Journey into Paradise- Jammu & Kashmir Dairy

From the Mughals – who called it paradise on earth, to Bollywood films and songs – that romanced it for millions of Indians for ever, and to Bill Clinton- who gave it the dubious distinction of being the ‘most dangerous place on earth’ – picturesque and bountiful Kashmir has always captured visitor’s hearts and imaginations. The modern India state of Jammu & Kashmir is a huge state, with three focal points from the tourist point of view. These are Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Leh-Ladakh. Kashmir was once a major center of Sanskrit scholars, or pandits, from the times of Vikramaditya in 200 B.C ; then Buddhism came to the Kashmir Valley during the third century and after the rise of Ashoka, when it had the famous Chines traveller Huein Tsang visiting it, followed later by Sufi sages and Muslim invaders from Central Asia and Persia. It was eventually absorbed into the Mughal Empire,and it was Jahangir, so besotted with the valley’s beauty, who penned the famous Persian couplet: “Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, o hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast” (“If there is a heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here”). Later, in the 19th century, control over the valley passed from the Mughals to the Durrani Shahs of Afghanistan and later still to to the Sikh kingdom of Ranjit Singh, who in turn lost...

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