Jammu and Kashmir

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Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India and shares its borders with Pakistan in the west and north, China in the north and east and Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in the South. A large part of the state is disputed with Pakistan and India both laying claims on the region. The state has three distinct regions - Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh.

The Hindu Kingdom of Kashmir has found reference in the epic Mahabharata and was a major learning center for Sanskrit Language. Under Ashoka during the third century BC, the place became a major center for Buddhist learning and several monastries and gompas were established. In the 13th century the entire region was occupied by the Turks. The turkish hold was further strengthened during the rule of Sikandar who made Islam the state religion and carried massive descruction of Hindu Temples and Buddhist Monasteries which lead to a decline in the Buddhist and the Hindu culture in the valley. Akbar finally ended the turkish rule in 1586 when he faught with the last Turkish ruler and conquered the Valley. When the Mughal stronghold declined the region came under the control of the Sikhs under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The Britishers subsequently defeated the Sikhs in the Anglo-Sikh wars and handed over the Kashmir valley to the Dogras who ruled there until India's Independence.

Kashmir Valley has often been described as a Paradise on Earth and is famous for its lakes, gardens and beautiful landscaped mountains. The valley has been a tense area due to the ongoing conflict between Pakistan and India. Ladakh, a buddhist dominated area, boasts of high mountain passes, high altitude lakes and big moansteries. Jammu with its innumberable number of temples is rightfully called the 'City of Temples'.

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