Geologists believe that about ten crore years have passed when Kashmir Valley which was once a lake called Satisar, the lake of goddess Sati, came into its present form.
For hundreds of million years Kashmir Valley is supposed to have remained under Tethys Sea and the high sedimentary-rock hills seen in the valley now were once under water. Geologists have come to believe that Kashmir Valley was earlier affected by earthquakes. Once there was such a devastating earthquake that it broke open the mountain wall at Baramulla and the water of the Satisar lake flowed out leaving behind latchstring mud on the margins of the mountains known as karewas. Thus came into existence the oval but irregular Valley of Kashmir. The karewas being in fact the remnants of this lake confirm this view. The karewas are found mostly to the west of the river Jhelum where these table-lands attain a height of about 380 meters above the level of the Valley. These karewas protrude towards the east and look like tongue-shaped spurs with deep ravines.
Ancient legends and popular traditions say that Samdimat Nagar, capital of the kingdom of Sundra Sena, was submerged as a result of an earthquake and the water that filled the area formed the Wular Lake, the largest fresh water lake in India. The oldest igneous rocks are still found at Shankaracharya hill. When the whole Valley of Kashmir was under water this hillock was the first piece of dry land lying in the form of an igneous island.
Significance of its name - Historians say that Kashmir Valley was originally known as Kashyapmar or the abode of Kashyap Rishi. It is said that the Rishi once went on a pilgrimage to Kashmir. When he reached Naukabandan near Kaunsarnag via Rajouri, he killed Bahudev, the Giant of Satisar, at the request of the people and let the water of the lake flow out near Baramulla. The land, therefore, came to be known as Kashyampar, which afterwards changed into Kashmar and from Kashmar to Kashmir. But some historians are of the opinion that when the people of Kash caste settled here permanently the valley came to be known as Kashmir. Kashmir is known by many other names also. The Greeks called it Kaspeiria, while the chinese named it Shie-in or Kia-Shi-Lo. The Tibetans called its Kanapal and Dards named it Kashart.
Situation, Location, Area and Extent - The territories of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and Gilgit form the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, which had earlier been under Hindu rulers and Muslim sultans, became part of the Mughal Empire under Akbar from 1586. After a period of Afgan rule from l756, it was annexed to the Sikh Kingdom of Punjab in 1819. In 1820 Maharaja Ranjit Singh made over the territory of Jammu to Gulab Singh. In 1846 Kashmir was also made over to Gulab Singh under the Treaty of Amritsar. Ladakh was annexed by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1830. Thus this northernmost state was founded by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1846 and was the biggest princely state in India before the partition of the country in August 1947. At that time the total area of the state was 2, 22,236 sq. km. Pakistan invaded the State in October 1947. Indian forces pushed Pakistan back but in 1949 when a cease fire line was drawn about one third of the area i.e. 78932 sq. km. i.e. the whole of Gilgit, Mirpur, Kotli and a part of Poonch came into the possession of Pakistan, leaving behind only 143, 30 sq. km. on the Indian side. Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua and Anantnag districts remained unaffected. Again in 1962 China occupied about 64000 sq. kms. in Ladakh known as Aksai Chin. Pakistan again made possession over Chhamb, Deva, Chakla and Manawar gaining an area of 3999 sq. kms. Thus total area left on the Indian side is about 12850 sq. kms.
There are many low lying valleys in the state like Tawi Valley, Chenab Valley, Poonch Valley, Sind Valley and Liddar Valley, but the main Valley is the valley of Kashmir, which is 100 kms. wide and 15520.3 sq. kms. in area. Through this valley flows the river Jhelum with its tributaries. The height of the valley above sea level is about 1700 metres.
On the map of India, the State of Jammu and Kashmir looks like a crown. The state is 640 kms. in length from north to south and 480 kms. form east to west. To its north lie Chinese and Russian Turkistan. On its east is Chinese Tibet. On the South and South-West lie the states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. On the west is the North West Frontier Provinces of Pakistan, China and Russia. Afghanistan and Pakistan now have come close to the boundaries of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, The nearness to the boundaries of foreign countries has made the position of the State most important from military point of view.
The entire State lies between 32.17" and 36.58" North altitude and East to West, the State lies between 73.26" and 80.30" longitude. The standard time is 5.30 hours ahead of Greenwich Time as in the rest of India and has a difference of half an hour with the local time. In latitude, the State of Jammu and Kashmir corresponds with South Carolina (North America), Fez (Morocco), Damascus, Baghdad and Peshawar (Pakistan).
Geographical Importance - Kashmir is famous for its beauty and natural scenery throughout the world. Its high snow-clad mountains, scenic spots, beautiful valleys, rivers with ice-cold water, attractive lakes and springs and ever-green fields, dense forests and beautiful health resorts, enhance its grandeur and are a source of great attraction for tourists.
It is also widely known for its different kinds of agricultural products, fruit, vegetables, saffron, herbs, minerals, precious stones handicrafts like woollen carpets, shawls and finest kind of embroidery on clothes. During summer, one can enjoy the beauty of nature, trout fishing, big and small game hunting etc.; during winter climbing mountain peaks and sports like skating and skiing on snow slopes are commonly enjoyed. In addition to the above, Pilgrimage to famous religious shrines of the Hindus and the Muslims make Kashmir a great tourist attraction. About Kashmir Sheikh Sadia great Persian poet is believed to have said, "If there is any heaven on earth, it is here in Kashmir."
Political Importance - The state of Jammu and Kashmir has acquired since the 19th century a unique geo-political status in the Indian sub-continent It has contiguous boundaries with Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Tibet that deserve constant vigil and as such it has made the State very important, geographically, politically, economically and from the military point of view. Jammu and Kashmir state acceded to the Indian Union in 1947 after the partition. Before the partition in 1947, The English rulers of India took away Gilgit in 1946 from the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir on lease for thirty years so that they could check the advancement of Russia towards India.
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