Jammu households it is observed with rituals like `havans` and `yagnas`. As a part of the festivals the boys move from door to door requesting gifts from newly married couples. `Chajja` dance is also presented on this occasion.
WazwanCuisine is a salient element, which denotes the typical culture of Jammu and Kashmir . The traditional green tea with spices and almond known as Kawa, is consumed during poise winters of Kashmir. Rice constitutes the staple food of Kashmir. Thanks to the contribution of skilled cooks from Smarkhand, a mouthwatering banquet called Wazwan has been popularized in Kashmir. It includes thirty-six meal made from mutton and these are really very tasty. All the Kashmiris love non-vegetarian meals especially those prepared from meat and lamb. However, polao is a common dish for Kashmiri veggies. These are namely meat balls and red gravy ( Rista), Minced lamb patties( Shami kabab), Lamb koftas ( Kashmiri Gustaba), spicy lamb steaks( Pasande kabob). Also spices, curd and condiments are common ingredients of Kashmiri cuisine. Mustard oil is used as cooking medium. The odour of costly kesar or saffron increases the craving of locales for classy foods. However, different religious communities of Kashmir maintained unique style of cooking meal. Muslims desist asafetida (hing) and curds and Kashmiri Pandits abstain from using onions and garlic in their meals. Phirni is a sweet delicacy of Jammu and Kashmir.
The culture of Kashmir nicely incorporates within its domain the lifestyle of the people of this region. Kashmir is a place of beautiful mosques and the Hazratbal mosque is frequently visited by several pilgrims . To add to it the spectacular celestial-like natural beauty of the region has drawn the tourists to this region , Thus a tourism industry has expanded in leaps and bounds over the years . Hotels of Jammu and Kashmir are noted for their first-class cordial reception. Most of these are in floating houseboats , providing a splendid experience for the tourists. The California group of Houseboats in Srinagar fall in this category of spectacular hotels. Famous hotels namely Centaur Lake View Hotel Srinagar, Hotel Broadway Srinagar provide panoramic views of the picturesque landscape. There is a heritage hotel called Intercontinental The Grand Palace , overlooks the famous dal lake. The hotel is a `heritage` property 15 kms from the airport, is located adjacent to the Governor`s House and just minutes from the city`s other historic attractions like Shankaracharya Temple, Nishat and Shalimar Bagh, Chashmashahi, Pari Mahal.
Arts and crafts of Jammu Kashmir is very classy . Woven carpets, silk carpets, rugs, woolen shawls, pottery and kurtas are nicely embroidered . Well -decorated traditional boats are made of wooden and they are called Shikaras. It is stylemark of the region and they are watched in lakes and rivers across the region.