Kashmiri dresses have been showcased time and again in many Bollywood movies such as Kashmir ki Kali, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Rockstar, and more recently in Laila Majnu. Hence, the world is no stranger to the customs and traditions of the valley of Kashmir.
There are some intricacies about the culture and the ethnic clothing of Kashmiris that will tell you a lot about the history and the culture of the people of Kashmir. Kashmiri traditions, the dressing, the language and the preferences make a vivid picture of how Kashmir connects to the rest of the world. That’s also the manner in which we get to know, how Kashmir and Kashmiris set themselves apart.
Today, I am going to narrate to you another bulletin on Kashmir. It is the story of Kashmiris and their dressing sense. Their clothing and fashion. So, hold your breath and enjoy some information on the traditional Kashmiri dress & style.
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When we talk about the ethnic Kashmiri apparel, it is exactly what you think it is. A traditional kurta and salwar for men, actually called the Khan Dress. In rest of India, it is famous as a pathani. Women wear Salwar-Kameez donned with a pheran. The hair of women is usually covered with a head scarf.
Although movies do exaggerate showing short shinning waist coats and pointy skull caps, which in reality are only worn when you have a fancy dress competition to win. Am not joking!
The Preferred Traditional Kashmiri Dress of a Woman
The Kashmiri dress for women be it Muslim or Pandit is completely the same. But there is a difference in the kind of jewelry each of them prefer to wear. Whereas most of the women in India have sarees as their traditional dress, Kashmiri women have a completely different style.
We Kashmiri women have traditional dresses similar to that of Afghan and Persian women. The style and making of the Salwar-Kameez and the jewelry is very similar to the attire donned by the Pashtun women.
The Salwar-Kameez is further beautified by a fancy pheran. Now when I say pheran don’t get confused thinking pheran is for wearing in winters only. Pherans are used to cover the bodies. Pherans were worn by Kashmiri women over the centuries to cover their bodies as a sign of modesty. The pherans worn in summer are made out of light fabrics in accordance with the heat.
Next comes the head scarf. It is like a cherry on top of a cake. Without a scarf, any outfit is not complete. At least in our estimation. Interestingly, it is worn by both Muslim and Pandit women. It can be worn by either tying it to the head or letting it stay open. A scarf is called Kasaba or the Taranga by Kashmiri Pandit women. They wear it in a peculiar manner. It is tied to the hanging bonnet and falls up to the heels from behind.
Traditional Kashmiri Dress for the Man
For men, the traditional Kashmir outfit is a Khan Dress topped with a short Sadri (waist coat). in the past, they also used wear a long full length outer robe with long bell sleeves which is called the Chogha. Older folks wear it with a girdle around the waist. A head gear was also worn in older times. It was like a turban made by a small fitted cap covered with a cloth.
The manner of tying of the cloth varied among the Pandits and the Muslims. Sometimes, on special occasions such as marriages the turban of a Muslim man resembled with that of a Pathan man. In medieval times rich upper class Kashmiris wore silk on festive occasions.
The footwear consists of shoes made of grass called Pulharoo and sandals made of wood called Khraw. But this is talking about 5-7 decades ago. Today, with Globalization, Kashmiris wear whatever the world wears, but they still like to done their tradition.
So, you will find men often wearing a full Khan Dress, and women wearing a Salwar-Kameez. During the winters both men and women wear the pheran.
Talking about the Kashmiri Dress in Winters
I am going to mention the pheran now. I love the pheran, O’, yes I do!
The winter in Kashmir can give full-fledged competition to the climate in Siberia and Antarctica. The temperature can go down to -15 degree Celsius.
We Kashmiris tend to be prepared for it. In all honesty victory over such a climate requires a complete preparation. In the past, people used to prepare for it months in advance.
Pheran is the first item that comes to the mind when someone talks about winters in Kashmir. The Pehran! Something that Kashmiris love and deem to be heritage. It is an all-rounder garb that acts as a sweater, a jacket, an overcoat and even a blanket. The star of the Kashmiri customary dresses, the pheran has become a mark of identification for Kashmiris around the world.
This woolen wonder has saved Kashmiris from crippling harsh winters which have to be tolerated without electricity in some areas. The only source of heat is the Kangri which is tailor-made for pehrans. Once you have a Kangri under your pehran, the winters just seem like any other season.
Btw, a Kangri is a fire pot.
The women folk wear the pherans in a much more fashionable way. It is not just a winter garment but also a centuries old customary clothing worn also for every special and important occasion. This is the Kashmiri dress that is famous the world over, not as much as the pashmina though.
The simple pherans worn at home have simple embroidery and designs. But pherans worn for during special occasions are ornamented with attractive tilla works and special embroideries crafted with special gold threads making them worth thousands of rupees in the market but priceless in the eyes of a Kashmiri.
The Summer Dress of Kashmir
In summers, Kashmiri people wear the lighter versions of their traditional outfits. Although ever since the modern times popularized global fashion in the valley, our clothing has drastically changed. It has paved way for western wear to penetrate into the market, but even then the evergreen and ever comfortable ethnic summer wear hasn’t been written off the valley yet.
The younger women wear Salwar-Kameez in summers with light duppattas whose making can be inspired from either sides of the border. The older women prefer to stick to their traditional roots and wear clothes made in the conventional Kashmiri style. As I stated earlier, the Kameez-Salwar is topped by a light pheran to cover their bodies fully for modesty and crowned with a Daejj (Head Scarf).
Similarly, men also tend to experiment with modern styles now-a-days. They prefer to wear pants and jeans with shirts winning the battle of the trends. But when comfort weighs more than show off traditional wear wins the war every time.
The customary Khan Dress is usually made in the Pathan style which can be sometimes topped with a waist coat adding to charm and elegance. The kurtas vary is sizes and shapes, they can be short or long and with our without a collar. Also they can be either typical salwars or pant like salwars. Some men wear trousers or jeans under them. Not only is the Kashmiri dress comfortable, it’s elegant and stylish. At the same time, it gives the wearer a royal look.
The Elegant Kashmiri Jewelry
The traditional Kashmiri jewelry is creativity and mystic art at its best. Every piece of the jewelry blends beautifully with the apparel and adds to the charm of the outfit donned. These ornaments are typically made of gold and silver and are studded with multi-colored stones or pearls. Kashmiris love birth stones. Some people say that Kashmir is the land of the blue sapphire as well.
The well-known and frequently worn jewelry pieces in the past were Jiggni and Tikka. They were worn on forehead. They can be triangular, semi-circular and circular in shape depending on the use and occasion. Atta-Hor (ear piece) was usually worn by the Kashmiri Pandit women. It hangs over the head of the women on either side and is connected by a chain over the head.
Hard to imagine but this beautiful piece of ornament is a sight for sore eyes. Kana-Door (tops) is a simple ornament usually worn by young unmarried girls. Jhumka (ball shaped earrings), Deji-Hor (long chain like earrings) are a trademark jewellery piece of married Kashmiri Pandit women. They are a mark of their matrimony and are worn at all times by them especially during festivities and weddings. Finally, Kana Vaji are studded with turquoise with a fringe of hanging gold leaves and balls.
Over to You
That’s all in this bulletin. I have told you everything that you would need to know about the traditional Kashmiri dress. You may know that roots of Kashmir ethnicity are a mix of several civilizations. Thus, with every piece of clothing you can see different cultures being beautifully merged among one another. Doesn’t that create a magical blend of many rich customs, arts and traditions?
Summarizing, Kashmir is an offspring of Central Asia, Persia, Arab, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan and you can visit all these countries at once by simply visiting Kashmir. Hey, come and have a look at some unique products that Kashmiri craftsmen produce.
Kashmiri wedding just like any other wedding ceremony is full of fun & emotions. It is a blessed occasion where family, friends and food comes together. Kashmiri weddings are unique. They are enjoyable. They are memorable. Most importantly, kashmiri weddings are known for bringing about distant relatives and old friends together. It is a time when old grievances are forgiven and all malice kept aside.
A mix of traditional Indian, Persian, Arab and Pakistani ceremonies make Kashmir weddings a mixed experience. The biggest part of the kashmiri wedding ceremony is the wedding feast. With mystic festivities, colorful attires, folk songs and wazwan, here I am going to narrate to you what a kashmiri wedding is like.
A traditional Kashmiri wedding showcases different ceremonies and rituals taken from the Muslim as well as the sub-continental culture. Every ceremony that’s a part of the greater wedding blends seamlessly with the other ceremonies making it a magnificent experience.
Something is important to mention though, the Kashmiri culture is derived enormously from the Persian and the Central Asian mannerism. That’s because a large population of Kashmiris are migrants from the Central Asian belt. They came to Kashmir with the advent of Islam and brought with them various arts and crafts such as pashmina, paper mache, carpet weaving etc. That is when and why Kashmir flourished became a world renowned valley despite being seated deep among the Himalayas.
Coming back to the topic of the majestic kashmiri wedding, let me get started by talking about its ceremonies.
The Kashmiri Wedding Traditions
A Kashmiri wedding is not too different from any other Muslim wedding. The essential activities which deem a couple to be ‘husband and wife’ go by Muslim ethics. The couple should be of two separate genders, must have a judge or a contract writer in front of them. There should be a couple of witnesses present and importantly, the girl and boy must accept each other as their partner. Something important that occurs alongside is the payment of mahr or dowry.
The Mehendi – Applying the Henna
The mehndi ceremony is the most exciting and energetic ceremony among all the ceremonies. It is filled with non-stop folk music, folk dance performances and folk singing. Believe me when I say that it is the most exciting thing, it really is.
People are at their best during this ceremony and the fun and excitement is all the rage. It is the same whether on the groom’s side or the bride’s side. This is the last day which a girl/boy spends with her/his first family before they are a part of an extended family and begin a new chapter in their life.
Some girls of the groom’s family such as the sisters, cousins, sisters-in-law and friends go to the bride’s place with henna/mehndi for the bride which is applied to her one by one by every girl, although now a days boys are also seen to be a part of this ceremony. The henna signifies the in-laws wishing good health, happiness and prosperity to the bride as she starts her new journey in life.
The guests are in turn given gifts packs containing items like silver jewelry, personal care products, sweets and dry fruits. This ceremony usually has a close knitted guest list and only involves close family and friends.
The Baraat – Groom Gets the Bride Home
This is the day where the actual marriage ceremony takes place and the girl leaves for her in-laws house. The Nikkah traditionally takes place in a Waqalatan Style where the ceremony first begins at the groom’s house. An Imam/Judge and some witnesses carry out the Nikkah ceremony. The groom is first asked about his consent in marrying the bride in a formal setting. Once the groom gives his consent, the delegation goes to the bride’s place to seek her consent as well.
Once an agreement is reached, all the details such as the mahr/dowry etc are registered on the Nikkah Nama/Marriage Contract which is then signed by the copule, the imam, the witnesses and the guarantors.
On the other hand in the Asalatan Style the girl and the boy are married in front of each other with a veil in front of them, this method is popular everywhere else in the Muslim world outside Kashmir.
After the nikah is done, a delegation from the groom’s side go to the bride’s place to bring her to her new home. The delegation is treated with traditional packets of dry fruits, wazwan, and some desserts. Actually, if you talk to anyone about a Kashmiri wedding, they will start speaking about the kashmiri wedding food. Kashmiri wedding traditions are full of food. Kashmiris just love their food.
All male family members and friends of the groom accompany him to bring his better half home. The arrival is welcomed with traditional songs, flower petals, flowers and beaded garlands, and in some cases, lots of fireworks.
Then the most emotional and heart breaking moment of a girl’s life comes when she has to bid farewell to some important relations and bring an end to an entire era of her life, but crying is not just limited to the bride. A dent in the pocket in the name of Kadal Taar/ Passing a Bridge bring tears in the eyes of the groom. It is a small mischievous tradition where the groom’s friends stop the procession on a bridge and ask for money in exchange for letting the couple go home.
The bride after reaching her new home home is given a great welcome. Her mother in law unveils her (Mohor Tulin) in front of the family and gives her a gift. The veil is usually made up of pashmina, and the attire of the bride is a perfect kashmiri wedding dress. So in the end lots of flowers, singing, food, emotions, pockets dents bring an end to this day.
Saying this, there are many people who do not wish to celebrate their weddings in a fancy big way. They keep it rather austere. The money saved is given to an orphanage or is used in some other humane concern. This is done as the Prophet Muhammad had said, “The best Nikah is with the least expenses”.
The Walima – The Wedding Feast
This ceremony is equivalent to the reception party held in other wedding cultures. It a huge reception party hosted by the groom’s family where everybody related to or friends with the groom’s family is invited. Held during the day, after some light refreshments such as Kahwa, traditional wazwan is served followed by a delicious dessert.
Some Other Ceremonies of a Kashmiri Wedding Include
Malmaenz – Small get together involving only close friends and family.
Aab Sherun/Mas Sherun – Aab Sherun is done by the bride where her hair is braided and decorated whereas Mas Sherun is done by the Groom where he is groomed for the baraat ceremony.
Phirsaal – Party for the Groom’s family some days after the walima hosted by the bride’s family.
Satium Doh – Party at the groom’s family 7 days after the marriage and the first time the bride goes to back to her parent’s home to live for a day or two.
The Kashmiri Wedding Food
The food includes a full course meal with 36 mouth-watering and delicious food items ready to leave you wanting for more. Even after eating the whole thing, the impact remains in your mouth for a long time and the taste remains forever. People living in Kashmir are avid meat-eaters and the Wazwaan is reason for that, the flavor of every item on the Trami (platter) is induced in our veins and the Kashmiri people would eat nothing else for the rest of our lives if given the choice.
The Trami is served with heavenly dishes like seekh kabab, chicken, tabak-maaz, and shami-kabab etc. and after every 5 mins the waza (server) brings in rest of the items starting from rista (red meatballs), rogan josh, martsewangun korma, paneer, some veggies like spinach and mushrooms, more meaty flavors like daniwal korma, doodh ras and many more finally ending with the all-time favorite yakhni and goshtaba (white meatball).
The wazwan is served throughout the wedding during every ceremony and on a funnier note the success or a failure of a party is usually judged by the guests by how good the wazwan was.
The Music – Folk Songs Galore
Music is another important aspect of the wedding without which the wedding cannot be a success. There is music for every occasion with every range and tempo, there are nasheeds, wanwun and dance songs and even mashups of Hindi and Kashmiri mix songs.
The mehndi ceremony showcases the most variety of music in the whole wedding, it starts with the mellow wanwun (slow songs) and escalates into the funky gyawun (popular wedding songs), popular Kashmir singers like Reshma Rashid and Frankie Kashmiri specialize in this genre and are joined with the ladies of the house with dumbeks, tambourines and matkas into making the night into a musical gem.
The baraat is received by the slow and rhythmic wanwun and even leaves being serenaded by the same, the music sets the emotional mood and makes the moment more sensitive and passionate.
Kashmiri Wedding Dress
The traditional Kashmiri wedding dress has inspiration from the Central Asian couture when it comes to bridal wear and ethnic pathan style designing for the groom. Conventionally seen in a red suit, but more recently the brides have experimented a lot with colors and gone for all kinds of shades like pink, green, purple, blue and even golden.
Bride before the Mohur Tulin Ceremony
The Kashmiri wedding jewelry and make up in the past used to be pretty but heavy making the bride look nothing less like the queen she deserves to be. However, in recent times, brides have broken the traditional wedding look and gone for make-up suiting their age and face and made subtle jewelry pieces that look in accordance with the dress, the makeup and the ceremonies and not look like she is wearing daddy’s bank balance.
The Kashmiri wedding dress for the groom has also evolved over the years, the traditional white sherwani with a white turban has been jazzed up with a lot more colors and designs with men becoming more exposed to the trending fashions and suitable styles and hence experimenting much more with the attire. Instead of simply blending in with the traditional style, Grooms today take the job much more seriously and make sure they fit into the role and play the part convincingly. The styling and the grooming starts much earlier in the gym and the salons and ends with the perfect picture in the album.
The Set up of a Kashmiri Wedding
The wedding is mostly outdoors with tents and gazebos built for guests to sit in and eat as the Trami system requires for people to be seated on the floor. The gazebos are usually made in case there are any buffet arrangements. The tent has a small beautifully decorated stage for the bride and the groom to sit in during functions and has all the arrangement required to go in accordance with the weather.
Over to You
A Kashmiri wedding is much more than described above. If I wrote about all of it then I guess this whole website will be dedicated to that. It’s a celebrations of not just of the union of two souls but the union of two families and two generations who promise each other to have and to hold from this day forward, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse till death does them apart, and in the process people are dancing, eating, gossiping, fighting, mending lost bonds but more importantly they are happy and united. And this is all you need to know about a traditional Kashmiri wedding in my estimation.
Are you looking to know more about Kashmir Tourism? Wonderful! You are at the perfect place.
I will deal with everything that you need to know in order to make you next vacations in Kashmir, exciting and fulfilling.
Kashmir, a valley, a scenic marvel, a sacred land with a sinful history, and yet considered as a heaven on the earth. Kashmir is known for its tourism, its pashmina, its carpets, its paper mache and the chaos.
It was not just mere chance due to which Amir Khusrau wrote his famous couplet about Kashmir in the Persian language;
Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.
(Translation: If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this, it is this)
The great poet Khusrau had known the Kashmir valley intimately well before writing this. It is not only him, but everyone who lands in Kashmir has an ultimate level of praise for this stunning valley.
Kashmir is filled with a montage of several different cultures and religions which make it the epic grandeur that it is today. But interestingly, the most exuberating characteristic of this land is the majestic treasure of the beauty it holds in every nook and corner.
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Like other tourist destinations, Kashmir doesn’t just have a couple of places that are stunning, but it is a destination where every place visited has a story to tell, and has a charm of its own. Whether it be the snow clad mountains, the dense forests, the marvelous lakes, the enigmatic houseboats, the massive glaciers, Kashmir tourism has always been a brand of a different league.
Honestly, what is promoted by the Kashmir tourism department is just the tip of an iceberg. Much of the beauty of the famous or maybe the infamous valley is reserved for the locals to cherish. Generally when you search for Kashmir tourism packages on the internet, you get a list of 5-6 places to visit and possibly get in touch to a tour operator. But those are not the places that we are going to speak about.
We are here to unveil the unknown mysteries about Kashmir tourism, so the next time you visit Kashmir, you are ready to roll and unwind.
I certainly believe, the the small and far away districts hold some of the best sceneries, ironically they are not present in the ‘Kashmir tourism packages’. Having traveled my valley far and wide, I want to share about every nook and corner of it, from the narrow lanes of down town, to the food streets of khayam.
But, in this post, I will be easy on the traveler. I am going to talk about the major places of the valley, places that you must visit in order to explore real Kashmir tourism. Honestly, if you visit Kashmir this well, you will be bragging about it.
Without further ado, let’s get talking about the hidden mysteries of Kashmir tourism.
Unveiling Kashmir Tourism, 21 Must Visit Places for a Tourist
Sopore – The Mini London
Sopore is called ‘mini London’ by locals because of the massive wealth and all the business transactions that take place here. Filled with rich lush green apple orchids, Sopore is truly a sight for sore eyes. The infrastructure is still traditional with old customs like Tonga Rides (horse carts) still prevalent. The taste of the food is as exotic as the accent of the people.
Bandipora – The Home to Wular
Bandipora is amazing, that’s what I would say. It has lush green sceneries all around. It appears green as far as eyes can see. The crystal clear waters of the famous wular give you a reflection of your soul. The town of bandipora should be on every tourist’s list.
Uri – The Electricity Chamber
Uri on end shares its border with Muzzafarabad, making it the highlight of the place. Uri is the home to a massive Hydro Power Project. That makes it simple, its a land full of fast moving streams. Streams there are in plentiful. It is one of the places that the Kashmir tourism department must cater to and showcase to the world.
I am pushed to say this, if you are really looking to come to Kashmir, a google search on ‘kashmir tourism packages’ is not the solution. You need to come over and get lost in the valley, like a real lost traveler.
Handwara – The Oft-Changing
Handwara is a small district in Kashmir with lovely people, amazing food and spots. Come here and forget that the rest of the world even exists.
If you are craving for some solace and ‘me-time’, Handwara is the place for you.
Gulmarg – The Meadow of Paradise
This place doesn’t even need any introduction, it has been advertised and marketed automatically in every movie since the 1960s. In a way, its Bollywood’s go to destination. A small Kashmir within Kashmir would be the perfect definition of this place. Whenever someone thinks of picnics, Gulmarg is the first name that pops in the mind. With the thrilling Gondola rides along with the ones on a horse back, be sure to be on top of the world.
Gulmarg is a destination for adventure sports lovers. Known for its skiing and ice hockey competitions, tourists from all over the globe throng it during winters. It is probably the only place that the Kashmir tourism industry has been able to market properly.
Preng – The Mystery
Preng is a small village located in the Kangan Block in the Ganderbal District. A very popular picnic spot in Kashmir, it is known for the beautiful gardens and the never ending landscapes.
Pahalgham – The Betab Land
The place that has been giving Gulmarg tough competition for the top spot of the best tourist destination in Kashmir. Gulmarg and Pahalgham are like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo of tourist destinations. You can never really decide which one is better.
Pahalgham has abundant water bodies and the famous Betaab and Aaru Valleys. Just naming these two is enough to make someone lose interest in city life. A person can easily picture himself giving up all the temptations of the world just to enjoy the mountains and water of Pahalgham.
Shopian – The Apple Town
You might know that Kashmir is not just known for its tourism, but for its apples as well. And Shopian is the apple capital of the valley. Shopian gives tough competition to Sopore in producing mouth-watering juicy apples but the apples are not the only thing to look forward to in Shopian.
Shopian is an enigmatic place to say the least. It should have been on Kashmir Tourism map, but somehow it has missed the attention.
Baramula – The Cherished Place
A very popular district of Kashmir known for many things like the lifestyle of the rich people living there, the local accent, the confectionery and also for sharing a border with Pakistan. Mughal Emperors like Akbar and Jahangir used to stay in Baramula during their visits.
Aharbal – The Waterfall Place
Aharbal is known to have the Niagara Falls of Kashmir. It is a beautiful captivating waterfall which has an abundant amount of water encompassing a large area. The trek leading up to the waterfall is worth the effort. Apart from that the exciting trek to the Kungwatan meadows, you will be led to the mesmerizing Konsernag Lake.
Dhara – The Home of Gujurs
Home of the Gujjar and Pathan population of the valley and an ideal place for trekkers, Theed and Dhara are best places to visit in Kashmir if adventure, treks, love for heights and unlimited skies run in your veins.
Gujurs are the ethnic Kashmiri nomadic community which is always on the move and mainly work as shepherds. Missing it on the Kashmiri tourism map is real bad, especially since it is just 20 kms away from the capital, Srinagar.
Gurez – The Paradise Valley
Located among the high Himalayan ranges, Gurez valley is nothing less than a piece of paradise created by the Almighty. Rich in a diverse range of landscapes and animals like the Himalayan Brown Bear and the Snow Leopard, Gurez has just so much to offer to everyone who visits.
Its main tourist attractions are the culture itself, the Habba Khatoon Mountain named after the famous poetess of Kashmir, and the ethereal Kishanganga River.
Yusmarg – Did Jesus Really Know This?
In Kashmiri Yusmarg means “Meadow of Jesus”. This is because it was believed by some people that Jesus had come to Kashmir for a brief period.
Yusmarg is covered with snow kissed mountains and large amount of meadows. Located in the Pir Panjal range, the famous peaks of Yusmarg are the Sunset Peak and the Tatakooti Peak. After a small trek the road leads to a frozen lake in the Sang-e-Safed valley which is known to be covered in snow even in the summer.
Doodhpathri – The Next Big Thing!
If Gulmarg and Pahalgham were a human couple, then Doodhpathri would definitely be their child. Having majestic sceneries of Gulmarg and noise cancelling, soul touching water falls of Pahalgham, Doodhpathri is an upcoming tourist destination giving full competition to big guns like Gulmarg and Pahalgham.
Sonamarg – Ah My Favorite!
Did the title recommend it enough?
When you are excited to go to Ladakh and want the journey to begin a little sooner, Sonamarg enhances the experience for you by showing you the beauty it holds and the treasure of adventure you will encompass when you hit the Zojila road from Sonamarg.
Kupwara – The Captivator
Known now a days for all the wrong reasons Kupwara still tries to regain its status and change its popularity for a better reason. Like I mentioned before every corner of Kashmir is a tourist destination even if it is not as popular as others. Kupwara is the best example of this statement. Not only the District but also the people of Kupwara are known for their captivating beauty.
Leh/Ladakh/Kargil – The Marijuana :p
No explanation needed, the names itself mean Eat, Pray, Love. “One will teach you love, one will teach you, patience and the other will teach you, pain.”
For those who haven’t visited these places yet this sums the places up in the best possible way.
Kokernag/Verinag/ Achabal – Three Musketeers
Situated in Anantnag, Kokernag, Achbal and Verinag are three mystical Mughal gardens which are the living examples of Mughal architecture at its best. Designed in the typical grand Mughal styled garden with its main attraction being the “naag” or the spring. The geometrical designs of the colourful gardens with running water on one side and rainbow like different variety of flowers on the other side is a treat to watch.
Kishtwar – The Small Valley
Kishtwar is a little far from a conventional tourist destinations. It is mostly the kind of place enjoyed by the bizarre travelers who seek much more than just a selfie. It is not just a place to go to for ticking it off the bucket list.
Another masterpiece missed by the Kashmir tourism department. People who visit induce themselves with the aura of the bewitching landscapes here with its mighty proud hills, lush green forests riddled with pine and deodar forests.
The national park in Kishtwar is a dream come true place for all the wildlife and nature enthusiasts who want to become one with nature.
Pulwama – The Crops Town
The infamous “Rice Bowl of Kashmir”. Pulwama is a small marvel in Kashmir and is an ideal place to see Kashmir’s beauty glow at its best. This place has a massive range of tourist destinations too eager to be explored especially if you are a first time traveler. The weather, pleasant odour saffron fields, and malleable citizens. One cannot have enough of the saffron fields and the rich culture in Pulwama.
I am sure that google searches like ‘Kashmir tourism photos’ and ‘Kashmir tourism packages’ won’t be an option that you’ll consider from now on.
Come here and visit us.
Get lost to be discovered.
Anantnag – The History Mystery Town
Call it Anantnag or Islamabad, this land has been the home of every soul living there no matter what their religion. It consists of Masjid Baba Dawood Khaki, the Martand Temple, the Ashmuqam Shrine. History hasn’t really captured what all this spiritual place entailed.
There are many more honorable mentions which I would like to have in this list. They are places such as Drang, Dras, Poonch, Tangmarg, Manasbal, and even the city of Srinagar. Srinagar itself has some enchanting places like the Zabarwan Range, Badamwari, Tulip Garden, Hari Parbat, Tral and the Mughal Gardens to quench your adventurous thirst.
Are you excited to come over to Kashmir? Is it safe to visit Kashmir? Let me know in the comments below. My team will try to be your online guide 🙂
Kashmiri Wazwan, the 36-course meal wonder that’s responsible for the peeping bellies of Kashmiris, and the answer to the oft-repeated question, ‘Why do Kashmiris love mutton so much?’
Yes, for all these Kashmiri Wazwan is guilty as charged!
Among other attraction of Kashmir such as beauty, the landscape, the kangri, pashmina, paper mache, the kahwa and the pheran, Kashmiri Wazwan is a world-renowned cuisine.
It is one of the most loved and cherished offering of the valley. Kashmiri Wazwan has mesmerized everyone who has ever tasted it. It is prepared and served by a team of professionals called waza in large copper pots, commonly called a deygh. Needless to say that it is prepared with a lot of hard work, skill, precision and lastly immense love.
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We Kashmiris are obsessed with our culture, we just love it. And we love our food. Why shouldn’t we? Such tasty food is seldom found in any other culture.
The History of Kashmiri Wazwan
Kashmiris are predominantly non-vegetarians. The special banquet meal that all of us cherish is the Kashmiri Wazwan. It is prepared on special occasions like marriage ceremonies and even on professional and business events.
Predominantly prepared with Mutton, you might find chicken and fish along with a multitude of vegetables and dry fruits as key ingredients. Some accounts suggest that Wazwan came to Kashmir in the 14th Century when a Mongol invaded India.
Some historians say that this Mongol invader was Taimur. He was instrumental in making some skilled professionals like artisans, carpet weavers, pashmina experts and cooks migrate from Samarkand to Kashmir. This is why the culture of Kashmir resembles that of Kashmir to a great degree.
The main reason for the popularity of Kashmiri Wazwan in the valley was due to the influence of Persian and Central Asian immigrants to Kashmir. Even today a large portion of the population of Kashmir draws its roots back to Central Asia.
Map of Silk Route
The Preparation of Kashmiri Wazwan
The word wazwan, although generally used as a name for the traditional Kashmiri 36-course cuisine, is actually a mixture of two separate words. Waz (pronounced as waze’) meaning ‘cook/chef’ and wan meaning ‘shop’. A team of Wazas comprises of a head chef, called the Wouste Waze along with a number of junior chefs.
The main ingredient of Kashmiri Wazwan is freshly-slaughtered lamb meat. Remember, it needs to be freshly slaughtered for the Wazwan to taste right. In many cases, you can’t just cook some dishes of Kashmiri Wazwan without the mutton being fresh.
If the people who are to be served are more in number like at weddings and similar occasion, Wazas start preparing the dishes a day before. Kashmiris cook Wazwan all night and spend their day preparing and eating Wazwan.
Preparation of Kashmiri Wazwan
All the spices used in preparing the Wazwan are processed at home by the Waza himself. Wazas are very specific about the brands of creme, yoghurt, ghee, butter, oil and rice they would use. They argue that in order to get the perfect taste of wazwan, the ingredients need to be extremely precise.
The mutton obtained is grouped on the basis of its origin. Different parts of the body of the animal taste different and each has to be differently cooked in wazwan. So, the waza groups the mutton and starts some initial preparations.
Some of the mutton is minced on a stone with the help of a wooden hammer while another lot is minced with a sharp knife on a wooden table. Once the mutton is prepared at a basic level, the wazas then go on to process it further.
The Seven Important Dishes of Kashmiri Wazwan
Although Kashmiri Wazwan comprises of 36, there are seven main dishes that stand out. Whenever you would order Kashmiri Wazwan in a restaurant, or even in a 5-star hotel, the serving will be based on these 7 dishes only.
These majestic 7 dishes are:
Manner of Serving the Kashmiri Wazwan
Kashmiri Wazwan is cooked to precision. It is not like any other food in the Indian Subcontinent which is deeply fried. Rather, Kashmiri Wazwan is cooked at a low flame for hours together. The general preference is that it is cooked in an open area and not in a kitchen, and personally, I find the taste of the Wazwan cooked in an open area to be very different from that is cooked in a restaurant’s kitchen.
Below are some short descriptions of the main dishes that are pre-placed on a Kashmiri Wazwan platter:
Seekh Kabab – A long tasty kababs roasted to perfection.
Tabak Maaz – Crispy ribs of lamb simmered in yoghurt till tender, then deep fried turning the fat hard and crunchy.
Meethi – Small servings of finely chopped mutton bits mixed with a spice containing dried methi leaves.
Daen – Medium shaped very soft full piece of mutton which is said to have been eaten by the Prophet Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) himself.
Chicken – There are two types of chicken dishes on the platter (trami). The much loved spicy red chicken made with the red sauce and the sweet and tender white chicken made in the white sauce.
We enjoy eating our food while sitting down on the floor in groups. You would need to sit in groups of 4 to enjoy this delicacy. Before eating there is a ritual of the washing of hands in a mobile basin called the Tash-t-naer, which is taken around by attendants, this ritual is called Dast-Paak.
Once, the platter full of these delights comes to you, you may get started with eating. Then one by one the waza brings in more dishes that are a cure for the growling tummy and a treat for the tasting buds.
These dishes are:
Rista – A juicy meatball prepared in a paprika-saffron-fennel spice gravy coloured with dyer’s alkanet.
Rogan Josh – Tender lamb cooked deeply in spices, it is the patriarch of the meaty items.
Daniwal Korma – Exquisite lamb roasted with yoghurt, spices and onion puree, topped with coriander.
Mushroom – It is one of the vegetarian items of the trami cooked with onions and special Kashmiri spices.
Waze’ Palak and Baby Ristas – Spicy spinach cooked with small meatballs.
Martsewagun Korma – A spicy and hot version of the Rogan Josh.
Paneer – Soft pieces of juicy cheese squares cooked with a spicy tomato gravy.
Al – Strips or pieces of sweet pumpkins cooked to balance the spicy and sourness of the meaty items.
Lahab Kabab – Flattened sour and spicy mutton kababs cooked in yoghurt.
Quince Apple–Another vegetarian delight cooked to add some sour flavour to the platter, part of an elaborate variety.
Doudh Ras – A big lamb chunk cooked with a fennel-based spice mixture, cardamom and partially evaporated milk.
Yakhnee – The most loved and savoured gravy of the trami made of cooked milk with a perfect blend of salt and mint giving a perfect end to an exotic meal.
Goshtaba – A big meatball cooked in a spicy yoghurt gravy mixed with the yakhnee.
These are the main dishes that are served usually with the Kashmiri Wazwan, but there are some items that are a part of the grandeur but not served as frequently as the above-mentioned food items. These items are the shami kabab, nadru, dum aloo, tsok wangun (sour brinjal) etc. They are served on request. Sometimes the trami is covered with a rumali roti to enjoy the vegetarian delights.
Over to You
The old saying “the way to someone’s heart is through his stomach” is best suited when the food in question is the ever tempting Kashmiri Wazwan. The wholesome meal fills the stomach and the heart with lots of joy. Its taste remains in the mouth hours after relishing it and the impact remains forever.
This is the story of Kashmiri Wazwan. I am excited to know if you have ever tasted the Kashmiri Wazwan or if you would like to taste it in the future? Catch you in the comments below : )