Difference between revisions of "Jammu and Kashmir"
Revision as of 23:51, 26 July 2006
Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state in India. It's part of the historic Princely State of British Imperial India, now divided between India and Pakistan; both countries lay claim to the whole. While some Kashmiris hope for an independent and unified Kashmir, the majority seem to simply want peace. It is a mountainous region on great beauty and diversity offering much in the way of outdoor activites and sights for the tourist. Unfortunately much of the state is unsafe, see "Stay safe" below.
The inhabitants of J&K belong to three religions, with Kashmir being mainly Muslim, Jammu being mainly Hindu and the Ladakhis divided almost equally between Buddhists and Muslims.
Jammu is safe, however it does not offer much other than being a transit point to Srinagar. Kashmir valley was a popular tourist destination till the start of the unrest 16 years ago.
Kahsmir region is still under a separationist insurgency, although the violence in recent years has been reducing. Srinagar itself is not very safe, and not worth the risk unless you have a special reason to go or an interest in the area. The Kashmiri touts that are all over north India, especilly Delhi are absolutely not to be believed as to the safety of the situation in Kashmir. Even if you decide independently that you are comfortable with the level of safety, it is a bad idea to book accommodation without seeing the houseboat. If you do decide to go, be sure to take precautions such as avoid crowded places, not going out after dark, and don't stay long. The countryside of Kashmir should be passed through as directly as possible without stopping. Trekking would be very unwise.
As elsewhere in India, English is fairly widely spoken among the educated classes and workers in the tourist industry.
While the security situation in J&K has been improving since the first half of the 1990s, many people will still find it far from safe enough to make a visit worthwhile. While you are very unlikely to be directly affected by the unrest, the security measures in place (roadblocks, random ID checks) will take away from visitors' enjoyment in a place that was once known for its calm and beauty. The cities and major roads are safer than the countryside, due to the Indian army's tight security mesures. Ladakh is completely diferent in regards to safety, and can be considered totally safe.