1. KASHMIR – Heaven On Earth The name Kashmir is derived from two words KA (the water) and SHIMEERA (to desiccate), so the word Kashmir implies land desiccated from water. It is also called and known as the Heaven on Earth because of its natural widespread beauty.

2. Major Ethnic Groups – Kashmiris are mainly concentrated in the Valley bottom. Kashmiris immigrated mainly from Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan, and settled in the valley. Ladakhis are a mixture of Mongoloid and Aryan races. Dogras occupy the outskirts of the Punjab plain Kashmiris Ladhakis.

3. Hanjis – are confined to water bodies of Kashmir; They are mainly confined to the Dal, Wular, Anchar lakes and the Jhelum river. Gujjars and Bakarwals are living and oscillating in the Kandi areas; they have nomadic character and largely depend on flocks and cattle keeping for their livelihood. Dards occupy the valley of Gurez.

4. Population – The population living in the Valley of Kashmir is primarily homogeneous, despite the religious divide between Muslims (94%), Hindus (4%), and Sikhs (2%). The people living in Jammu that profess Hindu and Muslim faiths are ethnically different from those living in the Valley in terms of ethnicity, language and culture. The people living in Ladakh are primarily Buddhist and are of Tibetan origins. The Muslim minority in Ladakh belongs to the Shia sect.

5. Culture – Kashmir’s culture is interlinked with its geography: cut off from the rest of India by high mountains, it lies along the once fabled Silk Route. For centuries it has thus been open to influences from Persia and the countries of the Central Asia.

6. Geography – Distinct from the rest of the country, Jammu and Kashmir sports a multifaceted, multicolored and unique cultural blend. Not only the geographical conditions of the state are different but it can also be set apart demographically with varied ethical and social entities, diversity of religions flourishing in the area, different language and cultural forms and heritage albeit with an over-reigning harmony that blends in with the serenity and beauty of the region. Kashmir has been the highest learning center of Sanskrit and Persian as Indo-Aryanic civilization has originated and flourished here. The people of the Valley, share common ethnicity, culture, language and customs, which is no doubt the basis of “Kashmiriyat”. Kashmiri Culture – Multifaceted, Multicolored and Unique.

7. Language – The most important part of the cultural identity of the Kashmiri people is the Kashmiri(Koshur) language. This language is spoken only in the Valley of Kashmir by the Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims. Kashmiri, popularly known as Koshur, is an Indo-Aryan language.

8. Kanger – The Kangri (“Kanger”) is a clay pot surrounded by a willow basket with a handle. In the cold months of the year, glowing embers of charocoal fill the clay pot, and this marvel of invention is carried around under the cloak-like pheran. They have their uses in the summer months too, when lighted charocoal required for bookah smoking is stored in them.

9. Pheran – No jacket or blazer can compare with the comfort or convenience of the pheran. Knee-length and baggy, the sleeves are loose enough for the arms to be retracted into it. Pheran are made of tweed; dark browns and blues being the most favoured colors of this distinctive Kashmiri dress. Every man, woman and child wears a pheran during the cold winter months. Even during the rest of the year, a sudden drop in the temperature bring pheran out from store cupboards.

10. Pheran  (for Women) wear a modified version of this pheran throughout the year. While there are many materials to choose from, the most poised will always remain velvet. Women’s pheran are knee length, and the velvet ones are profusely embroidered in real silver thread at the throat, cuffs and hem. There are a few standard designs for the embroidery, the most lavish being stylized Chinar leaves around the neckline. Silver embroidery on a velvet pheran is a status symbol.

11. Wazwan – It is a multi-course meal in the Kashmiri Muslim tradition. The preparation is traditionally done by a vasta waza, or head chef, with the assistance of a court of wazas, or chefs. The essential Wazwan dishes include: Marcha-wangan korma Sheekh kabab: spicy ground lamb on skewers Gushtaab: Chopped lamb with spices cooked in oil, milk and curds kebab maach kebab.

12. Kashmiri beverages – Noon Chai or Sheer Chai Kashmiris are heavy tea drinkers. The word “noon” in Kashmiri language means Salt. The most popular drink is a pinkish colored salted tea called “noon Chai”. It is made with green tea, milk, salt. Noon Chai or Sheer Chai is a common breakfast tea in Kashmiri households and is taken with breads like bagerkhani brought fresh from the Sufi, or bakers. Often, this tea is served in large Samovars.

13. Noon Chai – Kehwa / Kehwah At marriage feasts, festivals, and religious places, it is customary to serve Kahwah, or Qahwah (originates from a 14th-century Arab coffee, which, in turn, was named after an ancient beverage of the Sufis) – a green tea made with saffron, spices, and almonds or walnuts Over 20 varieties of Kahwah are prepared in different households. Some people also put milk in kahwah (half milk + half kahwah). This chai is also known as “Maugal Chai” by some Kashmiri Pandits from the smaller villages of Kashmir.

14. Samavor – There is no home in Kashmir that does not have a samovar. Each family has one or two samovars A samovar is a traditional Kashmiri kettle used to brew, boil and serve tea and kehwa. Kashmiri samovars are made of copperware with engraved or embossed calligraphic motifs. Inside a samovar there is a fire-container in which charcoal and live coals are placed. Around the fire-container there is a space for water to boil. In addition to Kashmir, the samovar is also found in Russia and Persia.

15. Music – Kashmiri Valley music is closer to Central Asian Music using traditional Central Asian instruments while music from Jammu is similar to that of North India and Ladakhi music is similar to the music of Tibet. Chakri is played with musical instruments like the Harmonium, the rubab, the sarangi and the nout. Chakri ends with the rouf, Rouf is a traditional dance form usually performed by girls on certain important occasions like Eid, Marriage and other functions. Rouf includes dancing and singing simultaneously. No musical instrument is required for this. Girls arrange themselves in two or three rows, each row has four to six girls. Each row of girls then moves one step forward and then back in swaying motion while singing the Rouf song or Wanwun.