National Conference on Climate Change,Biodiversity and Sustainable Capacity Building
March 2016, Srinagar, Kashmir
Focal Theme: Managing Our Common Future:Mountains for Devlopement
Travel To Srinagar, J&K.
Srinagar at a Glance

For centuries, Kashmir has been one of the most highly coveted areas of the Asian continent, regarded as paradise on Earth by the Mughal kings who holidayed in the valley, nestled between the Himalayas and the Pir Panjal Mountains. But for much of the second half of the 20th Century, periodic war and political strife have kept visitors from heaven's gate.In India, miles of concrete dominate the crowded urban landscape. But in the remote northern region of Kashmir, the summer capital of Srinagar is dominated by Dal Lake, a glistening heart that gives the city its slow and steady pulse. Here, life's pace is set by the spade-shaped paddles of the colourfully painted shikaras (canoe-like boats) rather than the chaotic movements of frenetic tuk-tuk drivers.

Srinagar is a modern waterworld, dominated by Dal Lake and its twisting waterways, tree-lined Nagin Lake, and the Jhelum River. Engulf yourself in local culture by embracing your sea legs and renting one of the wooden boats called shikaras for a daytime or twilight cruise. On land, stroll through the terraced hillsides of the 400-year-old Mughal Gardens, created by Emperor Jehangir for his wife, and shop for indigenous crafts like hand-woven silks and embroidered shawls.

While Srinagar's streets have a vibrant character synonymous with the rest of India, the only sounds that stir Dal Lake are those of a paddle hitting the water, an echoing call to prayer, or the occasional salesman pitching his freshly-picked apples or kaleidoscopic arrangement of flowers as he floats by in his shikara.

Like the rest of the country, tea in Kashmir is more of an obsession than a beverage, serving as simple refreshment in the afternoon, fuel for a political debate or a catalyst for business. But instead of the typical milky-brown, sweet and spicy chai found in the rest of the country, Kashmir prefers milky pink namkeen chai (salt tea), which uses local green tea leaves, almonds, pistachios, cardamom, salt and baking soda, giving it a characteristic pink colour. The clear yellow kawa uses the same green tea, nuts and cardamom, but is brewed without milk and with sugar and saffron, for which Kashmir is famous.

With China to the east, Pakistan to the west and India to the south, Kashmir is home to sacred sites for both Hinduism and early Buddhism, and today remains mostly Muslim. As these cultures collided, conflict created turmoil, but it also transformed the valley into a cauldron of creativity, resulting in the region - particularly Srinagar - becoming famous for its artisans who make cashmere and pashmina shawls, silver jewellery, hand-painted papier mache figurines, vases and boxes, and beautifully handcrafted carpets that can take days, months, years to make.

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